Historic Housekeeping: Wood Objects

Antiques and family heirlooms made of wood are very common in private homes and collections. In my family, we have a beautiful small oak table made by a great-great-great-great uncle that has been handed down and is now my mother’s. My husband’s family has a large collection of hand carved wooden ornaments and wall hangings made by his father’s aunt to celebrate special occasions. Many people take pride in their antique furniture, decorative art pieces, and hardwood floors. In this post, I’ll discuss ways of maintaining and caring for the wooden objects that you own.

As with our textile collection, we take a “less is more” approach to cleaning wooden objects at the Ohio History Connection. Removing surface dust and particles makes up a majority of our regular cleaning of wood. There are several products we use on a regular basis to help gently dust wooden surfaces:

Dust bunny

Dust Bunny

Dust Bunny cloths are lint-free and made of a combination of Tyvek and nylon. This soft material will not damage wood finishes. Dust Bunny cloths are also chemical-free, which means they won’t leave behind any harmful residue or deposits. Dust Bunny cloths are reusable and machine washable.

 

 

Swiffer

Swiffer ™ dry dusting cloths

Swiffer dusting cloths can also be used, but only the dry varieties. These cloths typically come with a short handle which the cloth slips on – don’t use this handle when dusting your antique wooden pieces, as parts of the handle can poke through and scratch surfaces. Be sure not to use cloths that have been treated with any sort of cleaning solution. Many store brands also make their own version of these dry cloths.

Star

StarFiber ™ cloths

These square cloths are made of microfiber and, like the Dust Bunny cloths, are machine washable and reusable. They work well for a variety of wooden surfaces.

Brush

If the object you are dusting has carved elements, you can use a similar technique that we previously described in our textiles blog post. Using a natural bristle brush, gently “flick” the dust has gathered in carved areas or crevices into one of the dusting cloths mentioned above. Use caution when the brush has a metal piece to avoid scratching the surface you are dusting.

Generally speaking, dusting is the only true “cleaning” method we use on wood. Finished wood pieces can be waxed; however, we recommend waxing very infrequently. Every other year or so is sufficient and will cut down on waxy buildup that can damage wood surfaces. We generally use Renaissance Wax on furniture pieces – be sure to use a soft lint-free cloth (such as the Dust Bunny) to buff the wax off. Use caution to avoid getting wax on any upholstery that may be on wood furniture.

One last note about wooden objects: try to avoid storing and displaying wooden pieces in a room or area where the temperature can change rapidly. Wood expands in the heat and shrinks in the cold; over time, too many of these abrupt temperature changes can cause splits and cracks in wooden objects. Keep objects away from drafty areas that may retain a lot of heat in warmer months and let a lot of cooler air in during the winter.

What are some of your favorite wood pieces that you own? How have you cared for your own collection?

Jessica Mayercin Johnson, Assistant Registrar

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Exciting Happenings in the History Collections: 9 New Textile Cabinets!

Stainless steel cabinets allow us to better preserve textiles.

Stainless steel cabinets allow us to better preserve textiles.

The Ohio History Connection’s history curators are thrilled to announce the arrival of 9 new stainless steel cabinets! These cabinets will rehouse a portion of our clothing collection that has been stored for nearly 40 years in  wooden cabinets with muslin coverings. While the wooden cabinets have allowed us to hang clothing and protect it from dust—two very important components of textile preservation—the steel cabinets are a huge improvement. The sealed doors will keep mice and other pests out of the clothing, and steel, unlike wood, is acid-free and will not discolor or otherwise damage fabric that comes into contact with it.

Hanging textiles are temporarily stored on rolling racks and on poles in the hanging flag rack.

Hanging textiles are temporarily stored on rolling racks and on poles in the hanging flag rack.

The acquisition and installation of these cabinets was no small feat. The cost of the cabinets was particularly prohibitive; a generous bequest specifically for collections storage made purchasing these 9 cabinets possible. In preparation for the new cabinets, the textiles in the old cabinets and the boxes of objects on top of them had to be moved to temporary locations. Each object’s catalog number, old location, and new temporary location had to be documented. It took the history curators, registrars, and an intern working together over the course of two weeks to accomplish all of this. Clothing was hung on poles in our hanging flag storage rack and on rolling racks, and boxed items were placed on large carts throughout the warehouse.

History Curator Cliff Eckle maneuvers the cabinets with a forklift.

History Curator Cliff Eckle maneuvers the cabinets with a forklift.

Getting the cabinets into the building proved more difficult than we had anticipated. The delivery truck was too large to back up to our loading dock, so we unloaded the truck in the middle of our complex using a forklift. With the help of archaeologists and members of the history services division, we chiseled the ice off of our ramp and pulled and pushed the cabinets inside using a pallet jack. Once inside, we pushed the cabinets into place and unwrapped and leveled them.

Manuscripts Processing Assistant Adria Seccareccia chisels ice from the warehouse ramp.

Manuscripts Processing Assistant Adria Seccareccia chisels ice from the warehouse ramp.

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The cabinets enter the warehouse with the help of a pallet jack and willing volunteers.

Manuscripts Curator Matt Benz and Assistant Curator of Archaeology Bill Pickard use a pallet jack to move a cabinet.

Manuscripts Curator Matt Benz and Assistant Curator of Archaeology Bill Pickard use a pallet jack to move a cabinet.

History Curator Emily Lang removes the wrapping from the new cabinets.

History Curator Emily Lang removes the wrapping from the new cabinets.

History Curator Becky Odom inspects the new cabinets.

History Curator Becky Odom inspects the new cabinets.

Now that we have our beautiful new cabinets, we will begin moving the textiles from their temporary racks to their new homes. Again, we will document each object, its current temporary location, and its new permanent location. Now all we need is about 25 more of these cabinets, and we’ll have the whole civilian textile collection rehoused!

Becky Odom, History Curator

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Fun Facts about White Castle

In the third post of our series about the history of White Castle restaurants we report some interesting company trivia.

  • First company newsletter published in 1926 was called the “Hot Hamburger”
  • Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram had an airplane to travel to their restaurants
Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram with their airplane.

Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram with their airplane.

  • Design of the classic porcelain steel White Castles was based on the Chicago Water Tower
  • Created first movable metal building in 1928
  • First White Castle opens in Columbus on June 3, 1929 at 49 S. Front St. Typical of early locations, it was on a small lot in the central city

Exterior view of the first White Castle restaurant opened in Columbus, Ohio.

Exterior view of the first White Castle restaurant opened in Columbus, Ohio.


Poster advertising the health benefits of White Castle hamburgers.

Poster advertising the health benefits of White Castle hamburgers.

  • In 1930 a medical student lived on nothing but White Castle hamburgers and water for 13 weeks and maintained good health
  • During World War II the Porcelain Steel Buildings division that normally fabricated the metal restaurant buildings and fixtures made parts for amphibious trucks used by the U.S. Army called “ducks”
  • Flew White Castle hamburgers to U.S. Marines stationed in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982
  • It would take roughly 9,966,840 White Castle burgers to fill the Archives/Library Research Room on the third floor of the Ohio History Center per our staff’s calculations
Research Room on the third floor of the Ohio History Center.

Research Room on the third floor of the Ohio History Center.

  • On three griddles a White Castle can cook 2,000 hamburgers an hour
  • In 1992 Ernest L. Meyer took White Castle hamburgers from St. Louis to Antarctica; they were still hot.
  • St. Louis, not the company headquarters Columbus, is the city in which White Castle has had restaurants for the longest period of time

The Ohio History Connection Archives/Library has held the White Castle System, Inc. corporate records since 1995. They are available to the public for research in the Archives/Library Research Room, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM. Things you can find in the corporate records include, but are not limited to:

  • Restaurant history files track when restaurants were opened and closed
  • Minutes of annual meeting minutes document corporate decisions
  • Company newsletters report milestones and information about employees
  • Product packages, advertising materials and photographs covering decades

Example of White Castle coupon that was once distributed in the Cincinnati area from the White Castle corporate archives.

Example of White Castle coupon that was once distributed in the Cincinnati area from the White Castle corporate archives.


A selection of photographs and posters from the White Castle records have been digitized. Click here to view the White Castle Digital Collection in our digital library, Ohio Memory.

Lisa Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Sources of Information:

All This from a 5-cent Hamburger! The Story of the White Castle System by E.W. Ingram, Sr.

Selling ’em by the Sack, White Castle and the Creation of American Food by David Gerard Hogan

By the Sackful, A Scrapbook with Recipes from 85 Years of White Castle Craving edited by Nicki Pendleton Wood for White Castle Management Company

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Ohio History Connection Collections and Curators in the News

The Ohio History Connection’s collections and curators are in the news!

Collage of Family Photographs
Learn more about preserving your family photographs, traditional prints and digital images, in this article that ran in the Newark Advocate, A Few Simple Steps to Preserve Family Photos. Preservation information is provided by Lisa Wood, curator for visual resources at the Ohio History Connection, and Harry Campbell, conservator at The Ohio State University Libraries.

Formal portrait of history professor Wilbur H. Siebert.

Formal portrait of history professor Wilbur H. Siebert.


In honor of African American History Month Columbus Dispatch columnist Joe Blundo wrote about the Wilbur H. Siebert Collection in his Sunday column. Siebert was a history professor at The Ohio State University who collected oral and written accounts of participants in the Underground Railroad beginning in the 1890s. His students assisted and this information was compiled into books that documented the Underground Railroad in Ohio and other states. There are over 4,000 pages of material in the Siebert Collection, including photographs, related to the Underground Railroad in Ohio that have been digitized. Normally the Siebert Collection is available by subscription, during February it is available online for free. The digital collection is keyword searchable. Type in the name of your city or town and find out if residents once assisted slaves escaping to freedom.

Lisa Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

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White Castle: 1950s to the Present

This is the second in a series of posts about the history of White Castle restaurants. Check in on Tuesday, February 3 to read fun facts about White Castle.

After World War II White Castle, which had been the only hamburger restaurant in some cities, faced growing competition from numerous chains. They stuck to their long time strategy – high quality hamburgers and coffee, cleanliness, good service, happy employees – and continued to succeed.

1950s

Exterior view of the first White Castle opened in Miami, Florida.

Exterior view of the first White Castle opened in Miami, Florida.

  • Fish sandwiches added to menu to boost sales during Lent
  • French fries, which first appeared during World War II, are permanently returned to the menu in 1959
  • Founder Billy Ingram retired to Miami, Florida in 1958
  • Several White Castles opened in Miami

1960s

  • Began using vegetable oil for fried foods
  • Cheeseburgers introduced in 1962
  • Founder Billy Ingram passed away in 1966; his son took over company
  • Miami, Florida restaurant locations are closed
Elevated view of White Castle restaurant in New York city.  It was called New York number 24 because it was the 24th White Castle restaurant opened in that city.

Elevated view of White Castle restaurant in New York city. It was called New York number 24 because it was the 24th White Castle restaurant opened in that city.

1970s

  • Beginning of drive- through service means the end of curb side service that had been offered since the 1930s
  • Third generation of Ingram family is leading the company
Exterior view of White Castle number 26 in Cincinnati, Ohio with a drive-through window.  It was called Cincinnati number 26 because it was the 26th White Castle restaurant opened in that city.

Exterior view of White Castle number 26 in Cincinnati, Ohio with a drive-through window. It was called Cincinnati number 26 because it was the 26th White Castle restaurant opened in that city.

1980s

  • Added breakfast sandwiches to menu in 1986
  • Introduced kids meals in 1987
  • Established WCDI, a division to sell frozen hamburgers in grocery stores
Exterior view of Cincinnati number 19 at night.  White Castle restaurants have always been known for being open late.

Exterior view of Cincinnati number 19 at night. White Castle restaurants have always been known for being open late.

1990s to the Present

  • Corporate headquarters is still in Columbus, Ohio
  • Company is still family run
  • Currently 392 restaurants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
  • Bacon cheeseburgers added in 1992

The Ohio History Connection Archives/Library has held the White Castle System, Inc. corporate records since 1995. They are available to the public for research in the Archives/Library Research Room, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM. Things you can find in the corporate records include, but are not limited to:

Example of poster advertising to families from the White Castle archives.

Example of poster advertising to families from the White Castle archives.

  • Restaurant history files track when restaurants were opened and closed
  • Minutes of annual meeting minutes document corporate decisions
  • Company newsletters report milestones and information about employees
  • Product packages, advertising materials and photographs covering decades

A selection of photographs and posters from the White Castle records have been digitized. Click here to view the White Castle Digital Collection in our digital library, Ohio Memory.

Lisa Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Sources of Information:

All This from a 5-cent Hamburger! The Story of the White Castle System by E.W. Ingram, Sr.

Selling ’em by the Sack, White Castle and the Creation of American Food by David Gerard Hogan

By the Sackful, A Scrapbook with Recipes from 85 Years of White Castle Craving edited by Nicki Pendleton Wood for White Castle Management Company

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White Castle: 1920s through World War II

This is the first in a series of posts about the history of White Castle restaurants. Check in on Friday, January 30 to read more about White Castle from 1950s to the present.

In the words of Billy Ingram, one of the company founders, the history of White Castle is:

Edgar W. "Billy" Ingram, Sr.

Edgar W. “Billy” Ingram, Sr.


…more than the story of the growth of an individual Company: it is the story of originating a new kind of business; the story of developing the hamburger sandwich into its modern, tasty form…”

1920s

  • Real estate agent Billy Ingram met cook Walt Anderson
  • Opened first hamburger stand in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas
  • First restaurants had 5 seats at the counter
  • Hamburgers were 5 cents and their coffee was equally popular

Exterior view of Wichita number 1, the first White Castle restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas

Exterior view of Wichita number 1, the first White Castle restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas


1930s

  • Introduced newspaper coupons
  • Promoted hamburgers to housewives as nutritious family meals
  • Developed cardboard boxes to keep hamburgers warm
  • Moved corporate headquarters from Wichita to Columbus, Ohio in 1934
Example of the female customers that White Castle advertising campaigns targeted in the 1930s.

Example of the female customers that White Castle advertising campaigns targeted in the 1930s.

1940s

  • Hired women to work in the restaurants for the first time during World War II
  • War time shortages of beef, sugar and other foods posed a challenge
  • Restaurants served things that were not typically on the menu like baked beans, coleslaw, egg sandwiches, hot dogs and for the first time, French fries
  • Price of hamburgers up to 10 cents by 1946
Crowded White Castle in the 1940s.

Crowded White Castle in the 1940s.

The Ohio History Connection Archives/Library has held the White Castle System, Inc. corporate records since 1995. They are available to the public for research in the Archives/Library Research Room, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM. A selection of photographs and posters from the White Castle records have been digitized. Click here to view the White Castle Digital Collection in our digital library, Ohio Memory.

Lisa Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Sources of Information:

All This from a 5-cent Hamburger! The Story of the White Castle System by E.W. Ingram, Sr.

Selling ’em by the Sack, White Castle and the Creation of American Food by David Gerard Hogan

By the Sackful, A Scrapbook with Recipes from 85 Years of White Castle Craving edited by Nicki Pendleton Wood for White Castle Management Company

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Emerson Burkhart Exhibit Featured in Documentary

Have you seen Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart at the Ohio History Connection?

Emerson Burkhart working on a self portrait, from the collections of the Ohio History Connection.

Emerson Burkhart working on a self portrait, from the collections of the Ohio History Connection.

The exhibition and curator Emily Lang were recently featured in a documentary about Burkhart’s neighborhood, Woodland Park. The Woodland Park documentary explores the past of a small neighborhood that can be traced back to the post-Revolutionary War days when it became a center of commerce on the east side. The film depicts how area was settled the area in the early 1800s and went through several transformations in the last one hundred years.

Have you been to Woodland Park?

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