Patty Hill and Her Happy Song

Patty and Mildred Hill

Patty and Mildred Hill

They wanted to create a song that was easy for young children to sing, so in 1892 Mildred Hill, a Louisville, Kentucky music teacher, wrote the tune, and her sister Patty Smith Hill, a pathbreaking kindergarten educator, wrote the lyrics.  Good morning, dear children, good morning to you, it began, with the children’s reply, Good morning, dear teacher, good morning to you.  But another sister, Jessica, adapted the song for a birthday, and the iconic “Happy Birthday to You” was born.

The story of “Happy Birthday” is known to some because of the song’s curiously long-lived copyright (it didn’t officially enter the public domain until 2016).  But in 1982, Hopkinsville, Kentucky teacher Marion Lee Adams delved deeper into the lives of the Hill sisters and their composition when she wrote an article, “Patty Hill and Her Happy Song,” for her professional society, Delta Kappa Gamma.  Further articles followed, as well as research on the Hill family and correspondence with Mildred and Patty’s nephew Archibald Hill, the sole surviving beneficiary of “Happy Birthday’s” sentimental and commercial popularity.  Archibald credited Mary, the first Hill sister to begin teaching, with the understanding that songs were a valuable part of a child’s education.  And Mildred, who gave private music lessons at home because of poor health, must have realized that her new tune had to accommodate the limited octave range of a child.

During its term of copyright, public performances of “Happy Birthday,” of course, earned generous royalties.  For example, Adams wrote, the long-running Broadway play “The Gin Game” generated $25 every time the strains of “Happy Birthday to You” played in the background of this tragi-comedy.

Marion Lee Adams’s collected research and correspondence about “Happy Birthday to You” is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more about Kentucky’s musical heritage, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Senior DLPS Faculty to Retire this Summer

Brian E.  Coutts, Rosemary Meszaros and Charles H. Smith, Professors in the Department of Library Public Service retire this summer.

Brian Coutts served as Coordinator of Collection Development from 1986 to 1991 and since 1991 has been Head, Department of Library Public Services.

He received the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor, the Isadore G. Mudge Award in 2017 and is a past winner of the CQ Press Marta Lange Award for Distinguished Law & Political Science Librarianship and the Louis Shores Award for distinguished reviewing. For WKU he served as moderator for more than 200 programs in the WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places Series and Kentucky Live Series and was one of the founders of the Southern Kentucky Bookfest. From 1986-2016 he selected the “Best Reference Sources of the Year” for Library Journal, the nation’s leading trade journal. He serves on the Dartmouth Medal Committee and is a judge for the Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Rosemary Meszaros joined the DLPS faculty in the spring of 1998 and has served as the Federal Depository Librarian for the Second Congressional District and as the Coordinator of Government Information and Law.  She received the Government Documents Round Table’s

“Documents to the People Award” in 2018 and is a past winner of Kentucky’s Academic Librarian of the Year Award. She’s the author of Rising Through the Ranks: Women in War and chapters on government periodicals in numerous editions of Magazines for Libraries.  With Katherine Pennavaria she’s been a popular presenter at numerous academic and public libraries around the state on genealogical sources and strategies. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Academic Librarianship.

Charles H. Smith joined the DLPS faculty in March of 1995 and has served as Science Librarian and principal liaison to Ogden College of Science and Technology.  He’s a past winner of the American Library Association’s Oberly Award for distinguished bibliography and a Presidential Award for Distinguished Public Service.  Over the past two decades he has created the Alfred Russel Wallace Page as one of the leading and most widely consulted online sources on one of the world’s most distinguished scientists.  One of the world’s leading authorities on Wallace, his many books and articles on Wallace led to his induction into the distinguished Linnaean Society of London. He’s been a featured speaker in Mexico, Brazil, and the UK.  His Alfred Russel Wallace Page and his Classical Music Navigator sites are frequently consulted. His newest book on Wallace will be published by the University Press of Chicago in 2018.

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Two Authors

When, in 1953, she decided to do her doctoral dissertation on Kentucky author Jesse Stuart, West Virginia native Mary (Washington) Clarke could have asked for no better cheerleader than Stuart himself.  “You are the first ever to select my work for a dissertation and you will get the fullest cooperation I can give you,” wrote Stuart, the “voice of the Kentucky hill country,” whose prolific output of novels, short stories, poems and non-fiction would make him one of the 20th century’s best known regional writers.

Clarke’s dissertation, which she adapted into a 1968 book, Jesse Stuart’s Kentucky, marked the beginning of a friendship with Stuart that lasted until his death in 1984.  By the time the book was completed, Clarke and her husband Ken had joined the faculty of WKU, where they would become recognized authorities on Kentucky folklore.  Stuart celebrated with Clarke when Jesse Stuart’s Kentucky was published and joined her at book-signing events.  His letters to Clarke kept her abreast of his writing projects and speaking engagements and gave her support and encouragement in her other scholarly endeavors.  He commiserated with Clarke on accommodating the demands of publishers and picky manuscript readers, and was curious about the jealousies and anti-academic prejudice that sometimes dogged a successful scholarly author.  His support continued during Clarke’s work on Jesse Stuart: Essays on His Work, a 5-year-long effort that saw Clarke and her co-editor coaxing contributions from busy academics and critics, then crafting the results into a volume worthy of publication.

Jesse Stuart and Mary Washington Clarke at a book signing, Greenup, Ky., 1968

Jesse Stuart and Mary Washington Clarke at a book signing, Greenup, Ky., 1968

Mary (Washington) Clarke’s papers, which include her correspondence with Jesse Stuart and other materials on her scholarly work, are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more on Mary, her husband Kenneth, and Jesse Stuart, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Faraway Places & Kentucky Live Series to End

After more than 200 programs over the past two decades, most held at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, our DLPS Series will be ending this spring.

Peggy Wright and Brian Coutts conceived of an international series following the return of former Kentucky Librarian Nancy Baird from a trip to South Africa.  We launched our first program in September, 2000 and followed with programs on Costa Rica, China, Brazil, England and Germany.  We took our name from a 1948 song “Far Away Places with Strange Sounding Names ”. Since then we’ve visited every continent and places from Alaska and Greenland to Antarctica. Our final program was Soleiman Kiasatpour’s fascinating talk on Morocco in April. 2018

In February, 2003 we launched a companion series “Kentucky Live, southern Culture at Its best!” with a program on Jonesville & Shake Rag: Historic Black Community of Bowling Green from Maxine Ray and Dr. John Long, Department Head of Philosophy & Religion. Programs on photographers, artists, poets, writers, restaurants, historians, bourbon, coal mining,  the Derby and virtually every iconic Kentucky product from the Louisville Slugger to Fruit of the Loom Underwear, and the Corvette followed. Our final program this April was from J.D. Wilkes founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band.  What a great way to end.

None of this would have possible without our genial hosts Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Special thanks to Jennifer Bailey, David Hollifield and before them Natalie Boddeker and David Coverdale and all of your fine staff for setting up all those chairs and ordering all those books and helping us promote these programs.

Thanks also to Dr. Richard Weigel, Professor of History who edits the Book Page for the Bowling Green Daily News for running so many reviews of books from our featured speakers.  The attention you focused on many regional authors was very much appreciated by them and by us.

David Keeling, Michael Trapasso, John Dizgun and Haiwang Yuan, and so any others from around the country and beyond—world travelers all—thanks for so many exciting evenings.

To our sponsors Coca Cola, Trace Die Cast, Integra Bank and the Friends of WKU Libraries—we appreciated your interest and support.

To former Deans of WKU Libraries Mike Binder and Connie Foster—thanks for your interest and support.

Finally—thanks to our series team over two decades—Peggy Wright, Bryan Carson, Haiwang Yuan, Daniel Peach, Eric Fisher, Ryan Dowell, Shaden Melky, Jennifer Wilson, Christopher McConnell and a host of talented DLPS Office Assistants and Students.

Hasta luego,

Brian Coutts, Moderator

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“The End Approacheth”

Portion of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Portion of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

The sun rose on Independence Day, 1863, to find the Confederate States of America reeling from two disastrous engagements at Vicksburg, Mississippi and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

From Pennsylvania, Charles Pennypacker wrote to his cousin Ellen Fort in Todd County, Kentucky, that his fellow citizens had “rallied as one man” to defend the state against General Robert E. Lee’s invading Confederate army.  July 1, the first day of battle at Gettysburg, “was but a repetition of ‘Shiloh,’” and on the next day Lee “hurled columns after columns of troops upon our lines.”  But on July 3, Charles reported proudly, “their whole army was in full retreat” toward Richmond and “we begin to see that ‘the end approacheth.’”

Like many tide-turning battles, Gettysburg left military historians asking “what if?”  In particular, how much blame did Lieutenant General James Longstreet deserve when, on the second day of battle, he delayed executing an early-morning assault that could have given the Confederates the upper hand?  Was Longstreet, who had made clear his disagreement with Lee over tactics, merely tardy, or was he insubordinate or even treasonous?

Confederate veteran J. W. Anderson looked forward to discussing the issue with a former comrade at their 1905 reunion in Louisville, Kentucky.  A defender of Longstreet, who he occasionally saw after the war, Anderson insisted that the relations between General Lee and his subordinate commander were “always of the most cordial manner.”  But a century later, the question still bothered Laban Lacy Rice, a Webster County, Kentucky native, polymath, and former president of Cumberland University.  In 1967, he sought the opinion of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “an expert who knows Gettysburg as I know my back yard.”

Replying from his farm, where he lived in retirement near the battlefield, Eisenhower concluded that Gettysburg had been “a succession of frustrations” for General Lee, and that his decisions could not be adequately examined in a short letter.  Nevertheless, Eisenhower judged Longstreet’s failure to attack early on July 2 as “his worse error of the battle.”  As for Pickett’s Charge, the ill-fated assault on July 3 named after one of Longstreet’s generals, Eisenhower did not think it could have been successful at any time during that day.  As Charles Pennypacker observed, “the end” had approacheth.

Click on the links for finding aids to these materials, part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  For more of our Civil War collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Rosemary Meszaros Receives National Award

Rosemary Meszaros, Professor and Coordinator of Government Information and Law, in the Department of Library Public Services at WKU since 1998 was honored on Sunday, June 24, 2018 with one of the American Library Association’s, Government Documents Round Table’s highest honors, the ProQuest/GODORT/ALA “Documents to the People” Award.  The award which consists of a cash prize of $3,000 goes to an individual, institution or library that has most effectively encouraged the use of government documents in support of library service.  A reception was held at the Louisiana Supreme Court Building, 400 Royal Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Rosemary received her MLS from LSU’s School of Library and Information science and an MA in history from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Prior to coming to WKU she worked at Boston University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In 2015 the Federal Depository Library for the Second Congressional District of Kentucky celebrated its 80th Anniversary.

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“And, daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County?”

Whether you have a taste for Serial, My Favorite Murder, Last Podcast on the Left, Making a Murderer, Wormwood, The Keepers, The Jinx, or the trusted ol’ standby—Unsolved Mysteries—it comes as no surprise that the true crime market is saturated with grisly tales of ne’er-do-wells and their unsuspecting victims. Kentucky, of course, has seen its fair share of jilted lovers and bank robberies gone sour, and, if history is to be trusted, the ol’ Bluegrass State is home to the Harpe brothers or, as they’re known more salaciously, the first documented serial killers in the country.

In her 1971 paper titled “The Harpe Brothers” former folk studies student Karen Hart details the rise and fall of Micajah and Wiley Harpe, two outlaws born in the wild thicket of Muhlenberg County in the late 18th century. The brothers, whose real names were Joshua and William, were notorious highway robbers, murderers, and river pirates whose reputation for blood lust and revenge would ultimately leave more than 40 men, women, and children dead in their wake. Hart’s paper gathers together legends relating to the brotherly bandits from current residents of the Green River Valley. The tall tales conjure images of stolen herds of prized cattle, barns burned to ashes, buried treasure, secret hideouts, and shoot-outs with the law. Their path of destruction, which spanned from Illinois to Mississippi, left whole towns cowering in fear.

As always, though, the brothers reaped what they sowed. While Wiley managed to outlive his brother by nearly four years, they both appear to have met the same fate. Hart’s paper spares the ghastlier details, but a quick online search sums it up: severed heads and spiked poles. A fitting reminder that cooler heads always prevail.

An 1875 broadside promises a handsome reward for the arrest of a train robber

An 1875 broadside promises a handsome reward for the arrest of a train robber

The paper itself (FA 1186), located within WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, contains photographs of participants, brief biographical sketches, and a reel-to-reel audio tape of Hart’s interviews with her informants.

For more information on Kentucky’s sordid past, 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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Interning in Special Collections

DLSC intern Ariana Pedigo.

DLSC Intern Ariana Pedigo.

My internship in the Kentucky Building was my first ever, so I was incredibly excited to work in the Kentucky Library Research Collections, as well as the Manuscript and Folklife Archives. I love how everyone in the building works together mutually to help one another out. After my nervousness wore off, I felt like I was part of a special group of friends whom all had the same goal to preserve, protect, and catalogue the items for future research, and to ensure that nothing happens to wipe these items from our history! The work that is completed by everyone in the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC) is the work of guardian angels, who work to keep the lives of past individuals alive throughout time!

A miniature book from DLSC collections.

In the Kentucky Library, I got to handle many beautiful and old books, some that were written entirely in Latin, some that were incredibly small, and others that had breathtaking illustrations on their title pages! Some of the Latin titles, I would write down and go home to translate since I had taken an online Latin course in fall 2017! I learned how to Colibri books and catalogue them into an online system, ALMA. I also got better at reading Roman numerals that went higher than 12 (I was used to reading clocks with Roman numerals), as many of the books had their publication year listed in Roman numerals. Some of my favorite books that I got to work with were the miniature books, and some were on the topic of my archaeology concentration, like a book which covered the mound builders!

Working in Manuscripts was vastly different. When I started working with the George Twyman Wood collection, I knew it was fascinating, but I was still new to handling such old documents and I was terrified the entire time. I did not want to harm any of the important records! By the time I was sorting the William P. Hatcher collection, I was more comfortable with the old paper, and took more time looking at the documents and enjoyed the process of that collection more. If I could say anything about the William P. Hatcher collection, it would be that there is nothing quite like a mother’s love for her child. William P. Hatcher’s mother wrote him a letter almost every day of the year! It was very sweet, and she would almost always write some sort of variation of greeting, “My Darling One”, “My Dearest”, etc., it is beautiful to know, that although our individual lives may be short, our love may live on forever and touch someone we don’t even know!

I enjoyed my internship in DLSC. Everyone that I worked with there is an absolute darling, but I especially want to thank Jonathan Jeffrey for inviting me to intern in DLSC and teaching me about manuscripts. I also want to thank Joseph Shankweiler as well for teaching me about the rare books!  On top of this, I found out that this internship carries a scholarship with it that is named for former DLSC librarian Connie Mills.  It allows students to experience more than one area with DLSC during an internship.  The scholarship is given once a year.  If you are interested, or know someone who is, in the Connie Mills Special Collections Internship have them contact Jonathan Jeffrey at 270-745-5265 or jonathan.jeffrey@wku.edu

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Candy is Dandy

Joseph Younglove's candy order

Joseph Younglove’s candy order

During this June, National Candy Month, let’s look in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections at an order placed in October 1847 by Bowling Green druggist Joseph Younglove to a New York manufacturer of sweets.  Included were 4 pounds each of Peppermint and Lemon Lumps; 2 pounds each of Peppermint Braid Candy and Ginger Lozenges; 4 pounds of Sugar Almonds; 2 pounds of Sassafras Lozenges; and 2 pounds of “Mottos, with verses” (sweets wrapped in tissue with mottoes enclosed).  Younglove passed up the “French Jujube Paste” (a concoction derived from a date-like fruit whose name survives today in the gummy drops we buy in boxes), but his other purchases would have filled the jars and bins of his store, which changed little during the combined 60-year proprietorship of Joseph and his brother John.

Younglove preferred to sell his candy ready-made, but everyone of a certain age remembers homemade candy.  In the 1970s, WKU student Laura Hooe researched candy-making and candy pulling in Warren County.  She collected recipes for stick, molasses, sorghum and taffy candy, and also picked up some culinary tips along the way, such as “If you have sugar in anything cooking, always add salt.”

Candy-pullings, of course, also offered a wholesome excuse for young people to socialize.  “I was at a candy pulling last knight [sic],” wrote a young man to his cousin in 1858, “and we had some fun shore.”  In 1896, an invitation went out to the Misses Page of Hart County, “respectfully” inviting them to a candy pulling on Christmas night.

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

Candy pulling invitation, 1896

Candy pulling invitation, 1896

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Special Collections Gains Oral History Accreditation

Western Kentucky University’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, a part of the Department of Library Special Collections, was recently granted accreditation status by the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC). Archives that receive accreditation serve as “permanent repositories for oral history collections, which KOHC sponsors through grant awarded funds.” With its newly appointed status, the Folklife Archives joins a group of state-recognized institutions dedicated to the long-term care, preservation, and maintenance of regionally-specific oral history projects. These projects, conducted by professional and amateur researchers, highlight the nuanced and complex issues surrounding community, identity, heritage, and tradition throughout the commonwealth. Accreditation is granted for a five-year period, after which the institution must re-apply.

The accreditation certificate issued to Manuscripts & Folklife Archives by the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

“Having accredited repositories available throughout the Commonwealth is an important asset to the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC). Preservation and statewide access are two of our keystone values, and WKU is now our western-most accredited institution. The KOHC has enjoyed a long and happy relationship with Western Kentucky University, and this distinction will only strengthen it,” said Sarah Schmitt, current Oral History Manager at the Kentucky Historical Society.

The application process, which was completed over the span of several months by Jonathan Jeffrey, the Department Head of Library Special Collections, and Delainey Bowers, a graduate student in the Folk Studies program, emphasized the Folklife Archives’ commitment to creating a repository, both as a physical space and as an online environment that values progressive storage policies and practices. With more than 5,000 audio recordings in analog form—including oral histories on reel-to-reel audiotapes and cassettes, as well as born-digital materials—the Archives places an importance on making collections available and easily accessible to the public. Through the use of online platforms, such as WKU’s TopSCHOLAR and Pass the Word, a KOHC-sponsored discovery tool geared towards oral history collections throughout the state of Kentucky, the Folklife Archives continues to prioritize recorded content in progressive and meaningful ways.

“I’m pleased that we have attained accreditation and met the standards set by KOHC’s progressive leadership. Kentucky has long boasted one of the country’s finest oral history programs. WKU’s Folk Studies and Anthropology and History departments have helped us amass a significant collection of audio material that document the Commonwealth’s folklore and history,” said Department Head Jonathan Jeffrey. Significant aid for this project came from former Folk Studies and Anthropology Department Head, Dr. Michael Ann Williams, current Folk Studies Director, Dr. Ann Ferrell, Director of the Kentucky Museum and Kentucky Folklife Program, Brent Bjorkman, Dean of Libraries, Susann DeVries, Library Systems Office Coordinator, Michael Moore, Provost, David Lee, and the Potter College of Arts and Letters.

According to Ferrell, “The Folklife Archives at WKU was started in 1953 by renowned folklorist D.K. Wilgus who taught in our program at that time. It includes collections completed by students and faculty since then, including retired Professor Lynwood Montell, as well as the collections of the Kentucky Folklife Program, which moved from Frankfort to WKU in 2012. We are thrilled about the receipt of this accreditation, as it will open further opportunities for the deposit of materials of regional significance.”

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, housed in the Kentucky Building, has been collecting material related to the history and culture of Kentucky since the late-1920s. The Department has three units: the Kentucky Library, Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, and WKU Archives.

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