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News and events from WKU Libraries

WKU Libraries Blog - News and events from WKU Libraries

Cookbooks Authors at Southern Kentucky Book Festival


Southern Kentucky Bookfest panel session on Cookbooks

This year’s Southern Kentucky Bookfest held a morning session featuring cookbooks, in which a panel of five authors briefly discussed their new books and answered questions from the audience at the end. WKU Libraries Department of Library Public Services Head Dr. Brian Coutts moderated the session.


Gaylord Brewer, author of
The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink & Desire

Gaylord Brewer, an English professor at MTSU and author of nine books of poetry and 800 other poems, spoke about his newest book The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink & Desire. Inspired by cooking elaborate meals and meeting chefs, his book is filled with great recipes and humorous commentary that leaves readers laughing out loud.


Linda Hawkins, author of
Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes

Morgantown, KY native Linda Hawkins has previously taught school, ran a daycare, and served as a crisis counselor for abused women and children and is now an award winning author. Her newest book Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes features her favorite recipes and remembrances to show readers how to get families involved in making meals and creating lasting memories.


John van Willigen, author of Kentucky Cookbook Heritage

John Van Willigen, professor emeritus of Anthropology at UK, has authored many books from Anthropology to tobacco culture to his classic Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950. With his new book Kentucky Cookbook Heritage he explores two hundred years of Southern cuisine and culture through a diverse range of topics from Nancy Green, the original Aunt Jemima, to Duncan Hines and charity cookbooks.


Fiona Young-Brown, author of
A Culinary History of Kentucky

Fiona Young-Brown is a native of the United Kingdom, with a BA from the University of Hull, and Iowa transplant with graduate degrees in Women’s Studies and Japanese from the University of Iowa. Now writing local history, she discussed her newest book A Culinary History of Kentucky which includes delicious recipes like Mafia Jam Cake and Jefferson Davis Pie.

Aimee Zaring, author of Flavors From Home

Aimee Zaring, author of Flavors From Home

Aimee Zaring has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding and has taught ESL for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Jefferson County Schools, and Global LT. In her book Flavors From Home she shares stories from Kentucky’s various refugee communities and the recipes of their traditional dishes from steamed dumplings from Bhutan to twice fried green plantains from Cuba. This book is about how food gives refugees comforts from home while expanding cuisine in Kentucky.

Brian Coutts with cookbook authors (left to right) Gaylord Brewer, Linda Hawkins, John van Willigen, Fiona Young-Brown, and Aimee Zaring

Brian Coutts with cookbook authors (left to right) Gaylord Brewer, Linda Hawkins, John van Willigen, Fiona Young-Brown, and Aimee Zaring

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Biographer Kiran Bhatraju awarded the 2015 Kentucky Literary Award

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership announced Kiran Bhatraju as

KLA Revisedsmallerversionthe winner of this year’s Kentucky Literary Award for his book Mud Creek Medicine: the Life of Eula Hall and the Fight for Appalachia. First awarded in 2003 and reintroduced in 2012 after a brief hiatus, the Kentucky Literary Award is given to an author from Kentucky or one whose book has a strong Kentucky theme. Fiction and non-fiction books are recognized in alternating years.

From the publisher’s description: “Mud Creek Medicine chronicles life of an iconoclastic woman with a resolute spirit to help her people. Eula Hall, born into abject poverty in Greasy Creek, Kentucky, found herself, through sheer determination and will, at the center of a century-long struggle to lift up a part of America that is too often forgotten. Through countless interviews and meticulous research, Kiran Bhatraju deftly traces Eula’s life from impoverished hired girl to community activist… Eula’s story shows how one woman could make a difference through a clear-eyed understanding of the nexus between politics, wealth, labor, and disease.”Bhatraju

Bhatraju is a native of eastern Kentucky. His father, an immigrant from India, worked as a physician with Eula Hall at the Mud Creek Clinic and Pikeville Medical Center for two decades, where Kiran first met Eula Hall. Bhatraju began his career working on poverty issues for Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) on Capitol Hill where he first began researching Eula’s life. His writings have been featured in various magazines and newspapers including The Courier-Journal of Louisville and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is currently Founder and CEO of Arcadia Power, a renewable energy company, and he is working on his second book, an oral history of twentieth century immigrant physicians throughout the US. Kiran lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Sara.

“Heroes are not perfect, even in comic books.  In Mud Creek Medicine, author Kiran Bjatraju portrays Eula Hall as a paradox–the compassionate woman committed to the medical welfare of those in her region of Appalachia but infused with passion, righteous anger and occasionally exhibiting crude behavior.  She finds ways to get things done, regardless of opposition from the establishment, neighbors, and even her own family.  Despite the sometimes trying circumstances of Eula’s life, this well written biography documents a woman who cares, perseveres and triumphs,” said Jonathan Jeffrey, Department Head for Library Special Collections and member of the selection committee for the award.

The award announcement was made at the Knicely Conference Center at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest Meet the Authors Reception on Friday, April 17–the night before the main Book Fest event. Bhatraju was recognized with a commemorative certificate and a monetary gift.

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners include Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and the Western Kentucky University Libraries.  The award was made possible with the generous support of Friends of WKU Libraries. For more information about the award go to sokybookfest.org.

2015 SOKY Book Fest


More than 150 authors and illustrators are expected to be in attendance for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest weekend of April 17-18, including New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon, well known for her Outlander series.

“We are very pleased with the number and quality of authors and illustrators we will have with us this year,” said Kristie Lowry, Literary Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries and Book Fest organizer. “In addition to the headliner, who has a very loyal following, there are many wonderful authors for readers of all ages.”

Book Fest weekend is full of author presentations, panel discussions, and book signings as well as the Kentucky Writers Conference featuring writing workshops on Friday, April 17 presented by several authors who will be at the main Book Fest event on Saturday. Friday also includes Children’s Day with hundreds of school-aged children visiting presentations and getting book signed by favorite and newly discovered authors. A new program this year is a Writers Workshop for Teens geared toward youth in grades 9 through 12. For more information on that or to register, go to sokybookfest.org and click on Children’s Day.

Jamie Ford, Terry Brooks, and Chloe Neill are a few well-known authors who will be on hand at SOKY Book Fest. Bestselling picture book author Doreen Cronin, known for Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and Duck for President, will be attending both days along with illustrator Mark Crilley who has his work featured in USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and CNN Headline News and Comcast on Demand.

SOKY Book Fest is a partnership project of WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes and Noble Booksellers. For more information, visit the website at sokybookfest.org or contact Book Fest organizer Kristie Lowry at WKU Libraries at (270) 745-4502.

Hats On for the Derby

Collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives  section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections offer a variety of materials on the history and traditions of the Kentucky Derby.  For example:

Derby hats in the making at Dee's

Derby hats in the making at Dee’s

Our folklife collections include a project focusing on the Derby’s great tradition of distinctive headwear.  In “Dynamics of a Kentucky Derby Hat,” WKU folk studies student Becky Proctor explored the search for the perfect hat at Dee’s Craft Store in Louisville.  In their customers’ choice of ornament, color scheme and accompanying wardrobe, the proprietors of Dee’s have long known that the Derby hat combines personal expression, social statement, performance art and, perhaps, setting the trend for next year.

Ashland Oil's Derby Party programs

Ashland Oil’s Derby Party programs

For guests of the Ashland Oil & Refining Company, the 1969 Derby highlighted a packed weekend of tours, receptions and parties.  VIPs from U.S. Steel, Getty Oil, B.F. Goodrich, Texaco, du Pont and other companies received a kit that included an event schedule, name badges, taxicab vouchers, and invitations to cocktails, country club breakfasts, champagne dinner parties and a Derby Ball. “If the weather pays any attention to our instructions, you’ll be enchanted with Kentucky in the spring,” wrote a representative, providing some helpful hints for appropriate dress at the opening dinner, bluegrass farms tour, and farewell banquet.  Derby Day itself was to begin with brunch on board the Belle of Louisville–but, she warned, “a little food ahead of time might be a good idea, as mint juleps on an empty stomach can be devastating.”

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

Happy Earth Day!

As you ponder the health of our habitat and our role in it, today, some local context may be useful to you. The online catalog for Special Collections, KenCat.wku.edu, can lead you to a variety of resources. Many of these, such as WKU publications, are available online.

For example, a KenCat search for “energy” will produce results on topics including the energy crisis, coal, conservation, solar energy, and past Earth Day activities. You may also want to search for conservation, recycling, environment, sustainability and other topics.  You can also perform a truncated search by adding an * to words such as environment to expand the search.

Environment* will return:

  • environment(s)
  • environmental
  • environmentalist(s)
  • environmentally

This solar collector is a project to be entered in a competition according to Bobby Hunton and T.J. Moyers, both members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. They said the winner will be judged by the amount of temperature change recorded when water runs through the collector. 1977-1978










Post written by WKU Archives Assistant April McCauley.

March Out of the Box

Chapel – students on the steps of Van MeterStudent Nurses

Elevator 3/1915 – student happenings 100 years ago

Fanlight, Spring 1990 – Kentucky Museum happenings 25 years ago

Gender & Womens Studies – collection inventory, records available for research

Health Clinic Report 1965

Potter Hall – building history which answers the question, “Who was Potter?”

Softball – a variety of sources on a favorite spring sport

University Center Board – Meeting 3/28/1990

Volleyball – a variety of sources on Volleyball

WKU Map 1965 – could you find a parking place in 1965?

WKU vs Austin Peay – men’s basketball program 2/22/1965

Womens Basketball – photos through the years

What They Saw

Lowell Harrison; Jewish memorial at Bergen-Belsen (Wikimedia Commons)

Lowell Harrison; Jewish memorial at Bergen-Belsen (Wikimedia Commons)

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Arriving on April 15, 1945, British troops surveyed a landscape of unspeakable suffering and cruelty.

Kentuckians serving in Europe at the end of the war were among many eyewitnesses to the atrocities perpetrated in the camps.  Their experiences are documented in some of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.

WKU history professor and Russell County native Lowell Harrison was serving as a combat engineer when his division arrived at the concentration camp at Nordhausen, in the heart of Germany.  “It was something that was unbelievable,” he recalled.  “You see pictures. . . , you read about it, but you couldn’t believe that people could be treated that way until you actually saw them.”  Richardsville native William R. Hudson, drafted after the Nazi surrender and sent to Germany to serve with occupation forces, was exposed to German atrocities when he was appointed to guard war criminals, including Hermann Goering.  It was then that he witnessed the evil infrastructure of the Holocaust: railroad cars, gas chambers, crematoria, and the bones of victims “stacked up like haystacks.”

Soldiers struggled to convey their experiences to incredulous civilians.  Writing from Germany in May 1945, Bowling Green native Harry L. Jackson reacted sharply when his sister complained of being inundated with “atrocity propaganda.”  “I HAVE seen more than enough,” he assured her, to know that the reports were not exaggerated.  But trying to describe to her the sight of a German slave labor camp, with its stench, filth, and starving inmates reduced to “the basic instincts of the animal” was beyond his capacity.  While man’s power to degrade and destroy seemed boundless, “our inadequacy and limitations surface,” he declared, “when we are asked to define what WAR really is.  It cannot be put into words.”

Click on the links to access finding aids to these collections (contact us at mssfa@wku.edu about the Harry Jackson Collection).  For more collections on World War II in Germany and beyond, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

WKU Archives Video Digitization Project Update

filmYesterday we received 31 more videos from our digitization vendor. Many of these are short advertisements created by WKU Public Affairs in 1974 and 1975.

We will be uploading these “new” videos to our WKU Library Special Collections YouTube Channel.  Let us know if you can identify students and faculty included in the videos.

Scott Greene, SVP, Corporate Strategy & Business Development of Fruit of the Loom Speaking for Kentucky Live!

Scott Greene, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Business Development for Fruit of the Loom, Inc., gave a talk on the evening of Thursday, April 9, 2015 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, KY for the WKU Libraries-sponsored “Kentucky Live!” speaker series. He talked about Fruit of the Loom as one of the nation’s oldest brands.

According to Mr. Greene, Warren Buffet acquired Fruit of the Loom for $835 million as a Berkshire Hathaway Company in 2002, and since then has acquired various brands including Activewear, Jerzees® Activewear, Vanity Fair®, Bestform®, Lily of France, Lou® Paris, Curvation, Spalding, Dudley® Sports, American Athletic, Inc., Bike, and Russell Athletic.

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