Zane Grey

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Black and white photograph of Zane Grey's childhood home in Zanesville, Ohio. Photo shows a partial view of a two-story white house with a large tree in front.
Zane Grey’s childhood home, Zanesville

On this day in 1872, novelist Zane Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio.

Grey’s ancestors were some of the early settlers of Ohio; Zanesville was founded by his maternal great-great uncle Ebenezer Zane. As a child Grey enjoyed fishing and baseball, and was also an avid reader of adventure stories. He attended Zanesville High School until his father moved the family to Columbus in 1889. When not in school Grey worked part-time in his father’s dental practice and also played summer baseball for the Columbus Capitols. After being spotted by a scout, Grey was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship. He graduated in 1896.

Scanned cover of Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage. At top of greenish-grey cover is a color landscape of ground, trees, and the sky at sunrise or sunset. Book title and author's name appear in black type.Grey played minor-league baseball with several teams before establishing a dental office in New York City. He had practiced creative writing throughout college, and continued to write in the evenings after work. After marrying Dolly Roth in 1905, the family moved to Pennsylvania and Grey began writing full-time.

Grey’s first published novel was Betty Zane, released in 1903 and based on the story of his Ohio ancestors. His first major success, and ultimately his best-selling book, was Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912. By this time Grey had taken multiple trips to the American West; his photographs and detailed notes helped him create realistic settings and characters in his books. Grey would follow this pattern of traveling and writing for the rest of his career.

Although Grey is best known for his westerns, he also wrote books about baseball and the outdoors and was a regular contributor to Outdoor Life for many years. He died in 1939 at age 67.

The image of Grey’s childhood home shown above is from Ohioana’s scrapbook collection. The photo was taken by Mrs. Oliver Kuhn, an early Ohioana member who traveled throughout the state photographing locations connected to Ohio authors. We’ll share more of Mrs. Kuhn’s photos in a future post!

Civil Rights Photos of James Karales

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Cover of the book "Controversy and Hope" showing a photograph of a young African-American man carrying the American flag while white soldiers and African-American children look on. Photograph was taken during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights.In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this week we’re highlighting a recent addition to our collection: Controversy and Hope: The Civil Rights Photographs of James Karales.

Karales was born in 1930 in Canton, Ohio. He attended Ohio University, switching his major from engineering to photography after seeing the work of his photographer roommate. After graduation, Karales moved to New York and eventually became a staff photographer for Look magazine in 1960. This job not only allowed him to travel the world, but also gave him the opportunity to document the civil rights movement over the course of several years. During this time he developed a professional relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and became one of only a few photographers who were granted access to King’s home.

The photographs in Controversy and Hope include a range of assignments between 1960 and 1965, culminating the historic Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights. Karales documented not only the major events of the civil rights movement, but also the preparations leading up to them, including quiet moments with the King family at home. Many of the book’s photographs are previously unpublished, providing a rare and unique view of events that changed the nation.

McGuffey Readers

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Scanned cover of McGuffey's First New Eclectic Reader. In center of cover is a black and white illustration of three children reading in a garden with a dog sitting nearby.
McGuffey Reader, 1857

Because of the holidays and the sub-zero temperatures that landed in Ohio last week, this is the first full week of school since mid-December for many Ohio students. We thought we’d mark the occasion by looking at a few McGuffey Readers from Ohioana’s collection.

William Holmes McGuffey was born in 1800 in Pennsylvania. In 1802 his family moved to the Ohio frontier, where he grew up. After graduating from college in Pennsylvania, McGuffey became a traveling instructor in Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania, where he would take part-time teaching jobs in subscription schools. In 1826 McGuffey became a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He went on to become president of Cincinnati College and Ohio University and later a professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, where he taught until his death in 1873.

Scanned page from 1879 McGuffey Reader. Black and white illustration shows a dog running outdoors. Text says "The dog. The dog ran."
McGuffey Reader, 1879

In the mid-1830s, during his time at Miami, McGuffey wrote the first edition of his Eclectic Readers. By the end of the century they had sold more than 100 million copies. Some historians believe the popularity of the Readers was due to their use of everyday objects (“A is for ax“) and text that both students and parents found upbeat and enjoyable. In 1879 Cincinnati artist Henry Farny redesigned the Readers with realistic sketches that closely followed the text and helped maintain the books’ popularity through the end of the century.

Altogether the Readers educated five generations of schoolchildren. Although their popularity waned in the early 1900s, people remembered McGuffey and his books with a sense of nostalgia. The first McGuffey Society was formed in 1918 in Columbus, Ohio by attorney John F. Carlisle and Edward Wilson, editor of the Ohio State Journal. In the 1930s Henry Ford republished the 1857 edition of the Readers at his own expense for use in company classrooms and had the log cabin in which McGuffey was born moved to his Greenfield Village museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Today memorials to McGuffey exist at his Pennsylvania birthplace and at several of the schools where he taught.