Author Archives: Bari Oyler Stith, Ph.d.

Director, Historic Preservation Program, Ursuline College

FRANCES PAYNE BOLTON’S “PLACE” IN PRESERVATION

For Women's History month, celebrate Ohioan Frances Payne Bolton, historic preservation and environmental conservation advocate.

For Women’s History month, celebrate Ohioan Frances Payne Bolton, historic preservation and environmental conservation advocate.

Meghan O’Connor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently reported “only 8% of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places embody underrepresented communities, including women.”[i]

Women, however, are approximately half the nation’s population. Further, they have historically been integral in promoting preservation of historic sites at the national level as well as state and local levels.

American women have historically asked questions about their role, their “place,” in American society as well as American history. We would do well to also ask with increasing vigor about women’s “place” in preservation and at historic sites. These are the most noticeable, nonverbal cues about our cultural values and legacy that we can offer to our population.

And so, in the spirit of introducing one woman’s “place” in preservation, I ask: What do former Ohio Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton and our first President George Washington have in common besides public service in national politics?

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Votes for Women on Trial

susan-b-anthonyVotesForWomen2On June 17-18, 1873, pioneering feminist Susan B. Anthony stood trial. The previous November, Anthony led a group of women who attempted to exercise their rights as citizens by voting in the presidential election in Rochester, New York.  Since voting for women was then considered illegal, Anthony was arrested on the charge of “criminal voting,” tried the following June, then fined $100, which she refused to pay.

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Celebrate a Monumental Act on June 8

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What do starry skies, a rising monolith, Teddy Roosevelt, and a revolutionary federal act have in common this June 8th?

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Choosing Preservation: a major decision

Choosing HiP

“Historic preservation was something I knew I could be passionate about and love working with.

By Sarah Rosso, Historic Preservation major

Choosing a college major is hard enough, but how would you feel if when you finally made your decision no one supported you? My friends and family were wary of my decision and probably would have been more accepting if I had chosen a more typical, “reliable” major like business or nursing. Your college education has nothing to do with your family members opinions and it is the first step to adulthood independence. The only person you should worry about liking your field of study is you. I chose to be a historic preservation major after years of evolving interests in high school.

Historic preservation was something I knew I could be passionate about and love working with, but I really knew little about it. However, that’s a chance you have to take when going to college. No matter how much you research schools, programs, careers, etc. there is no way of knowing what will be the best fit for you, and that’s ok! After my first year of college I have grown and changed a lot personally, so it only makes sense that students change their majors so commonly- because people change. Once you start taking classes it will be clearer to see what you like best, and if you find that you are in the wrong major, changing isn’t hard.

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Preservationists reading the cultural landscape

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What was originally the tallest building on Public Square?  What is NOW the tallest building on Public Square?  What does that suggest about the changing function of Public Square and the changing values of the community?

By Karl Brunjes, M.A. Candidate, Historic Preservation

For those of us who are interested in Historical Preservation, old things seem to catch our attention. Almost always it is a structure of some type. As a student, we are taught to look beyond just the structure or the area in which it is located. We need to see the structure in its environment and then break it down into parts. “Reading the cultural landscape” helps with understanding the nature of cities and neighborhoods and the changes that have occurred through the passage of time and the effects on the people that live there.

With the detailed architecture of the older buildings, they stand out from modern design. In some cases, you can see decades of architecture from building to building as you walk along city streets. Now you have your sense of place. Now that you know where you are, today’s technology will allow you to take the next step: A sense of time.

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This Place Matters: Preservation Research in Cleveland

 

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by Tara Smith, M.A. candidate, Historic Preservation

I have lived in the Northeast Ohio area almost my entire life. Trips to Cleveland were kind of a special event but I was stunned when we visited the Cleveland Public Library for a Historic Preservation field trip and realized that I had been missing out on a beautiful piece of the city. For those of you who have never seen the CPL from the outside or inside, I highly recommend it for either your future scholarly needs or just to experience a gem of Cleveland history and architecture.

The CPL now consists of two buildings, the first of which was built in 1925 as part of the Group Plan to develop the area of downtown Cleveland. The Beaux Arts architectural style has many beautiful details and shows how influential and thriving the city of Cleveland used to be. I, as well as other historic preservationists, believe that these buildings must be protected and their legacies maintained.

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Historic Preservation: La Dolce Vita

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By Ashley Hardison, Historic Preservation M.A. Candidate

In a neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland you can find a pocket of history and heritage linking the Italian culture to America, and they call it Little Italy. It’s a small neighborhood but they hold strong to tradition. The architecture shows Italian influence it the buildings, the color choices, and the decorations of the neighborhood. Populations and buildings have grown and adapted over time, but if you pay attention you can still see the true ethnic wonder that was and is Little Italy.

The influence of Italian architecture can be seen throughout Little Italy but most prominently in the construction of the Holy Rosary Church. Holy Rosary Church was built in 1892,[1] and Italian architecture can be seen in the use of brick as well as keystone arches over the windows and doors. The Church is the tallest and most prominent building as well as being centered in the neighborhood. Italians hold strongly to religion with local saints and feast days a very important part of village life.[2]

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Ursuline celebrates ‘Preservation Month’

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Sarah and Hannah joined other HiPsters in presenting a booth at EarthFest 2014. Over 15,000 people attended Ohio’s premier environmental education event.

In Centennial, author James A. Michener asserts “During the few years allotted to each of us, we are the guardians of our earth, the custodians of our heritage, and the caretakers of our future.”

What an inspiring affirmation for preserving cultural memory and the intersections between Historic Preservation and environmental responsibility! The above statement encourages emphasis on the importance of the land and distinctive sense of place in our personal and national identity.

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An Ohio Historic Marker celebrating Victoria Claflin Woodhull stands in front of the Homer Public Library.

Did you know? First woman candidate for the U.S. Presidency was from Ohio

An Ohio Historic Marker celebrating Victoria Claflin Woodhull stands in front of the Homer Public Library.

An Ohio Historic Marker celebrating Victoria Claflin Woodhull stands in front of the Homer Public Library.

Who would have guessed that the first woman to run for the U.S. Presidency (1872), a nationally known campaigner for women’s suffrage and social justice, was born in the tiny community of Homer, Ohio?

Probably very few until the people of Homer had the foresight to erect an official Ohio Historic Marker in front of their library, reminding us of Victoria Claflin Woodhull and her commitment to women’s rights.

 

 

 

The main intersection in Homer, Licking County, Ohio

The main intersection in Homer, Licking County, Ohio

Homer, Ohio:  It’s a sleepy little place at the crossroads of two secondary rural highways and the Otter Run Fork of the Licking River, not far from where I was born and raised.  In just a few minutes, you can drive through this unincorporated community in Licking County, past the post office and the handful of clapboard commercial buildings at the intersection.  You might glance at the old brick school building that sits back a bit from the highway and, as you near the edge of town, you can see the United Methodist Church, an ancient cemetery, and the modern library where the historical society meets regularly.  This is, and was, quintessential Ohio farm country.

 

Victoria and her sister Tennessee were born in Homer, respectively in 1838 and 1845, to Roxanna and Reuben Buckman Claflin. Local legends abound about the Claflin family – that they were poverty-stricken, that the children only sporadically attended school, that Roxanna was a clairvoyant, that Buck burned down his own gristmill to collect insurance money, and that the family was semi-nomadic, using the children to sell homemade patent medicines, practice faith healing, and tell fortunes as part of their travelling medicine show.

 

Also according to local legend, community members “encouraged” the Claflins to leave Homer by raising funds at a benefit so that the family could join Buck who had been run out of town for alleged insurance fraud.  Can’t you just picture those scenes?  Do you think the fundraiser was held in the old town hall?  Or the church?

 

VictoriaInPrintWhatever the circumstances of her childhood in this minuscule town and what sounds to be an unusual family, Victoria rose above hardship to follow the courage of her convictions, some of which were considered exceptionally radical in the 19th century.  Many of her achievements were, and are, truly inspirational.

 

 

 

 

Victoria’s achievements (SOME of them):

  • First woman to run for the U.S. Presidency (1872) representing the Equal Rights Party (She lost to Ohioan and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant.  After all, the amendment granting women the right to vote would not be ratified for another 48 years!)
  • First American woman to address Congress (1871)
  • As two of the first women stockbrokers in history, she and her sister Tennessee Claflin opened Woodhull, Claflin and Company on Wall Street in 1870 with the backing of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Published the very successful Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly newspaper promoting a plethora of social justice issues
  • Leading membership in the National American Woman Suffrage Association and International Workingman’s Association

 

Victoria’s advocacy:

  • Woman suffrage
  • Equal educational opportunity for women (how keenly must she have felt her lack of it?)
  • Women’s right to control their own health decisions, including birth control
  • Labor reform including an 8-hour workday
  • Divorce law reform
  • Free love (can’t you just hear the consternation of the people of post-Civil War Ohio over that?)

 

Homer, Licking County, Ohio

Homer, Licking County, Ohio

So, the next time you drive through a tiny little burg, or across a lonely countryside, and see an Ohio Historical Marker, take a moment to stop and read it.  Who knows what rich, complex heritage it will reveal about a place that may seem quiet and unassuming?  I always appreciate the inspiration these marker stories provide, as well as the commitment of the community members who did the research, writing, and fundraising to bring you an important message about their/our heritage.

 

 

Like to know more about Homer, Ohio?  Visit the Homer Public Library at http://www.homer.lib.oh.us

 

Like to know more about Victoria Claflin Woodhull?  Visit the:

National Women’s History Museum at http://www.nwhm.org

National Women’s Hall of Fame at http://www.greatwomen.org

New York Times obituary at http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0923.html

Ohioana Library Association at www.ohioana.org

Ohio Center for the Book at www.ohiocenterforthebook.org

Ohio History Central at www.ohiohistorycentral.org

Ohio Memory at www.ohiomemory.org

Remarkable Ohio at www.remarkableohio.org

Women Working, 1800-1930, Harvard University Library Open Collections Program, at http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/woodhull.html

OR

Our own Ursuline College Besse Library for access to published biographies.

Whatcha doin’ Friday night? Like to get all starry eyed?

Perhaps you would like to join us in Geauga for our Park District’s “Women in Space” program celebrating the 50th anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman to travel into space and 30 years since Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. This program examines the important contributions woman have made in space science.

AND! The stars not only dance over Observatory Park, but the skies are so dark you can clearly see them, which is why we are an official international dark sky park, one of only 5 in the country and 8 in the world as of 2011.  The planetarium, telescopes, and staff naturalists give you a clear view of the world above us.

When:  Friday, September 27 from 7-8 pm (park is open to 11 pm)

How much? FREE with no registration required

For more information: http://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/

Where:  Robert McCullough Science Center, 10610 Clay Street, Observatory Park, Montville, Geauga County, Ohio

How in the world do I get there?  Easiest route from Ursuline is straight east on Rt. 322/Mayfield Road (after Route 608 and before Route 528)  then north (left) on Clay Street.  Observatory Park will be north of Chardon-Windsor Road on the left (west) side of the road.   Map is online at http://www.geaugaparkdistrict.org/find-a-park.shtml

WHAT??? You haven’t visited Observatory Park yet?  There’s an observatory and telescope, over 1100 beautiful acres to hike, a one mile Planetary Trail that takes you on an imaginary stroll across the solar system, human sundial, sculptures, meteorite display, seismograph station, green building features, and so much more.  Interested in viewing what they offer?  Check out http://www.youtube.com/user/GeaugaParkDistrict1/videos

Enjoy every minute in gorgeous Geauga!