The exhibition presents the materials in nine major topics organized into several cases and frames thoughout the exhibition area. These represent the historically significant connections among politicians, intellectuals, business leaders, celebrities, foreigners, famous toledoans and everyday citizens whose thoughts and actions have shaped society in Toledo, Ohio, United States, and to considerable degree the human world across the globe. Click on the topics below to view the materials associated with these topics. Close those new windows in order to return to this page.
PLEASE PARDON THE DUST: AS WE ENTER A PROCESS OF MIGRATING OUR EXHIBITION, THE LINKS TO THE EXHIBITS MAY FAIL TO WORK. PLEASE CONSIDER VISITING THIS EXHIBITION AGAIN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE
Letters from United States Political Leaders
On display are letters from politicians who served at both the state and federal level. State leaders include Salmon P. Chase, Michael DiSalle, and James A. Rhodes, all governors of Ohio. Others, such as Robert A. Taft, Thomas Ludlow Ashley, and Marcy Kaptur, have represented Ohio as members of the U.S. Congress. Other non-presidential correspondents include Robert F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Several of the letters in this collection are from U.S. presidents – often written before assuming the office – including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. Several of these letters were addressed to Harold Boeschenstein, president of Owens-Illinois, Inc. and later the first president of Owens-Corning Fiberglas.
Letters from Figures in the Watergate Scandal
On June 17, 1972, five men were caught breaking into the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. Reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were the first to establish a connection between the break-in and the administration of president Richard Nixon, a scandal which ultimately caused Nixon to resign. Several other individuals were also implicated, their crimes ranging from wiretapping to obstruction of justice to fraud. The letters on display were acquired by Mary M. Einhart, a Toledo autograph collector who wrote to the figures involved in the scandal. Einhart also received letters from those responsible for investigating Watergate.
Letters from Leaders of Business and Industry
Over the decades, Toledo has been home to some of the world’s largest and most recognized companies. The glass and automobile industries, especially, have made Toledo internationally known due to the efforts of such individuals as Edward Drummond Libbey, Michael Owens, Charles Dana, and Robert and Frank Stranahan. These men were the driving forces behind the companies now known as Owens-Illinois, the Dana Corporation, and Champion Spark Plug, respectively. Several of the letters on display are from the individuals listed above.
Letters from Intellectuals and Reformers
The items on display represent individuals who made significant contributions to society in areas as diverse as science, civil rights, economics, and politics. Correspondents include Charles Darwin, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, and Martin Luther King, Jr. As with other letters in the exhibit, some of these items were addressed to members of the Toledo community.
Letters from Celebrities and Sports Figures
This collection features signed letters, photographs, and printed materials from famous persons in various entertainment industries, including music, stage, and screen. The items on display come from or concern individuals – such as Joe Brown and Suzanne Miller – who were born in the Toledo area, visited the city or surrounding communities (Sammy Davis Jr. and Marian Anderson), or otherwise had a connection to Toledo residents; e.g. a letter from actress Eleanor Belmont to Toledo author Jean Gould.
Letters from Literary Figures
“Letters from Literary Figures” is divided into two components. One, correspondence, contains letters from several famous authors and poets. Such names include Isaac Asimov, Pearl S. Buck, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and T.S. Elliot. Several of these individuals are also included in the inscribed books portion of the exhibit, alongside other such distinguished figures as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Harper Lee, Langston Hughes, and Tennessee Williams. Two of these books are signed for the University of Toledo and a recipient connected to the University, respectively.
Letters from Foreign Dignitaries
This collection contains correspondence from famous individuals outside of the United States. In addition to letters from such notables as Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Indira Gandhi, there are also letters from two British monarchs: one, from King Henry VII, is a warrant to deliver a pair of shoes to the king; the other, from King George V, congratulates American soldiers who had joined the Allied cause during World War I. The most poignant items on display relate to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: letters from numerous foreign ambassadors to U.S. Ambassador Foy D. Kohler, and a guest list of individuals who attended a memorial service for the slain president. Some of the signatures include those of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and his wife.
Letters from Famous Toledoans
While Toledo is not be the first city that springs to mind when thinking of celebrities, it is and has been home to some famous individuals. One of the most well-known names – and one that can be found in this exhibit – is that of Jamie Farr, who played Corporal Maxwell Klinger on the popular television series M*A*S*H. Other Toledo residents, while perhaps less well known, nevertheless made important contributions to the city and abroad as well. These include Republican congressman James M. Ashley, considered the author of the 13th amendment that outlawed slavery; and Foy D. Kohler, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. This collection also includes the correspondence of several Toledo mayors, some of whom later served in government posts at the state or federal level.
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Letters
While many of the letters, books, and other materials on display are from some of history’s most famous figures, some of the most interesting correspondence comes from people who may have only been known to a few. Many of these letters contain accounts that, while not uncommon, nevertheless contain uniquely personal details. The effects of war on both participants and their families is an especially common subject, but letters displayed here also provide insights into such varied issues as the slave trade, living with a disability, and securing voting rights for women. Perhaps the most touching of all are a sampling of some 7,000 letters written by Belgian schoolchildren thanking Brand Whitlock, former mayor of Toledo and later ambassador to Belgium, who organized the delivery of supplies to the Belgian people after Germany invaded the country and blocked its ports during World War I. Also included herein is selected correspondence between University of Toledo president Philip Nash and Carl Joseph, who was a student at the university but was serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.