Blogs, images, and other cool things from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections at Miami University, Oxford, OH.

 

Announcing our Fall 2014 exhibit, ‘Stories of Freedom Summer’. 50 years later, the story of Freedom Summer has the power to evoke important questions about American identity, public life, engagement, and commitment. This exhibit will focus on local resident Roland Duerksen and former student volunteers Carole Colca and Mark Levy. They have left the legacy of their work in the Western College Memorial Archives. This exhibit, which includes photographs, letters, audio recordings, and an interactive map of Mississippi, will serve as a narrative of their dedication to civil rights and social justice.
The exhibit will be open August 25 - December 12. Click here for more about the upcoming exhibit.

Announcing our Fall 2014 exhibit, ‘Stories of Freedom Summer’. 50 years later, the story of Freedom Summer has the power to evoke important questions about American identity, public life, engagement, and commitment. This exhibit will focus on local resident Roland Duerksen and former student volunteers Carole Colca and Mark Levy. They have left the legacy of their work in the Western College Memorial Archives. This exhibit, which includes photographs, letters, audio recordings, and an interactive map of Mississippi, will serve as a narrative of their dedication to civil rights and social justice.

The exhibit will be open August 25 - December 12. Click here for more about the upcoming exhibit.

Did you say…Spue?

Volumes affected with SpueVolumes affected with Spue

When walking through the special collections’ stacks, it can be very disarming to come across a book or section of books covered in white blooms, as was the case with our Erodelphian Literary Society and Miami Union Literary Society book collection. Both the Erodelphian Literary Society and Miami Union Literary Society were formed at the end of 1825 and amassed their own libraries for member use. The formation of the literary society libraries was in response to the fact that not only was the university library at the time very small and limited, access to the university library was also restricted to faculty and upperclass men only.

Most of the books in the literary societies collection are leather bound volumes that pre-date 1840. The collection is currently in the process of being re-housed and prepped for cataloging. This past winter, we noticed that many of the volumes had developed white blooms along their spines and outer edges. My initial reaction was to assume that we had developed a mold infestation. Luckily, that was not the case.

Spue is usually found in areas of the leather exposed to air, such as spines and edgesSpue is usually found in areas of the leather exposed to air, such as spines and edges

Through a little more research and observation, it was discovered that the white blooms were in fact a substance known as “spue.” According to the Alaska State Museum’s blog, “What’s That White Stuff?” spue is a “white bloom resulting from fats, oils and waxes and may be referred to in the literature as fatty bloom, or fatty spue (spew). These terms all refer to the migration of fats/oils through the leather material that crystallize on the surface in the presence of air.”

After determining our white bloom outbreak was not mold, but spue, we dug a little deeper for more information. According to an article written by William Mclean, “Leather ‘Bloom’ - Causes and Remedies” (Skin Deep, vol. 2, Autumn 1996):

Crystalline surface deposits known in the leather trade as “spues”, arise because of the migration towards the surface of unbound, mobile components from within the leather. They are unsightly but are not, generally speaking, harmful and they often come about as a result of cyclical changes in environmental conditions, i.e. fluctuating temperature or humidity. Broadly, these deposits may be subdivided into salt spues and waxy spues. The classical method of differentiating is by applying a local source of heat, for example a match flame, which will usually cause a waxy spue to melt and disappear - at least temporarily, whereas a salt spue will be unaffected.

Close up of fatty spueClose up of fatty spue

Using this information, we were able to determine our spue was of the fatty or waxy variety. But how did it form and why did it appear so suddenly on such a large collection of books? According to Leather International’s Mechanisms involved in the formation of fatty spues:

There are different opinions about the formation mechanism of the spues, although everybody agrees on the differences in the displacement of different fat components into the leather. Papers on the subject agree that the fatty acids and their esters initially form as a dissolved material in the liquid phase, with the liquidic oil acting as a solvent at room temperature. They come from natural fats and from fatliquors added in the process. This solution becomes oversaturated due to a high concentration of fatty acids and esters and/or to a fall in the room temperature. As a consequence the fats migrate to the outer surfaces of the leather and crystallisation of the fatty acids and/or glycerides occurs. The concentration of the acids and esters is due to a differential solubility of the components in the leather. The liquid oils are either partially or totally reabsorbed in the fibre network while the crystallised fatty acids and glycerides remain on the surface.

While we can’t be 100% sure of the cause, the appearance of our fatty spue did correspond with a sudden and prolonged drop in temperature (during the winter) of our special collections closed stacks area due to mechanical failure in our environmental control systems. What is interesting to note is that spue was not found on any other volumes other than the ones belonging to the Erodelphian Literary Society and Miami Union Literary Society collection. It is possible that these volumes were treated with leather dressings or other substances that at one point were thought to prolong the life of the leather object. According to “What’s That White Stuff” this is known as secondary bloom, or “bloom caused by the application of fats and oils to the surface of the leather” as opposed to fats and oils added while processing the leather. For centuries people have been applying leather dressings to bound volumes and other objects, however it has become clear that many of these substances can cause damage.

IMG_1295We have since removed the spue from our materials, and while spue is quite easily cleaned from the leather surface, research suggests there is no guarantee it will not reoccur.

Ashley Jones
Preservation Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Digital Collection Updates: Postcard Map and New Freedom Summer Materials

This week I have two very exciting updates to our digital collections to announce.

The United States on our postcard map. By default the map is zoomed into Ohio, where most of our cards are.The United States on our postcard map. By default the map is zoomed into Ohio, where most of our cards are.

First is the completion of a map of our current digital postcard collection which you can see here, or get to from the link in the navigation bar at the top of the full collection. This has been a fun project I’ve been working on for a while, and I think it fits the data in our geographically-organized collection perfectly. Each blue pin you see is the location depicted on one of our postcards, and if you click on the pin a popup with a thumbnail and title of the postcard will appear - both the image and words are a link to the postcard in the full collection in CONTENTdm. The colored circles you see are clusters of cards, and if you mouse over the circle you will see the area which it covers. Clicking on the circle will zoom in to that area and show you the distribution of cards on a smaller scale. Many of our cards, especially those in Oxford around Miami, we were able to identify down to the exact building which makes for a pretty exciting map!

Map of Oxford postcardsBelieve it or not, we have a lot of postcards from Oxford.

The map was made with a combination of PHP scripts and the Leaflet JavaScript library. The first major hurdle I came across was that the CONTENTdm API was not up to the task of being hit thousands of times each time I loaded the map. To work around this, I wrote a PHP script that pulls all the relevant information from the API and stores it in a SQL database on the library’s servers. From this SQL database, I was able to write a second PHP script which makes the actual map by writing a new layer to the map for each row in the SQL database. It took some toying to work out the bugs - and one message to our systems administrator on his day off about an unintentional consequence of one of said bugs (sorry…) - but it’s been great seeing our efforts finally come together.

I’m still working on improving the accuracy of the map, and please note that some of the locations are approximations, but I encourage all of you to explore this new way of visualizing the collection.

Photo of a girl in Mississippi taken from the Carole Gross Colca collectionPhoto of a girl in Mississippi taken from the Carole Gross Colca collection

The second announcement is the addition of the Carole Gross Colca and Mark Levy collections to the Freedom Summer Text & Photo Archive. The Text & Photo Archive is one of two Freedom Summer digital collections we have (along with the A/V Collection) and features a variety of photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, letters, and other items related to Freedom Summer 1964. The Levy collection, made up of photographs taken by Mark Levy and Donna Garde in Mississippi at the time, was graciously made available to us as duplicates of the originals which are housed in the Civil Rights Archive of the Queens College Special Collections and Archives. Like the Colca materials, the duplicates are kept in the Western College Memorial Archives.

With it being the 50th anniversary this summer - and the memorial conference here in Oxford coming up in October! - this is the perfect time to learn more about this crucial moment in our nation’s history.

Marcus Ladd Special Collections Digital Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Bravo!: Publishing the opera in London, Paris, and New York

After a recent trip to Cincinnati with three of my Special Collections colleagues to see Bizet’s Carmen performed at the Cincinnati Opera, I’ve begun to explore the wonderfully opulent world of opera. I’m quickly becoming enamored with this passionate and dramatic genre and I’ve also discovered the importance of not just the aural but the visual experience of opera. And as with many of my popular culture interests, I try to make connections with them and with my professional work in Special Collections. This regular practice of drawing connections between the present and the past, the personal and the academic, often informs my instruction to undergraduates and others, as well as my outreach activities. That’s the perk of working with large and varied special collections…there’s always something to interest you (and hopefully the public)! I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to highlighting a few items in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections that in a small way illustrate how printers and publishers enriched and reflected the opera goers’ experience over the centuries in three cities known for both their opera houses and their print culture.

Bononcini's Camilla, London, 1709Bononcini’s Camilla, London, 1709

Our first stop in our quick tour through three centuries of opera in print is a 1709 London printing of the libretto for Bononcini’s Camilla, performed at the Queen’s Theatre in the Hay-Market, printed by Jacob Tonson. The dedication to patron Lady Wharton by Owen Swiny, a successful theatre producer of the period, declares the popularity of Italian opera throughout Europe and the hope by Swiny that the English musicians may soon rival their Italian peers. Much like performance programs today the singers portraying the roles are identified in the pages of this pamphlet and this production featured the first popular English singer of Italian opera, Catherine Tofts, in the lead role. She is shown below in a painting entitled Rehearsal of an Opera by Marco Ricci from the same year as this production. This cheaply printed quarto also includes some early marginalia in the form of translations of the Italian text on some pages and was used by its contemporary owner to commemorate and enrich their opera-going experience.

Camilla dedicatory leafCamilla dedicatory leaf Camilla: The persons represented.Camilla: The persons represented. Marginalia on leaf of CamillaMarginalia on leaf of Camilla

The next stop on our tour is a little over a hundred years later in Paris with this libretto for a one act opera by Simon Mayr, a German-Italian composer, published by the Theatre Royal Italien in 1815. Though Italian operas often suffered in popularity compared to their homegrown French operas, imports like this piece in the opera-bouffon style were staged at the Theatre Royal Italien then under the direction of the Italian soprano Angelica Catalani. Indeed, Catalani (shown below in a portrait by the French artist Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun) is listed as playing one of the principal roles. It is possible that this particular play was more popular than expected as the printed price on the title page has been revised higher and corrected in manuscript.

Il pazzo per la musica, Paris, 1815Il pazzo per la musica, Paris, 1815 Angelica Catalani painted by Vigee Le Brun, 1806 Angelica Catalani painted by Vigee Le Brun, 1806 Il pazzo per la musica, Paris, 1815Il pazzo per la musica, Paris, 1815: The cast

Our next stop takes us to early twentieth century New York where the enduring popularity of Italian opera is illustrated by this program for Puccini’s La Boheme from the 1922-1923 Metropolitan Opera season. From it’s premiere in 1896 to the present day, this romantic Puccini opera remains a popular one in the repertory and continues to inspire, most notably in the 1990 ground breaking production by stage and film director Baz Luhrmann and as the basis for the Pulitzer and Tony award winning musical, Rent, by Jonathan Larson.

The advertisements in this program are fascinating and include advertisements for the latest recordings of the opera stars of the day as well as services only wealthy opera goers would require, like special cleaning services for ball gowns!

Metropolitan Opera House, Grand Opera Season 1922-1923Metropolitan Opera House, Grand Opera Season 1922-1923 La Boheme programLa Boheme program

And finally, an exciting recent donation to our collections by Allen W. Bernard are two scrapbooks of regional and international theatre and opera programs collected by a nineteenth century patron of the arts named Alice Bates between 1894-1897. We are delighted that Mr. Bernard thought they would find a good home here in Special Collections and I look forward to showing them off to music and theater students in the near future!

Alice Bates's scrapbooks, 1894-1897 donated by Allen W. BernardAlice Bates’s scrapbooks, 1894-1897 donated by Allen W. Bernard Pages from the Bates scrapbook featuring the Metropolitan Opera in New YorkPages from the Bates scrapbook featuring the Metropolitan Opera in New York

Though Special Collections does not have a particular collection strength in music history, these pieces demonstrate the breadth of our collections, especially for teaching purposes and are always great for a “quick peek” into the past.

Kimberly Tully
Curator of Special Collections

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Head’s Up: A Family Affair

covington title

This summer we are highlighting one of our major collections in our main exhibit: Covington’s Cincinnati: The Samuel Fulton Covington Collection (June 4-Aug 1). I have had the pleasure of collaborating on this exhibit with John H. (Jack) White, MU ‘58 and a Cincinnati native, who spent many years as a curator of transportation at the Smithsonian and whose acquaintance with the Covington Collection goes back to his college days.

On Thursday, July 24, from 4 to 6 p.m., we will host a public reception and we invite you to join us. Jack White will provide a guided tour of the exhibit and share some of his amazing breadth of knowledge of the Queen City. We’re delighted that the Williams family, descendants of Covington, will be joining us for this event.

Samuel Fulton Covington (1819-1889) was born in Rising Sun, Indiana, and after a few years of trying several occupations ended up in the insurance business in Cincinnati. Although never a “big name” in the business, he was well-known in local business and political circles and made a comfortable living for himself and his family, eventually settling in Madisonville. His son John I. Covington graduated from Miami in 1870 and married a Western College girl. Their daughters both graduated from Western; one of them, Annette, became a well-known regional artist. The other, Mary, married a Miami zoology professor, Stephen Riggs Williams.

Like other businessmen in the late 19th century, Samuel began to collect books in his leisure time. He had a strong interest in local history and began to think of writing a history of Cincinnati. His collection, while wide-ranging, had a particular focus on the history of the Old Northwest Territory. His history of Cincnnati, alas, was never written.

In 1915 his widow sold his book collection to Miami University. In recent years his descendants via Stephen Riggs Williams have donated large sections of the family archive to Special Collections. This extensive family collection — letters and personal diaries, account books and business papers, photographs and ephemera —provides a fascinating perspective on one family’s experience in late 19th century Cincinnati.

One of the pleasures of creating an exhibit is the opportunity to take time from one’s many other responsibilities and really explore a collection. Jack and I had the invaluable help of Special Collections Librarian Kimberly Tully and Caylan Evans, our graduate assistant this past year. They led us to many wonderful finds and topics, from steamboats to the Industrial Expositions to love letters. One of my own finds was an early Ohio River navigation guide in which a young Samuel had practiced his name and on the map showing Rising Sun had written, “This is where I live.” Another came from a different collection entirely: an amazing panorama, Panorama of the Procession of the Order of Cincinnatus, published upon the opening of the 1883 Exposition.

panorama

Caylan completed the work begun by two other GAs in compiling a finding aid for the Covington Family Papers, under Kim’s supervision. It is now available online. Samuel’s book collection has continued to grow during its century at Miami and is now a comprehensive collection that includes almost every significant example of 19th century regional history. Covington books are represented in the library’s catalog with the designation “Cov.”

Harrison-Covington ltr

Exhibits often lead to continuing discoveries as we all learn more about our collections. After the exhibit was completed, in the course of following up a separate inquiry, I discovered a letter that had come in with the Covington materials but had been separated from the rest of the collection. There was, however, a very good reason for this. The letter had been written to Samuel by Senator Benjamin Harrison (MU 1852), replying to Samuel’s inquiry regarding a political matter, and had been placed with our other Harrison correspondence. It is listed in the Harrison finding aid; we will add a cross reference to it in the Covington finding aid as well.

Samuel himself attended Miami, but only for a year; he was forced to leave and go to work to help support his widowed mother and family. But Samuel Fulton Covington will always be an honored name at Miami. His books and his family have made certain of that.

Elizabeth Brice
Assistant Dean for Technical Services and Head, Special Collections & Archives

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

New Long-Form Site for our Summer Exhibit

We’re pleased to launch a new site for our summer exhibit Covington’s Cincinnati. The long-form design was created by two of Miami’s librarians, Jason Michel and Kobby Sekyere. They have a lot to be proud of!

Postcard flipbook from early 1900s Portsmouth, Ohio. From the Bowden Postcard Collection Online.

Postcard flipbook from early 1900s Portsmouth, Ohio. From the Bowden Postcard Collection Online.

Bowden Postcard Collection Online Update: Donations, Maps, and More

Please note that, as of June 1st, the URL of the Bowden Postcard Collection Online is http://digital.lib.MiamiOH.edu/postcards.

It’s been about a year since the project first began, so I thought now would be a good time to review the latest updates to the Bowden Postcard Collection Online. As I wrote about in November, this digital collection is being developed from the donation of roughly 480,000 postcards by two friends and Miami alumni: Clyde N. Bowden and Charles Shields. The project began last summer with a pilot that used a handful of cards from each state in Bowden’s collection. These cards were digitized, given metadata records, and added to CONTENTdm - our digital content management system.

One of the Oxford, Ohio, postcards being pulled from the cabinet.One of the Oxford, Ohio, postcards being pulled from the cabinet.

In the year since we began, we have digitized nearly 2,200 postcards, mostly from Ohio. There have been some setbacks along the way, most notably the recognition in December for a need to revise our already existing metadata records. At the same time, however, we have also made great strides forward. Clyde N. Bowden, the donor and namesake, was very excited to hear about the project and has given us a very generous donation to fund the current Ohio-focused work. His was not the only positive feedback we have had, either. Since joining the Commons, our digital collections’ Flickr account - of which the postcards represent a substantial portion - has averaged between 10-20,000 views a day, and the number of monthly hits we have received in CONTENTdm for the full collection has likewise increased several times over. One particularly memorable response was from someone who recognized his father in a photograph used for one of the Oxford postcards.

The work of creating card numbers and sorting the cards in the Shields collection was made significantly easier thanks to his labels.The work of creating card numbers and sorting the cards in the Shields collection was made significantly easier thanks to his labels.

In addition to his financial contribution, Mr. Bowden also donated to us several boxes of books about postcards, books of postcards, and other postcard-related miscellanea. We are also receiving another generous donation from the Columbus Metropolitan Library in the form of roughly 500 postcards from their own collection - many of them being from the mid-20th century Middle East.

So where do we go from here? Thanks to Mr. Bowden’s donation, we are able to investigate commercial digitization which will save a significant portion of our students’ time and labor, allowing them to focus on creating the metadata records and adding them to the collection online. We also are expanding our operation and bringing on a third student this summer to help with the work. With the digitization outsourced and the extra help, I am anticipating having over 5,000 postcards online by the end of 2014. Once we have completed the roughly 8,000 postcards remaining in the Bowden collection, we will add the Ohio postcards from the Shields collection. My goal for the project is to complete both collections’ Ohio cards - about 15,000 in total! - by the end of spring 2016. I have also created a Twitter account - @bowdenpostcards - to track new postcards being added to the collection. Although currently inactive for the summer break, I look forward to seeing the account continue to log the latest additions to the collection, including this fascinating postcard flipbook from early 1900’s Portsmouth, Ohio.

Finally, as part of the aforementioned metadata revisions, we have narrowed the geographic location of each card - sometimes even to a specific street or building! Using this new information, we are developing a map to visualize the data in the collection. The map will be created using the Leaflet JavaScript Library, as well as some homegrown PHP and MySQL. In order to gather the necessary information from the CONTENTdm database, I wrote a script that queries the API for information about each item. This information is then pushed to a SQL database on one of our library’s server - and in turn will be used to populate the map. The script itself is set to run on a weekly basis to continually update the SQL database. By preloading all the responses from the API, we are able to significantly reduce the time required to load the map. I am hoping to deploy the map by the end of June, so keep an eye on the collection!

Proof of concept for postcard mapProof of concept for postcard map

Happy browsing.

Marcus Ladd Special Collections Librarian & Postcard Czar

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Announcing our summer exhibit: Covington’s Cincinnati!
The Samuel Fulton Covington Collection includes important collections of both books and manuscripts. Covington (no known relation to Covington, Kentucky) was an Indiana native who built a successful career in the crowded Cincinnati insurance industry during the second half of the 1800′s. His experiences and those of his family typify the growing middle class that evolved in industrial America.
In addition to Samuel’s important collection of books on Ohio and mid-American regional history, the family’s remarkable collection of diaries, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs and ephemera provide a fascinating look at an earlier Cincinnati.
This summer, we invite you all to enjoy this look at Covington’s Cincinnati and the Covington Collection.
http://spec.lib.miamioh.edu/home/covingtons-cincinnati/

Announcing our summer exhibit: Covington’s Cincinnati!

The Samuel Fulton Covington Collection includes important collections of both books and manuscripts. Covington (no known relation to Covington, Kentucky) was an Indiana native who built a successful career in the crowded Cincinnati insurance industry during the second half of the 1800′s. His experiences and those of his family typify the growing middle class that evolved in industrial America.

In addition to Samuel’s important collection of books on Ohio and mid-American regional history, the family’s remarkable collection of diaries, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs and ephemera provide a fascinating look at an earlier Cincinnati.

This summer, we invite you all to enjoy this look at Covington’s Cincinnati and the Covington Collection.

http://spec.lib.miamioh.edu/home/covingtons-cincinnati/