Black History Month is something to celebrate!

Black History Month was much shorter when it began in 1926: it was only a week long. The celebration was the brain child of historian and educator Carter G. Woodson, who spent quite a bit of his youth in Huntington, West Virginia – one of Ohio’s neighbors to the south. February was chosen since it’s also the month of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

A new documentary was just released last week reminded us of one our books in the collection. The documentary is I Am Not Your Negro, which brings to life the words of James Baldwin. The book is Your Negro Tour Guide: Truths in Black and White. Written by Kathy Y. Wilson, the title is based on Wilson’s exasperation with a white newsroom colleague. Sick and tired of questions about hip-hop groups, Wilson advised the colleague to get a black friend and said “I’m NOT your Negro tour guide.” And a column was born. Ms. Wilson’s collection of essay, published by Emmis Books in Cincinnati in 2004. The review in Publisher’s Weekly noted that “Wilson writes in a voice that can fairly simmer with disgust, indignation and a powerful blast of irony.”

We also want to share some images from events and the collection.

Way back when, one of the librarians at Ohioana wrote to Mr. Langston Hughes. He wrote back, alerting her to the existence of some writers that he thought she ought to know about.

We also want to share a picture of Rita Dove, who was honored by Ohioana in 2010 — The honor was all OURS, however. And to celebrate Ms. Dove a bit more, here’s a link to a recent interview that the Poetry Foundation recently published. Good stuff here. Good to read and take to heart.

We love our old books at Ohioana, not only for what’s between the covers but for the covers themselves. We love this book for the paisley print, like fabric, and for the photo of the sweet and handsome man. While Dunbar’s use of dialect in written speech has long fallen from use, we can still appreciate his intent to write with love and compassion as well as his commercial and  popular success.  As Nikki Giovanni said of Dunbar, “He wanted to be a writer, and he wrote.”

Hello World!

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Hello to our Ohioana friends and family! Hope you are doing well and taking time to read lots of great books by Ohioans, about Ohio, or both!

We’re re-animating the Ohioana blog and will provide weekly updates on all things Ohioana:

• The 2017 Book Festival
• Other Ohioana events
• Oldies but goodies from the collection
• The latest from Ohio authors
• Book-related events from around the state

There’s no shortage of topics here at Ohioana. A quick trip to the stacks or a glance at the new books provides all the fodder we need to generate ideas. For example, we’ll be honoring Black History Month as well as observing Valentine’s Day in February. Spring is just around the corner and Ohioana is well-fortified with books on plants and nature, so we’ll see what we can share with you in March. The Ohioana Book Festival is on April 8 this year, and we’ll have updates and follow-ups on the blog.

The blog also gives us a chance to give some love to our friends, like the fine folks at the Book Loft (our bookseller for 2017) and our friends at the new Gramercy Books in Bexley. We’ll also revisit the current issue of the Ohioana Quarterly just as a reminder in case you haven’t had a chance to read it.

And we want to hear from you! Want to say “hi” and tell us what’s up? Send us an e-mail at ohioana@ohioana.org.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again next week!

2016 Ohioana Book Festival Authors Announced!

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The Ohioana Book Festival is celebrating its tenth birthday, and you’re invited! Join us at the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for a fun-filled day with more than 120 Ohio writers (including ten featured authors), panel discussions, special activities for children and teens, a book fair, and more! The book festival offers something for every reader of every age—and it’s FREE!

For the complete list of 2016 festival authors, see our February Newsletter here.

(Author lineup is subject to change without notice.)

Ohioana Announces 2016 Book Festival Featured Authors

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The 10th anniversary Ohioana Book Festival is less than three months away! The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Columbus. More than 100 Ohio writers will be there, and we are delighted to announce the first ten, our 2016 featured authors: poet and novelist Jill Bialosky, historian Douglas Brinkley, children’s author and illustrator David Catrow, journalist and nonfiction writer Mark Dawidziak, cozy mystery writer Amanda Flower, young adult novelist Mindy McGinnis, science fiction author John Scalzi, chef and cookbook author Del Sroufe, literary novelist Leah Stewart, and children’s poet and author Jacqueline Woodson. Watch here in the coming weeks for more authors and more details. And mark your calendar now for April 23!

2016 Ohioana Book Festival Applications Due December 31

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Next spring will mark a milestone for the Ohioana Book Festival as we celebrate its TENTH Anniversary! It has grown from only ten authors and 600 attendees in its inaugural year to more than 100 authors and nearly 3,500 attendees last April.

The 2016 festival will be held Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square. Once again, the festival will be packed with activities that include panel discussions, children’s and teen activities, and a book fair with an on-site Barnes & Noble store.

We are accepting applications for participating authors until December 31, 2015; please click here for details and the application form. We’ll review applications in January and notify those who are selected by mid-February.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at bookfestival@ohioana.org. We hope to see you at the festival!

Children’s Book Week 2014

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Children's Book Week logo showing open book and tagline "Coast to coast, cover to cover."As Children’s Book Week draws to a close, we wanted to highlight some of the incredibly talented children’s book writers and illustrators who have called Ohio home. Although we don’t have room to list everyone here, you may want to check out the Newbery and Caldecott winners and honorees listed below. Some are classic, some are contemporary…all are great.

  • Natalie Babbitt
  • Sharon Creech
  • Allan W. Eckert
  • Virginia Hamilton
  • Walter & Marion Havighurst
  • Lois Lenski
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Evaline Ness
  • Dav Pilkey
  • Mildred D. Taylor
  • Brinton Turkle
  • Jacqueline Woodson

 

Poetry in Ohioana’s Collection

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As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we’re sharing some beautiful vintage books by Ohio poets Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice and Phoebe Cary.

We’ve already shared biographical information and the cover of Li’l’ Gal by Paul Laurence Dunbar here. Today we’re sharing more covers from this Dayton-born poet, novelist, lyricist, and playwright.

Cover of "When Malindy Sings" with brown background and red flowers climbing up a white trellis.When Malindy Sings is one of Dunbar’s most popular dialect poems, and was written as a tribute to his mother, Matilda, and her habit of singing while she worked. Interestingly, Malindy herself never appears in the poem.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of "The Uncalled" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dark blue background with gray Art Deco ornaments along left and right sides, gold metallic background behind title and author, and stylized author's monogram in black.The Uncalled was Dunbar’s first novel. Although it was not well received by critics, Dunbar went on to write three more novels while still producing multiple poetry and short story collections.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover image of "Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dark green background with metallic gold lettering and floral decorations.

Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow, published in 1905, was one of the last poetry collections Dunbar produced before his death in 1906 at age thirty-three.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of "Alice Carey's Poems," with taupe background, gold floral border, and color image of a woman in a long yellow dress standing in a garden.Although Alice and Phoebe Cary are not as well known as Dunbar today, they were extremely popular during their lifetimes. Alice Cary was born near Cincinnati in 1820; her sister Phoebe was born four years later. Although the girls received little formal schooling, they were educated at home and developed an affinity for literature and poetry. Both sisters published their first poems in newspapers when they were still teenagers. Over the course of the next ten years their work gradually garnered the attention of literary notables including Edgar Allen Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier. Their first book, Poems of Alice and Phoebe Carey, was published in 1850.

Cover image of "The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary," with dark green background, black and metallic gold decorative ornaments along top and bottom edges, and metallic gold lettering.After the publication of their book, Alice and Phoebe moved to New York City, where they both became regular contributors to the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and other periodicals. Alice wrote novels and short stories as well as poetry; Phoebe published two volumes of her own poetry and wrote numerous lyrics that appeared in church hymnals. Both sisters were keenly interested in social justice.

The Carys were famous for their hospitality, and their home became a gathering place for New York literati. Although Alice was the more prolific writer (possibly because Phoebe devoted much of her time to keeping house and, in later years, caring for Alice), Phoebe later received strong critical acclaim. Alice passed away after a long illness in February of 1871; Phoebe died in July of the same year.

Menus in the Ohioana Archives

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Having actual food in the archives would be bad, but menus are another story. The Laura M. Mueller ephemera collection includes a selection of Columbus restaurant menus that spans most of the 20th century. We’re sharing a few sample menus below.

Henry Chittenden built a total of three hotels in the same location on the northwest corner of N. High St. and Spring St. The first two burned to the ground within a three-year period in the late 1800s, but the third (which was designed by Columbus architects Frank Packard and Joseph Yost and was built without any wooden structural elements) operated from 1895 until 1972. The eight-story hotel was one of the finest in Columbus, with luxurious décor and an equally luxurious restaurant. Below is the Hotel Chittenden dinner menu from May 3, 1908.

Chittenden menu int

Chittenden menu front

For a change of pace, we also have a menu from a downtown Walgreen ca. 1930.

Walgreen menu frontWalgreen menu int

The Neil House hotel stood across the street from the Ohio Statehouse. It had several incarnations, from the original 1820s tavern to the final hotel that was demolished in 1981. Notable guests of the hotel included Charles Dickens, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), opera singer Jenny Lind, Oscar Wilde, Orville Wright, Eleanor Roosevelt, and several U.S. presidents. This menu appears to date to the 1940s. (For an 1863 Neil House menu, visit the Hospitality Industry Archives at the University of Houston digital library here.)

TownCountry menu front

Finally, we have a menu from the Jacques Barn restaurant on Broad Street. The menu is undated, but visitors could get a porterhouse steak with fries, salad, rolls, and a beverage for 85 cents.

JaquesBarn menu front

Happy Birthday to Ohio University Press

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WattsThis week marks the 50th birthday of Ohio University Press. We’d like to congratulate them on reaching this milestone and wish them 50 more great years!

OU Press was a key partner in the very first Ohioana Book Festival, held in 2007. The event was built around their award-winning anthology Good Roots: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio. Ten of the collection’s twenty authors came to Columbus for a day of panels and readings that set the pattern for each festival that has followed.

The press has also published books by many Ohio authors over the years, including P.L. Gaus (writer of Amish mysteries), Ellen Bromfield Geld (novelist and daughter of Louis Bromfield), Marilou K. Suszko (food writer), Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Associated Press reporter and novelist), and many more.

You can visit OU Press online here. Some of their new and upcoming releases will be featured at this year’s Ohioana Book Festival!

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!

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