Tag Archives: history

Faces to go with Names.

Here is a portrait of James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923), my great, great grandparents referenced in the last obituary post.


James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923)

Remembrance in the 1920s Newspaper.

While my mind is still musing on the modern-day obits section of the newspaper, here are two obituaries from my Ohio side of the family. James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923) are my great, great grandparents. They lived in Adams County, Ohio at the end of both of their lives.

The obits are actually pretty diverse. James’ spends a good deal of time detailing his last day of life, while Allie’s focuses primarily on her virtuousness. Could it be gender at play, or diversity in obit author styles?

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Obituaries for James A Graham (1855-1925) and Viola Alice (Allie) Kelly (1858-1923)

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MLIS

The future is a way harder concept to grasp than the past. At the former Acres of Books in Long Beach, 2008

The future is a way harder concept to grasp than the past. Acres of Books in Long Beach, 2008 (RIP)

I started out the Master in Library and Information Science program super-enthusiastic (new program syndrome), but quickly realized that taking multiple classes and working full time was a recipe for a time crunch. I made space for things here and there – the occasional outing and wedding things. Overall it’s been an endurance test, but now that I’m closing out on my first (successful) semester I’m feeling a little more confident about time management and sanity. I can do this!

I definitely had a breaking point about midway through and turned into a hermit with a lot of repressed stress that I think I pretty successfully hid from everyone around me, aside from the occasional whiny sorry excuse for why I couldn’t go to happy hour or couldn’t go on a hike or couldn’t [insert activity here]. I’ve gotta remember that this is a marathon, and not a sprint. That would probably be my #1 advice for anyone starting an online graduate program while also working full time.

#2 is don’t feel guilty if you need to go home from work and watch five episodes of Daredevil while having popcorn and beer for dinner. Because those nights are an important counterbalance to those ridiculous days where you have a bunch of meetings at work, projects to jam through, and then you have to come home and search databases, read articles, and produce some sort of writing piece that doesn’t sound like gibberish.

History is my true love. I came to it via writing (the two are practically conjoined twins sometimes), and I will always love history the bestest. Library science is a more practical skill set. It has its mumbojumbo like any discipline, but it is the tool that delivers my love. The pizza delivery guy that brings the Pacific Veggie (which BTW is great fuel for writing a 28 page research paper in one weekend).

As a special collections library person I can work on saving the past, which is cheesy but true. Just call me indoor Indiana Jones. (“It belongs in a museum!” or: “I belong in a museum!”) Now if I could just get better at embracing the present and not stressing about the future I’d be all set.

Application for a Date with a Seabee

While working with 20th century archival materials I think a lot about the privacy of the individuals represented in archives that have no idea some physical detritus of their earlier years is preserved for others to access. Access is one of the primary intentions of preserving anything in an archives, and even temporary restrictions are best avoided, but sometimes you have to look out for people.

There aren’t too many things in my family papers that need restriction before being launched online, but I felt compelled to be a little extra cautious with this Application for a Date with a Seabee from the 1950s. It’s tucked into my grandpa Donald Hickman’s scrapbook (the one that served in the Navy, including a tour in the Philippines). I doubt this individual (it’s not my Grandma) still lives in the same house in Oklahoma, and you wouldn’t get too far with a four digit phone number these days, but just in case.

There’s a blank form and a filled out version in my grandpa’s papers, but the filled out one is way more fun! I don’t know the form’s origin story, but it’s fun to think about really serious questions like: do you think the french kiss will replace the toothbrush?


Grade E in Sandy Springs, Ohio.

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My great grandma Edith Graham wasn’t too into school, at least during the 1901-1902 year. What came before the “F” for fail grade? An E!

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My recreational life, with some exceptions, is mostly described as “school” these days. I’m so used to the A-B-C-D-F system, that it’s funny to think about past alternatives.

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I’m okay not leaving footprints, though I do want to examine the impressions that are already out there in the sands of time. It feels a little mean to post a bad report card on the internet, but she kept it and it made it to 2015, so it must’ve not been all that terrible a memory!

Cincinnati Public Housing: Winton Terrace

When my great grandpa William Howard Furnier passed away in 1940, he left behind his wife Edith Myrtle (nee Graham) and their two kids.  Sometime around then she moved to the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority project Winton Terrace.  In my Grandpa’s (Edith’s son’s) papers there are newsletters from Winton Terrace in the latter half of the 20th century.  This one particularly caught my eye for its colorful cover and anniversary theme.

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Unfortunately there isn’t much history inside the newsletter, aside from this page making a special tribute to the families that moved in when Winton Terrace first opened (including my great grandma):


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The auto-fill that pops up when I type Winton Terrace into a Google search bar looks something like:

winton terrace beating

winton terrace fights

winton terrace cincinnati shooting

winton terrace cincinnati oh fight

The history of Winton Terrace

My Cincinnati and public housing history knowledge isn’t very sharp, so I don’t feel qualified to really dig into the social-cultural issues that make up Winton Terrace’s history and present.  (Best thing found in a quick online search is this report.)

I asked relatives about their memories of Winton Terrace. The small details of kid memory get me the most, like my aunt remembering “Grandma’s bricks on her aluminum garbage cans.” Memories from multiple family members about their Grandma (my great grandma) threatening (but never hitting) them with a flyswatter when they misbehaved.

I want to know more, but I started grad school this year and stuff got pretty real in February, so I have to set aside in-depth personal research for research of the school and work variety for now. But Winton Terrace will be hanging around in the back of my mind for awhile. That tension between the hope of public housing and the reality of decades of aging and change, and how personal memories and contemporary stereotypes about housing projects shape the conversation. Lots of questions; lots and lots of questions.

(P.S. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a really good documentary on a public housing project in St. Louis.)

Hipsters and the NRA

I recently had a conversation with a friend about how I have a lot of hipster-style leanings and I tend to want to go to hipsterville locales.  Despite this, I have a hard time proclaiming myself a hipster.  In a Catch-22 way declaring you’re not a hipster but love hipster style or have always been into hipster style somehow makes you doubly a hipster.  (Best hipster joke: Why did the hipster burn the roof of his mouth eating pizza?  He ate it before it was cool.)

At the heart of negative feelings about hipsterism is a disdain for ironic usage of stuff and a lack of authenticity.  The problem I have with calling myself a hipster is that I am actually fully in love with things old.  My 1960s-ish hipster glasses are cool because they look old, not because they are so uncool they are cool.  I pay my rent and feed my face thanks to history.  I’m in painful depths of debt because of studying history in college (undergrad and grad).  If my closet has vintage and my favorite places to go are old buildings, it’s not because I’m trying to be cool, but because old crap is my preferred way of life.  I’ve just lucked out that retro is so in right now, which makes a lot of old leaning styles more accessible.

So I don’t live a life of irony, I live a life that is authentically me.  That’s pretty much been my M.O. my entire life, and I’ve taken plenty of slack for it, so I’m just going to enjoy that what is me and what is hip decided to cross paths in my 20s.  The only thing that’s really changed as an adult is that I have more freedom in making choices in what I purchase and where I go at any given point in time.  I’d say my style has changed because I can actually go out and purchase old clothes and I’ve realized that particular decades look better on me.  I wear a lot more 1950s and 1960s style stuff because it looks good on me, not because it’s trendy or ironic. (On a side note, can we kill the word ironic, along with literally and interesting, because these words have pretty much become so overused they’re meaningless.  Everytime I use the word “interesting” I feel so lazy and disappointed in my vocab choice.  Though maybe to everyone their own since someone told me they thought awesome was overused and I love awesome.  Awesome is an awesome word.)

Now this all sort of leads to where I wanted to start in the beginning.  I have an NRA poster in my living room.  Now, to modern day readers this probably conjures up images of guns (whatever your political inclinations are then determines whether it’s a small child shot down at an unjust age or a bad ass looking hunter exercising his amendment rights).  But to me, NRA = a love for things 1930s, an admiration of President Roosevelt, and an interest in the politics of the time.  Because to me NRA means National Recovery Administration.

I had some hesistation about sticking this up in my living room.  I don’t expect non-history people to have any association with NRA other than the often maligned/often celebrated group centered on gun issues.  But it’s a cool original poster that makes me think of my favorite decade to study (and also makes me think of the Shanghai Lil musical number from Footlight Parade – all good things).

There is also a tiny part of me that thinks its pretty cool to have an inside joke on my wall (the inside being all the people into early 20th century history).  I’ve already confused one non-history person, who was concerned I was a big National Rifle Association fan after seeing the poster in one room and an outline of Texas in another room.  It’s the 1930s and where my brother lives – no guns involved at all.  Does my pleasure in confusing people make me a hipster?  It doesn’t matter because I love my old timey poster and the warm fuzzy history feelings that it conjures.

I might be a food hipster though.  That I might agree with.