Following the Clues

Recently, the museum received a donation of an old Huffman bicycle. It was well loved and came to the owner second-hand, so there were many questions we needed to answer in order to learn what we had! The bike had few visual clues as many of the stickers had been worn off over time, but after a little cleaning some numbers became clear which allowed us to start researching.

The mystery bike waiting in the storeroom for cleaning and identification.

The mystery bike waiting in the storeroom for cleaning and identification.

The first number found, surprisingly enough, was not the serial number for the bike but for the brakes. They were “Morrow” brand, which was a very popular choice from the beginning of the 1930s until about 1950. To narrow it even further, the number for the breaks began with “K2.” The first letter tells the year they were manufactured; in this case the “K” meant 1941. The number tells the month, “2” is the second month of the year. Therefore, these breaks were made in February of 1941. We had a date! But it was just for the breaks…

Morrow brakes have both their icon on the lever as well as their serial numbers on the drum itself.

Morrow brakes have both their icon on the lever as well as their serial numbers on the drum itself.

There was a serial number on the frame of the bike itself, but it did not match any of the known serial numbers for early Huffman bikes. However, it began with a C and 3, placing it among a few recorded bikes in 1941, confirming the date known for the brakes.  The next step was to research 1941 Huffman ads and records for a model that matched our bicycle. It was difficult to find one that had both the correct year as well as a model that matched, but eventually we learned from an old catalog that it was a Huffman Ladies’ Lightweight Model No. 91. This was great news as the Lightweight Line was an important part in the company’s history.

Huffman was started as the Davis Sewing Machine Company in Dayton, Ohio. It began manufacturing bicycles in 1892 when the owner, George P. Huffman, converted the shop due to the rising popularity of bikes. Business boomed with the Dayton Special Roadster and, later, the Dayton Racer. In 1925, George’s son Horace Huffman sold the sewing business and formed the Huffman Manufacturing Company, focusing only on bicycles. The company survived decreased sales during the Great Depression; by 1941, the company had developed a bike assembly line that greatly increased production. The Lightweight Line was created during that time and boosted the company’s sales enough that they could afford to manufacture bicycles for civilians, as well as assist the U.S. Government during World War II. They managed to send around 4,000 bikes to aid the war effort. After the war, the Huffman Manufacturing Company changed its name to the current world recognizable name, Huffy.

This 1941 Huffman Lightweight bicycle has a connection to World War II, Huffy, and even Dayton, Ohio. However, we never would have known how important it was without a little detective work. Do you have anything in your attic or basement that could be a hidden treasure? Find out! Serial numbers are a great place to start; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a helpful search tool on their website to help you start your search.

Jessica Sells, Registrar Intern


BMX Museum. “Huffy History.” Bikes. Last modified July 5, 2014. Accessed July 17, 2014.

Huffman. “The Lightweight Line.” Huffman Bicycle Catalog, 1941.

Huffy Corporation. “Company History.” About Huffy. Last modified 2013. Accessed July 17, 2014.

Miller, Jeffrey. “Morrow Hub Dating.” Morrow Artifacts. Accessed July 17, 2014.

Scott [37fleetwood]. “Huffman Serial Number Project” The Cabe, July 20, 2007. Accessed July 17, 2014.

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Countdown to the Moon Landing: T +2 Days

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon, saying as he did, “That’s one step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” After two and a half hours on the surface of the moon conducting experiments, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned to the Columbia and fellow crewmember Michael Collins and began the journey back to Earth, arriving on July 24th.

Cuff Links ImageThe last object in our Moon Landing Countdown is a pair of cuff links (H 63264).  These cuff links commemorates the moon landing with headlines from Findlay based newspaper, The Republican-Courier.  The front page pictured was printed on July 21, 1969 with the headline, “Moon Walk of Astronauts Fulfills Dream of Mankind.”  It features a photograph of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon.

Forty-five years later, we are still celebrating this feat – from the Summer Moon Festival this past weekend at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, OH, to NASA’s May 2014 rededication of their flight research center in Edwards Air Force Base, CA, changing the name from the Dryden Flight Research Center to the Armstrong Flight Research Center.

You can see more moon landing and Ohio astronaut objects in person at the Ohio History Center in Columbus and the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta.

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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Celebrating Over 700 Blog Posts!

This week, the Ohio History Connection Collections Blog reached a milestone, marking its 700th post.  To celebrate, we looked through our collections for objects that have a connection to the number 700.

Necklace ImageThe first object has 700 in its catalog number – the number that is assigned to an object, connecting the physical object with the record associated with it.  H 15700 is a 1920s necklace worn by the First Lady Florence Harding.  The necklace measures 20 inches and is made of brownish-green celluloid beads and seven celluloid elephants of varying sizes.  Florence fiercely supported her husband, Warren G. Harding, in his Florence Photopolitical career and was photographed wearing this necklace in his successful 1920 presidential campaign.  The Harding Memorial Association donated the elephant necklace to the  Ohio History Connection in 1979.


The number 700 is part of the history of the second chosen object (H 84415).  This wool U.S. flag has 34 white stars on blue in four rows of eight, with an additional star inserted between the first and second rows and third and forth rows, respectively.  The thirteen red and white stripes complete the national flag. This flag served as the national colors for the Black Brigade of Cincinnati, which written on the middle white stripe.  The Black Brigade was comprised of Flag Image700 African-American men who were rounded up by the police in Cincinnati on September 2, 1862, to build fortifications near the border between Ohio and Kentucky.  At this time, Cincinnati was under martial law and on September 1st, all men were ordered to help defend the city against possible Southern attack.  After three weeks of fortification-building, the Black Brigade was released from service.  Many of the 700 men of the Black Brigade later served in the first Union African-American regiments, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts and the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  This flag and other objects related to the Black Brigade of Cincinnati are an important part of Ohio’s history.  Check out these past collections blog posts for more on the men of the Black Brigade:

Milestones and objects are exciting and worth celebrating.  We look forward to celebrating another 700 blog posts!

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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Smithsonian Affiliates Conference 2014

The National Gallery.

One of the best parts of being a museum professional is the chance to travel. In June, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2014 Smithsonian Affiliates Conference in Washington DC.

What are the Smithsonian Affiliates? The mission of Smithsonian Affiliations is to share these resources with Americans in their own communities by developing collaborative partnerships with museums, cultural and educational organizations. With over 200 Affiliates, it is

One of the social media sessions.

One of the social media sessions held during the conference.

one of the largest cultural organizations in the country. The annual meeting brings together dozens of these organizations for a three day conference. The Ohio History Connection became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2012.

As part of the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting with several curators at the National Museum of American History to discuss their experiences and work on potential collaborations in the future. The conference hosted several sessions including one about social media and museums. As part of this session, we were asked to live tweet our exploration through the National Museum of Natural History; to check out photos, search the hashtag #SAConf14

Every year, the Smithsonian hosts the Folklife festival celebrating two different cultures on the National Mall. This year's festivities focused on Kenya and China and featured music, dance, food, and cultural demonstrations.

Every year, the Smithsonian hosts the Folklife festival celebrating two different cultures on the National Mall. This year’s festivities focused on Kenya and China and featured music, dance, food, and cultural demonstrations.

Why is professional development essential to museums? It gives us a chance to make connections and to come up with creative solutions to issues many museums are facing. In one session, attendees collaborated to create a list of why museums matter both financially and culturally. The organizers plan on using this list to advocate for museums to members of Congress.

In addition, conferences give museum professionals a chance to learn from each other. I got to explore new exhibits including Beyond Bollywood at the National Museum of Natural History and  Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 at the National Museum of American History, learning how curators are making these topics accessible to the public. The highlight of my trip was a behind the scenes tour of the National Museum of American History’s pop culture collection. I learned how curators and collection staff are

How do you preserve iconic American objects? Here, the boxers featured in the Rocky movies are carefully kept in an archival cabinet in a temperature controlled facility.

How do you preserve iconic American objects? Here, the boxers featured in the Rocky movies are carefully kept in an archival cabinet in a temperature controlled facility.

working to preserve some of the nation’s most iconic pieces using new techniques and methods. I even got to see the original Kermit the frog puppet created by Jim Henson!

As we face challenges with collections, I will use the invaluable information I learned from this conference to help us preserve Ohio history.

Have you been to any of the Smithsonian museums recently?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Countdown to the Moon Landing: 1 Week

The 45th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing is almost here! This week’s object is a Venezuelan commemorative stamp (H 72652.002). The stamp is still intact on the original paper. The stamp features the three American astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – above the surface of the moon, which has the Lunar Landing ModuleH72652_002
Eagle on it as well as Armstrong and Aldrin. The stamp reads “Vuelo Apollo 11” (Flight Apollo 11) across the front, “aereo” (plane) above the stamp value, and “Venezuela” at the bottom. The paper depicts the Command Module Columbia orbiting the moon. “Republica de Venezuela” (Republic of Venezuela) is written across the top with the Venezuelan coat of arms printed in the lower left corner. The lower right corner provides the governmental department from which the stamp originated: “Ministerio de Hacienda/ Direccion de la Renta Interna” (Treasury/ Direction of the Internal Revenue).

Moon landing stamps were a popular way to commemorate the event the world over. Some of other moon landing stamps in the Ohio History Connection include stamps from Yemen and the United States. The Yemeni stamp set (H 72655) has six colored stamps, one of each astronaut by themselves and one of each man with his family. The United US Stamp ImageStates stamp (H 72553.001) shows Armstrong descending the Eagle’s ladder to take the first step on the moon. It is attached to paper with astronauts’ names and the event; it even features a section for those who bought the document to sign their names, stating that they “Witnessed Man’s First Step on the Surface of the Moon.” Two postmarks are also stamped on this commemorative sheet – one for the day of the moon landing and one for the day this sheet was first issued in 1969.

The Eagle landed on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Take a moment to celebrate the 45th Anniversary on Sunday and check back here next week to see what the last moon landing object will be.

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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A prestidigitator could not do better with your soiled shirts!


An advertisement for Excelsior Laundry in Akron, Ohio (Akron Daily Democrat, June 10, 1899, Image 5, col. 4).

What is a prestidigitator you ask?  An illusionist or magician!  When is that last time you can think of someone using the word prestidigitator in normal conversation?  No one calls David Copperfield a prestidigitator, and I don’t blame them.  Calling him a magician is much easier.

It’s strange how words can change meaning over time and how some words stop being used entirely.  Believe it or not, vocabulary can be a major road block when doing research in historical newspapers and other historical documents because it can be so different.   We actually have a term that we use to describe these vocabulary differences: “historic vocabulary”.  We use this phrase to describe words and phrases that were used by the people living during those times.  Our vocabulary is like a living organism that grows, changes, and dies.  Some words that we use today were never heard of 100 or even 50 years ago and vice versa.  The change in vocabulary can be caused by several factors.  Much like today’s technology, a newer, better, version of a word could be created thereby rendering the old word obsolete, such as the word “betwixt” (between).


In 1918, New Berlin, Ohio, became North Canton, Ohio, due to anti-German sentiment (El Paso Herald, February 11, 1918, Image 1, col. 2).

Geographical locations, like city and country names, are also example of how vocabulary can change and make it difficult for researchers to find a particular location.  Try locating the town of New Berlin, Ohio, on a map.  You will be looking for a while because that town no longer exists with that name.  It is currently called North Canton and is located in Stark County.  The village of New Berlin was founded in 1831 and was inhabited by mostly Germans immigrants.  With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, it became very unpopular to be associated with anything German (sauerkraut was even re-named “liberty cabbage” in several restaurants).  In 1918, the citizens of New Berlin decided to re-name the village North Canton, abandoning the original name.  So if you are looking for information about North Canton in the newspapers prior in 1918, you actually need to look for New Berlin.

A word can also change what it means based on new inventions.  Take the word “computer” for example.  We use it in today’s language to describe the everyday machines that we use today for our Internet browsing needs, work, and just about anything else you can think of.  Our definition of what a computer is did not come into existence until the 1940s.  Prior to that, a “computer” was simply referring to a person who performed calculations or one who computes.


An example of how the word “computer” was used in the 19th century. These calculations were made by a person, not a machine! (Logan Ohio Democrat, July 23, 1887, Image 3, col. 7)

If you would like to learn more about historical vocabulary or see how it can affect your search results, click here to view one of the Ohio History Connection’s Chronicling America Search Strategy Videos available through YouTube!  This short video will show you to use historical vocabulary on Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’s free digital newspaper database.  There are over 250,000 pages of Ohio’s historic newspapers available on the website, with more to come.  Also be sure to visit Ohio Memory to view over 150,000 pages from historic newspapers like the Ohio State Journal and Ohio Statesman.  What sort of obsolete words can you discover in the pages of old?

The Chronicling America Search Strategy Videos  was developed by the Ohio History Connection with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio. Please visit the Ohio Digital Newspaper Portal for more information.

Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congress and state projects to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers published between 1836 and 1922.  National Endowment for the Humanities awards support state projects to select and digitize historically significant titles that are aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress at Chronicling America. As part of the project, the Ohio History Connection contributed over 200,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2012 and will contribute an additional 100,000 pages by the end of August 2014.  For more information about this project and resources for searching Chronicling America, please visit the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio Project Wiki or Ohio Digital Newspaper Program Website.

Kevin Latta, Government Records Archivist

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Vote for Your Favorite Finalist

Voting is on for the I Found It In the Archives contest!


We have three fascinating stories about amazing things that researchers have discovered in the Ohio History Connection Archives/ Library.

Click here to select your favorite entry.

Feel free to spread the word and encourage people you know to vote!

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