Zouave Ambrotype Returns to Campus Martius Museum

A rare photograph that went missing from the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, Ohio will return home. On November 21, 2014 Ohio History Connection staff will install the unique photograph of Zouave soldiers taken early in the Civil War on the exhibit floor.

Zouave Ambrotype

What is an ambrotype?

Popular in the mid to late 1850s, ambrotypes are negative images developed on glass that appear positive when backed with dark material. Each image is unique. They were available in different plate sizes and assembled in cases.

When did the Zouave ambrotype come to Campus Martius?

The Zouave ambrotype was collected by the Women’s Centennial Association when they assembled an exhibit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Marietta in 1888. Many of these items were eventually put on display at the Campus Martius Museum. The ambrotype is listed in the WCA log book as “Soldiers of 1861.”

Why is the Zouave ambrotype unique?

The size, coloring and soldiers dress make this photograph unusual. Measuring about 6 x 8 inches, this was a full plate ambrotype which was not as common as smaller plates. Photographers often added color to ambrotypes, but few were colored so extensively. There were also fewer soldiers who wore Zouave uniforms in the Civil War than standard uniforms.

Is this a battle scene?

The soldiers posed dramatically as if in hand to hand combat, but they are not on a battle field. If you look carefully at the sides of the ambrotype you can see the edges of the photographer’s back drop.

Who are the soldiers in the picture?

There are multiple theories regarding the soldiers’ identities. Based on another photograph of soldiers wearing similar uniforms one historian believes these soldiers may have members of the Dayton Zouave Rangers. Another possibility is that they were the Fireman Zouaves, a Marietta company called up for guard duty in 1861 and lead by Captain Sidney Shaw. Research to identify the soldiers continues.

When did the ambrotype leave Campus Martius?

Campus Martius staff reported the ambrotype missing from the museum in November 1978. Stories in the Marietta Times and other publications brought attention to the theft, but did not lead to the ambrotype’s return.

How did the ambrotype return?

After being bought and sold several times by private collectors the ambrotype was donated to a public repository as part of a large collection of Civil War images. Once the ambrotype was returned to the public trust an investigation led to its transfer. Ohio History Connection staff regained possession of the object in July 2014.

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Posted in Civil War, collections, Current News, Photograph Collections | 2 Comments

Reflections of Another Artist: Mary Ann Burkhart

Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart is now open in our 3rd Floor Library Lobby and First Floor Spotlight Gallery. Emerson Burkhart (1905-1969) 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.
Emerson Burkhart met Mary Ann Martin when she was just 15 years old; he was 28. Born in 1918, Martin was the daughter of a pharmacist and grew up in German Village. Martin became enamored with artists at a young age. She became an artist’s model at the age of 14, posing for students at the Ohio State University and quickly became a staple in the Columbus Arts Community.

Even though Martin and Burkhart had started to see each other, Martin decided to move to Woodstock, New York after graduating high school. Woodstock was considered to be a gathering place for some of those most prominent artists in America. Martin ended up posing for artists such as Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Eugene Speicher.
Martin moved backed to Columbus and married Burkhart in 1937. They established a home in the Old Town East section of the city, becoming fixtures in a rapidly changing neighborhood. Mary Ann settled down, playing the constant hostess to prospective donors, artists’ models, and other acquaintances Emerson would bring home nightly.
Martin was active in promoting Burkhart’s work, but she had artistic desires of her own. She wrote at least one novel during her lifetime and could often be found sketching around their house. Like Emerson, Mary Ann had a very extensive library of books; she had so many Emerson made Mary Ann her own book plate.
However, their marriage was not always a happy one. Mary Ann was an alcoholic and Burkhart was a known womanizer. Their loud fights could often be heard from several doors away. Unable to have children biologically, Mary Ann contacted a socially worker about the possibility of adoption. The social worker accessed the house and talked with Emerson; she determined it would not be a fit place to raise a child and their application for adoption was rejected. Mary Ann never forgave Emerson for this.

Emerson_Burkhart-(Mary Ann)
Emerson struggled with his feelings about Mary Ann. In a portrait from 1944, Emerson portrays the 26 year old Mary Ann as much older, with wrinkles and dark eyes, placing her in child-like clothing. On October 12, 1955, Mary Ann Burkhart passed away from complications from liver disease, likely related to her alcoholism.
The Ohio History Connection has several drawings of Mary Ann’s in the collection. These sketches were done over the years as Emerson would bring in models for his own work. The sketches are of female body forms as Mary Ann honed her own artistic skills. See the sketches in person in Reflections of an Artist: Emerson Burkhart on the 3rd Floor Library Lobby Gallery at the Ohio History Connection!

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Ohio History Connection Curator Featured in Documentary

Have you seen the Worthington episode of the award winning Columbus Neighborhoods documentary series produced by WOSU?

The Worthington episode premiered on October 5, 2014. If you did not see it you can check the WOSU broadcast schedule to find out when it airs next. You can also view clips of the Worthington episode online. The clip titled Worthington – Flint Lock Rifle Explanation features senior history curator Cliff Eckle demonstrating how a flint lock rifle is loaded. The rifles pictured are examples of rifles from the 1800s that are part of the Ohio History Connection’s firearms collection.

Not only does our curator and pieces from our firearms collection appear in the film, some of the re-enacted historical scenes were filmed in Ohio Village. The Village is a recreated 1860s town on the Ohio History Connection campus in Columbus.

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

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Polly Crockett: Queen of the Wild Frontier

One of our objects featured in 1950s: Living the American Dream is to be featured in an upcoming session at the annual Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association conference! Chosen as one of the 25 Artifacts of the American Childhood, the Polly Crockett hat has a complicated history.

hat-017In 1955, Disney released Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, perpetuating the myth of this historical figure and setting off a national trend in “Wild West” themed toys. Children’s rifles, western landscape toy sets, and faux raccoon skin hats appeared in stores across the nation. However, these toys were initially marketed for boys. An alternative for females appeared in the form of the Polly Crockett hat.

The original Davy Crockett hat featured a faux fur lined skull cap and a faux raccoon tail attached, very similar to what Davy Crockett would have worn when he was alive. It was reported that at one point in 1955, over 5,000 of these caps were being sold a day. The Polly Crockett hat, produced by Sanitized in the late 1950s, was made of faux fur and came in pink, white, and green and featured a drawing of Davy Crockett’s first wife, Polly, on the top.

During the 1950s, manufacturers aimed to define childhood through gender by creating two separate versions of toys for each sex; this can be seen in advertisements from companies like the Ohio Art Company and Mattel. This is a trend that continues today with the recent controversy of gendered Lego sets. The Polly Crockett hat is one of the starkest examples; the unnatural colors of the fake fur reinforced gender differences. While the boy’s version imitated an actual raccoon cap to blend into a natural environment, the girl’s version is obviously made of unnatural materials implying it was not to be worn outside.

The maker of the toy tried to contextualize the history by naming the hat after Crockett’s wife; Polly Crockett actually died at the mere age of 27 due to lingering complications from the birth of her third child. She never saw combat, staying at home to raise their family while Davy travelled around the United States. Even in play, girls were thrown into the role of a mother and homemaker.

This was not lost on children. Girls reported the discrepancies in the color and material of the hats, but no Davy Crockett hats were ever specifically produced for females during the 1950s. There was never a toy gun marketed for young girls to compliment the hat. By the 1960s, the “Wild West” had started to lose popularity and Sanitized stopped the production of the Polly Crockett hat.

Did you ever own a Polly or Davy Crockett hat? What other examples of toys marketed for a specific gender did you have growing up?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Victorian Mourning Culture: Memorializing the Dead

An essential portion of the mourning culture during the Victorian Era was the memorialization of the deceased. Once again, the memorializing of loved ones fell to the women, as they were considered memory vessels for the family.  In this practice, women were given power in a world where their range of influence was limited.

This memorial sampler (H 84247) made between 1840 and 1880 reads: “In Memory of a Broken Household. C. & L. Hempstead. L.S. Moore.”

This memorial sampler (H 84247) made between 1840 and 1880 reads: “In Memory of a Broken Household. C. & L. Hempstead. L.S. Moore.”

One way some women memorialized the dead was through the creation of a physical reminder of the deceased’s life and accomplishments.  Often written, this physical record was usually a document placed in the family Bible or a special printed memorial card. More time-consuming records were created, mainly in the form of samplers.  Samplers were used by middle- and upper-class girls’ to instruct in docility and to teach how to sit still with downcast eyes for long periods of time.  Samplers created a memorial for a family member. These pieces of embroidered art were also a point of pride for the young women, who would add their name to the work, ensuring viewers would know who created it.

Human hair bracelet (H 52876) from 1850-1865.  On the gold clasp is engraved “Jane F. Whiteman to Nancy B. Torren”.

Human hair bracelet (H 52876) from 1850-1865. On the gold clasp is engraved “Jane F. Whiteman to Nancy B. Torren”.

Another popular practice was the art of hair working.  Extremely delicate and intricate work, women created and wore jewelry made from hair of the deceased in addition to creating large hair wreaths.  Often the deceased’s hair was intertwined with their own hair, symbolically cementing the bond between them.  Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular woman’s magazine, offered lessons in hair work; “Do-It-Yourself” hair working kits were also widely available.  Businesses formed where consumers could send loved one’s hair and the memorial piece would be made for them.

Hair wreath (H 36715) made by Mary Jane Preston around 1857 using hair collected from family members.

Hair wreath (H 36715) made by Mary Jane Preston around 1857 using hair collected from family members.

By the time Queen Victoria died at the turn of the century, the elaborate mourning culture had largely disappeared.  Certain customs from this time have reappeared throughout the next century, particularly during wartime, but most of the traditions followed by Victorians are no longer practiced.

How do you memorialize today?

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern


Garton, Stephen. “The Scales of Suffering: Love, Death and Victorian Masculinity.”         Social History 27, no. 1 (2002): 40-58.

Lutz, Deborah. “The Dead Still Among Us: Victorian Secular Relics, Hair Jewelry, and     Death Culture.” Victorian Literature and Culture 39 (2011): 127-142.

National Park Service.  “The Custom of Mourning During the Victorian Era.”  National     Park Service (2011): 1-5.              http://www.nps.gov/jofl/historyculture/upload/MourningArticle2011.rtf.

Old Sturbridge Inc. “Historical Background on Mourning Rituals in Early 19th Century     New England.” Old Sturbridge Village (2003).       http://resources.osv.org/school/lesson_plans/ShowLessons.php?PageID=R&Lesso            nID=37&DocID=2043&UnitID=.

Zielke, Melissa. “Forget-Me-Nots: Victorian Women, Mourning, and the Construction of a Feminine Historical Memory.” Material History Review 58 (2003): 52-66.

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#AskAnArchivist Day Is October 30!

Ever had a question for an archivist that you have not had the chance to ask?

Today archivists around the country, including archivists at the Ohio History Connection, are taking to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

How does it work?
By using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. The public can ask questions to particular archives by using the archive’s Twitter handle in the tweet (So, if you are asking us a question you will use our handle @OhioHistory and the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

Why not? Archivists are committed not only to preserving information, but also to sharing it. Ask us anything related to archives, collections, professional standards and training, or anything else that archivists might be able to answer. Examples are:

General: How do you become an archivist?

Practice: How do you recommend scanning photographs?

Collection: Do you have any documents signed by famous people in your collections?

Personal: What is one of the strangest reference questions that you have ever been asked?

Specialized: How can rolled documents be flattened?

Thank you to archivists working in our State Archives, Digital Projects, Manuscripts/Audiovisual and Reference departments who volunteered to answer questions today. Answering questions in 140 characters or less can be fun (and a bit of a challenge) and some questions may require a quick bit of research.

Who will be answering your questions?

Liz Plummer – Genealogy

Lily Birkhimer –  Digitization

Connie Conner – State and Local Government Records

Lisa Wood – Historic film and photography

Looking for more information about Twitter and how it works? Click here for an introduction to get you started.

We look forward to answering your questions!

#AskAnArchivist Day is a project of the Society of American Archivists.

Posted in collections, Current News, Digitization, Genealogy, Local Government Records, Photograph Collections, State Archives | Leave a comment

Three Centuries of Flags on Exhibit

Thanks to a recent loan from the Ohio National Guard there are three centuries of flags represented in the Follow the Flag exhibit at the Ohio History Center. The new addition to the exhibit is the flag of the 134th Field Artillery of the Ohio National Guard who served in Afghanistan in 2011.

Security Forces Transfer of Authority Ceremony at Camp Eggers

Brigadier General Tom Cosentino, deputy commander, Regional Support, seated, looks on as Lieutenant Colonel Craig Baker, U.S. Army, commander of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, standing to the left of flag, and Command Sergeant Major Thomas Watson, assume Security Forces duty during a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Eggers, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. NTM-A is a coalition of 37 contributing nations charged with assisting the government of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country’s security by 2014.

Ohio National Guard Flag on Loan

Ohio History Connection volunteer, Anna McCullough, and curator Cliff Eckle place the flag flat in a drawer of the 134th Field Artillery in the open storage cabinet in the Follow the Flag exhibit.

Embroidered on the red field of the flag is the arms of the unit. The crest above the eagle’s head represents the Ohio Army National Guard. There are 17 arrows representing that Ohio was the 17th state to join the Union. Below the arrows are Buckeye leaves with a bursting burr of Buckeyes. On the ribbon is the unit’s motto “Fides Et Audax” which is Latin for “Faithful and Bold.” The shield on the eagle has red indicating the original allocation of the unit as artillery. The blue represents Civil War service. The three alerions are from the arms of Lorraine, a province of France, and denotes World War I service.

Cliff Eckle, Curator of History

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