After speaking at the Gary Ransdell Hall on WKU campus as part of the “Tracing the Unexplored: An Ecuadorian Tapestry” series in the afternoon of March 26, 2015, Ecuador’s most famous “caricaturist” Xavier Bonilla, also known as “Bonil,” spoke for the WKU Libraries-sponsored “Far Away Places” speaker series off campus at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green on the evening of the same day.
Brent Fisk, a circulation and information assistant from WKU’s Visual and Performing Arts Library and his wife Holly Hedden, a former library assisant of the WKU Libraries’ Educational Resources Center and now reference and technical services manager from the Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, KY have made a trip to several of the significant cities in Italy including Rome, Florence, and Naples. On the morning of Tuesday, March 24, 2015, he shared their trip with his colleagues of the WKU Libraries in Cravens 111. His presentation was part of the Libraries’ “We’ve Been Everywhere” speaker series designed for library employees to share their world trip experiences with their peers in line with the university’s goal of building it into one of international reach.
On St. Patrick’s Day, as we all get in touch with our inner “Irish,” here are two collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections that offer a glimpse into the folklore and traditions of The Emerald Isle in America.
“In the month of March, Irish folklore flourishes,” confirmed Andrew Oberdier in his paper examining its usage in the media, most notably The Boston Globe. For example, as way of enhancing the holiday mood, raising interest in its news stories, or selling advertised products, the Globe‘s content during the 1988 holiday was replete with images of shamrocks, leprechauns, and even the Blarney Stone. Oddly enough, except for one feature article, St. Patrick himself remained largely in the background, confirming that, for many, the day’s religious aspects have taken a back seat to commerce and general revelry.
In 2005, a representative of the Kentucky Folklife Program documented the St. Patrick’s Day parade and associated activities in Louisville, Kentucky. Sarah Milligan identified several parade participants–trade unions, neighborhood associations, musicians, and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians–as sources of information about Irish heritage in the city. Her video record highlights both the parade and a performance of Irish music at the Filson Historical Society. While she found that the “Irish scene” in Louisville is not comparable to that in major centers like New York and Chicago, the roots still run deep and, as we see every March, the green bursts forth anew.
The Southern Kentucky Book Fest held its used book sale this past weekend. The event was delayed a day due to winter storm weather that kept the parking lots and roads snow covered on the original starting date Friday, March 6. The cold, snowy weather didn’t keep out the crowds as they eagerly sought out their favorite authors and books on Saturday and Sunday with the discount book day on Monday.
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.”
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.)
In an effort to allow students a study outlet, Cravens Library opened on Thursday, February 19 and Friday, February 20 from 10am-4pm. All classes were cancelled for the week; however, Cravens was open for business. Dean Connie Foster offered the students and staff donuts for breakfast and pizza for lunch while they worked at the Libraries.