Getting Started on Your Genealogy Webinar

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Learn how research tools like vital statistics, census records, land records and probate files can help you build your family tree. We’ll also provide you with additional resources like military records, church records and newspapers that will help light the way for your research journey.

Date:January 15, 2015

Time: 7-9 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

Cost: $15 for members of the Ohio History Connection or Franklin County Genealogical
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Call for 1950s Pop Culture Objects!

Did you grow up with Superman? Do you remember Ruth Lyons? Did you collect Elvis records?

From the collections of the Ohio History Connection, the Mills Brothers, a music group from Piqua, Ohio.

From the collections of the Ohio History Connection, the Mills Brothers, a music group from Piqua, Ohio.

This summer, the Ohio History Center is changing some of its collections on exhibit in 1950s:Living the American Dream. We are featuring objects that tell the story of popular culture during the 1950s including toys from the Roy Rodgers show, a jukebox, and comic books.

We are looking for objects that relate to music, television, movies, comic books, and other popular culture during the 1950s. If you are interesting in donating something to the Ohio History Connection, send an email with your name, contact information, and a short description of the objects to collections@ohiohistory.org or call us at 614-297-2535.

Emily Lang, History Curator

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The Dining Establishments of Lazarus

To hear more about the Chintz Room and other Lazarus Dining establishments and to see objects purchased from the Lazarus Company, join Curator Emily Lang Saturday, January 17th at 2 pm at the Ohio History Center. Curator Talks are free with admission.

In late 2014, the Columbus Food League opened a re-imagined Chintz Room. The Chintz Room had become something of a legend in central Ohio, a dining establishment opened for 45 years in the downtown location of the Lazarus Company Store. The menu celebrates favorites of the former restaurant, including the famed celery dressing, in addition to current food trends, like a cauliflower steak. While many fondly remember the original incarnation of the restaurant, the opening created many questions for younger residents and new transplants to the city.

Exterior view of the F. & R. Lazarus Company building, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1909-1912.

Exterior view of the F. & R. Lazarus Company building, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1909-1912.

What was Lazarus?

The F and R Lazarus & Company was started as a one room men’s clothing store in Columbus, Ohio in 1851 by tailor and Prussian immigrant Simon Lazarus. Simon’s sons help grow the company rapidly into a large scale department store as they expanded into ready to wear clothing. On Monday, August 17, 1909, the company opened the doors of its new building on the northwest corner of High and Town Streets under the ownership of Fred Lazarus. This building became known as the flagship or “main store” of the company as it expanded throughout the 20th century. In 1929, several department stores, including Lazarus, combined to form the Federated Department Stores, headquartered in Columbus.

Chintz Room at the F. & R. Lazarus Company, 1953.

Chintz Room at the F. & R. Lazarus Company, 1953.

What was the Chintz Room?

In 1953, the fifth floor tea room was remolded and opened as the  “Chintz Room”, named for its chintz-patterned curtains. The restaurant served both lunch and dinner and became infamous for its chicken salad with pineapples and pecans; it is still the most requested Lazarus recipe today. The Chintz Room became a destination point for residents of the city and visitors passing through; a jockey sculpture greeted visitors to its doors. Many women remember getting dressed up in white gloves and hats to go to the restaurant; others remember dining there as a special treat before seeing a live show downtown. The menu featured special items for children under 12 (golden macaroni au gratin) and teenagers (barbecued meat balls kabob in finger bun). The “wee tot” could indulge in JoJo ice cream sundaes; the toasted pecan ice cream ball with chocolate fudge sauce became a must have for many adult patrons of the Chintz Room. The dishes became so popular that Lazarus introduced a “take home” section for those not wanting to dine in with chicken salad, dressings, and desserts. As mall food courts became increasingly popular, the restaurants in Lazarus began to suffer.  On January 30, 1998, the Chintz room closed after 45 years of service.

The Colonial Room restaurant at the F. & R. Lazarus Company, taken in the early 1950s.

The Colonial Room restaurant at the F. & R. Lazarus Company, taken in the early 1950s.

How many restaurants did the downtown Lazarus Company store run?

The flagship store feature dozens of restaurants throughout the years. Historians David Meyers, Beverly Meyers, and Elise Meyers Walker put together a comprehensive list of some of the dining establishments in their book Looking To Lazarus including the Highlander Grill, the Copper Kettle, the Buckeye Room, and the Colonial Room. There was even a cafeteria for workers and an executive dining room in the main building. However, the downtown store featured many smaller and specialized eateries including a bake shop and various pop up shops, so an exact number of restaurants has not been complied.

Did you ever eat at the Chintz Room? What do you remember about the food at Lazarus?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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2014: A Big Year for the Ohio History Connection’s Collection!

2014 was a big year for the collections of the Ohio History Connection. Objects traveled around the world, new exhibits opened featuring objects never before seen by the public, and new objects were acquired that will help us to connect with Ohio’s past, understand the present and create a better future. Some highlights include:

Adena Effigy Pipe (replica) at the Eiffel Tower.

Adena Effigy Pipe (replica) at the Eiffel Tower.

The Adena Effigy Pipe traveled to Paris, France for an exhibit, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, at the Musée du Quai Branly. In 2015 the pipe will continue traveling with the exhibit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

A passenger pigeon on loan to the Cincinnati Zoo received a much needed cleaning from Natural History Curator Dave Dyer, including removing arsenic from the specimen.

Our Polly Crockett hat, a girl’s hat produced by Sanitized in the late 1950s made of faux fur in pink, white, and green and featuring a drawing of Davy Crockett’s first wife, Polly, was included in the Museum of American History‘s blog, O Say Can You See?. The hat was also chosen as one of the 25 Artifacts of the American Childhood by the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association.

Buttons, cleaned and ready for exhibit.

Buttons, cleaned and ready for exhibit.

Two new exhibitions opened at the Ohio History Center this year: Going, Going, Gone and Reflections of an Artist: Emerson BurkhartGoing, Going, Gone explores how species go from enormously large populations to the brink of extinction or cease to exist altogether. It features one of the last known wild passenger pigeons, Buttons, who was found in Ohio and is a part of the Ohio History Connection’s permanent collection. Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart explores Emerson Burkhart (1905-1969) who ruled the Columbus art scene during the 1950s and 1960s with his honest portraits and depictions of life in the city. While Burkhart was praised for his artistic skill, conflicts in his personal and professional life prevented him from receiving national attention. Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart displays never seen artwork by Burkhart, including the original sketches for the controversial mural Music.

Elijah Pierce pieces on exhibit in the History Mall at the Ohio History Center.

Elijah Pierce pieces on exhibit in the History Mall at the Ohio History Center.

In addition to new exhibits, several new objects have been added to the permanent exhibits of the Ohio History Center. Four pieces made by Columbus Folk Artist Elijah Pierce were added to the History Mall located on the first floor of the museum. New textiles were added to the first floor as well, exploring the relationship between the political experience and textiles.

Several new collections were added to the permanent collection this year. Some of the highlights include a large donation of toys made by the Ohio Art Company, the American Lung Association of Ohio donated a large collection of archival materials documenting the fight against tuberculosis, the Natural History Curators received a mastodon vertebra anonymously donated,  and the Archaeology department received over 20,000 artifacts found at the home of President Harding. The Zouave Ambrotype, missing since 1978, was finally return to the Campus Martius Museum.

Parlor at the Rankin House

Parlor at the Rankin House

The Rankin House, a National Historic Landmark and that was part of the Underground Railroad, re-opened after an extensive renovation on August 23, 2014 and features objects from the collection never exhibited before.

Artist Drew Ernst.

Artist Drew Ernst.

We hosted hundreds of visiting researchers who examined our collections and added to our institutional knowledge. Artist Drew Ernst was inspired by objects in our Natural History collection, creating a new piece based on the Northern Harrier. Students from the Ohio State University Department of Art visited the Ohio History Center to examine the coffin of Neskhonspakhered. The Ohio History Connection sponsored the I Found It In The Archives contest; winner Deborah Tracy discovered her maternal great-grandfather name’s was Jasper Haddock, an ancestor previously unknown to her family, and that he served in the heralded 55th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.

History Curator Becky Preiss Odom.

History Curator Becky Preiss Odom.

In addition to adding objects to the permanent collection, three new staff members joined the Ohio History Connection curatorial staff this year, Kellie Locke-Rogers, an Archaeology Collections AssistantErin Cashion, a Natural History Curator, and Becky Preiss Odom, a History Curator.

Research by the collections staff was highlighted in many media outlets this year. Senior Archaeology Curator Brad Lepper wrote one of the most viewed columns of the year for the Columbus Dispatch entitled, “Flint tool disappeared with Hopewell Culture”. Dr. Lepper and Natural History Curator Dave Dyer also were featured in a panel about the future of the planet at the Columbus Metropolitan Club which aired on local television stations. Archaeology Curators Bill Pickard and Linda Pansing shared the story of how mounds built by the Adena Culture were discovered in Clintonville in the Columbus Neighborhoods series on WOSU. History Curator Cliff Eckle demonstrated how a flint lock rifle is loaded on the Worthington episode of the series.  While History Curator Emily Lang discussed the life of Emerson Burkhart on the WOSU series Broad and High.

Thanks for making 2014 a great year for the Ohio History Connection! What do you look forward to seeing from us next year?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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More Connections to Ohio Toys!

Thanks to the suggestions of our readers, we have complied a second list of Ohio toy companies.

Toys are a 22.09 billion dollar industry a year in the United States. The highest number of toy sales traditionally happens in December, as families across the United States prepare to celebrate the holidays. Ohio has long been at the forefront of the toy industry, dating back to the mid-19th century.

Marble found during excavations at Adena.

Marble found during excavations at Adena.

Akron was formally one of the largest producing marble playing set cities in the country. Comprised of several marble makers and creators around the city, the industry rapidly grew in the city, “In the 1880s, Akron marble maker Sam Dyke churned out more than 1 million clay marbles a day – believed to be the first time in history a toy company mass-produced a product aimed specifically for children.”[1] In 1903, Martin Frederick Christensen made the first machine-made glass marbles on his patented machine in Akron. The companies expanded to other industries; the American Marble & Toy Manufacturing Co. produced the oldest known figurine of Santa Claus, known as the Blue Santa.[2] By the 1950s, Japanese toy makers had introduced inexpensive cats-eye marbles and quickly began to outsell American makers. Companies and makers in Akron quickly began to shut production of marbles down and turn to other products; in 2010, Jabo, the last marble maker in Ohio, closed. In 1991, the non-profit organization, the American Toy Marble Museum was founded and the group opened their museum in Akron in 1995 to honor the city’s marble making history.

Courtesy of the Barberton Public Library, these Tod-L-Tim and Tod-L-Dee rubber dolls were created by the Sun Rubber Company.

Courtesy of the Barberton Public Library, these Tod-L-Tim and Tod-L-Dee rubber dolls were created by the Sun Rubber Company.

Sun Rubber Toys of Barberton, Ohio was founded in 1923, in the midst of a rubber boom for the area, as wartime rationing ended for companies. The Sun Rubber Toy Company produced rubber toy and squeak dolls, including many licensed characters like Gerber Baby dolls, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck. The company learned to adapt during rationing in WWII, making rubber gas masks for citizens, including one in the shape of Mickey Mouse. In February 1949, Sun Rubber introduced Amosandra, the radio daughter of Amos and Ruby from Columbia Broadcasting’s Amos n’ Andy show, “employment at the plant increased from 800 to 1,150 to meet production demands of 12,000 dolls per day.”[3] In 1957, with the creation of easier and cheaper new materials, the company started to use vinyl in their toy productions. Unfortunately, the company was unable to keep up toy trends and rising labor costs; they shut their doors in 1974.

The Mascon Toy Company originally started as part of The Steel Stamping Company in the early 1920s in Lorain, Ohio. The company began producing toy telephones and play furniture during the 1950s; in 1962, Masco acquired the company. After lackluster sales, Masco sold off the branch and in January 1965 it officially became the Mascon Toy Company, creating over 50 different plastic toys for preschoolers. The company is perhaps based known for the Lil’ Nuffins Little People set. After suffering sales, the company changed its name in 1974 to Blazon-Flexible Flyer Mascon Toys before finally shutting down in 1975.

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First organized as the Kenton Lock Manufacturing Company in 1890, the Kenton Hardware Company quickly became one of the world’s largest cast iron toy factories.  The Kenton Hardware Company was promoted as “the largest factory in the USA exclusively making cast iron toys” at the turn of the twentieth century. One of Hardin County’s largest employers, the factory produced a variety of toys that were miniature versions of fire engines, circus wagons, carriages, banks, trains, and stoves. The company’s 1923 catalog included more than 700 toys. In 1937, the company introduced its most famous top, the Gene Autry toy pistol; 2 million sold in the first year alone.  After WWII, cheaper materials like plastic were introduced, making it difficult for the company to keep competitive pricing on its expensive cast iron toys. The company officially dissolved in 1956, but its toys remain highly sought after today.

Richard and Sarah Grosvenor began producing toys for infants in their home in Piqua, Ohio in the 1940s when their son Michael, nicknamed “Tykie”, began teething. They produced primarily “crib toys” made of Bakelite. By 1944, the Tykie Toy Company had 15 employees and their products were sold across the nation, at stores like Marshall Field’s. Production was halted briefly after WWII during the coal strike of 1946. The company reopened in 1947, but never held the popularity it had before the strike, shutting down in 1952.

CaptureCharles William Doepke opened a small metal stamping business in the late 1930s in the Oakley neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. After government contracts ended after WWII, Doepke ventured into toy production in 1946, creating small metal cars. These cars became known as Doepke Model Toys; due to Doepke’s experience in metal, he was able to create almost exact replicas on a miniature scale. In 1959, the company shut down, but Doepke model toys are some of the most collectable toys today.

Lazarus Family Collection, photograph of Nadine Burden's son admiring a toy plane in The F. & R. Lazarus Company's toy department, ca. 1950-1959.

Lazarus Family Collection, photograph of Nadine Burden’s son admiring a toy plane in The F. & R. Lazarus Company’s toy department, ca. 1950-1959.

The yo-yo is generally credited as the second oldest toy in the world. One of the largest Yo-Yo producers actually has its roots in Ohio. The Duncan Toy Company was founded in 1929 by Donald Duncan in California aimed to produce mass quantities of yo-yos. The company quickly became synonymous with yo-yos producing millions a year.  The company moved produced to Wisconsin, but by the mid-1960s, it was forced to file for bankruptcy after the yo-yo fad died out. In 1968, the Flambeau Company bought out the Duncan Toy Company and moved the company to its headquarters in Middlefield, Ohio. The newly acquired company was re-marketed and became a hit once more, launching several lines and designs of yo-yos. The company continues to produce yo-yos today and even sponsors the yo-yo world championship.

A newer Ohio toy company was started in 2002, but quickly became a staple in the toy industry. Dunecraft Products was launched in Chagrin Falls, Ohio by entrepreneur Grover Cleveland (a descendent of 22nd President of the US), originally housed in his home, for the production of a cactus growing kit for kids known as the Odd Pod. The kit became so successful, the company expanded, offering over 300 products today and moved its headquarters to a large plant in Warrensville Heights, Ohio.[4]

The Berlin Wood Products Company started in 1965 by John Yoder in Millersburg, Ohio as a lawn and garden tool manufacturer, selling various models of wheelbarrows and moving carts. In the early 70s, the company developed the Berlin Flyer Wooden Wagon as a way to use wood material not suitable for other products. The wagon became so successful, it sold more than any other product made by the company. The company continues to make all of the parts of the wagon in Ohio today.

Did you have toys made by any of these companies? What other Ohio made toys do you know of?

Emily Lang, History Curator

[1] Sell, Jill. “Spherical Fun.” Ohio Magazine, February 1, 2007.

[2] “Blue Santa.” The American Toy Marble Museum Akron, Ohio. Accessed December 15, 2014. http://www.americantoymarbles.com/.

[3] Rinker, Harry. “The End Of The Sun Rubber Story.” The Morning Call, April 22, 1990.

[4] Seeds, Dennis. “Grant Cleveland Began DuneCraft with Odd Pods, and Now He’s the Odds-on Favorite.” Smart Business Magazine. August 1, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2014. http://www.sbnonline.com/article/grant-cleveland-began-dunecraft-odd-pods-now-hes-odds-favorite/.

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Holiday Celebrations in the 1950s

Staff prep the aluminum Christmas tree in the Lustron House.

Staff prep the aluminum Christmas tree in the Lustron House.

Here at the Ohio History Center, we have been busy decking the halls in our Lustron House for the upcoming holiday season. Visitors to the house will see an aluminum Christmas tree, play musical records from the 1950s, and enjoy other décor from the decade. Many people look fondly back on that period, portrayed in movies like White Christmas, as a time of newly created traditions. Even the first White House Christmas card was sent during the administration of Dwight David Eisenhower in 1953. How did many of the traditions we associate with Christmas today emerge from the 1950s and why did other traditions from this time period disappear?

Post World War II, many Americans enjoyed an increased income and standard of living thanks to the GI bill and affordable housing. This led to a boost in consumer spending, allowing for new traditions to emerge with a new class of consumers. Larger houses in the suburbs had more land and more space in the home for material goods. In addition to the creation of a large toy industry, other industries began to emerge to create new traditions. Many of these traditions related to material culture from the 1950s continue to exist today.

From the Michael John Petrucci Collection (SC 5738), getting ready for Christmas at the U.S. First Marine Aircraft Base (K-3) in Pohang Dong, Korea, 1953.

From the Michael John Petrucci Collection (SC 5738), getting ready for Christmas at the U.S. First Marine Aircraft Base (K-3) in Pohang Dong, Korea, 1953.

A survey from 2013 found that of the U.S. homes that display Christmas trees, 79% of them use artificial trees. This practice has its roots in the 1950s. Christmas trees, a tradition from Germany, became popular in the U.S.; by the 1920s, many American homes had real Christmas trees. As shortages began to ease after World War II, companies, like DuPont, experimented with new materials to make consumer goods that were cheaper and higher quality products.  This extended to Christmas trees.  In 1950, the Addis Brush Company patented an aluminum Christmas tree. This tree was silver and came with a rotating color wheel, intended for the light of the wheel to reflect off the silver branches of the tree. This also eliminated the need for Christmas lights to be strung on the tree, which would have been a fire hazard. Aluminum Christmas trees became widely popular in the 1950s, found in many homes across the country. By the 1960s, Americans had moved on to more realistic looking artificial trees, but some still carry on the tradition of the aluminum Christmas tree today.

From the Lazarus Family Collection, Tree of Lights on The F. & R. Lazarus Company water tower, on West Walnut and West Town Streets, ca. 1965.

From the Lazarus Family Collection, Tree of Lights on The F. & R. Lazarus Company water tower, on West Walnut and West Town Streets, ca. 1965.

In Germany, candles were placed on the exterior of houses to signify the celebration of Christmas. This tradition carried over to the United States in the early 1900s, but with the introduction of electricity the invention of Christmas lights was possible.  Bubble lights, a decorative device consisting of a liquid-filled vial, were actually patented in 1935, but wartime shortages stopped their production. After World War II, new materials and higher consumer incomes lead to the rise of popularity of bubble lights and newly developed electric lights. The Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York City was lit with its first electric lights in 1956.  Disney’s Christmas tree began in 1956. Bubble lights were out of fashion by the 1960s, but electric lights continue to light up trees, homes and businesses across the country today.

An article from the Amherst News-Times in 2006 explaining how to track Santa with NORAD.

An article from the Amherst News-Times in 2006 explaining how to track Santa with NORAD.

Another tradition that emerged during the 1950s was the tracking of Santa Claus by NORAD. In 1955, “a Sears department store in Colorado Springs, Colorado, advertised a telephone hotline whereby children could call and personally speak to Santa. The number was misprinted, however, and calls went to NORAD’s front runner, the Continental Air Defense Command Center.”[1] The Colonel at CONRAD ordered personnel to give the location of Santa to children who called in, creating a tradition that continues at NORAD today. The center receives over 70,000 calls each Christmas Eve; tracking information is even available on the social media sites Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

From the collections of the Ohio History Connection, the Mahon family, from Lakewood, visit with Santa at Halle’s in 1964, proudly wearing their keys from Mr. Jingeling.

One tradition that has not continued its popularity is the character of Mr. Jingeling. Mr. Jingeling was the “Keeper of the Keys” to Santa’s Workshop. Originally created by Halle’s Department Store in Cleveland, Ohio as a promotion in 1956, the character became so popular, he quickly became a staple for the store. Mr. Jingeling “was a key-making elf who saved Christmas one holiday season when Santa lost the keys to his Treasure House of Toys. Jingeling fashioned new keys for Santa, who was thus able to gain access to toys and carry on with Christmas gift giving. As a reward for saving Christmas for all the good boys and girls, Mr. Jingeling was made the official “keeper of the keys” which he always had in hand at all times.”[2] Mr. Jingeling even made television appearances played by Max Ellis, an actor from the Playhouse Theater. Mr. Jingeling appeared every year in the store until the closing in 1982; he was moved to Santaland on the 10th floor of Higbee’s Department Store, but no longer had the following he once did. Mr. Jingeling still makes some appearances at Cleveland events, but never matched the popularity as he did during the 1950s.[3]

From the B'Nai B'Rith Hillel Foundation Audiovisual Collection, student choir of the B' Nai B' Rith Hillel Foundation at Ohio State University performing for Chanukah, 1958.

From the B’Nai B’Rith Hillel Foundation Audiovisual Collection, student choir of the B’ Nai B’ Rith Hillel Foundation at Ohio State University performing for Chanukah, 1958.

It is interesting to note as Christian Americans embraced new traditions surrounding Christmas during the 1950s, the prevalence of Hanukkah as a major holiday emerged during this time period. Hanukkah was traditionally a minor holiday commemorating an Israelite revolt against the Syrians, usually celebrated with a small gift of gelt (chocolate coins). While many Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s actually celebrated Christmas as a means to “Americanize”, many of their second generation children did not accept celebrating a Christian holiday. Due to the close proximity of Hanukkah and Christmas, many Jewish families began giving gifts to their children for Hanukkah instead of the traditional gelt.  As author David Greenberg explains, “After World War II, as Jews moved with other Americans to suburbia, Hanukkah shored up its place as their No. 1 holiday. In the early ’50s, in a famous Middletown-style study of a Chicago suburb referred to as “Lakeville,” sociologist Marshall Sklare found that lighting the Hanukkah candles ranked as the most popular “mitzvah,” above hosting a Passover Seder and observing the Sabbath.”[4] Indeed by the end of the 1950s, “Chanukah’s accoutrements had grown to include paper decorations, greeting cards, napkins, wrapping paper, ribbons, chocolates, games and phonograph records.”[5] The consumer culture surrounding the holiday made it almost bigger than the commemoration itself, as companies looked to promote the “Jewish Christmas”.[6] Hanukkah has come to symbolize Jewish holidays in much of American culture, despite the fact that it is still not a major religious holiday.

From the Ohio History Connection's collection, plastic Christmas decoration features Santa Claus in a sleigh with a single reindeer. The item is painted red and green and dates from 1955.

From the Ohio History Connection’s collection, plastic Christmas decoration features Santa Claus in a sleigh with a single reindeer. The item is painted red and green and dates from 1955.

Do you take part in any of these traditions? What do you remember about the holidays during the 1950s?

 

Emily Lang, History Curator

 

Bibliography:

Crump, William D. “NORAD Tracks Santa.” In The Christmas Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001.

Davis, Heidi. “A Brief History of Christmas Lights.” Popular Mechanics, December 1, 2012.

Greenberg, David. “Christmas for Jews: How Hanukkah Became a Major Holiday.” Slate Magazine. December 16, 1998. Accessed December 11, 2014.

Joselit, Jenna Weissman. The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture 1880-1950. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.

McDannell, Colleen. Religions of the United States in Practice. Vol. 2. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Morreall, John, and Tamara Sonn. “Hanukkah Is For the Jews as Christmas is for the Christians.” In 50 Great Myths About Religions. Google EBook.

Weeks, Linton. “Begun The Christmas Tree War Has.” NPR. December 10, 2014. Accessed December 12, 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/theprotojournalist/2014/12/10/369368167/begun-the-christmas-tree-war-has.

 

[1] Crump, William D. “NORAD Tracks Santa.” In The Christmas Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001.

[2] Faircloth, Christopher. “Christmas Time Windows, Keys, and Giant Trees.” In Cleveland’s Department Stores. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Pub., 2009.

[3] Rusek, Joan. “Mr. Jingeling Still Makes Cleveland Hearts Go Tingeling.” Cleveland.com. December 22, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2014. http://www.cleveland.com/shaker-heights/index.ssf/2013/12/mr_jingeling_still_makes_cleve.html

[4] Greenberg, David. “Christmas for Jews: How Hanukkah Became a Major Holiday.” Slate Magazine. December 16, 1998. Accessed December 11, 2014.

[5] Joselit, Jenna Weissman. The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture 1880-1950. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.

[6] Morreall, John, and Tamara Sonn. “Hanukkah Is For the Jews as Christmas Is for the Christians.” In 50 Great Myths About Religions. Google EBook.

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Last Week We Packed a Museum

How, you may be wondering, does one pack a museum? Or perhaps a better place to start would be why would one want to pack a museum?

Interior view of the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Ohio during the packing process.

Interior view of the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Ohio during the packing process.


The Museum of Ceramics, an Ohio History Connection site in East Liverpool, is about to undergo a major construction project. The museum is located in a beautiful 1909 building that once housed the Post Office. The high, vaulted ceilings and marble floors and wainscoting create an impressive atmosphere for displaying the pottery created in and around East Liverpool. However, the building does not currently have air conditioning. You can imagine the discomfort this causes visitors and staff on hot summer days; in addition, high temperatures are not ideal for preserving the objects, photographs, and archival materials in the museum’s care.

While we are excited that the Museum of Ceramics will soon have air conditioning, construction projects large and small pose dangers to collections. Workers moving throughout the building and the use of tools and heavy equipment will cause the building—and the exhibit cases and objects it contains—to vibrate. These vibrations can dislodge objects from their mounts and cause them to fall and break. In addition, the Canadian Conservation Institute, in a study of physical agents that cause deterioration in museums, found that prolonged or continuous vibrations are also dangerous because they can cause the materials to fatigue, which can result in visible cracking on the surface of the object. Fatigue is therefore particularly concerning for pottery that can break as a result of this cracking.

Collections packed and protected from construction dust and vibration.

Collections packed and protected from construction dust and vibration.


To protect the pottery from the potential dangers of construction, it had to be removed from display and stored in a safe place. A team of staff from the Ohio History Connection and the ICA Art Conservation who regularly work with historic objects and archival materials worked for four days in the museum. We removed countless tea cups, saucers, bowls, vases, and other pottery forms from the exhibit cases. Each piece of pottery was individually wrapped in thin newsprint for padding and packed in boxes. These boxes were then stored in areas that will be free of construction in order to protect their contents from harmful vibrations.

Some pieces of pottery are particularly delicate and required a slightly different method of packing. Lotus Ware, a fine porcelain made in the 1890s by the Knowles, Taylor & Knowles Company in East Liverpool, is a very thin and delicate type of pottery. Much of the Lotus Ware at the Museum of Ceramics has ornate, applied decorations that can be easily broken off if the objects are packed too tightly or wrapped in rough paper. . We wrapped these objects in layers of very thin newsprint and placed them upright in boxes surrounded by padding (i.e. crumpled pieces of newsprint) to insulate them and protect them from damage. Handles and other protruding elements were first wrapped with small, crumpled pieces of extra thin newsprint, as were thin and delicate parts of objects, such as the necks of vases. Particularly delicate pieces were also wrapped in a layer of bubble wrap before they were placed in boxes, and each box was padded with crumpled newsprint and bubble wrap for additional protection.

Curator Becky Odom (and Registrar Jessica Johnson) packing collections at the Museum of Ceramics prior to construction.

Curator Becky Odom and Registrar Jessica Johnson packing collections at the Museum of Ceramics prior to construction.


In addition to pottery, the Museum of Ceramics contains paintings, photographs, and archival materials that also required protection from the upcoming construction. We placed a strip of cardboard over the face of each painting and then wrapped the entire piece in ethofoam, a thin, foamy material. Larger paintings were placed in a large box separated by sheets of cardboard and strips of ethofoam. This method of storage is ideal for oil paintings that cannot be stored flat. Like the three-dimensional objects, we moved photographs, bound newspaper volumes, and other papers in the museum’s archives away from the areas that will be under construction. Some of these materials were small enough to be stored in boxes and moved to other parts of the museum; others we placed on tables in a secure area. Plastic sheeting will protect items stored in boxes and file cabinets near the construction areas from dust and other debris.

Whether you have a large museum collection or just a few items in your home, construction projects large and small are a danger to these objects. But you can protect your collection by planning ahead and carefully storing any objects or paper materials in safe spaces away from the work.

Becky Odom, History Curator

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