UC Authors to be Featured at Cincinnati Book Festival
Meet one of the UC authors who uncovered the history buried in Cincinnati’s cemeteries.
Date: 11/4/2007Tom White, head of the monographs department for University Libraries, is one of the five University of Cincinnati affiliated authors who will hold book-signings at the inaugural Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival. The festival takes place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, at Duke Energy Center downtown. All events are free and open to the public.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
White will be signing the book he co-authored with UC colleague Kevin Grace, titled, Cincinnati Cemeteries: The Queen City Underground. The two authors have collaborated on other books for Arcadia Publishing, including their first and most popular seller, Cincinnati Revealed: A Photographic History of the Queen City, as well as Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images in America series that celebrates the history of neighborhoods and towns across the county.
“My primary research interest is local history and I’m a born collector, so I’ve collected postcards, photographs, ticket stubs and trinkets – all the stuff no one else would have that’s related to Cincinnati history,” jokes White, who has worked for University Libraries since 1973. “Over the years, Kevin and I got to be friends and he knew I had all this junk, and one day, he suggested working together on a book about Cincinnati history featuring my postcard collection.” A writing partnership was born.
The authors also did a lot of their own photography for Cincinnati Cemeteries as they delved into four key themes for the book that was published in 2004: Death and Dying in Cincinnati, Spring Grove Cemetery, Notable Cemeteries and Monuments, and Cincinnatians Worth Knowing.
White says his research into Cincinnati Cemeteries uncovered a number of surprises. “Up until the time that I worked on this book, I didn’t realize that grave robbing had been so prevalent here.” Because there were no legally devised body donation programs in the 19th century, White says grave robbers were paid to produce the cadavers for the dozen or so medical schools in the area. He says that one of the most famous victims was John Scott Harrison, the son of U.S. President William Henry Harrison and the father of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. After his corpse turned up at the Ohio Medical College on Sixth Street downtown, the outcry over grave robbing led to legislation that legalized voluntary body donations.
“I also enjoyed, and it was Kevin’s idea to do this, creating the final chapter on Cincinnatians worth knowing. We would take a picture of a gravestone, provide a portrait of the individual and offer a summary of that person’s life’s story,” says White. Among the 49 notables are William Henry Elder, Charles McMicken, Jimmy Nippert, Cincinnati brewers Christian Moerlein and Louis Hudepohl, and Kroger food chain founder Barney Kroger.
White says the co-authors are considering a “part two” of Cincinnati Cemeteries because there is more history to cover.
Meanwhile, White is thrilled about participating in the Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Book Festival, a joint effort of University of Cincinnati Libraries, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the Mercantile Library, CET, Cincinnati Magazine and Borders Books.
“Books by the Banks is going to be a wonderful event for area book lovers. Not only will it showcase nationally recognized authors but will also help raise awareness of our local writing talent. Since 2002, when Kevin and I published our first book for Arcadia, literally dozens of titles have been written by local author/historians on a myriad of area subjects.”
A “Books by the Banks” exhibit is now on display on the fourth floor lobby of Langsam Library. The display highlights some of the authors who will be featured at the festival.