History on the Page: Mansfield Memorial Library Board Bookplates, designed by Louis Lamoreux

This week’s blog post is inspired by a piece of history found within the pages of a book in the history section of the library.

Donations to libraries have often been designated in honor of the donor or in honor of a person chosen by the donor by placing a bookplate inside the book. One such bookplate used in books in the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in the past bears this image:

Black and white image of a scanned woodcut bookplate, with a central image of the Mansfield Public Library. The words "Free Public Library" are easily visible under the pediment. Under the image are the words "Ex LIbris" and around the image are the words "Mansfield Memorial Library Board."
Bookplate

“Ex libris” is a common phrase on bookplates, especially in personal libraries, as it is Latin for “from the books” or “from the library,” usually followed by the name of the individual or organization that owns the book.

This bookplate indicates that the book was donated to the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library by the Mansfield Memorial Library Board.

As previously discussed in this blog, the Memorial Library Association (or Board, later) was the originator of the public library in Mansfield. The membership of the Memorial Library Association was, from its foundation, female, although men could become honorary members. The organization was founded in 1887 and first had its library in the Memorial Building, also known as the Soldiers and Soldiers Hall, on Park Avenue West.

Memorial Building, Mansfield, Ohio. From the Sherman Room Digital Archives.

However, when the Carnegie library on West Third was built (what is now the Main Library), the Memorial Library Association was replaced in its oversight role by a board of trustees appointed by the city. Instead, the Memorial Library Association carried on its work in supporting the library by hosting lectures, fundraising, and donating materials to the library. This is where our bookplate comes onto the scene, placed into books that were donated to the library, especially when the books were donated in memory of someone.

While the Memorial Library Association had been supporting and donating materials to the library since it opened in 1908, this particular bookplate was used beginning in about 1941. In the Mansfield News Journal from April 27th, 1941, the bookplate made its public debut, and is cited as having been designed by Louis Lamoreux, a local architect best known for designing the “Big House” at Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, now Malabar Farm State Park [Mansfield News Journal, 27 April 1941, page 14]. Some of the early books to bear this bookplate were North American Wildflowers, which was donated in memory of Mrs. Frank Black, and Flowers and Fruit Prints of the Early 18th and 19th Centuries, donated in memory of Mrs. Henry Weaver. Both women were past presidents of the Memorial Library Board.

Have you come across anything seemingly inconspicuous that was hiding years of history lately?

Before the Film: Glass Negatives from the Archives

The film negative is iconic. But did you know that before cellulose film took over the photographic world, there was another major medium for photography? Although not the earliest form of negatives (which was actually paper), glass negatives were the most common method of creating a photographic negative. The first glass negatives were created on handmade glass that had to be cleaned and prepared onsite (including mixing chemicals) immediately before taking the photograph. Eventually, companies like Kodak created glass negatives with a gelatin-based emulsion that were ready-to-use, with machine-made and -cut glass already prepared with the light-sensitive materials that would be exposed to create the photograph. These negatives are of the latter variety- in fact, many of them appear to have been stored in the boxes in which they were purchased, as below:

Enjoy the images from the archives, and at the end find some suggestions on how best to preserve any glass negatives you may have or find in your own family archives!

Days on the Farm

Single Shots- Getting just the right pose

A Congregation, Congregating

Buildings and Explorations

Houses Near and Far

Handling and Care of Glass Negatives

Now that you’ve seen some examples of what can be contained in glass negatives, here are some guidelines on how to protect them if you come across any in your own family’s materials.

Safe Handling

When you need to handle the negative, wear gloves, preferably nitrile or a similar material. Cotton gloves do not give a good grip on the glass, so you are more likely to drop the negative if you are wearing them. Nitrile gloves protect the glass and emulsion from fingerprints and other damage from the oil on your hands, and also provide a small amount of protection if there are any sharp spots on the edge of the glass.

Do not use any form of liquid or cleaner on the negatives. The emulsion (the thin layer of material that sits on top of the glass and contains the actual image of the photograph) is fragile and can be damaged easily. As far as possible, avoid touching the emulsion at all- if there is dust that needs to be removed, use a bulb style duster to gently blow off the dust.

When storing glass negatives, it is important to protect them from damage caused by other negatives. Separating the negatives from each other with acid-free cardboard or thick paper stock helps ensure that the glass and emulsions aren’t damaged by scraping or rubbing against each other. The negatives can be stored on their edge or flat, but if storing on edge make sure to fit them snugly or create supports so that they cannot shift or fall over. However they are stored, make sure to label the box with a warning that it contains glass so that it doesn’t get handled roughly or dropped without realizing that the contents are fragile.

Have any questions, or have any glass negatives that you would like to digitize? Contact the Sherman Room by email at genealogy@mrcpl.org or phone at 419-521-3115!

References

  1. Northeast Document Conservation Center. “Session 5: Care and Handling of Photographs.
  2. Canadian Conservation Institute. “Care of Black-and-White Photographic Glass Plate Negatives –
    Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes 16/2
    .” September 14, 2017.

Mansfield’s Summer Amusement: Luna-Casino Park

Summer has officially begun!

Today many people flock to large amusement parks like Cedar Point and Kings Island for summer break fun, but in the history of Mansfield that distinctive roller coaster thrill could be found much closer to home at Luna-Casino Park, on what had been the Sherman-Heineman Park and what is now North Lake Park. The following are postcards depicting various aspects of this park from the Sherman Room Digital Archive postcard collection.

In 1899, the Mansfield News published an article reflecting on the “Growth of Mansfield,” in which it was noted that Mansfield had two well-kept parks, Central Park and Sherman-Heineman Park. At the time, Sherman-Heineman Park consisted of 80 acres with 25 acres being forest, and it boasted nice walkways and artificial lakes. With these amenities, it was a popular spot for picnics and other outdoor social gatherings [Mansfield News, 05 Feb 1899, pg. 9].

By 1905, when the roller coaster began operation, the Sherman-Heineman park had gained an additional two names, Casino Park and Luna Park, as well as a number of new attractions. Now in addition to the water and the walkways, the parks boasted a dancing pavilion, a “figure eight” roller coaster, a shooting gallery, the Casino theater (complete with a fresh coat of paint), a merry-go-round, and a swimming pool [Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 May 1905].

The roller coaster opened in 1905, just in time for a debate around Blue Laws, or laws restricting activities that can be done on Sunday (a common Blue Law was a prohibition against selling or purchasing alcohol on Sunday). A group of four local reverends petitioned Mayor Huntington Brown to ensure that many of the amusements at Luna Park would be kept shut on Sundays, specifically including the shooting ranges and the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster was not yet operational, the group also stated that they wanted the roller coaster to be prohibited on Sundays as well [Mansfield Daily Shield, 27 Jun 1907, pg. 6].

However, the owner of the “amusements” at issue, G. W. Bahl determined that the summer fun would indeed continue on Sunday, despite anticipating that at least one arrest might result, as the local group had threatened. And it appeared that the summer fun won out, because on Monday it was reported that all the amusements had been open and well-attended on Sunday, and no arrests had been made.

The Ohio State Reformatory Opening

The Ohio State Reformatory was a massive project, spanning more than fourteen years in construction alone. The foundation of the Reformatory was begun on 27 August 1886. The cornerstone was laid on 7 November 1886 with pomp including Masonic ceremonies and a brief speech by Ohio’s then-governor J. B. Foraker. The contractor for almost all of the work was Hancock and Dow. The final exterior construction work was not completed until 22 September 1900 [1].

But despite the fact that the construction took fourteen years to be complete, the Reformatory was opened and the first convicts brought in ten years after the cornerstone was laid, on 17 September 1896, while many aspects of the planned construction were uncompleted. For security reasons, the exact schedule of events was not advertised, but still there were large crowds present when the 150 men were brought to the Reformatory from the penitentiary at Columbus by a special train to reside in the west wing of cells [2].

“Ohio State Reformatory Boulevard.” Photo from Mansfield Public Library Collection of the Cleveland Memory Project.

The Managers

The Ohio State Reformatory was in the control of a board of managers, who were intended to be non-partisan, with no more than 3 members to belong to the same political party.

The First Superintendent

The first superintendent of the Ohio State Reformatory was W. D. Patterson. However, his term as superintendent was very short at the Reformatory, and he resigned in February of 1897, less than six months after the Reformatory first received prisoners. Although Patterson resigned, the local news of the day claimed that it was not strictly voluntary and was politically motivated, despite the intention and legal requirement that the Reformatory be nonpartisan. The Shield and Banner claimed that Patterson had been “deposed” by the board of managers in favor of the Deputy Superintendent, W. E. Sefton, who was allegedly more to the liking of the governor at the time, as he was a Republican while Patterson was a Democrat. Other reasons given for the preference of Sefton over Patterson included age, given that Patterson was more than seventy at the time and Sefton was “in the prime of his life and a courteous gentleman.”

Other Staff

The other staff of the Reformatory listed when the first prisoners arrived were a chaplain, a secretary, a farm manager, and 25 guards.

The farm manager was, unsurprisingly, responsible for the cultivation of the Reformatory farm. The architect was responsible for the work on the Reformatory that was as yet uncompleted, and would not be completed for another four years, a year beyond the estimate given when the Reformatory opened, due to delays in the iron and steel work. The chaplain was responsible for holding chapel services, and was also responsible for reading all of the letters written by the prisoners.

Curious? Want to know more?

The Reformatory News was published regularly in the local Richland County newspapers. Want to read it? Come visit the Sherman Room and follow the Reformatory’s history through our microfilm archives! For more info, including hours, see our web page at www.mrcpl.org/shermanroom!

Sources

  1. “Last Stone Laid,” Mansfield News, 24 Sep 1900, page 8. Sherman Room Archives.
  2. “Ohio State Reformatory Opening,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 19 Sep 1896, page 5. Sherman Room Archives.
  3. “Reformatory News,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 9 Feb 1897, page 3. Sherman Room Archives.