How Do You Research a Company That No Longer Exists?

Sometimes additional information comes to light after we have published something. This recently happened in the May/June 2014 issue of Echoes, the Ohio Historical Society newsletter.

A Lustron house with a green roof.

A Lustron house with a green roof.

For a newsletter feature called “Ask the Staff,” I was recently asked by a visitor what color were the roofs of Lustron homes. After reviewing our archival collections about the Lustron Corporation and consulting the Lustron Preservation web site, I drew the conclusion that only green roofs were made for production models. It was noted that some houses across the country had roofs of different colors, but that this was a local decision, not necessarily a Lustron Corporation decision.

However, it seems the history behind the roofs is more complex than that. Working with Steve McLoughlin of the Whitehall Historical Society, it was brought to my attention that many Lustron houses across the country have roof colors other than green. Through his extensive research, McLoughlin has concluded that roof colors were assigned based on the color selected for the house, as he explains, “a standard equipment of sorts.”

This is the part where doing historical research gets tricky. When the company disbanded, their materials ended up in several different places due to lawsuits, bankruptcy sales, and destruction. At the Ohio Historical Society, we have several collections of Lustron Corporation material including the Lustron Homes Research Collection, call number MSS 1288, and the Lustron Corporation Records, call number MSS 861. These collections contain photographs of the houses with green roofs. However, no specific roof colors are mentioned in the records. How did these other colors come to be if they are not in the known archival records of the company?

The Lustron Corporation went through many changes in its short time. With the rising costs of the houses and the need to ramp up production, the company often made decisions that are not reflected in the archival material. At one point, the company advertised enameled paneling in eight different colors, but only produced four colors. They advertised three different models of houses, but produced only two and three bedroom Westchesters and two and three bedroom Newports. They never actually made a model called the Meadowlark. Is it possible they offered different roof colors and never advertised it? Probably! There seemed to be little consistency between what was advertised and recorded versus what was actually available.

Some owners have reported roof colors complementary to the colors offered for enameled paneling. However, some owners have reported roof colors and materials never offered from the Lustron Corporation in any of their products. How is this possible? Local developments and neighborhoods sometimes had housing color restrictions that Lustron homes did not meet and the houses may have been painted or altered to accommodate these restrictions. For example, the Lustron homes used at the United States Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia were majorly altered, including painting the roofs of the homes white.

A Lustron house with a painted white roof at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

A Lustron house with a painted white roof at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

As roofs became damaged over the years, sometimes home owners found a local source of porcelain enameled roof tiles or other type of replacement roof in colors those local companies could offer. McLoughlin worked on a Lustron house in New Orleans whose roof was composed of something other than Lustron parts. When asked, the owner explained that all of the roofs of Lustron homes in the city were comprised of this same material.

Through additional research, I have found two sources that hint multiple colors were available for roofs through the company. A 1948 Lustron advertisement explains, ”You have your choice of exterior color complementary combinations-all in non-glossy porcelain enameled steel which will never weather, stain, never need repainting, redecorating, or reroofing.”  This indicates combinations (plural) as a choice for both the roof and panels, but never actually states the colors. In MSS 1288, there is a transcript of an oral history interview conducted by the Lustron Preservation group with the former mayor of Louisville, Kentucky who slept in a model Lustron house. In his interview he states, “The outside of the home I saw was a soft, greenish blue. The pitched roof was grey.”

One of the oral history transcripts available in MSS

One of the oral history transcripts available in MSS 1288

So what conclusion can be drawn? Actually, I am not sure. We know that roof colors other than green exist on Lustron houses, but we may never fully understand the circumstances that lead to this since the company’s records were spread to many places or destroyed. As more sources come to light, stories may not be as simple as they seem, so we need to be flexible and open minded. We may never have a full answer. As one of my fellow curators would say, “History takes time.”

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Hot off the Presses from Cincinnati and Medina

New Papers Added to Chronicling America!

The Ohio Historical Society is pleased to announce that more historic Ohio newspapers have been added to Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’s free digital newspaper database.  Issues from the following newspapers are now online and keyword-searchable:

The Star, later known as the Cincinnati Daily Star, was established in 1872 and published every day but Sunday.  Politically, it was independent, focusing less on politics and more on the happenings of the greater Cincinnati area.  While readers could find national and international news, for the most part, the Star catered to the needs of the readers in the Cincinnati area and the neighboring cities in Kentucky across the Ohio River. With a large reader base, the Star was also a prime spot for “Wanted” and other advertisements for various business, manufacturing and agricultural interests.  The Star did not include many images, but instead relied on catchy, alliterative headlines to draw readers into an article.

This article reports on the cold weather that hit Cincinnati in January 1879.  Citizens of the city were subjected to frostbite, frozen pipes and fiercely cold wind with temperatures barely above zero.

This article reports on the cold weather that hit Cincinnati in January 1879. Citizens of the city were subjected to frostbite, frozen pipes and fiercely cold wind with temperatures barely above zero. (Cincinnati Daily Star, January 4, 1879, p. 1, col. 2)

By 1878, it was the most read newspaper in Cincinnati with 20,000 readers, but only two years later, in 1880, it was sold to its rival Times.  Together, the papers were known as the Cincinnati Times-Star until it merged with the Cincinnati Post in 1959.  For more information about these papers and to access their digital versions, click here for the Star and click here for the Cincinnati Daily Star.

The Medina Sentinel was the official Democratic organ of Medina County, serving the county from 1888 to 1961 when it was absorbed by the County Leader Post.  Published on a weekly basis, the paper included some state and national news, but most of its content featured local news from the city of Medina and neighboring communities, like Seville and Litchfield.  Local news items were often composed of agricultural, business, church and court news; classified advertisements; death notices; and “Personals,” which reported the comings and goings of the county’s residents. The paper also printed serialized literature and, during World War I, war bond advertisements, like the one pictured below.

In World War I, dramatic advertisements imploring citizens at home to support the troops fighting in Europe through the purchase of Liberty Bonds were common.  This one goes on to say, “Yet when you refuse to buy all the Liberty Bonds that you possibly can...you are refusing to do your share” in protecting soldiers “against the brutal enemy.”

In World War I, dramatic advertisements imploring citizens at home to support the troops fighting in Europe through the purchase of Liberty Bonds were common. This one goes on to say, “Yet when you refuse to buy all the Liberty Bonds that you possibly can…you are refusing to do your share” in protecting soldiers “against the brutal enemy.” (Medina Sentinel, October 11, 1918, p. 3)

In support of its political orientation, readers of the Medina Sentinel were also encouraged to support Democratic policies and to vote for Democratic candidates in local, state, or national elections. Prior to elections, candidate profiles, editorials, advertisements, and political cartoons were prominently featured.  Click here for more information about the Medina Sentinel and to access its digital version.

While you are visiting Chronicling America, take some time to see what other news you can find in Ohio’s historic newspapers—there are just over 275,000 pages dating from 1836 to 1922 from all over the state to explore!  These titles (over 55 in all!) comprise only a small part of the over 7.6 million pages from all over the nation that are currently available on the Library of Congress website.

Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the 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 Historical Society 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.

Jenni Salamon, Project Coordinator, NDNP-OH

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Putting the Clues Together: Learning More about Your Family Photographs

Portrait of siblings from the Albert J. Ewing Collection housed at the Ohio Historical Society.

Portrait of siblings from the Albert J. Ewing Collection housed at the Ohio Historical Society.


Have you ever wished you could find out more about the old photographs you’ve collected? There may be information captured in those images that can tell you more than you realize. Learning to sharpen your observation skills and picking up some pointers on how to date a photograph can give you tools to use when doing family genealogy and research. This class will be hands on and focus on 19th and early 20th century photography. Plan to bring a photograph of your own to practice using the tips learned in this workshop.

Day: Saturday, May 17

Time: 10:30 – 12:30

Location: Ohio History Center at I-71 and 17th Ave.

Cost:$15 for members of the Ohio Historical Society or the Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society; $20 for non-members

Click here to register online.

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If you like the Collections blog…

…you may also like the blog Now See Hear!

This blog is about the collections at the National Audiovisual Conservation Center and the staff’s efforts to preserve and make accessible to the public a treasure trove of the nation’s heritage captured on motion picture film, video recordings, sound recordings, and other media.

Read more about it!

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Birds, Tomatoes, Vaudeville and More

During curators talks in May our staff will be discussing a wide variety of topics!

Hand colored, tintype portrait of Josephine Klippart and her mother, Emmeline Rahn Klippart.

Hand colored, tintype portrait of Josephine Klippart and her mother, Emmeline Rahn Klippart.


May 3
Tis Sweet to Be Remembered: Josephine Klippart, A Columbus Artist Who Got Her Starting Drawing Birds and Fish

Josephine Klippart was a Columbus artist who helped to create Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, an award-winning work published in 1886 that was the subject of Joy M. Kiser’s 2012 book, America’s Other Audubon. Join Betsy Butler, former special collections librarian at the Ohio Historical Society, to discover Josephine’s artistic accomplishments — particularly those related to nature — in the Society’s collection of manuscripts, photographs, printed material and objects associated with Josephine and her parents.

May 10
Cemetery Research for Your Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a traditional time for families to gather together, decorate cemeteries, and reminisce. In preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, come find out what to do and see in a cemetery & how to collect information about your family history while you are there.

Annual catalog from 1897 for True Blue Seeds.

Annual catalog from 1897 for True Blue Seeds.


May 17
Livingston’s Tomatoes

It’s tomato planting time and many of us are looking forward to eating juicy, locally grown varieties. Did you know that Ohioan Alexander W. Livingston is responsible for the success of this plant in today’s home and commercial gardens? Join Circulation Coordinator Carla Zikursh to learn more about Livingston, his tomatoes and his legacy.

May 24
For the Immediate Relief of Our Sick and Wounded Soldiers”: Ohio’s Soldiers Aid Societies

During the Civil War, Ohio’s communities supported the Union war effort by organizing soldiers aid societies. These organizations raised money and supplies that were critical to the care of Ohio’s soldiers. State Archivist Fred Previts will share some of the letters, reports and photographs documenting the help provided by these societies.

May 31
On the Road with the Zints: Vaudeville Theater and Rural Ohio

The Zint family, from Wapakoneta, was one of the best known performing families in Ohio during the 1920s. Learn more about this family’s history and see some of their costumes, props, and accessories from their performing years.

Frederick Zint playing in the Zint Family Orchestra with his brothers and sisters.

Frederick Zint playing in the Zint Family Orchestra with his brothers and sisters.


The curators talks are part of a busy schedule of activities at the History Center in May. Check out our full calendar of programs.

If you go:

Day and Time: Saturdays in May at 2:00 PM

Location: Ohio History Center at I-71 and 17th Ave.

Cost: Free with Museum Admission

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Jerrie Mock’s Historic Flight

Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world.

Geraldine Fredritz Mock was born on November 22, 1925 in Newark, Ohio. Mock became interested in planes at the age of 7, when her father took her to the cockpit of a Ford Trimotor airplane. In 1943, Mock started at Ohio State University, studying aeronautical engineering. She left Ohio State in 1945 to marry Russell Mock.

Mock settled into a life as a housewife and mother to three children, but continued to pursue her interest in aviation. At 32, she earned her pilot’s license. A blog post from the National Air and Space Museum explained the origins of Mock’s groundbreaking flight, “She and her husband Russell loved to fly around the Midwest and but she longed to visit countries she had always dreamed of as a child. Russ suggested a world flight and Jerrie enthusiastically said why not?”[i] Sponsored by the Columbus Dispatch, Mock moved up her flight date when she heard another woman, Joan Merriman Smith, was also planning a trip around the world.

The "Spirit of Columbus", from the Ohio Historical Society collections, SC 202.

The “Spirit of Columbus”, from the Ohio Historical Society collections, SC 202.

On March 19, 1964, Mock took off from Columbus in her plane, the Spirit of Columbus, a Cessna 180. Mock’s trip around the world took twenty-nine days, eleven hours, and fifty-nine minutes, returning to Columbus on April 17, 1964; Mock flew 23,103 miles. During this flight, Mock set the round-the-world speed record for planes that weighed less than 3,858 pounds. In addition to aviation accomplishments, Mock was an ambassador of sorts, trading in her trademark pants in for a more formal skirt and jacket.

As a result of Mock’s historic flight, President Lyndon Baines Johnson awarded her the Federal Aviation Administration’s Exceptional Service Decoration. In 1975, Mock’s Cessna was donated to the National Air and Space Museum. The Federation Aeronautique Internationale honored her with the Louis Bleriot Medal, the organization’s highest honor. She was the first woman and also the first U.S. citizen to receive the medal.

Mock never flew the Spirit of Columbus after her historic flight, but continued to her aviation career, setting several more records. The Spirit of Columbus was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Mock currently lives in Florida; when recently asked about her historic flight, Mock, 88, explained, ““You call it an accomplishment. I just call it having fun.” [ii]

Emily Lang, History Curator

Bibliography:

Cochrane , Dorothy. “Celebrating Jerrie Mock, the First Woman to Fly Around the World.” National Air and Space Museum. http://blog.nasm.si.edu/aviation/celebrating-jerrie-mock-the-first-woman-to-fly-around-the-world/ (accessed April 1, 2014).

Deitch, Linda. “Jerrie Mock’s Historic Flight Began 50 years Ago This Morning.” The Columbus Dispatch, March 19, 2014.

“50 Years Later, ‘Flying Housewife’, Mock Recalls Fun of Becoming First Woman Pilot to Fly Around the World .” TribLIVE.com. http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/5938383-74/mock-flight-pilot#axzz2yrkX0Bov (accessed April 14, 2014).

 

[i] Cochrane , Dorothy. “Celebrating Jerrie Mock, the First Woman to Fly Around the World.” National Air and Space Museum. http://blog.nasm.si.edu/aviation/celebrating-jerrie-mock-the-first-woman-to-fly-around-the-world/ (accessed April 1, 2014).

[ii] “50 Years Later, ‘Flying Housewife’, Mock Recalls Fun of Becoming First Woman Pilot to Fly Around the World .” TribLIVE.com. http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/5938383-74/mock-flight-pilot#axzz2yrkX0Bov (accessed April 14, 2014).

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Can You Pass the Test? Teacher Certification Exams in Ohio’s Historic Newspapers

In order to teach in Ohio public schools, teachers now and in the past are required to pass formal examinations that measure their competency and academic skills in a variety of areas.  During the early 20th century, the Greenville Journal, published in Darke County, Ohio, printed the questions included on the county examination for teachers seeking elementary school certificates.

Among the topics covered on these tests were: arithmetic, geography, grammar, literature, physiology, and United States history.  A couple of the articles referred to these questions as “Brain Puzzlers”, and I would have to agree—some of them are tough!  Here are just a few examples:

Arithmetic: “A piece of work costs for labor $233.75, the workmen receiving wages at the rate of $1.50 for a day of 9 hours.  What would the same work cost if wages were $1.40 a day of 8 hours?” (October 8, 1908, Image 8, col. 2).

Elementary Agriculture: “Name three kinds of corn and discuss each in such a way that they may be recognized by the description.  What kind of corn is raised chiefly in your section of the state?” (September 18, 1913, Image 1, col. 2).

Literature: “Trace in early American literature some influences of its English origin.” (February 7, 1907, Image 8, col. 2).

Physiology: “How does the knowledge of a scratch on the hand reach the brain?  Would knowledge of an injury to an internal organ locate so accurately the place and nature of the hurt?  Does the brain control the processes of the internal organs?” (January 13, 1916, Image 3, col. 1).

Would you have had what it takes to be a certified teacher in Darke County during the early 1900s?  Take one of these examinations and find out!  You can view them by visiting the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website where select issues from the Greenville Journal are now online.  Either click on the links provided in this post, or you can search for other examinations.  Use the Advanced Search feature to limit your search by newspaper title to the Greenville Journal and search for teacher exam, teacher questions or teacher examination in the “…with all of the words” search box.  If you limit your search to just Ohio papers, you can also find teacher exams from other areas of the state, including Lorain County (Wellington Enterprise, December 16, 1896, Image 4, col. 3) and Washington County (Marietta Daily Leader, February 10, 1901, Image 8, col. 3-4).

The orthography section from the September 1915 teacher county certification exam (Greenville Journal, September 2, 1915, Image 3, col. 4).

The orthography section from the September 1915 teacher county certification exam (Greenville Journal, September 2, 1915, Image 3, col. 4).

The Greenville Journal is just one of Ohio’s most recent additions to Chronicling America.  It joins more than 1,300 other newspapers from all over the nation (that’s over 7.4 million pages!), including over 50 from Ohio, to chronicle United States history from 1836 to 1922.  All papers on the website are freely available and keyword searchable.  In addition to issues from the Greenville Journal (1907-1918), the following Ohio papers are also now online:

Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the 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 Historical Society 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.

Jenni Salamon, Project Coordinator, NDNP-OH

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