Monthly Archives: November 2011

Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album

If you are interested in the Civil War and have a few minutes, please stop by the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library (in the basement at Main). We currently have a case exhibit (well, three cases, actually) showcasing Civil War materials from the Dayton Collection. The exhibit will be up through the end of 2011.

This is my favorite portion of the exhibit:

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

The young man in uniform on the upper right is Howard Forrer; the shoulder boards were his. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future. (I haven’t forgotten that I promised to tell you some Civil War stories; it’s just that they’re still “stewing” and haven’t fully formed yet.)

The copy of the Dayton Daily Journal (May 6, 1863) is the first issue published by W. D. Bickham after taking over as editor of the paper, following the burning of the Journal office by a mob in response to the arrest of Copperhead leader (and Daytonian) Clement Vallandingham. (There is actually a picture of him in the case as well; I’ll share a little more about him in another post, in a day or two.)

Last but certainly not least, you’ll notice the large album at the bottom of the photo. This album belonged to W. D. Bickham and contains cartes de visite he collected during the Civil War era, many depicting famous politicians and generals. For instance, the page currently open shows off a photo of none other than President Abraham Lincoln, plus Generals Winfield Scott, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas (all 3 on the opposite page).

The Bickham cartes de visite album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which I processed. This was my first experience with this type of archival item. Obviously, I had seen cartes de visite before. I recognized them as a small, mid-19th-century type of albumen photograph. But as yet, I had only worked with family photo collections wherein all the cartes de visite were from friends or relatives. But this had to be something different; the majority of the images in the album are of famous people like Lincoln, Sheridan, Bragg, John Clem (aka Johnny Shiloh), just to name a few. While Bickham did have many famous (or later-famous) contacts due to his profession as a journalist, I seriously doubted that he had been given all of these photos personally.

As it turns out, it was extremely common during that era for people to collect cartes de visite in a manner similar to how one might collect baseball cards. The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian has an excellent blog post [“Civil War Portraits: Where Personal and Public Meet,” Oct. 3, 2011] discussing this practice. They also have a YouTube video [“Civil War Portraits: Personal and Public,” Sept. 25, 2011] to go along with it. This was a great help to me in understanding what I was actually looking at, in the case of the Bickham Album.

I hope you’ll come down and see us and check out our exhibit. Although the Bickham Album is currently on display in a locked case, you can browse its contents online anytime on our Flickr page. I scanned each individual photo and added them to the set Bickham Civil War Album. There are several unidentified individuals — probably famous politicians or generals that I just don’t happen to recognize (we can’t all know everything!) — so if you see any marked unidentified and know who it is, please leave a comment to help us out.

The collections discussed here are publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

The Bickham Civil War Album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017). The Howard Forrer photograph is from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018). Other items shown are from various parts of the Dayton Collection; contact librarian (i.e., me, or the library!) for info on specific items.

Oh! One more thing:  Just so you know, I did not create this Civil War exhibit, although I did suggest the inclusion of the Bickham scrapbook and the Howard Forrer photo and shoulder boards. The majority of the exhibit (like, 99%!) was done by our lovely and talented Local History Specialist, Nancy Horlacher. The other two cases, which I have not photographed, include materials pertaining to the Dayton Soldiers’ Home and the 131st O.V.I. (a regiment made up primarily of men from Dayton).

MVAR Recap 11/17/2011

This morning was the most recent meeting of the Miami Valley Archivists Roundtable, an informal gathering of archivists in and around Dayton, Ohio. Today, we met at Carillon Park.

Deeds Carillon at Carillon Park

Deeds Carillon at Carillon Park

The room was quite full today; we almost didn’t have enough seats!  As always, the institutional reports — where we share what’s going on at our institutions and what projects we are working on — were interesting and informative. I like to jot down notes and share any “suitable for public consumption” info here. So, here you go:

Perhaps the most important (or at least universally of interest) snippet that was mentioned today is that the Miami Conservancy District is heading up collaborations in relation to the centennial anniversary of the 1913 flood, which devastated Dayton (and many other cities in Ohio and other states). I believe there is a sort of listserv or other type of information “network” in the works so that we cultural institutions in the area can stay apprised of what one another is working on relative to the flood centennial. I believe one of my co-workers attended a meeting about this yesterday, and I intend to stay informed of these activities as well. I for one am hoping that there will be some kind of public web site put together so that we can all share info about our events and exhibits there, so the public can get all that info in one handy place.

A representative from the Middletown (Ohio) Historical Society shared exciting news that they have recently received a large collection from the Middletown Journal newspaper: files and clippings collected by the newspaper over the years. (If I understand her description of the collection correctly, it sounds very similar to the Dayton Daily News Archive acquired by Wright State University Special Collections & Archives, or the Xenia Gazette newspaper morgue recently acquired by the Greene County Room a few years ago). That is very exciting for Middletown’s history! The collection also included a large number of Middletown city directories – which, as I wrote about previously [10/25/2011] – can be very helpful for local history research!

Noel Rihm, a grad student in Wright State’s Public History program, announced that an exhibit she designed – “Longtown” (read announcement) – will be opening at the Garst Museum in Greenville this Sunday, Nov. 20th. Yay, WSU PH grad students!

Speaking of Public History grad students, Dawne Dewey, directory of the Wright State public history program, announced that a Public History Graduate Student Symposium will be held on March 2, 2012, in the WSU Student Union. PH students will give presentations about some of their projects, and the event is free and open to the public. She also noted that she’ll be needing some local PH professionals to help moderate the panels, so let her know if you’re interested!

Gwen Haney from Dayton History shared that they recently (in September) finished the digitizing and sharing online of 20,000+ images from the NCR Archive. They are now working on 5,000+ glass plate negatives from the Kern Collection, about 2,000 of which depict Dayton from ca. 1890-1900.

James Zimmerlin, archivist/records manager at the Warren County Records Center & Archives, mentioned that he will be hiring in the near future for a part-time position (about 10 hours per week) to help out with answering public records requests. So if you are interested in an archives/records management-related PT position in the Lebanon area, be on the lookout for this job posting!

Someone mentioned that they were able to find 19th century Cincinnati birth records submitted by the University of Cincinnati to the OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons (DRC) (which unfortunately seems to be down at the moment, as I try to link to it). Here is a link to what I believe is probably the same material, but from a landing page on UC’s site. I am always a fan of new sources of FREE history and genealogy records.

I will finish up by sharing a dash of humor from the reports. One archivist reported learning recently of a police department (which shall remain nameless: the archivist did not even tell us which one, so I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to!) that has been filing their records phonetically. That is, files about individuals are organized phonetically by last name. For example, if they had a file for the actor Matt Czuchry, it would be filed under “Z” not “C” because the name is pronounced “zoo-crie”. Suffice it to say, we all found this very…unusual, to say the least.

After the institutional reports, we usually go over a list of relevant upcoming conferences, but as we were short on time today (probably due to the large number of participants and thus many individual reports!), we skipped this activity. However, there was a list of conferences on our “agenda”, so I will share them with you here:

Our agenda also includes the dates and locations of future MVAR meetings. The next MVAR will be held on February 16, 2012. However, the location has had to be changed. The National Museum of the United States Air Force was planning to host us in February, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they will no longer be able to do so. Therefore, a new host institution is being sought for the Feb. 16, 2012, date. If your institution would like to host, please contact Rachel Bilokonsky. The dates Aug. 16, 2012, and Nov. 15, 2012, are also still available. May 17, 2012, has already been claimed.

After we had finished all the business that we generally do whilst sitting around a table (hence, roundtable!), Gwen Haney gave us a tour of the newer parts of the Kettering Family Education Center at Carillon Park. The tour included the original Deeds Barn, which was moved from the Kettering-Moraine Museum in 2009 and is housed inside the Kettering Center so it will no longer suffer the effects of Dayton’s weather!

We also checked out the new carousel…

Carousel at Carillon Park

Carousel at Carillon Park

…where as a special treat, we got to take a ride!

My friend and fellow archivist Collette on the carousel

My friend and fellow archivist Collette on the carousel

And then we enjoyed an approximately 20-minute presentation in the new 4-D theater, where [animatronic versions of] John H. Patterson, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Charles F. Kettering, and Edward Deeds talked to us about Dayton’s history. The theater presentation also included some film clips and the occasional rumbling of our seats or spritzing us with water, as appropriate! It was definitely neat!

After the tour, we enjoyed lunch and continued our informal networking. I really do love these meetings. It’s such a great way to keep up to speed on what other archives and museums in the area are up to!

MVAR Tomorrow

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow – Thursday, November 17th – is the next gathering of the Miami Valley Archives Roundtable. The meeting begins at 10:00. If you need the details, feel free to contact me.

Majority votes “No” on Ohio Issue 2, repeals Senate Bill 5

Yesterday, on Election Day, Ohio voters finally settled the whole Senate Bill 5 issue (state Issue 2) once and for all — well, at least until bits and pieces of it are re-passed in another form at a later date. That’s right, the majority of Ohioans voted “no” on Issue 2, which thereby repealed the union-busting Senate Bill 5. Therefore, Senate Bill 5 will not take effect at all. (The law was passed in March but when its opponents were able to gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot for a voter referendum, that delayed it taking effect until after the election. And since it failed voter approval, now it will not take effect at all.)

You can read articles with more details on Dayton Daily News, Columbus Dispatch, and CNN.

Since I have mentioned SB 5 in this blog on several previous occasions, I thought it would be appropriate to make a note [blog] of its repeal.

Keep in mind as I write this, I am a librarian at a unionized public library in Ohio. Some of the SB 5 stuff would have actually applied to us…

Yet, when I was first trying to understand the details of SB 5, I wrote on Feb 17 about some of the provisions that I didn’t find offensive.

For instance, I agree that…

  • People should be rewarded for a job well done (and conversely, not rewarded just for showing up).
  • It’s unfair to use seniority as the sole basis for retention during layoffs.
  • Asking employees to pay 20% of their own health insurance premiums seems reasonable. (My husband and I pay 25%.)
  • Asking employees to pay 10% of their gross income towards their own pensions seems reasonable. (Most of us public employees already do that anyway – and it’s not optional.)

I noted later on Feb 24 that our union contract already forbids strikes, so there wouldn’t be any change there. And I would have been interested to see the effects of eliminating the fair share fees (Apr 4).

But then again, there were some other parts of the bill that definitely weren’t so good. Take, for instance, those bits about safety equipment and staffing levels for emergency responders like policemen and firemen. Or what about teachers? I think it could be difficult to measure their performance in a lot of cases. What would they base it on? Student grades? That seems a bit unfair; just look at the disaster of No Child Left Behind and basing school funding on test scores. And let’s face it, you could have the best teacher in the world, and some kids just still wouldn’t make the grades because — and I hate to be the one to have to say this, even though I know I’m not the only one thinking it — some kids actually are lazy and/or stupid.

One of the above listed articles actually states that SB 5 started out as a 1 sentence bill and eventually evolved to over 300 pages. There were just too many factors, too many opportunities for a certain part of it to upset this or that group and make them vote “no”. No wonder it didn’t pass. Quinnippiac University polls as early as May (see May 18) were showing that the majority of voters disapproved of SB 5 as a whole, although there were certain parts that they supported.

Unfortunately, SB 5 was a “package deal.”

It reminds me of the kind of test questions you’d sometimes get in elementary school, the true/false ones that were designed to tell if you were reading the question carefully. If you just skimmed the thing, you’d say, Oh yeah, most of this looks familiar; that sounds right. And you’d mark it TRUE, and it would be end up being wrong, because the teacher slipped in ONE single detail that made the entire statement FALSE.

For example, if I said: “John Kasich, son of Ezekiel Kasich, was elected governor of Ohio in 2010 and pushed SB 5 through in early 2011.” That statement is false…unless, of course, our governor’s father’s name actually is Ezekiel, in which case I have mad guessing skills.

Well, in my humble opinion, SB 5 was kind of like that (at least to me). There were plenty of things in it that I felt were either completely reasonable, already in effect (at least for me), or not really so terrible. But then there were just a handful of other things that were pretty off-putting. And you couldn’t use a line-item-voter-veto or any magic like that. So you had to either say “yes” to all of it or “no” to all of it.

I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear of some of the things that were in SB 5. Good ol’ Kasich has still got a few years yet, right?  But maybe in their next assault on public workers, the boys in Columbus will at least wise up and try to pass a few things here, a few things there. Unlike SB 5, which at over 300 pages threw Ohio public worker unions into a fury on basically every single page.

Seriously? SB 5 might as well have had a huge target sign painted on it.