Young Love in the Archives

004Inspired by Valentine’s Day, I want to share an item that I first saw in the archives years ago while researching an exhibit on children.  When I opened a folder in the Schenck Family Papers (MS-284), I discovered a pink baby book filled in by Elizabeth Schenck, a new mother in 1921, so obviously in love with her baby son, Joseph Graham Crane Schenck, Jr., nicknamed “Sonny”.  Ninety-five years later, this pink book exudes a mother’s adoration, with tracings of his newborn hand and foot, and descriptions of his first party, first outing, first clothes, first photograph. It not only tugs at the heart strings, but it documents this little one’s early childhood, and provides a glimpse into this Dayton family’s home life in the 1920s.

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“He laughed out loud before he was three months old. Sonny is 009a great smiler—always wakens with a smile anytime—day or night.”

When turning the pages of the book, one can’t help wonder what became of that smiling child.   The answers can be found in the same box of the Schenck Family Papers.  In it are Sonny’s degrees from Steele High School and Colgate University, newsclippings, and V-mail he wrote as a newly enlisted man and as a POW in Germany during World War II. Preserved are messages from the War Department to the Schenck family informing them of their son’s disappearance, his captivity, and joyously, his release in April, 1945.






Elizabeth Schenck probably had no idea that someday, the pink baby book in which she recorded the first years of Sonny’s life,  would inspire an archivist to write a blog post about him in 2016.  But then, love reaches across time.


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Join us for “Exploring the Archives” on Feb. 9

Let our archivists show you some of their favorite items from our collections, and share in a special after-hours tour!

Please join us on the evening of Tuesday, February 9, 2016, for “Exploring the Archives,” part of the Friends of the Libraries workshop series.

Discover the power of the past! Visit Special Collections and Archives in the Wright State University Libraries between 6 and 8 PM on Tuesday evening, February 6, for a special look at the archives’ treasures.

Archives staff will have their favorite items in the collections on display, from the Wright Brothers Collection to the Dayton Daily News Archive and more! Learn about lesser known collections and the stories behind them.

Take a guided tour and experience history through photographs, films, architectural drawings, letters, scrapbooks, and diaries.

Advance registration is required for this event. Please register online as soon as possible. Registration is $10. Your registration fee provides refreshments and workshop materials and supports the Friends of the Libraries organization.

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New Acquisition: Aviation Trade Cards and Stamps

We are pleased to share with you a first look at some of our most recent acquisitions — several sets of aviation-themed trade cards and stamps. Most of these colorful cards and stamps were packaged with products such as breakfast cereal or cigarettes and date from the 1920s-1940. These items represent an exciting and interesting look at how aviation related to popular culture.

Aviation trade stamp albums from Tydol, Skelly, and Heinz

Aviation trade stamp albums from Tydol, Skelly, and Heinz (click to enlarge)

Among the stamp albums included are: Modern Aviation and Famous Air Pilots, distributed in the 1930s by the H. G. Heinz Company (bottom row, above); Captain Midnight’s Air Heroes published by Sklly Petroleum Company in 1938 (upper right, above); and Tydol Flying: A Stamp Album of American Aviation distributed by Tydol Gasoline Company in 1940 (upper left, shown open, above).

Heinz aviation albums, showing stamps

Heinz aviation albums, showing stamps (click to enlarge)

Captain Midnight's A Tribute to Heroes of the Air album, by Skelly

Captain Midnight’s A Tribute to Heroes of the Air album, by Skelly (click to enlarge)

One grouping of trade cards originated in Stuttgart, Germany, and advertises Lahusen’s Jod-Eisen-Lebertran, or “iodine-iron-liver oil,” some form of proprietary tonic or “cure-all.”

Lahusen's trade cards

Lahusen’s trade cards (click to enlarge)

More than 200 of the trade cards were originally sold inside packages of cigarettes, from tobacco companies such as Brown & Williamson (Louisville, Ky.); Player’s (England); Gallaher (Great Britain & Ireland); Carrera’s (England); and Wills’s by Imperial (Great Britain & Ireland).

On the front of the card, an airplane or aviator (depending on the card series) is featured, and the back of the card features additional information about the person or plane featured on the front, as well as an advertisement for the tobacco company. In some cases, the information was printed in a bound album, to which the cards could be affixed (similarly to the above-mentioned stamp albums).

Album of Modern American Airplanes trade card album, by Wings cigarettes (ca. 1935)

Album of Modern American Airplanes trade card album, by Wings cigarettes (ca. 1935) (click to enlarge)

Front and back of a Wills's trade card (ca. 1935)

Front and back of a Wills’s trade card (ca. 1935) (click to enlarge)

Trade card featuring Orville Wright, from the Carrera's Famous Aviators trade card series

Trade card featuring Orville Wright, from the Carrera’s Famous Aviators trade card series

We hope to have these materials processed and ready for researchers soon!

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