Provenance: The Ohio Historical Society acquired the Henry Howe Audiovisual Collection as a gift of Frank Howe, his son, in 1940. Kathleen McIntyre processed the collection in November 1983.
Property rights: The Ohio Historical Society owns the property rights to this collection,
Copyrights: Copyrights have not been dedicated to the public. Consideration of the requirements of copyright is the responsibility of the author and publisher.
Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Ohio Historical Society. AP items require staff supervision.
Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection name, collection number, and the Ohio Historical Society in all footnote and bibliographic references.
Biographical sketch: Henry Howe was born on October 11, 1816, in New Haven, Connecticut, where his father, Hezekiah Howe, was a bookseller and publisher, His father's financial difficulties forced Howe to leave school when he was fifteen and work in the family printing shop. He left the shop when he was eighteen and became a surveyor for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Howe disliked surveying, however, and took a clerk's position in the New York banking house of Townshend and Nevins, and later in the banking house of Prime, Wards, and King.
In 1840 Howe joined with John Warner Barber to produce a history of New York state; Howe journeyed from county to county collecting data for the book and Barber made sketches for illustrations. Histories of New Jersey and Virginia followed in 1842 and 1845 respectively.
Howe began his history of Ohio in 1846. Starting in Marietta he walked and rode around the state interviewing early settlers, collecting data, and sketching points of interest. Howe returned to New Haven to arrange the material and published Historical Collections of Ohio in 1847. Eighteen thousand copies of the first edition were sold and Howe's book became the standard history of Ohio.
Howe published several travel and adventure books and the following years were successful financially. In 1856 he started work on Our Whole Country, a history of the United States based on the plan used in his state histories. The history was finished in 1861 but was a financial failure. Howe recovered financially by reprinting some of his earlier works and selling subscription books.
Howe began revising his history of Ohio in 1885. He financed the project by selling in advance 200 copies of the revised history at ten dollars each. In March 1887, he finished his travels in Ohio and began preparing the manuscript for publication. The work was larger and more costly than Howe had anticipated and he appealed to the Ohio legislature for financial aid. The legislature purchased 1200 copies of the first volume of the history for $12,000. By the time the second and third volumes of the history were printed in 1891, Howe was deeply in debt and the work was too expensive for the average person to buy. Howe died on October 14, 1893, leaving his family in debt. The Ohio legislature then bought the plates and copyrights to the book for $20,000 which relieved the family's indebtedness.
Source: Joseph P. Smith, "Henry Howe, the Historian" Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society Publications, volume 4, 977.105 Oh 3.
Scope and content: The Henry Howe Audiovisual Collection consists of 349 albumen prints, pencil sketches, and illustrations, and occupies three-quarters cubic foot. The majority of the photographs presumably were taken in the 1880s when Howe was working on the second edition of Historical Collections of Ohio. Twenty-five cabinet cards and three cartes-de-visite are included in the collection and Appendix I contains a list of photographers who produced them. The collection is divided into two series: Series I, Historical Collections of Ohio illustrations, and Series II, miscellaneous photographs. Captions on the verso of items were transcribed from the images' mounts; the authorship of these captions is unknown.
The majority of photographs in Series I were used as illustrations in the second edition of Howe's history. Box one, folders one through sixteen contain photographs of identified places and buildings in Ohio counties. The material is arranged alphabetically by county name, then by town name within each county, with nature shots of a county placed last. Typical county scenes include views of business districts; the county courthouse; and birthplaces and homes of such people as Ulysses S. Grant, George A. Custer, and Rutherford B. Hayes. There also are photographs of the countryside and points of interest including caves, natural bridges, and rock formations. Unidentified county scenes are depicted in the photographs in box one, folders eighteen and nineteen. Portraits of prominent Ohioans are in box two, folders one and two, and are arranged alphabetically by the person's name. Appendix II contains a list of those persons. Illustrations from the Cincinnati Illustrated Business Directory are included in box one, folder four, and box one, folders eight and ten contain pen and pencil sketches in addition to photographs.
The miscellaneous material in Series II includes photographs taken in New Haven, Connecticut; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and on various rivers in West Virginia. Pictures of Henry Howe and family members are found in box two, folder four and sketches, possibly done by Howe, are in box two, folder five. Also included in folder five is a miniature photograph of a Ulysses S. Grant letter and a ground plan of the old Harrison Mansion at North Bend.