I Found It in the Archives! 2015 Contest

As we continue our migration to the new blog, we are excited to announce the 2015 I Found it in the Archives Contest!

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Have You Had a Great Experience Using the Ohio History Connection Archives? Share your story and inspire others!

Have you ever discovered a real treasure in the Ohio History Connection’s Archives?  Tracked down information about an elusive ancestor? Found Ohio History Connection staff to be particularly helpful with your research?  We invite you to share your story during the fifth year of the I Found It In the Archives! Contest.  Ohio History Connection is participating in the Society of Ohio Archivist’s competition again in 2015.  We will be accepting written or video submissions June 1-30, 2015.  Complete the OHC Contest forms_2015 and send your stories by e-mail to archivescontest@ohiohistory.org or by US postal service to: Ohio History Connection, ATTN: Lisa Long, 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH, 43211-2474.  After online voting, a winner will be announced on August 1, 2015.  The prize package includes a one year family membership to Ohio History Connection; a voucher for a free genealogy workshop at the Ohio History Center in 2015/2016; and a behind the scenes tour of the Ohio History Center’s archives storage area in Columbus.  The winning entry will be submitted to the Society of Ohio Archivists’ statewide competition.

 

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We Are Getting a New Blog!

Our new homepage!

Our new homepage!

Have you been to the Ohio History Connection’s new website? As part of the new site launch, the History Collections Blog is moving to a new page! In addition to the new page location, visitors can read about our staff that works with the collection, find resources about preservation, and find a list of frequently asked questions about our collections.

The History Collections new blog page!

The History Collections new blog page!

In addition to adding new blog posts, we will be migrating old blog posts from this page to our new location. If you have any questions or concerns about the change, feel free to email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

What have been some of your favorite blog posts so far? What subjects or topics would you like to see us write about in future posts?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Ohio History Connection Curators Visit New York City!

The Queens Museum's World's Fair visible storage display.

The Queens Museum’s World’s Fair visible storage display.

The museum profession is a small field; institutions tend to be very collaborative as we try to figure out how to reach new and returning visitors. At the Ohio History Connection, we have been experimenting with new ways to get as much of our permanent collection on exhibit as possible as we work to renovate portions of the museum. Our curators have been researching what has worked in other museums to make their collections accessible to the public, but still ensuring the objects’ safety. Recently, three colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit five museums in New York City to meet with other museum professionals and learn how they are using new techniques and display methods to reach new and returning audiences.

The Queens Museum is located behind the iconic Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair.

The Queens Museum is located behind the iconic Unisphere from the 1964 World’s Fair.

Our first stop was at the Queens Museum, located in the New York City Building that was constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair. The museum features large collections from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs in addition to materials from communities located in the Queens borough.  The Queens Museum has worked to create exhibits to display as much as possible of their large collection from the World’s Fairs including the Panorama of the City of New York that spans 9,335 square feet.

Natural History Curator Erin Cashion and History Curator Becky Odom explore the Luce Center display at the Brooklyn Museum with flashlights to protect the objects from constant exposure to light.

Natural History Curator Erin Cashion and History Curator Becky Odom explore the Luce Center display at the Brooklyn Museum with flashlights to protect the objects from constant exposure to light.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the two Luce Center for American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. The centers “make available for inspection those American fine art and decorative art objects that are not currently on view in the Museum galleries and period rooms or that are on loan to other institutions.” The displays invite visitors to explore the history of an object beyond what is written on a label. Thousands of objects are on exhibit; computer terminals are set up for visitors to find out more about the collections. We explored how these museums exhibit paintings, decorative arts, and other objects and the conservation challenges associated with constantly having objects on exhibit in light.

The New York Historical Society invites visitors to become "History Detectives".

The New York Historical Society invites visitors to become “History Detectives”.

The New York Historical Society is working to bring object accessibility to children through the Dimenna Children’s History Museum. Throughout the entire interactive exhibit, objects from the permanent collection are placed to engage children in conversation about the meaning behind textiles, tools, archival material, and other objects found in the permanent collection. Visitors take on the role of “history detective” learning more about the objects along their trip through the exhibit.

The Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History exhibits many types of natural history specimens.

The Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History exhibits many types of natural history specimens.

We ended our trip on a high note at the American Museum of Natural History. Though we did not see Neil deGrasse Tyson, we did get to spend time in the Hall of Biodiversity exploring how the museum exhibits hundreds of natural history specimens. The Spectrum of Life invites visitors to explore evolution through 28 living groups covering 3.5 billion years of evolution. Construction of this display involved scientists, artists, filmmakers, and educators, ensuring all learning styles would find something to relate to in this unique environment.

We learned a lot on the trip about what has and hasn’t worked for objects and accessibility to visitors. Of course we still managed to have some fun on the trip! Archaeology Collections Assistant Juli Six documented her travels with a replica Adena man, highlighting the pipe’s display in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Adena Man served as  our tour guide in his temporary home at the Met.

The Adena Man served as our tour guide in his temporary home at the Met.

What types of objects do you like to see in these “visible storage” displays? Have you ever done additional research after seeing something that interested you in an exhibit?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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More Ohio Papers on Chronicling America!

Over the past several months, Digital Services staff at the Ohio History Connection have been busily digitizing even more Ohio newspapers for Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’s free digital newspaper database. Although we had already completed digitization of all the newspapers selected for our 2012-2014 grant cycle, surplus grant funds allowed us to digitize 15,000 more pages! Now issues from the following newspapers are online and keyword searchable:

Since 2008, the Ohio History Connection’s contributions to this program have greatly increased access to Ohio’s historic newspapers. Our Chronicling America collection now includes:

  • Over 318,000 pages covering 1836-1922 (most from 1840-1880)
  • About 70 titles or title families
  • 58 counties around the state
  • Diverse voices from rural, urban, temperance, abolitionist, labor, German, Democratic, Republican and other communities
Blue-shaded counties in the map above indicate that a newspaper from this county is available online.

Blue-shaded counties in the map above indicate that a newspaper from that county is available online.

These papers help tell the story of Ohio history, from the state level all the way down to the local. And while we may not be adding any new papers to Chronicling America for now, our efforts to digitize Ohio’s historic newspapers will continue through Ohio Memory, the Ohio History Connection’s collaborative digital library. We’ve already digitized over 130,000 pages for Ohio Memory and will keep adding more through partnerships with local libraries, historical societies and other cultural heritage institutions. Ohio Memory newspapers, just like those on Chronicling America, are freely available and keyword searchable. For a full list of all available newspapers on Chronicling America and Ohio Memory, click here.

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 315,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2015.  For more information about this project and resources for searching Chronicling America, please visit the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio Project Wiki or About Ohio Memory.

Jenni Salamon, Coordinator, Ohio Digital Newspaper Program

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Cars on the Move!

If you’ve visited the Ohio History Center recently, you may have noticed that part of the exhibit “Ohio: Centuries of Change” is now closed. This area, which we lovingly refer to as the History Mall, is undergoing some much-needed maintenance to replace old water pipes and update the lighting. Though we are sad to see this section on 20th century Ohio history go, we are excited about using some of the displaced objects in new exhibits throughout the Ohio History Center.

Motorized, carriage-form automobile manufactured by the Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

One of my favorite objects in the history collections, the Winton automobile (catalog number H 30477), is one of the objects that had to be removed from the History Mall. The Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, Ohio, manufactured this motorized carriage-form automobile in 1899. This car is literally a horse-less carriage: it looks exactly like a carriage, except it has an engine in the back. Scottish immigrant Alexander Winton (1860-1932) organized the Winton Motor Carriage Company on March 15, 1897. He previously manufactured bicycles in Cleveland, Ohio, but by the mid-1890s, Winton became interested in designing an automobile. He built his first motorized vehicle in 1896 using bicycle tires, and on March 24, 1898, made the first commercial sale of an automobile in the United States.

The Winton in our collection had the privilege of being the first automobile used in Columbus, Ohio. E. T. Mithoff gave it to his grandson, Campbell Chittenden, and his new wife, Alice Fitch Chittenden, as a wedding present. The newlyweds used the automobile on their honeymoon. Can you imagine seeing a car roll down High Street in downtown Columbus for the first time? And can you imagine riding in this car with everyone on the street stopping to stare at you?

Luckily, you’ll still be able to see the fabulous Winton automobile at the Ohio History Center. It and the Seneca automobile, the GOHIO gas pump and the tire-making machine have all been moved upstairs to the plaza level. This was no small feat! Check out the photos of our riggers carefully unloading the Winton and maneuvering it through the doors.

Riggers carefully unload the Winton automobile from a flatbed truck.

Riggers carefully unload the Winton automobile from a flatbed truck.

The Winton just barely fits through the doors on the plaza level!

The Winton just barely fits through the doors on the plaza level!

Riggers carefully maneuver the Winton through the doors.

Riggers carefully maneuver the Winton through the doors.

Winton Automobile being Moved

The Winton is pushed into place.

The Winton and Seneca automobiles look great in their new place on the plaza level!

Registrars Lesley Poling and Jessica Mayercin give the Winton a final dusting.

These objects join the mail wagon, the Lola racing car, the Alliance ARGO airplane and the Aeronca C-2 airplane on the Ohio History Center’s plaza level. New text for the exhibit will be coming soon. Be sure to stop in and check out the changes and updates we’ve made throughout the museum!

Becky Odom, History Curator

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Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?

The cookie jar is often seen as the ultimate barrier to fulfilling many children’s fantasies of biting into a delicious baked treat. Made of ceramic, glass, or plastic, this piece of material culture has been hated by children for generations. Did you know the cookie jar in America has its origins in Ohio?

H 79, a biscuit jar from the Brunt Pottery Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, circa 1892.

H 79, a biscuit jar from the Brunt Pottery Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, circa 1892.

Biscuit jars first appeared in England in the early 1700s. Meant to stop little hands from stealing biscuits, they were made of glass with metal lids. The jars were often owned by middle and upper class English families who could afford the time for daily tea rituals. The Industrial Revolution in England led to an emerging middle class that had large disposable incomes.  Biscuit jars became more and more extravagant as a physical symbol of wealth.[1]

Biscuit jars were imported to the United States, but were not widely popular. Most American families kept their biscuits in cardboard boxes or cracker tins. With the creation of reliable stoves, increased consumer income, and greater availability of chocolate, a whole new “cookie world” opened up in the early 1900s.[2] Even the Girl Scouts joined the trend, selling their iconic cookies for the first time in 1917.[3] There was a demand to keep these newly discovered treats fresh, as the cookies quickly went stale in tins and boxes.

From State Archive Series 1039, Ohio has a long history in the ceramic industry. In this WPA photo from the 1930s, a potter cuts a design into clay.

From State Archive Series 1039, Ohio has a long history in the ceramic industry. In this WPA photo from the 1930s, a potter cuts a design into clay.

In 1929, the Brush Pottery Company in Roseville, Ohio came up with a solution, creating a green ceramic jar with the words “Cookies” printed on the front. This is believed to be the first ceramic cookie jar ever made. As the idea of a decorated kitchen (instead of a strictly functional space) emerged, ceramic companies across the country produced cookie jars featuring characters, animals, fruit, and other artistic renderings.[4] Even war couldn’t stop the demand for cookie jars.  During World War II Ohio-based Shawnee Pottery Company sent blank cook jars to China for decoration for soldiers serving in the Navy. People began to use cookie jars as decoys to hold valuable items such as jewelry and money. This inspired the term “cookie jar reserves”, referring to money stashed away by businesses.[5]

H 38456, a sugar bowl made by the McCoy Pottery company.

H 38456, a sugar bowl made by the McCoy Pottery company.

Ohio companies continued to make and improve the design of cookie jars. In 1932, the Lancaster based Hocking Glass Company introduced a cookie jar with a screw top, increasing the amount of time the cookie stayed fresh.[6] McCoy Pottery based in Roseville, Ohio introduced their first cookie jar in 1939 and continued production until 1987.  These jars are considered some of the finest examples of ceramic production in the United States from the mid-1900s. However, the company also produced a racist line of “mammy” cookie jars featuring a caricature of an African American woman.  One jar from 1944 featured the offensive line “Dem cookies shor am good”. This line was replaced in 1946 with the words “cookies”, but McCoy Pottery continued to produce products that portrayed bad stereotypes of African Americans until 1957.[7]

H 51808, a cookie jar from the Fredricksburg Art Pottery company, circa 1939.

H 51808, a cookie jar from the Fredricksburg Art Pottery company, circa 1939.

With the increased availability of plastic, cookie jars became more affordable for families. By the 1960s multiple cookie jars became common in kitchens across the country.  Concerns over the nutritional value of cookies and the increased shelf life of cookies manufactured with preservatives caused the cookie jar to lose popularity in the United States by the late 1970s.[8]

Despite their symbolism as a barrier to indulgence, cookie jars today have become quite collectable. Even Andy Warhol had a collection of 175 cookie jars. They are still made today, including at several ceramic companies in Ohio.

Do you have a cookie jar at home? What do you store in it?

Emily Lang, History Curator

 

For more information on “mammy” cookie jars, check out this article put together by Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology at Ferris State University

http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/newforms/

 

[1] Westmoreland, Susan. “Cookie Jars & Biscuit Boxes.” In, Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 2004.

[2] Westmoreland, Susan. “Cookie Jars & Biscuit Boxes.” In, Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 2004.

[3] Smith, Merril D. “Baking.” In, History of American Cooking. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013.

[4] Smith, Andrew F. “Containers.” In, The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press, 2007.

[5] Markham, Jerry W. “Cookie Jar Reserves.” In, A Financial History of Modern U.S. Corporate Scandals from Enron to Reform. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2006.

[6] Westmoreland, Susan. “Cookie Jars & Biscuit Boxes.” In, Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 2004.

[7] “Cookie Jars.” Collectors Weekly. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://www.collectorsweekly.com/kitchen/cookie-jars.

[8] “Cookie Jar History.” Old Cookie Jar Shop. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://www.the-old-cookie-jar-shop.com/cookie_jar_history.

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Adena Man(hattan)

Replica of the Adena Man on the steps of the Met.  Thank you Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Replica of the Adena Man on the steps of the Met. Thank you Metropolitan Museum of Art!


From March 9 through May 10, 2015, visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will have one final chance to view Ohio’s State Artifact, the Adena Effigy Pipe. The Pipe is featured in the international touring exhibit The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky. It seems like yesterday Curator of Archaeology, Brad Lepper, and I were at the installation in Paris for the opening of this exhibit at the Musée du Quai Branly. (Click here for more on that adventure!)
I made it! Adena Man lying in his shipping crate awaiting condition reporting and installation.

I made it! Adena Man lying in his shipping crate awaiting condition reporting and installation.


Recently, I traveled to New York City to assist with the unpacking and assessment of the pipe’s condition before it was installed. The Adena Effigy Pipe is at the front and center of the exhibit, welcoming visitors into the gallery and kicks off the period in Native American history before European contact on the exhibit’s timeline.

It is an honor for us to share Ohio’s State Artifact with museums on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, but we are looking forward to its return to the Ohio History Center in Summer 2015 for our visitors to enjoy.

For more information on this exhibit at the Met, click here. Adena Man has been on the go in New York City since my visit. See what he’s been up to on the Ohio History Connection Archaeology Blog.

Installation complete! The original Adena Man is safe and sound in his display case with custom mount.  His alter ego looks on.

Installation complete! Adena Man is safe and sound in his display case with custom mount. His alter ego looks on.

#PlainsIndians

Lesley Poling, Registrar

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