Champ Ferguson was a personal enemy of Hale and destroyed his home and business. The state of Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan, Alvan Cullom, the killing of “Little Fount Zachery”, Henry Sublits(sic), loss of much property and the loyalties of Ferguson are noted. And that he was worthy of execution by hanging. “The military trial, held in Nashville, Tennessee, lasted from July to October 1865. Ferguson was sentenced to be hanged; he was denied the opportunity to provide a defense on his behalf, and the sentence was carried out on October 20, 1865. Ferguson’s body was turned over to his wife and daughter, who fulfilled his last request which was to be buried at his home in White County, Tennessee, on a branch of Calfkiller Creek.”
Hale would leave Tennessee and live out the rest of his life in New Hampshire having grown tired of being a “damn Yankee.”
For more information on Champ Ferguson and the Civil War, visit WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, or contact email@example.com. For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
Facing impeachment for obstruction of justice after attempting to thwart the investigation of the 1972 break-in at Democratic Party Headquarters in Washington DC’s Watergate office complex, Richard M. Nixon resigned as President on August 9, 1974. In his journal, Kentucky Congressman William H. Natcher chronicled the legal and political drama of what Nixon’s successor, Vice President Gerald Ford, famously called “our long national nightmare.”
Nixon’s alleged crimes were at the center of the storm, but other aspects of the controversy also gained the spotlight. For example, Natcher recorded on July 24, 1974, that the news media “is very much under trial in this country today and during the past several days television officials are making every attempt to televise the Watergate matters in such a manner as to not be subject to charges of demanding impeachment. . . .”
As they faced mounting evidence of Nixon’s guilt, the political dilemma of his fellow Republicans intensified. “Jerry Ford,” wrote Natcher on August 1, “has been advised time after time by his close friends to keep his mouth shut now and to sit on the sidelines during this critical period.” Republican House Minority Leader John Rhodes of Arizona, observed Natcher on August 2, “knows that if he cast[s] his vote for impeachment [as his constituents were demanding] this will place him in a position where. . . he will have difficulty leading his party in the House. . . . Rhodes knows that after the impeachment proceedings are over, his major duty will be to try to put the wheels back on the Republican Party.”
On August 6, 1974, as an impeachment vote loomed, Natcher heard that Nixon “seriously considered resigning and rejected this move. . . . The President also discussed. . . the possibility of letting Vice President Ford take over temporarily under the provisions of the 25th Amendment.” Nixon’s health, as Natcher learned the next day, was indeed an issue: fellow Kentucky Congressman Carl D. Perkins told him that the President “was a sick man and that he had been taking all kinds of harsh drugs for many, many months and that this, along with considerably more drinking than anyone knew about had placed him in a position where he was not physically or mentally qualified to govern.”
Finally, on August 9, Nixon announced his resignation. Natcher, who believed that Nixon ought to have defended himself in a Senate trial rather than voluntarily leave office, was informed that if the House impeachment proceedings had gone forward, he had been selected to preside. “It would have been quite an experience,” was Natcher’s classic understatement.
On July 3, 1974, during that summer of political crisis, Natcher had recalled the 1872 declaration of Carl Schurz, the first German-born American elected to the U.S. Senate: “My country right or wrong; when right, to keep her right; when wrong, to put her right.” This was “not a bad expression,” he concluded, “and certainly applies in this good year of 1974.”
For more information on William Natcher’s journals, part of the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more of our political collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
Back before the Internet, Kentucky librarians feverishly retyped newspaper stories using carbon paper so they could use filing cabinets to provide access to information and save their one newspaper during the Great Depression. Before KenCat, our online presence for the collection management software, Library Special Collections had catalog cards, typewriters and a lovely old cabinet in which to house hundreds of man hours of meticulous indexing of manuscript collections.
Advancements to that card catalog came with the end of “People, Place, Thing” organization of cards, the alphabetizing by word (not letters, ignoring spaces), the addition of brief title cards for locating unprocessed collections, and the purchase of the electric typewriter with memory. Each improvement decreased the manpower necessary to create the finding aid and increased access, but researchers still had to use it on-site. The Ghostbusters movie where the cards flew out of the cabinet truly gave librarians nightmares.
Yesterday Jonathan Jeffrey bid farewell to an old friend, the Manuscripts Card Catalog. Now researchers worldwide can access that information via KenCat.wku.edu and TopSCHOLAR.wku.edu. It is our hope that soon we can digitize our vertical files so that future generations will not have to come to our Harrison-Baird Research Room in the Kentucky Building to utilize all the precious news clippings and other data sources lovingly filed for 60 years in filing cabinets which I teach our researchers are the “internet of the 1930s.”
For those of you who love antique furniture, you will be please know that the six men it took to remove it (with catalog drawers already removed) from the building said it would be re-purposed in the Gatton Academy.
The Kentucky Library Research Collections in the Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare pamphlet about the status of the Kentucky Lunatic Asylum (Lexington) published in 1841 by Prentice and Weissinger of Louisville. The pamphlet, Insanity and Insane Asylums, by Edward Jarvis discusses asylums throughout the United States with particular emphasis on the four mental health institutions at: Lexington, Kentucky, Charleston and Worcester, Massachusetts, and Columbus, Ohio. Jarvis mentions the physical plants of each facility as well as their methodologies. He is particularly interested in statistical information collected from the various institutions, including total number of cases, patients that were discharged, duration of stay, percentage of cures, percentage of deaths, etc. Jarvis, a young physician who moved from Massachusetts to Kentucky, used statistical information from the pamphlet to lobby the Kentucky General Assembly to convert the Lexington asylum from a purely custodial institution to a modern mental hospital using the “moral treatment.” This treatment attempted to inculcate self-control in patients rather than impose violent coercion. Proponents of the moral treatment envisioned the asylum as a curative milieu that would instill discipline through the gentle influence of a carefully regulated, meticulously sane environment. They expected the insane to benefit from the order of a daily routine, the satisfaction of meaningful employment, the intellectual stimulation of diversions, an identity in the asylum community, and above all the guidance of the asylum personnel.
In the course of his work, Jarvis befriended perhaps the most important citizen advocate for the humane treatment of the insane, Dorothea Dix. During the 1840s, Dix, also a native of Massachusetts, no doubt, corresponded frequently with Jarvis. During that decade, she visited the Commonwealth more than once petitioning the General Assembly to open an additional mental health facility west of the Green River. The legislative heeded her entreaties as well as those from mental health professionals and approved funds to construct Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville in 1848. Jarvis returned to Massachusetts in 1843. His interest in vital statistics resulted in his gaining a notable reputation as a statistician. His library on the topic was eventually donated to the American Statistical Association.
WKU is one of twelve libraries in the country that own this title, and the only repository in Kentucky. It’s uniqueness includes the fact that the author signed this copy and inscribed it to Luther V. Bell, the superintendent of the McLean Hospital for the Insane which was located in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
Five years ago today (August 5), the world learned of the entombment of 33 miners 2,300 feet below ground after a cave-in at a copper and gold mine in northern Chile. For the next 69 days, all eyes were on the rescue effort which, miraculously, raised “Los 33” to safety one by one in a steel capsule designed with input from NASA.
Dating as early as 1854, when Nancy Wier reported seeing the “great curiosity” of a coal mine in Union County, Kentucky, the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections contain a wealth of information on the perilous business of mining. Included are histories of coal companies in Muhlenberg and Hopkins counties and elsewhere in the Pennyroyal Region, and oral history interviews in which miners recall their back-breaking work. WKU professor Carlton Jackson‘s research for his book The Dreadful Month focuses on coal mining accidents, and letters, like one from Sturgis, Kentucky, tell of bravery in the aftermath of explosions and other disasters. Although coal reigns supreme in Kentucky, many would-be miners from the Commonwealth, such as David B. Campbell and William Harris, set out for California during the Gold Rush of the 1850s and wrote home about their quest for wealth.
In 1937, 22-year-old George Tippins wrote to his future wife Pat of the routine perils he faced working in a Harlan County, Kentucky mine:
Tell your mom coal dust and powder sure do make you sick. I sat and vomited and cussed for 7 hours the first night inside.
We had a man get his finger cut off last nite. . . A piece of slate fell and hit me on top of the head.
I told you we had a man hurt on the day shift. Well we had another one get hurt yesterday in the same place and by the same thing. I took one of the day men’s job and damned if I didn’t come within a hair of getting crushed all to pieces the same way.
You tell mom if you see her I am working on the tipple [the loading facility for extracted coal]. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her besides I’m carrying over $7000.00 worth of insurance. . . . I know I have a home in heaven but I’m not homesick for it.
The Department of Library Special Collections is pleased to add the first acquisition using funds from the Jonathan Jeffrey Architectural Endowment Fund. It is a slim volume titled The Small House for A Moderate Income by Ekin Wallick. The book printed in 1915 by Hearst’s International Library Company features lovely, pastel illustrations of home exteriors and interiors, as well as floor plans, for seventeen homes of varying sizes and styles. Wallick is no wall flower author; he has definite opinions about design, building materials, subdivision planning, color palettes, etc. He saves particular disgust for the multiple architectural styles that ran rampant in the late-nineteenth century, “the Early Victorian Era, a period of abortions both in the building and decorating of houses. We can now look back on this period with a keen sense of disgust and fully realize that we are on the threshold of great achievement in the matter of house building,” Ekin wrote. He goes on to call the Era “one of mediocre architectural achievement. There may be many excuses put forth for the unitelligence of the time, but the fact still remains that it was most decidedly an architectural blot on our national escutcheon.”
Nearly ten years ago, I began pondering what I could leave, a legacy if you will, at WKU once I had completed my career. With the help of our then development officer Carrie Barnette, I concluded that one of the best enduring legacies would be an endowed acquisition account that would funded by my estate upon my demise. That sounded a little grim, but it fulfilled my purpose and represented one of my passions, as I decided that the endowment would be dedicated to purchasing books, printed material, or architectural drawings for the Kentucky Library Research Collections and the Manuscripts units of the Department of Library Special Collections and/or the housing and exhibition of the same. Although we have very fine collections, limited acquisition funds sometimes hamper us for purchasing significant items for the collection when they become available on the market. I really didn’t want to wait until my death to establish the account, so Carrie mentioned that we could begin a fund and I could add to it rather painlessly by having a payroll deduction go directly into it. I could also use that as a gift to the university and thus have a tax deduction each year. Two years ago I reached the minimum amount of $10,000 in the endowed account. I could not have done this in a single lump sum gift.
I am so pleased to select this book to begin the legacy. It is a perfect example of the evolution of architectural styles, steering away from the old, tried examples of the Victorian Era and defining the Colonial Revival as America’s new style of choice. This book, geared toward families with moderate incomes eliminates the excessive ornamentation and asymmetrical massing found in many Victorian Era homes. The slightly self-righteous Wallick declares the new American style “free from affectation, a concrete crystallization of common sense. The American architect…strives for unbroken lines in his exterior designs, for he knows by experience that they add decidedly to the dignity and charm of the house.”
Walter Nalbach left Grand Rapids, Michigan, to become a student in the newly established Industrial Arts program at Western Kentucky State Teachers College at the invitation of L.T. Smith. He earned his B.A. from WKSTC in 1933 and went on to be an instructor at WKU for 37 years- and was department head for 16 of those.
Nalbach was also active in Rotary, the Kentucky Industrial Education Association, and the Calendar Club.
To learn more about Walter Nalbach and see examples of his work, visit the Department of Library Special Collections in the Kentucky Building, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Click here to access additional photos, oral histories, and catalog entries associated with Walter Nalbach in our online records.
Post written by WKU Archives Assistant April McCauley.
“Everyone has a story and I want to know what it is.” These words were spoken by the late WKU history Professor Carlton Jackson. This notion has formed a phrase that has stuck with me since I read them. My name is Gabe Sudbeck and during my time as an intern in WKU’s Library Special Collections Manuscripts unit, I spent a lot of time reading his work and looking over his research about the HMS Rohna and the 1918 flu epidemic. When I was home one night talking with my mother about my internship, and I found out that she (a WKU Alumna) had actually been a research assistant with Jackson during her time at WKU. She said that he was a wonderful man. While I personally never had the honor to meet him in person, I do believe that he was a fine man full of energy and passion for his field.
The stories that I read about in the collection concerned regular people dealing with survival and tragedy in world events. The sinking of the Rohna for example was a tragedy in which over 1000 American men lost their lives. Many were left adrift for three days. Many men began to think of their loved ones. One story featured a man lost at sea who could hear his wife telling him that he could pull though. Another consisted of a priest recalling the story of a member of his church who refused to be baptized due to fear of being submerged under water which reminded him of being adrift at sea for three days.
One thing I learned from the internship is the personal connections that the researcher makes with his subject when he begins to study a historical event or person. I have heard stories that David McCullough, when researching John Adams intended for it to be about both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. But McCullough found Adams to be more interesting and under appreciated, despite his significant contributions. McCullough truly enjoyed his discovery and his research; in the same spirit Carlton Jackson relished each of his writing projects. If I have learned anything from studying his work, it’s that we all have our own story to tell from the greatest of tragedies to the minutiae of everyday life.
A recent purchase by the Department of Library Special Collections bolsters the significant Shaker holdings in Kentucky Library Research Collections. This two-piece timeline map/chart is titled, “Genealogical Chronological and Geographical Chart Embracing Biblical and Profane History of Ancient Times from Adam to Christ.” The map was produced by Jacob Skeen of Louisville, Kentucky in February 1887 as an educational tool to reinforce the traditional Christian validity of Shaker communities and to arrest the decline of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing or as they were more commonly known, the Shakers. Elder Alonzo Hollister of the Mount Lebanon, New York community wished to show that Shaker orthodoxy had continuity with scripture and the traditional church. It was also a grasping attempt to reconcile their beliefs with a fast changing, progressive worldview. Copyrighted 1887, the detailed chart with many sub-charts purports to show locations and relationships of humanity, the Church and the Devil. W.F. Pennebaker of the community at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky also participated in the publication of this lithograph. David Rumsey, a world renowned map collector and the founder of the David Rumsey Map Collection notes that “although researched, designed, drawn, and copyrighted by Jacob Skeen, a Presbyterian, the chart is strongly associated with the Shaker Church. Skeen spent 10 years developing it and it was to be used in the biblical instruction of children and adults alike.” Some 204 charts were produced, the KLRC is one of only a few holding libraries in the world. The Manuscripts and Folklife Archives has more extensive documentation of the South Union Shakers’ 115 years of existence than any other repository with many Journals, diaries, account books, hymnals, and business records chronicle the activities of the religious community of Shakers, who gathered at South Union in Logan County, Kentucky, in 1807 and disbanded in 1922.
Call the Reference Assistance desk at 270-745-5083 or search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat<
Summer is wedding season, and the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections provide evidence of the pomp and circumstance, excitement and humor with which Kentuckians have tied the knot through history.
To begin with, our collection of more than 7,000 Warren County, Kentucky marriage bonds begins in 1797 and is a gold mine for those researching family history. In addition, many collections of family papers, such as the Margie Helm Collection, contain wedding invitations and announcements. Other collections document the unusual; for example, a double wedding that took place inside Mammoth Cave in 1879, inaugurating a custom that lasted until 1941. Photographs, such as Mildred Tucker‘s before her 1925 wedding, are indispensable to the occasion. In particular, many a local bride proudly posed in a creation made by the celebrated Bowling Green dressmaker Mrs. A. H. (Carrie) Taylor.
And, of course, there are the diaries and letters of both participants and observers recalling the triumphs and tribulations of the big day. “This is Birdie’s wedding day,” wrote Russellville’s Fannie Morton Bryan on February 27, 1889. “Lena and Joe Gill and Mot Williams and myself stood up with them. That is as near married as I ever expect to be.” (She was right). Amid a whirlwind of preparations for her February 16, 1926 wedding, Bowling Green’s Mildred Potter and her mother addressed the “burning question” of attire for the men in the party. “Agonizing” over cutaways or tuxedos, they settled on “gray trousers and cutaways, with spats,” but a stressed-out Mildred “shed a few tears” when a telegram arrived from her fiance in New York that betrayed his misunderstanding of her diktat.
Some enjoy scrutinizing a wedding and judging it against their own ideal. Writing to his cousin in 1861, Charles Edmunds of Princeton described the curious ceremony of his family’s domestic servant. “Mother’s house girl Vic was married,” he reported. “An old negro preacher officiated, and he made the man promise to do a thing I never heard of before. . . he turned to the man and said, ‘Richard Calvert, do you promise to take this woman to be your lawful wife and be unto her a kind, loving and obedient husband’; if I had been his place I would not have agreed to that because I think that if ever I get married, my wife will have to obey me, and not I obey her, but he assented, and the ceremony was performed, and they were made man and wife upon those terms.”