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News and events from WKU Libraries

WKU Libraries Blog - News and events from WKU Libraries

A Scriptural Divide

Reuben Alexander

Reuben Alexander

From their roots in Henry County, Virginia, the Alexander family migrated to plantations in Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere.  Members kept in touch, but there were two that patriarch Reuben Alexander (1785-1864) might not have wanted to seat next to each other at Thanksgiving.  One was his nephew, Edward Fontaine, of Hinds County, Mississippi.  The other was Reuben’s own son Miller, who caused his family to drop its collective jaw when he freed his slaves and struck out for Iowa to go into business.

In a letter to his father from Keokuk in 1859, Miller acknowledged the damage he had done to his net worth, but the deeply religious man felt compelled to explain himself to his skeptical parent.  “I knew I had not your approbation in moving North–And am sorry for it, but it was my duty to obey the voice of conscience and of God,” he wrote.  Moreover, “if you were possesser of ten thousand slaves and would give them to me to return to Ky. I could not do it.”  While not an activist for abolition, Miller declared that “every feeling of my nature revolts at the idea of owning a fellow creature, when I am but a worm myself.”

Only a month earlier, Reuben had received a letter from nephew Edward, who weighed in on his cousin’s struggles.  “I regret to find from Cousin Miller’s Letter that his fanatical freak, freeing his slaves, and settling among the pious Yankees had led him into difficulties.”  Nevertheless, Edward–a pastor–hoped that Miller’s youth and energy would “enable him to extricate himself from the embarrassments into which his unscriptural views of the question of Slavery have drawn him.”  Edward prayed that Miller, whose former slaves had doubtless been rendered equally unhappy by this unholy state of affairs, might recover from his “fanatical freak” and regain his former prosperity.

Reuben Alexander’s family correspondence is part of the Alexander Family Papers in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more collections about Kentucky families, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Athletic Photos

Athletic Photos

Athletic Photos

have arrived.  There are approximately 350 cd-roms holding an average of 75 images per cd.

We are working our way through them noting individual athletes who played football, soccer, basketball and baseball.  There are also athletic logos included in the files.

Many of the images are not identified.  These will eventually work there way onto KenCat our online database where we will request assistance in identifying people.

The Moon in Your Sky: An Immigrant’s Journey Home (To Uganda)

Far Away Places kicks off its fifteenth year on Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble with author Kate Saller of St. Louis, MO discussing her new book, The Moon in Your Sky: An Immigrant’s Journey Home.

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“The Moon in Your Sky: An Immigrant’s Journey Home” by Kate Saller

Saller graduated from Goucher College with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Her previous work includes creative non-fiction and horticulture where her articles have been published in Damselfly Press, National Gardening, Horticulture, American Nurseryman, and various newspapers.In addition to her work as a journalist and writer, Saller is a humanitarian activist through the service organization Rotary International. She has visited Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda providing immunizations to children, clean-water wells to villages, and mosquito nets to orphanages. While giving a lecture about her work in Africa at the Rotary Club in St. Charles, MO, Saller met a woman named Annah Emuge. Emuge introduced herself by asking Saller how she could get 54 mosquito nets to an orphanage in Uganda. From there, Saller and Emuge shared a friendship that lead to Saller’s new book, The Moon in Your Sky.

Saller 72 dpi photo credit Howard Schwadron

Kate Saller, author and humanitarian

Annah was born in the village Agu in northern Uganda to a family of subsistence farmers. Her mother wanted her to get an education and took a job outside the home to assist her. As her education progressed, Uganda suffered under the brutal regime of Idi Amin Dada. While she was interning for a hospital, she met her future husband, an educator named James Emuge. James was being groomed to become a future minister of education under Uganda’s new president, Milton Obote and given funds to earn his doctorate in education at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

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Hut in a village in Uganda

Soon after their arrival in Ohio, a coup d’état ended funding for James’ education. Depression and alcoholism followed, leaving Annah to raise their three children alone in the U.S. She took up odd jobs to support the family and continue her own college education. Cut her off from her family for fifteen years, a Ugandan college professor told her they were still alive and caring for fifteen children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In 2004 Annah, then an assistant manager at Walgreens, cashed in part of her retirement to return home and found an orphanage for the children in her home village.

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Annah Emuge, director of the Atai Orphanage

We hope you will join us to hear Kate Saller tell her amazing story! The event is free to the public and ‘swipeable’ for WKU students.


Far Away Places Event Flyer

Ronald Reagan Speaks About Panama Canal

Panama Canal LogoAfter a close, and acrimonious bid to win the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1976, Ronald Reagan lost to the more moderate and sitting President Gerald R. Ford.  In the ensuing Bicentennial election, Ford lost to his charismatic, grinning Democratic opponent Jimmy Carter.  Confident that his future included national service, Reagan never stopped campaigning over the next four years.

In 1977 Reagan was invited to speak at Western Kentucky University’s Free Enterprise Fair.  Prior to his speech on September 22, Reagan participated in a press conference in which he answered questions about issues of national concern.  One of the most heated topics of the day was the Panama Canal Treaty; 80% of Americans believed that the U.S. was giving the  canal away.  When asked about it, Reagan railed against the Carter administration for contemplating the transfer of the canal to “a man [Omar Torrijos] who’s there, not because he had the most votes, but because he had the most guns.”  In his remarks, Reagan basically promotes the chief tenet of the MonroeRonald Reagan Doctrine which acknowledged the United States as the protector of the Americas.   “I think that basically the world is not going to see this [giving away the canal] as a magnanimous gesture on our part, as the White House would have us believe,” noted Reagan.  “They are going to see it as once again American backing away and retreating in the face of trouble.”  When it came to giving the canal away, Reagan strongly stated:  “I’m going to talk as long and as loud as I can against it.”

His press conference remarks were recorded for posterity and are located in the Manuscripts & Folkife Archives unit of the Department of Library Special Collections.

Poetic Tribute

Panama Canal LogoR.C.P. Thomas, scion of a prominent Bowling Green family and beloved member of the local bar, was appointed the District Judge of the Panama Canal Zone in June 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As he prepared to leave the U.S., local poet and friend John A. Logan penned a poetic tribute for his departing friend.

“The East is East and West is West/And ne’er the twain shall meet,”/Was prophesied, but Teddy the Great/Performed the wonderful feat.

One stroke of his club, two continents/Majestically sprang apart;/An East met West in a brotherhood/Ne’er dreamed by the great Bret Hart.

Down by the side of this great highway/Kentucky now sends her best,/To cheer the hearts of the sons of men/Where the East now meets the West.

He goes to live by the side of the road,/Where the ships of the earth go by,/Wherever he dwells, in his heart of gold,/There dwells both you and I.

As he sits by the side of this wonderful road/And looks on the tropic scene,/His heart will be with the folks at home/And beautiful Bowling Green.

His thoughts will be of our tiny lakes/And his heart in sweet accord,/With their gentle wave-lips whispering love/As they kiss the soft green sward.

He will dream of the warbled melody/Of Kentucky’s myriad birds,/And the redolence of home grown flowers/Beyond the power of words.

We send him away that the world may know/That hospitality/With justice and mercy go hand in hand/With Kentucky gallantry.

With an aurevoir, just for a day/We send our friend away./Let these flowers with their perfumed breath/Speak the words we cannot say.

Shaker Collectors342Thomas did an admirable job in Panama, but declined reappointment after his four-year term ended in 1937. He returned to Bowling Green, retired from his law practice, and spent time working with a herd of Jersey cows on his farm until he died in 1939.  To research the worldwide contributions of Kentuckians, check out KenCat and TopSCHOLAR.

Regional Authors Showcase Writers Workshop


The Regional Authors Showcase Writers Workshop was held on Friday, September 5 at the Bob Kirby Branch of the Warren County Public Library. Forty writers attended the workshop and enjoyed featured presenters Jennie L. Brown and Mark Wayne Adams. Brown’s session titled “The Soap-On-A-Rope Mistake: Why Editing Matters” focused on editing tips and a plan to ease the proofreading process. Adams’ session titled “AIM Kit: Creating Author/Illustrator Media Kit” helped authors learn how to create a personalized media kit. DSC_2539-001

Greetings from Panama

Postcard to Nell Baird, 1947

Postcard to Nell Baird, 1947

In May 1947, Mrs. Nell Baird of Bowling Green, Kentucky found in her mailbox a postcard from a friend visiting Panama.  During a trip to the interior, moving from seashore to jungle to mountains in one day, the writer sighted a “small boa constrictor snake and orchids growing wild.”  The card itself pictured a native village that the visitor found “very picturesque,” with its huts “made of bamboo poles and palm branches.”  Observe, however: “no windows on account of mosquitoes,” added the writer, referring to the carriers of yellow fever and malaria that had felled tens of thousands of laborers during construction of the Panama Canal from 1904-1914.

Panama Canal LogoNell Baird’s postcard is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections and is one of our featured collections as we observe the Panama Canal Centennial.

Allen Dossey Kicks Off the 12th Season of KY Live! Speaker Series with His Purple Toad Winery

Allen Dossey

Allen Dossey, Proprietor of the Purple Toad Winery in Paducah, KY, is talking to a Bowling Green community audience at Barnes & Noble for the Kentucky Live! event co-sponsored by WKU Libraries and the bookstore.

WKU Libraries kicked off the 12th season of KY Live! speaker series with a program about one of the newest and most acclaimed vineyards and wineries in Kentucky started by WKU alum Allen Dossey. The Purple Toad Winery sits on the edge of Paducah, Kentucky and includes a tasting room, walkable vineyard, and a facility that can be rented for parties, weddings and other social events. The event happened on the evening of Thursday, September 11, 2014 in Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The bookstore is a partner of the talk series with WKU Libraries.

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