Virginius Cornick Hall devoted his life to historical research, collecting unique and unusual items and documenting his family chronology. In the last few years of Virginius’ life, we have had the pleasure of getting to know Virginius through a mutual friend Allen Bernard. As we spent time with Virginius, we came to the understanding that the papers and documents that he had collected throughout his life, such as correspondences with his mother, research on the history of Cincinnati, and numerous other unique documents, would be an outstanding addition to our Special Collections department and a great place to advance the scholarship that Virginius had worked on throughout his retirement.
The forthcoming collection is to be titled the Lytle Family Papers and is currently an unprocessed collection of approximately 49lf. The collection consists of the life’s work of several Lytle family members over nearly three centuries, leading to Virginius Cornick Hall, the latest in the line of Lytle family historians. Hall, his mother, and his grandfather all meticulously trace their ancestry back to Captain William Lytle and General William Haines Lytle. Captain William Lytle was an early surveyor, a prominent Cincinnatian, and the namesake of Cincinnati’s Lytle Park. General William Haines Lytle was a politician in Ohio, a renowned poet, and a military officer in the United States Army during both the Mexican–American War and American Civil War, where he was killed in action as a brigadier general. The Lytle Family Papers document the lives and literary works of members of Lytle’s descendants in the McGuire, Lytle, Livingood, Foster, Hall, Jackson, and Ragdale families while also offering intensive histories of the many places which Hall called home, including Cincinnati, Murray Bay in Quebec, and Richmond, Virginia.
In the oral history below, Hall shares in his own words some of his stories and experiences from his life, giving context and color to many of the documents included in the collection. Hall shares insights from his time at the Groton School in Massachusetts, Princeton University, and the University of Michigan, all of which shaped his interests in history, collection-keeping, and librarianship. He also explains several of the projects which dominated both his life and, subsequently, the Lytle Family Papers: the “Cincinnati Views” project comprised Hall’s attempt to document the changing urban landscape of Cincinnati through art (especially prints), while the “Fruits and Nuts” project consisted of Hall writing mini-biographies of people that he found to be particularly eccentric. Thus, while the Lytle Family Papers strongly focus on the history of the Lytle family, they also provide a one-of-a-kind perspective on the manners and customs of the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries. We look forward to processing this collection and making these unique holdings available to researchers for various potential outcomes.
Written by Callie Martindale & Amber Bales