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"Best Cough Recipe in the World"

“Best Cough Recipe in the World”

Well, it’s that time of year when the Hill is alive with the sound of coughing, not to mention the sneezes, aches and runny noses.

For Kentuckians in the past, the cough was often a portent of worse to come.  Frankfort merchant Oliver Hazard Perry Anderson (1813-1845) experienced his cough as a constant reminder of the tuberculosis that would carry him to an early grave.  In 1855, Edward Ground wrote his grandfather in Warren County that the family was all well except for “the [w]hooping cough.”  During the Civil War, Kentucky infantryman John Tuttle found “the spasmodic coughing” of his comrades distressing, and not just as a sign of widespread measles: all that noise actually made it difficult to hear orders given during dress parades.

But sometimes, a cough was what it is today: just a nuisance, the last thing to depart when all other cold symptoms have slunk away.  “This cough grows persistent and troublesome,” complained a young Hopkinsville woman to her friend in 1874, “keeping me awake last night till I feel worn out and out of patience with the world today. . . . This season of the year is rather trying everywhere.”

But nineteenth-century medicine was rife with potions and remedies for the bronchially challenged.  And how fitting that a Kentuckian, John W. Beauchamp (1804-1879), one of Metcalfe County’s first physicians, would possess the “Best Cough Receipt [Recipe] in the World.”  Here it is:

One pint pure Holland gin
One pint white wine vinegar
One pint molasses
One pound clarified honey
One gill [about 4 ounces] of pure olive oil

The ingredients were to be mixed in an earthen jug, tightly corked, shaken well, then imbibed in wineglass-sized doses three times daily.

Click on the links to access finding aids for these materials, and search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat for more collections in WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections relating to medicines and prescriptions.

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A Century Since the Armistice

Bowling Green's Times-Journal announces the Armistice

Bowling Green’s Times-Journal announces the Armistice

GREAT WAR IS BROUGHT TO AN END: Greatest Struggle in World’s History Ceases With Signing of Armistice Terms.

So declared the now century-old news clipping of November 11, 1918 that Bowling Green’s Martha Potter pasted into her scrapbook.  As we have previously blogged, the Armistice was met with worldwide joy and relief.  Finally, an end to “1,567 days of horror,” read the Associated Press story, “during which virtually the whole civilized world has been convulsed.”

Few Bowling Green newspapers from that period survive, but other clippings in Martha’s scrapbook tell us of the local celebrations.  The very afternoon of the Armistice, citizens took turns ringing a “Liberty Bell” in an improvised belfry in front of the Palace Confectionery on Park Row.  Even a bull terrier belonging to Martha’s son Douglass got involved, tugging on the end of the rope to the delight of onlookers.  The Chamber of Commerce summoned everyone to gather that evening in the public square, promising that “bedlam will be turned loose and a last farewell will be given ‘Kaiser Bill.'”  Officials warned, however, that NO drunkenness or celebratory firing of pistols would be tolerated.

A few days later, “one of the largest crowds ever seen in the city” made up a “peace parade” nearly a mile long, beginning at the Mansard Hotel at Main and Center streets and winding its way through town.  Prominent citizens, schoolchildren, Red Cross women, Canteen Girls on horseback, firefighters, police, and WKU’s Student Army Training Corps joined the parade, headed by a band and festooned with flags, banners and a bust of President Woodrow Wilson.  Those absent were not forgotten.  The day after the Armistice, the News-Democrat published the names of Bowling Green and Warren County men, both white and African-American, as well as nurses, serving overseas at the war’s end.  This, too, became part of Martha’s scrapbook, as her son John was currently “over there.”

Red Cross workers parading in Bowling Green during World War I

Red Cross workers parading in Bowling Green during World War I

Search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat for more collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections relating to the Great War, or browse a list here.

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Hex and the City: Encounters with the Extramundane

The Folklife Archives is certainly no stranger to the supernatural, and while the rustling sheaves of onion-skin paper or sudden burst of cold air may find a culprit in the questionable HVAC system, there’s still something slightly sinister stirring inside the storage boxes.

In January 1983 a student paper, written for an undergraduate folk studies class, was donated to the Folklife Archives. Titled “Hexing: Personal Experiences That Were Possibly ‘Hexing’ Episodes,” the essay came with an ominous warning, “CONTRIBUTOR’S NAME MUST NEVER BE USED.”  The contents of the paper, a brief—but nonetheless thrilling—three pages, detail one woman’s experience with her slightly telekinetic powers.

To begin, the author describes the process of placing a hex on someone who has caused harm in some recognizable way. “The person that [is] doing the hexing has to balance on one leg—the left one, I think—and extend their left arm fully towards the person they wish to hex. The index and small fingers should also be extended, with the rest of the fingers made into a fist.”  The channeling of pure rage and resentment towards the wrongdoer is also a critical step in performing a successful hex. The author is quick to point out, however, that while she rarely indulges her feelings of anger, the overwhelming sense of powerlessness and jealousy at several key moments during her adolescence were enough to justify a dabbling in witchcraft.

Illustration for the “The Thing on the Floor,” a short story found in the March 1938 issue of Weird Tales about a devious hypnotist.

The author runs through a laundry list of those who have mistreated her: the “extremely unfair” middle school teacher who suffered a broken ankle, the “very unfair” father who broke his wrist, the “babbling” woman who fell off a ski lift after stealing away the “good-looking and charming” ski-instructor, along with a host of other unsuspecting victims who fell prey to broken legs, broken arms, and burned houses at the hexing hand of one cruel mistress.

In her conclusion, the author confesses, “Whether this is a power that I possess or not, it used to frighten me and it is not something that I like to talk about. I have learned to live with it, however, and to control my feelings.” She leaves the reader with a final caveat,

“Well, those are the facts…it is up to you to decide for yourself what caused them.”

The paper itself (FA 228) is located within WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives. And while the archives cannot specifically condone the practice of black magic, it can provide you with more information on ghostly tales, haunted houses, and the occult. If you’re feeling brave enough, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database, to explore manuscripts, photographs, and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

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Frankly, She Gave a D-mn

The 1939 movie blockbuster Gone With the Wind is as legendary as the novel of the same name.  Gone With the Wind’s author, Margaret Mitchell, had no desire to participate in the film project, but insisted that producer David O. Selznick employ a technical adviser to keep him honest about its portrayal of Southern accents, customs, wardrobes and etiquette.  Mitchell’s choice for the job was her good friend and fellow Georgian, Susan Myrick.

Raised on her family’s plantation near Milledgeville, Myrick (1893-1978) was a teacher, journalist, civic leader, and arbiter of all things Southern.  Despite long days on the set of Gone With the Wind, she reported regularly and candidly to Mitchell about her quest to keep the movie’s production values authentic (in a 1939 kind of way).

"Hattie," by Carlton Jackson

“Hattie,” by Carlton Jackson

While researching his biography of Hattie McDaniel, who played “Mammy” in the movie, WKU history professor Carlton Jackson discovered how opinionated Myrick could be.  Jackson’s research includes a copy of one of her gossipy letters to Mitchell, written just before filming of Gone With the Wind began.  Myrick was “sick at heart” that “three Britishers”—Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland—had been cast in leading roles (Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilkes, and Melanie Hamilton); but she liked Howard, who she found had “more sense than anybody I’ve seen around here” except for director George Cukor (a “grand person,” though he would soon be replaced).

Myrick was pleased with the exterior set for Tara, the O’Hara plantation, but battled with various technical personnel over other details of the production.  She insisted that Tara have “feather beds” and that a magnolia tree grow outside Scarlett’s window.  She put a stop to the agricultural faux pas of having “cotton chopped while dog woods were blooming,” and “nearly died when they asked me if they couldn’t show cotton right at the front yard!”  She was also determined that “Prissy” and other African-American characters “NOT wear ten or twenty pink bows on their hair” so they would look “pictorial”—a word that made Myrick want “to scream.”

As for 44-year-old Kansas native Hattie McDaniel, the singer/songwriter/actress just signed to play “Mammy,” Myrick grumbled to Mitchell that she “hasn’t the right face” and “lacks dignity, age, nobility and so on.”  Director Cukor admitted that he was still looking for another actress for the role; in fact, he sent Myrick to see the play Run, Little Chillun in order to scout its African-American cast for a replacement.

But the rest, of course, was history.  Not only did she keep her job, Hattie McDaniel owned the role of “Mammy” and received an Oscar for best supporting actress, making her the first African American to win an Academy Award.

Carlton Jackson’s research for his book Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here for a finding aid.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Carlton Jackson Papers Celebrate Archives Month

Dr. Carlton Jackson at a book-signing for "Allied Secret: The Sinking of HMT Rohna"

Dr. Carlton Jackson at a book-signing for “Allied Secret: The Sinking of HMT Rohna”

Heartbreaking memories of the 1918 influenza pandemic.  The FBI dossiers on a husband-and-wife team of socialist labor activists.  Gracious letters from Gone With the Wind star Olivia de Havilland.  The gritty details of a guest’s sudden collapse and death during a television talk show.  Accounts from survivors of one of America’s worst wartime naval disasters.

Where can you find all of these within easy reach of one another?  In the papers of Dr. Carlton L. Jackson, a prolific author and historian who donated a large portion of his research and manuscripts to WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Processing of the 4,336 items in this collection was completed in October, which happens to be American Archives Month.  A finding aid is available here.

Carlton Jackson’s career as a history professor at WKU began in 1961 and continued until his death in 2014.  A high-school dropout, the Alabama native resumed his studies during service in the Air Force, then taught school and worked as a newspaperman before arriving at WKU.  The author of more than 20 books, he also held several Fulbright awards and visiting teaching posts, and in 1996 was appointed WKU’s first Distinguished University Professor.

Jackson’s books included Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel, a biography of the Oscar-winning actress who immortalized the role of “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind; Allied Secret: The Sinking of HMT Rohna, an account of the 1943 guided missile attack on this troopship that killed more than 1,000 American servicemen; J. I. Rodale: Apostle of Nonconformity, a look at the self-described “father of the organic movement” in the United States, whose life ended suddenly while a guest on the Dick Cavett Show; and Child of the Sit-Downs: The Revolutionary Life of Genora Dollinger, a biography of this workers’ rights champion whose career began in earnest during the great 1936-1937 “sit-down” strike at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan.  Other books of Jackson’s have told the story of the iconic World War II song Lili Marlene; related a social history of the Greyhound Bus Company; assessed the career of movie director Martin Ritt; recalled the heroism of Joseph Gavi, a Louisville restaurateur who was once a partisan fighter in the Jewish ghetto of Minsk; and novelized the life of George Al Edwards, a Green County, Kentucky outlaw.  For a 1976 book on the 1918 influenza pandemic, Jackson placed ads in newspapers across the country seeking eyewitness accounts, and received more than 400 replies documenting the flu’s deadly march through 42 states and 9 foreign countries.  The book was never completed, but this unique collection of letters has been preserved.

“Dr. Jackson’s research and writing testified not just to his energy but to his eclectic interests and inveterate curiosity,” says WKU Special Collections department head Jonathan Jeffrey.  Searching for sources in both public archives and private collections, Jackson corresponded with anyone who might provide a lead.  As a former journalist, he never hesitated to seek a telephone or personal interview, making many friends along the way.  As the collection reveals, his efforts generated wins and losses, both big and small.  While researching a biography of Western novelist Zane Grey, Jackson wondered if Grey’s tales of shark fishing had influenced Peter Benchley’s blockbuster novel Jaws, but Benchley politely replied in the negative.  A greater disappointment occurred when, after his initial contacts proved promising, the Greyhound Bus Company withdrew its cooperation for Jackson’s history.  He scored a coup, however, when he located and corresponded (in German) with the pilot of the plane that had attacked the Rohna.

“I’m basically lazy,” Jackson once insisted in a profile published in WKU’s On Campus.  But it never showed.  After he got an idea for a book he would begin work, reading, traveling, knocking on doors and, like a good ex-journalist, digging.  The result, in addition to his publications, was a trove of research, now available to anyone else who wants to keep digging.

The Department of Library Special Collections is located in the Kentucky Building on WKU’s campus.  Hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Search our online catalogs at TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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“Far sadder than insanity”

Anna Kirkland's letter

Anna Kirkland’s letter

On this World Mental Health Day, we look back to 1872 when, in the absence of systematic treatment or medication, an ordinary woman tried to cope with depression.

On March 13, 55-year-old Anna Mary Kirkland wrote from North Carolina to her niece Eliza “Lizzie” (Edmunds) McNary, who as a girl had moved with her family to Caldwell County, Kentucky.  Anna apologized for the long drought in her correspondence, “but wretchedness such as no language can convey any adequate idea of has still’d my pen for more than two years.”  She had entered the North Carolina Asylum, but knew it wasn’t the right place: “I am considered insane & would to God that was the proper name for my malady, but alas!  I fear the case is a far sadder one than insanity, tho’ that is sad enough.”  Stalked by obsessive thoughts about her “lost” soul and those of her children, Anna bewailed the state of “living death” she could not overcome.

Well-meaning family members had tried act as armchair psychiatrists, but Anna explained that her “periods of darkness” were unresponsive to “human reasoning and eloquence” or to the theory that they were merely “insane delusions.”  She confessed that Lizzie’s news of her husband and children had made little impression: “Were I not so wretched your good accounts of the dear boys would please me so much & I would be so much interested. . . as it is I can’t take an interest in anything.”

Anna managed to convey a few items of her own family’s news, but returned to the notion that a diagnosis of insanity might actually help her come to grips with her paralyzing burden.  In that case, she wrote, she could even believe herself capable of visiting Lizzie, of experimenting with travel and change. . . “but I can’t.”

Anna’s letter is in the Edmunds Family Papers, part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here for a finding aid.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Archives Month Exhibit

The Kentucky Museum, WKU Library Special Collections & WKU Archives contain thousands of objects, documents and photographs. While the majority Kentucky-centric, many reflect the world outside Kentucky and the United States as experienced by Kentuckians. This online exhibit called Seven Continents created in conjunction with a physical Archives Month exhibit housed in the Western Room, showcases some of the international collections housed in the Kentucky Building. Additional information regarding these collections is available through KenCat the online catalog.  Some highlights include:

Clara Hines diary

April 17, 1954 diary page from Clara Hines European vacation diary.

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Putting the Rug Underneath Your Feet

Arline Rawlins admiring her “Kentucky Stair Runner.”

The Manuscripts unit of the Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired papers and photographs related to hooked rugs created by Bowling Green artist Arline (Perkins) Rawlins. The estate of her daughter, Alicia (Rawlins) McFarland gifted the material to Special Collections.  The collection consists chiefly of correspondence with magazine editors related to articles published about Rawlins’ rugs, as well as a large number of black and white photographs documenting her creations.

Arline (Perkins) Rawlins was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky on 3 February 1899. She attended Gunston Hall in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Western Kentucky State Normal and Teacher’s College in 1923 with an AB degree.  She eventually taught art on an adjunct basis at Western.  She also studied art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Mellon Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. during World War II.  In 1946 she became the art supervisor for Bowling Green city schools.  In 1952 she earned her BA at WKU and in 1958  her MA.

A number of Rawlins’ paintings, chiefly oils and palette knife, are in private collections in Bowling Green and in various museums, but she is best known for her hooked rugs which she designed and hooked herself. Her best known rug was titled Kentucky Stair Runner; it featured twenty Kentucky themed scenes and was installed in her Bowling Green home.  The rug won first place at the September 1949 Kentucky State Fair and was featured in several articles in regional and national publications.  National magazines, such as Woman’s Day, American Home, and Family Circle carried articles penned by Rawlins or about her rugs.  She considered her rug work part of the regeneration of American craft, and indeed she fits perfectly into the craft revival movement of the 1930s and 1940s.  Interestingly, this parallels the revival of quilting as a craft in this country.

…making something from nothing is just about what rug making is. Part of the fun and a great part of the charm of rug making is in the ability of the maker to see the possibilities…

Rawlins’ rug work gave her great satisfaction as witnessed by this quote from an article she wrote for Farm and Ranch:  “People who have the ingenuity to make something from nothing are the envy of all their friends.  And making something from nothing is just about what rug making is.  Part of the fun and a great part of the charm of rug making is in the ability of the maker to see the possibilities around her—to see in that old, worn-out blanket a beautiful background, in that moth-eaten tweed skirt a handsome scroll, and in that faded red woolen skirt a lovely rose.” Her love of rug making allowed her to incorporate the love for the Commonwealth.  This is reflected in the names she gave her patterns:  “Kentucky Bouquet,” “The Mint Julep,” “The Winner,” “The Thoroughbred,” “The Pennyroyal,” “The Cardinal,” and “The Strawberry Patch.”

Mailing label from Rawlins’ mail order business.

Besides this collection, other material related to Rawlins exists in the Temple Family Papers. One of Rawlins dearest friends was Ruth Hines Temple, who played with Rawlins as a child, was a bridesmaid at her wedding, and remained a close contact throughout her life.  For most of their lives, they lived only a few blocks from each other.  Temple, who became the head of the Art Department at WKU, assisted Rawlins in the design concept for packaging, marketing and stationery for her cottage rug industry.  Rawlins actually rejected Temple’s concept for Pennyroyal Rugs and developed her own Nine Hearths Hooked Rug Designs, named for her house on Park Street.

To see the finding aid for the Rawlins collection click here, to see the same for the Temple Family Papers, click here. To look for other textile or women’s related collections, search KenCat or TopScholar.

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Lil Yachty Is to Mumble Rap as Roy Butler Is to Auctioneering

In his paper titled “Notes and Speculations on Country Auctioneering as It Is Practiced in North Central Kentucky,” former Western folk studies student Joseph King attempts to frame auctioneering as an expressive lyrical performance similar to folk singing or folk preaching. King examines specifically the country auction and draws a stark contrast against the “sedate art auctions and auctioneers in urban areas.” His descriptions of the auction sites—often farm houses, barns, and churches—the goods being sold—“…anybody can haul in a load of anything, an old mule, a load of manure, six bags of wilted lettuce, old fruit jars…”—and the people in attendance—“…the auctions are a place to talk to your neighbor, a chance to look at his wife when she is ‘fixed up’ a little (clean overalls and freshly ironed dresses seem to be de rigueur at these events”—are heavy-handed and patronizing, but King’s argument relating the art of auctioneering to a musical performance may hold some weight.

During his fieldwork investigation, King visited several auctions throughout North Central Kentucky, gathering information on specific auctioneers, their professional training (or lack thereof), and their highly stylized “calling” techniques. He also recorded auctioneers on a single reel-to-reel audiotape at live sales in order to analyze individual idiosyncrasies and highlight further connections between calling and singing. King’s most salient point is the study of the auctioneer’s chant. He writes,

“The auctioneer’s chant is infused with a strong measure rhythm. A heavily accented syllable is uttered at periodic intervals (a trained musician could probably give the exact rhythmical time for any auctioneer). There is, perhaps, a semblance of a monotonous tune…the chant, however, does not sound particularly musical because of the harshness of the auctioneer’s voice and the lack of variation.”

As with most folk traditions, the emphasis is on oral transmission—informal knowledge passed from one person to another; however, King also notes that a handful of auctioneers he spoke with attended an auctioneering school where courses were taught by highly trained professionals in the field. Nevertheless, King asserts that the sales, and by extension the auctioneer, “express community values” and serve as a release valve for locally-situated tensions and anxieties. Perhaps a slight stretch, but King’s conclusions offer further points of inquiry concerning the intersection of folk music, identity, religion, and craft.

1973 Antique Auction broadside

1973 Antique Auction broadside

The paper itself (FA 1167), located within WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, contains newspaper clippings, brief biographical sketches, and a reel-to-reel audio tape of the auctioneers’ chants.

For more information on folk songs, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database featuring manuscripts, photographs and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

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Jackpot!

Lottery ticket for John Grimes's property

Lottery ticket for John Grimes’s property

Until 1816, when legislative authorization was required, anyone in Kentucky could conduct a lottery to raise money for public improvements such as a church, school, road or bridge, or just to fund some private scheme: only a year earlier, John A. Grimes of Madison County had parted with his property by holding a lottery and charging $20 per ticket.

Even with the introduction of legislative oversight, the history of lotteries is rife with tales of fraud and corruption.  Former WKU librarian Mary Leiper Moore researched the story of James R. Golladay of Bowling Green, who ran a number of high-rolling lotteries in the 1870s; prizes included $10,000 in cash, a brewery, houses and lots in Louisville and Bowling Green, and various smaller awards of cash, horses, and carriages.  Golladay’s empire collapsed in controversy, however, after the winner of a “handsome residence” in Bowling Green turned out to be. . . his own wife.

The "Great Land Sale" lottery ticket

The “Great Land Sale” lottery ticket

The Manuscripts and Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections include other materials relating to this strike-it-rich pastime.  There’s a ticket for the “Great Land Sale” in Henderson County, held in 1870, where four substantial prizes of good “river bottom land” and cash were awarded.  There’s the scrapbook of Captain Richard Vance, a devotee of the Louisiana State lottery who apparently never threw away his tickets.  And there’s Kentucky’s first state lottery ticket, issued in commemorative form in 1989.

Richard Vance's Louisiana lottery tickets

Richard Vance’s Louisiana lottery tickets

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections.  For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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