What does an ancient Babylonian temple and an 18th century whaling ship have in common?
by Jason Buydos, Director of Technical Services, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County contains a collection of over 50,000 rare items. Among these rare items are things that have not been on display for several years. In fact, until recently, their existence was not widely known.
Another purchase the Library made from Edgar J. Banks is a set of two clay tablets. The tablets, which were purchased for $5.00 in 1935, are from 2300 B.C. The tablets are messenger tablets with a list of provisions that were supplied for a trip to a temple.
The cone and tables have been digitized and can be viewed on the Virtual Library (http://virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org/virtuallibrary/vl_OldRare.aspx?ResID=294).
In addition to ancient materials, the Library also has a number of Whaling Ship logs dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many people do not realize that during the War of 1812, the British destroyed many whalers. This put the small island of Nantucket in a situation where there were too many people and not enough ships to send out to sea. Due to the unprecedented growth of the city of Cincinnati at that time, many of the whaling ship captains and members of the crew migrated to the region and settled along the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The whaling captains brought with them their ships logs and through time and by donation, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County became the owner of some of these unique manuscripts. The log of the Alliance is one such whaling log. The interesting aspect of the Alliancelog is that the Alliancesailed with her sister ship the Asia from Nantucket to Australia from 1791-1794. Each was captained by cousins Bartlett & Elijah Coffin. Both ship’s logs chronicle the same events, but from the different captain’s perspectives. The Asia’s log is owned by the Nantucket Historical Association, but through an inter-organizational partnership, the Asia and the Alliance’s ship logs were reunited after 200 years. They have been digitized and are available on the Virtual Library. The Alliance’s ship log is available here: http://virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org/virtuallibrary/vl_OldRare.aspx?ResID=112
The Asia’s ship log is available here: http://virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org/virtuallibrary/vl_OldRare.aspx?ResID=120