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


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.


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

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.

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.

New Finding Aids Available Online

We have several new finding aids available online to scholars, all of which are the culmination of many hours of hard work and dedication by our staff and students.


We now have comprehensive finding aids for the entire Usigli Archive, thanks to temporary project staff member Eleanor Castaneda who spent two years immersed in the life and works of the father of modern Mexican drama, Rodolfo Usigli. This extensive collection is now described in two finding aids, one for Correspondence and another for the Papers, which encompasses a wide range of materials including manuscripts of both published and unpublished works, photographs, published materials, theater programs and ephemera, scrapbooks and diaries, publicity prints, and audio-visual materials. Already these finding aids have improved how researchers use the Archive, both in our reading room and remotely, by making the discovery and retrieval of items in the collection much more efficient.

Rodolfo Usigli Archive: Correspondence
Rodolfo Usigli Archive: Papers

John Bickers, an undergraduate student and member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, has recently graduated, completing three semesters of work in Special Collections with the Myaamia Collection. In addition to assisting with the description and transcription of historical documents, including annuity rolls and land grants, for the Myaamia Collection Online, John has also created finding aids for manuscript and research materials in the Myaamia Collection.

Myaamia Collection: Godfroy Family Papers
Myaamia Collection: Lambillotte-Willard Collection of Turtle-Wells Family Papers
Myaamia Collection: Luke Scheer Papers

We also benefit from the work of the graduate assistants in our department who, in addition to supervising researchers in our reading room, are often assigned manuscript processing projects. Eric Souder, a history masters student focusing on Russian history, cataloged Russian language ephemera in the de Saint-Rat Collection of Russian History, Literature and Art and created a detailed finding aid for the James W. Hamilton Family Papers. The Hamilton family papers consist largely of correspondence between three brothers in mid-nineteenth century Ohio and Illinois, all of whom practiced medicine and two of whom became successful local and state politicians. The collection, now accessible to researchers for the first time, adds to our rich resources on nineteenth century American life in the Midwest.

James W. Hamilton Family Papers

My sincere thanks to Ellie, John, and Eric for their fine work!

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

A Student’s Appreciation for His Teacher

Sungkyo Cho's translation of Ohio
Sungkyo Cho’s translation of Ohio

As I struggled for a topic for my blog post this week, I serendipitously found my subject in a small stack of Walter Havighurst’s books that were sitting on a booktruck next to my desk. There I discovered a Korean translation of Walter Havighurst’s Ohio: a bicentennial history. After reading the inscription in the book I knew that this was what I was looking for.

Dr Cho inscription

The translation was made by Sungkyu Cho, a former student of Dr. Havighurst, and was published in 1987. Dr. Cho was a member of the Department of English Literature at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. He had been a student at Miami in the 1960’s and had worked as an assistant in the library, back when the library was in Alumni Hall. The inscription in the book reads:

Dear Dr. & Mrs. Peterson: This is a translation of Dr. Walter Havighurst’s Ohio, which was originally published in 1975. He completed it when he was 75. In order to pay my respect for his work, I translated it because I liked it and primarily because he dared to write Ohio when he was 75. “Who will read the history of Ohio in Korea,” asked some Koreans?” It did not bother me at all. As long as Ohio is published in Korean, I am most happy.

March 17, 1987

Sungkyu Cho

I was struck by the devotion and respect that this student had showed to his teacher by undertaking the task of translating this book. Dr. Havighurst’s handwritten note reproduced in the front of Cho’s book is also touching:

This Korean Version of OHIO is the work of my former student and cherished friend Sungkyu Cho of Yonsei University February 1985 Oxford, Ohio

In a letter to Helen Ball, the former Curator of The Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Dr. Cho writes of Havighurst:

I always hope that all the honors will be given to him for his achievements as a dedicated regionalist in the Middle West. It is through him that I have come to learn to cherish a dedication to life.

Walter Havighurst visited Sungkyu Cho in Seoul, Korea and lectured there in the late 1970’s. In October 2008 Professor Cho returned to Miami University and visited Special Collections. We invited him to turn a page of our Bhutan book, which was on exhibit at the time of his visit.

Dr. Cho and the Bhutan book
Dr. Cho and the Bhutan book

Discovering Cho’s book last week was special. It brought back special memories of Walter Havighurst, and of Dr. Cho’s visit to Special Collections. It also led me to discover just how important Walter Havighurst had been to his student, Sungkyu Cho.

Jim Bricker
Senior Library Technician

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Honoring Caroline Scott Harrison

Today the Oxford Community Arts Center will be holding a dedication of an Ohio Historical Marker honoring Oxford’s First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison, and the Oxford Female Institute (which is now the Oxford Community Arts Center).

Caroline Scott Harrison was married to Benjamin Harrison, grandson of the ninth President (William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840). Benjamin Harrison graduated from Miami University in 1852, served in the Civil War as a Union officer, and was elected to the United States Senate from Indiana in 1881. As Senator, Harrison defended the interests of homesteaders and Native Americans against the railroads, supported generous pensions for ex-soldiers, and fought for civil-service reform and a moderately protective tariff. He served one term as the 23rd President of the United States (1889-1893), a moderate Republican who won an electoral majority while losing the popular vote by more than 95,000 to Democrat Grover Cleveland. On his campaign to secure a second term, he chose as his Vice-Presidential candidate Whitelaw Reid, Miami University alumnus (1856).

Special Collections is home to the Benjamin and Caroline Scott Harrison collection, including materials from the 1888 and 1892 Presidential campaigns, letters and telegrams; fourteen titles by Benjamin Harrison and sixteen volumes about him as well as reproductions of a place setting used during his term as President.

Resources from our collection were recently used in the research and publication of Remembering Caroline Scott Harrison, Oxford, Ohio’s First Lady by Marjorie Foster Bowers. Bowers’ research on Caroline Scott Harrison first began several years ago as preparation for a display for the Oxford Community Arts Center, to be mounted during Miami University’s Alumni Weekend. Bowers’ research eventually led to the publication of Remembering Caroline Scott Harrison, all proceeds of which benefit the Oxford Community Arts Center.

Oxford Community Arts Center (Image from Community Arts Center, previously the Oxford Female Institute

The dedication will take place at 5:15 pm at the front sidewalk entrance of the Arts Center. The ceremony is free and open to the public. The Ohio Historical Marker was made possible through funding from the W. E. Smith Family Charitable Trust from a grant submitted by Kathleen S. Fox through Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services.

Ashley Jones
Preservation Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.