Audio-Visual Collections, Photographs and Prints Department
Posted On: 01/12/2018 - 11:21am, Posted By: Jim DaMico, Curator of Audio-Visual Collection
History of the collection
The first recorded accession of photographs was in 1870. Subsequently, small numbers of photographs were added each year. These, as well as magazine and newspaper clippings and prints and lithographs became the “picture collection.” Groups of photographs were divided into general subject classifications. In 1936, there were 10,000 photos in the collection. A quote from the annual report of that year said, “To catalogue this collection is a task for the future.” In the 1950s CHS Librarian Alice Hook, a member of the Picture Division of the Special Libraries Association, took an active interest in the Photograph and Print Collection and refined the arrangement of the photograph collection. Until the 1970s, library patrons could check out items from the collection for classrooms, businesses or the media. In 1981 the first Curator of Photographs was hired.
The collection consists of approximately 1, 000,000 unique items. The earliest photographs are the 485 unique, cased daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes dating back to the 1840s. These are followed by thousands of albumen cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards of various sizes, stereographs, about 50 cyanotypes, and a few salt paper prints. The remaining 75% of the paper prints comprise more modern processes. Less than 1% of the prints are in color. There are over 8,000 trade and real-photo postcards.
The bulk of the photographs in the collection date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and document the people, places and events of Greater Cincinnati. The collection includes good documentation of major events, transportation, buildings, parks, street scenes, businesses, industry, restaurants, the arts, sports and other leisure activities.
Major special collections
Ball and Thomas photoprint collection (SC 17)
[ca. 1845 - ca. 1870]
The largest known collection of photographs (over 400) by African American photographer J. P. Ball and his partners.
Paul Briol Collection (SC 21)
Over 6,000 8x10 negatives by Paul Briol showing the beauty of Cincinnati’s rivers and hills as well as photo assignments documenting a wide range of Cincinnati institutions from the 1940s and 50s.
Daniel J. Ransohoff Collection (SC 22)
Danny Ransohoff’s 30,000 prints and negatives recording social conditions in Cincinnati and their dedicated relief agencies from the 1930s to 1980s, and the West End Architectural Collection with over 3,500 architectural details of West End buildings.
George Rosenthal Collection (SC 23)
[ca. 1920-ca. 1969]
2,000 other photographs by George Rosenthal of Cincinnati sights and businesses.
Kenyon-Barr Collection (SC 115)
2,700 photographs of every structure and empty lot in the Kenyon-Barr clearance project which is located in the West End of Cincinnati, now known as Queensgate.
Digitization of original photographs and their installation online via the Cincinnati History Library and Archives electronic catalogue is an on-going project. Currently, over 3,000 photos are available online and include images from the Ball and Thomas, Rombach and Groene, Lodder-Watson and the Kenyon-Barr collections.
The Prints Collection is made up primarily of engravings, lithographs and posters. The collection consists of several major donations and a number of individual items totaling approximately 5,000. Major components are the Hennegan Collection of 956 theater posters, the Strobridge Lithograph Collection of 825 circus, theater and event posters, and 333 World War I and II posters, as well as prints by E. T. Hurley and Caroline Williams. The first three of these major collections have been inventoried. The remainder of the collection consists of other prints by the major Cincinnati lithographers and printing companies. The bulk is from the turn of the 20th century but recent posters such as the Mini-Marathon, Summerfair, etc. are collected.