Earlier this year we did a special series of blog posts in support of Banned Books Week. From now until December 2 you have a unique opportunity not only to support the freedom to read, but also to score some great holiday gifts in the form of original artwork by children’s book illustrators!
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is holding a holiday auction. Children’s book illustrators who have contributed original artwork include Eric Carle, Judy Schachner (of Skippyjon Jones fame), Tom Angleberger (creator of Origami Yoda), and Ohio’s own Adam Rex. You can head on over to the auction by clicking the image above, and you can learn more about the ABFFE by clicking here.
Today we have a guest post by Ohioana’s executive director, David Weaver, who served as development director for nearly eight years before assuming his new position in September. On the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, David reflects on his memories of that day and on the Ohio connection to one of Kennedy’s trusted advisors and friends.
“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – an event that no one who was alive and old enough to remember will ever forget. I myself was a sixth-grade student at East Linden Elementary School. I can still vividly remember my teacher, Mrs. Rogers, ashen faced as she told us, “I don’t know quite how to tell you this, but the president has been shot.” Soon we learned that the man everyone knew as JFK was dead. Like all Americans, my family spent the next three days transfixed before the television. I read the special edition of the November 23, 1963 issue of the Columbus Citizen-Journal and put it away as a keepsake that I have to this day.
You may not know this but there was a close Ohio and Ohioana connection within the Kennedy White House. Columbus-born Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., was a noted teacher and historian who had won the Pulitzer Prize and two Ohioana Book Awards by the time he joined the Kennedy administration in 1961. Schlesinger had been a friend of Kennedy’s since they had been classmates at Harvard. He served Kennedy in a number of capacities: speechwriter, historical consultant, adviser. But mainly he was there to document the administration in preparation for the memoir Kennedy planned to write once he left the White House. The assassination, however, changed those plans irrevocably. Schlesinger decided to take the notes he had compiled during the thirty-four months of JFK’s presidency and wrote A Thousand Days. (The title was taken from one of the passages in JFK’s memorable inaugural address). The book, the first by a member of Kennedy’s inner circle, was released in 1965 and won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.
Schlesinger would continue teaching and writing for four more decades. He famously coined the term “imperial presidency” in the title of his book about the Nixon administration and its abuses of power. In 1979, Schlesinger won a second National Book Award for Robert Kennedy and His Times.
In 1992, Schlesinger came to his native Columbus to receive Ohioana’s highest accolade – the Career Medal. At the ceremony Schlesinger admitted that since his family had moved to Iowa when he was only five he did not have many memories of his birthplace. But he spoke of the summers he spent at his grandmother’s farm in Xenia and told the audience, ‘I have always felt an Ohioan in spirit.’
Schlesinger remained active to the end of his life; he was one of the first contributing bloggers when the Huffington Post was launched in 2005, two years before his death at the age of 89. During his long career he produced more than thirty books. A Thousand Days remains probably his most famous work, one that is both a historical record and at the same time a memoir of and a tribute to the friend whose life and presidency were cut tragically short on that sunny day in Dallas.”
One hundred and fifty years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history. In honor of this we’re highlighting a new book in Ohioana’s collection: Writing the Gettysburg Address by Martin P. Johnson.
Johnson, an assistant professor of history at Miami University, conducted extensive research using numerous primary sources and contemporary accounts of the speech. His book traces the creation of the Gettysburg Address from the first draft through revisions the morning of the ceremony and Lincoln’s delivery of the address itself. Along the way Johnson sheds light on many of the myths surrounding the speech, and also shows how the speech’s evolution mirrors Lincoln’s intellectual and emotional journey from Washington to the battlefield.
For more information, including images of two handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address and a photograph of Lincoln on the podium, you can visit the Library of Congress “Gettysburg Address” online exhibit here.
Today we’re highlighting a recent addition to Ohioana’s collection: Edison and the Rise of Innovation by Leonard DeGraaf. The author is an archivist at the Thomas Edison National Historic Park, and it shows; almost every spread contains images such as family photographs, Edison’s homes and laboratories, advertising ephemera, correspondence, and pages from Edison’s notebooks.
Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, and also worked for a while as a telegraph operator in Cincinnati. The book covers his life in detail, including major accomplishments such as electric lighting and the phonograph as well as lesser-known inventions such as a talking doll and an electric pen. Throughout, DeGraaf focuses not just on the moment of discovery, but also on the process Edison used to design, manufacture, and market the products developed in his labs.
Ohioana is currently looking for book reviewers! If you’d like to review this book or another one in our collection, you can visit this page of our website for more information. You can also visit our “to read” shelf on Goodreads to see what’s available.
Finally, we’re sharing an Edison item from Ohioana’s own archives. This 1913 letter was signed by Edison and sent from his lab in West Orange, New Jersey. It is part of the library’s collection of correspondence signed by prominent Ohioans.
In the spirit of election week, we’re featuring a few items from our Ohio Presidents collection. We’ve featured some ephemera from this collection in a previous post; today we’re sharing some pre-presidential correspondence.
This letter signed by Ulysses S. Grant was written in July 1865 to John Aaron Rawlins, Grant’s chief of staff at U.S. Army headquarters and later his first secretary of war. The two men first met in 1861, when Grant was forming a regiment in Rawlins’s hometown of Galena, Illinois to meet President Lincoln’s call for troops. Rawlins stayed with Grant throughout the war and played a significant role in maintaining Grant’s public image and encouraging his sobriety during the conflict. In the letter Grant mentions Rawlins’s return to Washington “…I hope with health materially improved.” This likely refers to the fact that Rawlins had contracted tuberculosis; he died in 1869 at age 38. Grant served two terms as president (1869-1877) and died in 1885 at age 63.
This undated telegraph message from James Garfield appears to have been written sometime during his nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although Garfield’s congressional service had been long, his presidency lasted just six months before he was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1881.
This letter from Benjamin Harrison was written when he worked as an attorney in Indianapolis. In the letter Harrison attempts to negotiate a more favorable legal settlement for a client; however, an addendum at the bottom states that the original offer was the best the other party could do. In addition to his law practice, Harrison was active in both state and national politics: he served as reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, was a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention, campaigned for presidential nominee James Garfield, and was elected to the U.S. Senate. Harrison served as president from 1889-1893, and died in Indianapolis in 1901 at age 67.
In addition to biographical files on Ohio authors, the Ohioana Library’s collection includes manuscripts, artwork, correspondence, and more. To celebrate the last day of National Archives Month, we’re highlighting some items from our Lois Lenski collection.
Lenski was born in 1893 in Springfield, Ohio, but soon moved to the small community of Anna. She was a voracious reader throughout her childhood. After graduating from Ohio State University, she studied at the Art Students’ League in New York and the Westminster School of Art in London, England. She began her literary career by illustrating the works of other writers such as Hugh Lofting (author of Doctor Dolittle) and Maud Hart Lovelace (author of the Betsy-Tacy books). The first two books that Lenski wrote herself–Skipping Village in 1927 and A Little Girl of Nineteen Hundred in 1928–were based on her own childhood in Ohio. Lenski went on to write numerous historical and regional novels for young people, and won the Newbery Award for Strawberry Girl in 1946. She died in 1974 at the age of 80.
In the 1930s Lenski began to donate original artwork and other items to libraries, where they would be available to the public. The letter above was written in 1944 to the director of the Ohioana Library, offering to donate pieces from her first two books. The images below show some of these items.
On the left is the cover from a small mock-up of A Little Girl of Nineteen Hundred, showing that the book’s title changed slightly during the development process. The mock-up includes several pages and is hand-stitched. The middle image shows a later version of the same cover, sporting a revised title and finished artwork. On the right is the final cover from Ohioana’s collection copy of the book, which is a later edition. It shows a few more changes, including gold accents and a new publisher. (The original publisher, Frederick A. Stokes, was acquired by J.B. Lippincott in 1943.)
The image below left shows an interior page from the mock-up, including edits handwritten in pencil. At right is the same page from Ohioana’s collection copy.
The Ohioana Library’s collection includes periodicals focused on Ohio literature, people, and places. Although many of the titles are contemporary, the collection also includes titles from the late 1800s and early 1900s, including The Kit-Kat, The Buckeye Informer, and Buckeye Printerdom. There are also a few surprises…
The Munsey was originally founded in 1889. It became a huge success two years later when it was redesigned to appeal to a broad audience; typical content included articles about current events, entertainment/theater news, biographies, and popular fiction. The issue above right from July 1908 contains an article on Theodore Roosevelt’s cabinet (including Secretary of War William Howard Taft) and advertisements for the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Oxford College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. The issue below right from April 1909 includes a story by O. Henry (who spent some time in the Ohio State Penitentiary) and an article about Judson Harmon, the 41st U.S. attorney general and the 45th governor of Ohio.
Cosmo looked very different in the early 1900s! Originally established as a family magazine, Cosmopolitan soon became a leading source of fiction from writers including Jack London, Willa Cather, and Upton Sinclair. This issue from February 1918 includes a story by Cincinnati native George Randolph Chester and illustrations by Howard Chandler Christy, an Ohioana award winner and creator of the popular “Christy Girl.”
As we continue to celebrate National Archives Month, we’re sharing some ephemera from Ohioana’s archival collections. Although these items were designed to be thrown away after they had served their purpose, paper can be surprisingly resilient. Today they provide a unique, often fun, and sometimes beautiful glimpse of everyday life.
Because the 2013 Circleville Pumpkin Show is now history, we thought we’d share this postcard promoting the 1912 show. Although it’s difficult to see in this image, the pumpkin is embossed. Note that the postcard was provided by Crites’ Book Shop and printed by the Circleville Union-Herald, a weekly newspaper that ran under that title from 1888-1927.
Although this pass for the 1912 New London Labor Day Celebration is not as well-preserved as the postcard above, the beautiful typography is still visible.
The 1938 Ohio State Fair ticket shown below was provided by the Ohio State Journal, which began as the Western Intelligencer in 1811. It was central Ohio’s first newspaper, and was published in Worthington with James Kilbourne as its original editor. When Columbus became the state capital, the paper moved downtown and served as the official reporting newspaper of the Ohio General Assembly. After several name and ownership changes, it became known as the Ohio State Journal in 1840. Although the paper became part of the Dispatch Printing Company in 1950, it continued to be printed under the same name until 1959, when it merged with the Columbus Citizen to become the Columbus Citizen-Journal.
And finally, some advertising ephemera from Circleville.
In addition to numerous books about the Civil War, Ohioana’s collection includes several archival items. This letter from Joseph Moore to his father describes the difficult conditions he encountered as he traveled from Atlanta late in 1864, fought in the Battle of Nashville, and traveled on through Cincinnati and Columbus before arriving in Washington in early 1865.
The collection also includes a notebook owned by William J. Knight describing his participation in Andrews’s Raid. In April 1862, civilian scout James J. Andrews, another civilian, and a team of volunteers from the 2nd, 21st, and 33rd Ohio Infantry regiments hijacked a train on the Western and Atlantic Railroad as it made its regular run from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Their goal was to destroy telegraph wire, bridges, and track behind them, thereby crippling the Confederate Army’s ability to send supplies to Chattanooga. However, the raiders were unable to cause permanent damage to the track and abandoned the train when it ran out of fuel just south of the Tennessee state line. All the raiders were captured by the Confederacy within two weeks, and eight (including Andrews) were hanged. Eight others (including Knight) escaped. The remaining raiders were eventually exchanged for Confederate prisoners of war in 1863.
Six members of Andrews’s Raiders were honored in the very first Medal of Honor ceremony on March 25, 1863. Although Knight was not part of this first group, he received a Medal of Honor for his role in the raid on September 17, 1863.
In observance of National Archives Month and Columbus Day, we’re featuring this program from the “Columbian Centennial Celebration of the Discovery of America,” which was held on October 21, 1892 in Columbus. The celebration was sponsored by the Board of Education; in addition to the program for the evening, the booklet includes lists of board members, departments, schools, teachers, and staff.
The cover is signed “Zaner” in the lower left corner, indicating that it may be the work of Charles Paxton Zaner, founder of the Zanerian College of Penmanship in Columbus (later known as the Zaner-Bloser Company). He authored many of the texts used at the college, created new instructional models, and was described as “the world’s best all-around penman.”
The program was printed by Nitschke Brothers, another Columbus company.
Other items in Ohioana’s archival collection that relate to local history throughout the state include correspondence describing daily life (some dating back to the 1700s), advertising and other ephemera related to local businesses, church histories, and approximately 50 scrapbooks focused on state and county history.