New Exhibit: Xenia Tornado

The F5 tornado that struck nearby Xenia, Ohio, on April 3, 1974, was without a doubt one of the worst natural disasters in Miami Valley history. This coming April 3 marks 40 years since that devastating day.

In commemoration, we are exhibiting a selection of original photographs of the Xenia tornado’s destruction in our reading room. We have chosen 40 photographs out of the more than 100 photos on this subject, from our Dayton Daily News Archive.

2014-04-01 TornadoSign2

Look for these signs in the Dunbar Library elevators, welcoming you to the exhibit!

The exhibit consists of three silver cases just inside the entrance to our reading room, which is located on the fourth floor of Dunbar Library. The photo below shows the contents of the center case. (The case is shown open for photography purposes only; it will be closed when you visit.)


2014-04-01 Xenia tornado exhibit photo 1

One of three cases of original photographs of Xenia tornado damage from the Dayton Daily News Archive. (Case open for photography purposes only; will be closed when you visit. Sorry!)

The exhibit also includes a copy of the book Tornado: A Special Report by the Journal Herald, Dayton, Ohio. (shown in the photo above). This book includes many additional photographs and historical accounts. If you would like to look at the book, please let us know; we have a second copy that will be readily available outside of the exhibit case.

This exhibit will be available in our reading room during our open hours from now through the end of Spring Semester. We hope you’ll stop by, view the photos, and take a few minutes to reflect on what that day was like for our community (whether you are remembering or imagining).

If you aren’t able to visit us to see the original photos we have on display, you can see a sampling of Xenia tornado photos on this blog post from our Dayton Daily News Archive blog. You can also see photos and learn about Wright State University’s relief efforts for tornado victims in tomorrow’s 40th anniversary blog post or in that week’s issue of The Guardian, April 8, 1974, on CORE Scholar.

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New and Updated Collections Available for Research

We have new materials available for research! (Click on the links to view the updated PDF finding aids.)

The following new collections were recently arranged and described and are now available for research:

  • Ray Must Collection (MS-469)
  • Miami Valley Atomic Energy Show Collection (MS-484)
  • William Peters Aviation Photograph Collection (MS-485)
  • One issue of the Niles Weekly Register dated April 9, 1814 (SC-291)
  • Roz Young manuscript (SC-292)
SC-291 Niles' Weekly Register (1814), front page

SC-291 Niles’ Weekly Register (1814), front page

Additional materials were recently processed into the following existing collections, so you might want to take another look at them:

  • Ivonette Wright Miller Papers (MS-216)
  • American Society of Aviation Artists (MS-279)

New and improved finding aids are now available for:

  • James F. Overholser Papers (MS-5): New item-level descriptions.
  • First Regular Baptist Church Records (MS-81).
  • Everett Neukom Papers (MS-90).
  • Clair Wilbur Welty Papers (MS-196).
  • Neal V. Loving Collection (MS-282).
  • Inland Children’s Chorus Collection (MS-432).
  • Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458): An item-level listing is now available for Series VII: Library.

And there’s much more where that came from! You can browse all our collection guides online anytime!


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Boxplorations: Stumbling upon Home in a WWI letter

We usually try to write our blog posts without using too many first-person pronouns, but today I must deviate from that rule of thumb or else I would have no sensible way to share what I’d like to share with you.

Recently, I have been reviewing some of our World War I collections here in Special Collections & Archives for consideration of possible digitization, coinciding with the centennial of World War I, which begins this year.

Earlier today, I happened to be reviewing documents in the Clair W. Welty Papers (MS-196, click to view PDF finding aid), one I was not previously familiar with. Most of the materials pertain to Welty’s service in WWI and his death on November 10, 1918, following an unfortunate military aircraft accident. It’s not a very large collection, only 0.25 linear feet, so I was browsing casually through each folder—not reading every document but looking for items of particular interest and reading ones that “jumped out” at me.

The document pictured below jumped out at me. I’m not sure why. There are many in this folder that consist of correspondence to Welty’s mother regarding his death. I couldn’t say why I decided to read this one, written by the chaplain of the A.E.F. Camp at Issoudun, France, where Welty was buried.

Letter from Rev. Merchant S. Bush to Mrs. A. J. Welty, 23 Nov. 1918 (from MS-196).

Letter from Rev. Merchant S. Bush to Mrs. A. J. Welty, 23 Nov. 1918 (from MS-196).

The chaplain, Merchant S. Bush, expressed his condolences, described the funeral and the cemetery where Welty was buried, reassured Mrs. Welty that her son had been well-loved and would be much missed by his fellows, and that Clair had attended the Presbyterian church during his service.

In the conclusion of his letter, he wrote the following:

I am pastor of the First Presbyterian Church Portsmouth, Ohio, and am doing my bit with the Y.M.C.A. Over Seas…

I had to read that bit again to make sure I hadn’t just imagined it. You see, Portsmouth, Ohio, happens to be my own hometown. Of all the places that a World War I chaplain volunteering in France might hail from…!

As I said in yesterday’s “Chain Lines” post, you really just never know what little gems, what unexpected connections, you might find in the Archives. 

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