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News and events from WKU Libraries

WKU Libraries Blog - News and events from WKU Libraries

A Stormy Inauguration

Lyrics sung to the tune "Yankee Doodle" alluded to the pre-inauguration plot against Lincoln (SC 2264)

Lyrics sung to the tune “Yankee Doodle” alluded to the pre-inauguration plot against Lincoln (SC 2264)

Prior to 1937, Inauguration Day for U.S. presidents was March 4.  On that day in 1861, there was great excitement, but also grave uncertainty.  Abraham Lincoln took office at a time of national crisis, with the South in the midst of secession and Lincoln himself the recent subject of a rumored assassination plot.  Soon after his swearing-in, tensions only escalated with the attack on Fort Sumter and the secession of Virginia in April.

Collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections afford a glimpse at the mixed emotions the new president elicited from Americans.  In August, a letter to Barren County, Kentucky merchant Wade Veluzat from a Lincoln voter denied that either he or his candidate were abolitionists.  “But,” he wrote, “if the people of the South will make war on us because we vote for whom we please for President, then let it come.”  In September, a defiant secessionist in Russellville, Kentucky took up the challenge in a letter sent to Ohio.  “We are not afraid of the Lincoln Negro Party, we say whip us if you can.”

Four years later, Lincoln’s first-term record drew a similarly wide range of comment.  As we have previously seen, Bevie Cain of Breckinridge County had nothing but scorn for supporters of the President’s “wicked unwise rule.”  She dared a Unionist friend to “just tell me one item of good that his reign has accomplished or will accomplish.”  An Indiana man was on the other side of the fence, finding Lincoln to be, in fact, insufficiently radical.  He expected, nevertheless, to vote for the reelection of “old Abe,” observing presciently that he “is a good honest man, and has already said and done enough to make his name famous among the friends of universal Liberty everywhere and for all time.”

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


Eclectic Book Club yearbook, 1957-58

Eclectic Book Club yearbook, 1957-58

During last week’s snowstorm, you might have spent some extra time relaxing with a book.  Bowling Green’s long history of literary clubs testifies to its citizenry’s love of the same pursuit, regardless of the weather.

Take the Eclectic Book Club, organized in 1939 by WKU librarian Edna Bothe with the expressed aim of promoting “the mutual enjoyment and mental development that result from the reading and discussion of good books.”  Throughout its 65-year history, the club’s members met regularly to exchange books and to deliver programs on travel, famous men and women, and other topics of intellectual interest.  Their reading was indeed eclectic–from Random Harvest, Berlin Diary, The Psychology of Christian Personality and God is My Co-Pilot to Famous Kentucky Duels, Essays of E. B. White, Jackie O!, The Bell Jar, Elvis and Me and Seabiscuit.  At the conclusion of business, however, all found common tastes in enjoying the refreshments served by that meeting’s hostess, arranging picnics, Christmas parties and pot luck suppers, and taking rueful delight in having a club name that was “more consistently misspelled in the local press” than any other.

The records of the Eclectic Book Club are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For other collections relating to Bowling Green’s many literary clubs, search TopSCHOLAR and Ken Cat.



No, Rosa Parks was never in Glasgow, KY but her defiant and freedom loving spirit was there ten years before her own historic act. It is noted she was not the first person to resist bus segregation and this article from the April 27th, 1944 edition of the Glasgow, (KY) Republican highlights this fact.  Lucy Franklin and Enna [Emma] Collins, sisters, who were in their early 30s, were visiting their hometown and grandmother, Harriet Allan in Barren County. Little did they realize, they were also a part of the birth of the Civil Rights movement and “mothers” also of the movement. They refused to move to the back of the bus, “We’ll sit just where we are. We paid our fare same as anyone else.” The newspaper report notes their arrest for this defiant act and that they “missed the bus.” Thankfully, their brave act in our local community finally allowed others to never “miss the bus” again. Lucy and Emma’s act, like many others, “strengthened blacks’ resolve and ability to resist their “second-class” status in the United States. Thus, their efforts in the period during and after the Second World War, aided by the international attention to race brought by that war and the Cold War, led to a modern civil rights movement. [This] would dismantle legally sanctioned segregation and discrimination in public accommodations within two decades. (CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA: RACIAL DESEGREGATION OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, p.31.)

Find materials about this topic and other subjects in the Department of Library Special Collections by searching TopSCHOLAR andKenCat or request more information from spcol@wku.edu.

Meijer is a new sponsor for SOKY Book Fest


We are proud to announce that Meijer is a new sponsor for SOKY Book Fest. Gwen Tinsley and Bill Thompson from Meijer presented SOKY Book Fest Coordinator, Kristie Lowry, with a check today as they signed on as sponsors of the 2015 event.

Book Fest sponsors are how we keep our events and programs free, so please visit the sponsor page at http://sokybookfest.org/sponsors-2/. The next time you visit a sponsor’s business or talk to one of their employees, thank them for their commitment to encourage reading and the love of books! #SOKYBF


2015 Wendell Ford exhibit 2015Ford case WFord0002     In honor of Wendell Ford’s years of service to Kentucky and the United States, WKU Library Special Collections opens a case exhibit on President’s Day (February 16, 2015) which will be available to visitors until May 15, 2015 in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Building. The exhibit includes bumper stickers, campaign pins, a license plate, an emery board, photographs, invitations, a necktie, a toy shovel, a Christmas card, a campaign poster, and a Louisville Stoneware saucer.
Wendell Hampton Ford served as chief assistant to the Kentucky Governor from 1959-61; thus beginning, his forty-year fight for Kentuckians that included years in the state senate (1965-67), as lieutenant governor (1967-71), as Kentucky governor (1971-74), and as United States senator (1978-93). A Democrat, Ford was the first person to be elected successively lieutenant governor, governor and U. S. senator from Kentucky. He was only the second 20th century lieutenant governor who, as a Democrat, served under a Republican governor.
In his state of the commonwealth address, Governor Ford stressed the need for government to be reorganized, more responsible and more representative. No Kentucky legislative bill Governor Ford supported failed to pass and he vetoed several measures. As United States Senator, he served as Democratic Whip (1991-99), chairman, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences (1977-78), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (1977-82), Select Committee to Study the Committee System (1983-84), Committee on Rules and Administration (1987-94), Joint Committee on Printing (1989-1994).

Wendell Ford fought for Kentuckians.

Architecture by Moonlight: Rebuilding Haiti, Redrafting a Life

Architecture by Moonlight (11)

Paul E. Fallon, an architect from Massachusetts who specializes in healthcare design, gave a presentation on his architectural design experience in Haiti, an earthquake-prone country in Central America, to an audience mostly of WKU students of architecture at Barnes & Noble on February 19, 2015. The presentation was part of the WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” speaker series.

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The NAACP in Bowling Green

Reverend Henry D. Carpenter was a leader in the Bowling Green NAACP.

Reverend Henry D. Carpenter was a leader in the Bowling Green NAACP.

On this day (February 12) in 1909, a group of activists in New York decided to reinvigorate African Americans’ post-Reconstruction quest for civil and political rights by forming the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  Exactly a decade later, the Bowling Green, Kentucky branch of the NAACP was organized.  At a mass meeting at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, after hearing the urgings of various speakers on “the good that can result from same,” the first 37 members enrolled.

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections include copies of the membership lists and minutes of the Bowling Green NAACP from its inception to June 1927.  Meetings, which rotated through the churches of the city, featured music, prayer, speakers, and discussions of local issues affecting African Americans.  For example, at an executive meeting in March 1919, the problems of “unequal accommodations for our race in traveling,” the “unsanitary conditions existing in the colored Waiting Room at the [train] depot,” and “The Need of a lunch stand for our Race at the depot” were referred to a committee on grievances for follow-up with the proper authorities.  In May, a clergyman “spoke of indignities heaped upon our people by arresting them on suspicion and when proven guiltless nothing done to exonerate the suspect.”

The chapter also considered issues brought to its attention in press releases from the national organization.  At a meeting in June 1921, local churches were asked to take special offerings for the “stricken & suffering” victims of a destructive race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in October 1922 the executive resolved to collect funds to support the NAACP’s advocacy of a federal anti-lynching law.

Click here for a finding aid to the NAACP (Bowling Green Chapter) Collection.  For more collections on African Americans in Kentucky, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Dr. Lowell H. Harrison exhibit and painting unveiling

Courtesy of WKU Archives.

Courtesy of WKU Archives.

The career of Dr. Lowell H. Harrison, faculty emeritus, Department of History, WKU, is being celebrated with an exhibit which opened on Wednesday, February 3, 2015, in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of Library Special Collections at the Kentucky Building. Utilizing artifacts, photographs, and manuscripts, the case highlights his national reputation as a scholar, educator, WKU faculty member, and public speaker.
On Monday, February 9th at 3:30 p.m., a portrait of Dr. Harrison will be unveiled which will hang permanently in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room. Artist Nancy Disher Baird, faculty emeritus, Department of Library Special Collections, will make brief remarks. The public is invited to celebrate with us.
The case exhibit will close on February 11, 2015.