On this day in 1872, novelist Zane Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio.
Grey’s ancestors were some of the early settlers of Ohio; Zanesville was founded by his maternal great-great uncle Ebenezer Zane. As a child Grey enjoyed fishing and baseball, and was also an avid reader of adventure stories. He attended Zanesville High School until his father moved the family to Columbus in 1889. When not in school Grey worked part-time in his father’s dental practice and also played summer baseball for the Columbus Capitols. After being spotted by a scout, Grey was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship. He graduated in 1896.
Grey played minor-league baseball with several teams before establishing a dental office in New York City. He had practiced creative writing throughout college, and continued to write in the evenings after work. After marrying Dolly Roth in 1905, the family moved to Pennsylvania and Grey began writing full-time.
Grey’s first published novel was Betty Zane, released in 1903 and based on the story of his Ohio ancestors. His first major success, and ultimately his best-selling book, was Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912. By this time Grey had taken multiple trips to the American West; his photographs and detailed notes helped him create realistic settings and characters in his books. Grey would follow this pattern of traveling and writing for the rest of his career.
Although Grey is best known for his westerns, he also wrote books about baseball and the outdoors and was a regular contributor to Outdoor Life for many years. He died in 1939 at age 67.
The image of Grey’s childhood home shown above is from Ohioana’s scrapbook collection. The photo was taken by Mrs. Oliver Kuhn, an early Ohioana member who traveled throughout the state photographing locations connected to Ohio authors. We’ll share more of Mrs. Kuhn’s photos in a future post!
In observance of National Archives Month and Columbus Day, we’re featuring this program from the “Columbian Centennial Celebration of the Discovery of America,” which was held on October 21, 1892 in Columbus. The celebration was sponsored by the Board of Education; in addition to the program for the evening, the booklet includes lists of board members, departments, schools, teachers, and staff.
The cover is signed “Zaner” in the lower left corner, indicating that it may be the work of Charles Paxton Zaner, founder of the Zanerian College of Penmanship in Columbus (later known as the Zaner-Bloser Company). He authored many of the texts used at the college, created new instructional models, and was described as “the world’s best all-around penman.”
The program was printed by Nitschke Brothers, another Columbus company.
Other items in Ohioana’s archival collection that relate to local history throughout the state include correspondence describing daily life (some dating back to the 1700s), advertising and other ephemera related to local businesses, church histories, and approximately 50 scrapbooks focused on state and county history.
As part of National Archives Month we’re highlighting archival items in several areas of our collection, starting with music. In addition to nearly 10,000 pieces of sheet music, Ohioana’s collection includes nineteenth- and twentieth-century songbooks, scrapbooks, and other items related to music and composing.
This handwritten and hand-bound songbook appears to have belonged to A.M. Barber of Pennsylvania in 1820 and later to Thomas C. McEwen, although other signatures are also present. It contains 28 numbered pieces as well as scales written for the “clarionett,” or clarinet. Ohioana also has several printed songbooks from the nineteenth century, many from Cincinnati music publishers.
The items below are from a scrapbook containing approximately 100 pages of newspaper clippings, essays, concert programs, and other ephemera documenting the 1874-75 and 1875-76 concert seasons in Cincinnati.
Ohioana’s scrapbook collection also includes two scrapbooks documenting the activities of the Ohio Federation of Junior Music Clubs in 1935-37 and 1939-41 (with some hand-painted pages) and a scrapbook compiled by pianist Molly Rittman containing programs from piano recitals, greeting cards, mementos from trips to Chicago and Detroit, correspondence, and press releases for Rittman’s weekly radio performance.
If you’d like to learn more about these or other archival items in Ohioana’s collection, feel free to contact us!