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 25 years in “temporary” 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.

IMGP1820

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

Posted in collections | Leave a comment

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

Posted in collections, Digital Projects, Manuscript Collections, Photograph Collections | Leave a comment

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

Posted in collections, Conservation and Preservation, Curators, Digital Projects, Photograph Collections | 1 Comment

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

Posted in collections, Manuscript Collections, Photograph Collections | Leave a comment

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

Posted in collections, Digital Projects, Manuscript Collections, Photograph Collections | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in collections | Leave a comment

Historic Housekeeping: Textiles

Do you have family heirlooms or a favorite antique object displayed in your home that you want to care for and keep clean? Historic housekeeping is aimed at preventing deterioration from occurring, and differs from normal housekeeping where the goal is for squeaky clean surfaces. We always recommend taking a very conservative approach to cleaning objects in our collection. Cleaning an object too often can be just as damaging as not cleaning at all.  In this blog series, we will be giving general advice on how to care for your historic textiles, glass, ceramics, and wood objects.

The textile category covers a wide range of objects – from floor coverings to dresses to handkerchiefs to military uniforms. Remember that textiles are inherently weak – these are objects that have been made, used, mended, and repaired in the past before being displayed in your home. With proper care, these objects and their rich history can be enjoyed by your family for years to come!

It is important to avoid laundering or commercially dry cleaning your historic textiles. The harsh chemicals used in our modern detergents and machines can lead to rapid deterioration of fragile, older, fibers.  Believe it or not, vacuuming and dusting makes up a majority of how we care for our textile collections at the Ohio History Center!

Brush

Begin by using a natural bristle brush to gently sweep dust and dirt from the surface of your textile. These brushes come in a variety of sizes and are easily found at local craft or art supply stores. Use caution if your brush has metal around the bristles, which might snag on loose threads as you dust. You can also cover this metal piece with muslin or cotton to prevent damaging your textile.

Vaccuum

Once you have gently dusted, the ideal method of cleaning an historic textile object is by using a canister vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter and an adjustable suction level to remove surface dust and particles.  Using the lowest suction setting, vacuum using a brush attachment that has been covered with a fine mesh or fiberglass screen over the opening. This prevents small, loose threads or pieces from being pulled into the vacuum. For larger pieces, a small amount of fiberglass screen can be placed on the object. Covering the brush with a piece of clean muslin or 100% cotton is also an option in place of the screen technique. An embroidery hoop can serve as an inexpensive frame for muslin or screen material as well. If your household vacuum is the upright style, always use a brush attachment with a screen in place – do not directly vacuum over an historic rug or other fabric piece.

Curator Vacuum

Using gentle pressure, vacuum in the step-by-step, row-by-row method; that is, pick up the brush and move it over slightly before pressing down again. Try to avoid using rubbing or scrubbing motions, which can cause damage to the fabric.

If your textile has areas where it is more three-dimensional (for instance, on a flocked velvet piece), use a natural bristle brush to gently “flick” the dust from these areas into the covered attachment of your vacuum cleaner. This method will prevent the raised elements from being ground down or damaged by the weight of your vacuum.

Generally speaking, we don’t try to remove stains from historic textiles. Processes to remove old stains and deposits can cause harsh and irreparable damage to the rest of the piece. We suggest consulting with a conservator or textile expert before attempting to spot treat or remove stains.

What are some textiles that you enjoy in your family or your own collection? Do you have a favorite textile object that you’ve seen at the Ohio History Center or one of our sites?

Jessica Mayercin Johnson, Assistant Registrar

Posted in collections | Leave a comment