Today a crane was brought on site to remove one of two air handling units in Helm Library that will be replaced this summer. The renovations began on May 16th and will continue through mid-August, replacing the two air handlers, both of which are over fifty years old, with newer, more efficient models. Helm Library is closed to the public during this time but materials are available upon request. Departments normally found in Helm – Government Documents, Interlibrary Loan, Reference, and Periodicals – have been relocated to Cravens Library for the summer.
A recent donation to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections widens our perspective on the brief life of Oliver Hazard Perry Anderson, a Frankfort, Kentucky native and successful merchant.
In July 1841, Anderson arrived in southern France after a lengthy sea voyage from parts unknown. In a letter to his sister Penelope, he described in detail the Straits of Gibraltar, whale sightings, and his landing at the ancient city of Marseilles, followed by a 4-day ride to Paris. Anderson then took Penelope on an epistolary tour of the palaces, churches and historical monuments of this “magnificent city,” but then claimed, surprisingly, that “I cannot see Paris, I am not well enough” and expressed an intense anxiety to continue on his way home. The reason: Anderson was dogged by a debilitating tubercular cough, and his travels in search of a remedial climate had given him only occasional relief.
Anderson’s time in the City of Light contrasted remarkably with his experience 15 months later, when he became, literally, a cave dweller. In the winter of 1842-43, he resided with a handful of other tuberculosis patients in stone cottages inside Mammoth Cave in hopes that the pure, cool air would help his lungs. Dr. John Croghan, who specialized in the disease and also happened to own the Cave, had constructed the underground sanatorium as an experimental treatment center.
As shown, however, in letters already in our collection dated in December 1842 and January 1843, Anderson found any improvement in his condition to be little more than a mirage. The darkness and dampness of the Cave and the constant smoke from cooking stoves convinced him, when he finally emerged, that “I would be better out than in.” Whether in the “upper world” or below it, he struggled with alternating periods of strength and good appetite, then fatigue, cold symptoms, and always, the cough. He finally succumbed to the disease in 1845 at the age of 32.
Brian Coutts gave his “Best Reference” seminar on Friday, May 13 at 10:00 a.m. in Helm 5. Best Reference is an annual selection he makes for Library Journal, the nation’s oldest and leading library trade journals. The article appears in the March 1, 2016 issue in both print and online. This year’s list included 31 titles from 20 different publishers, including 10 university presses and some small publishing houses. This is the 30th consecutive year Brian has been involved with this project either as a consultant, coauthor or author. A reception followed with cake and coffee.
Quotes from Peter Vertrees’ typescripted autobiography, housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of Library Special Collections, were recently included in an article titled ‘”I Stayed at My Post Until the End’: Peter Vertrees: Black Confederate and Celebrated Church and Community Leader,” in the UDC Magazine. Published by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the magazine is distributed to the organization’s 18,000+ members. The article by Elaine Clonts Russell relies heavily on the autobiography, but is supplemented by other research. During the Civil War Vertrees served as a cook in the 6th Kentucky Regiment. “I never was a soldier on the firing line,” said Vertrees, “but these scenes brought the real activities of war to my view and made me realize what the real combat was. I suffered the same deprivations of warfare that the soldiers felt. Sometimes I was hungry, sometimes cold, sometimes drenched with rain, sometimes tired and footsore from walking, but I stayed at my post until the end.”
After the war Vertrees became a minister and was involved in civic affairs. A Tennessee state historical marker recognizes his contributions and can be found on South Water Street (Highway 109) in Gallatin, Tennessee. The finding aid to the Vertrees Collection can be found by clicking here. To search for other collections about the Civil War or African Americans see TopSCHOLAR.
WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections lost a valued former colleague with the May 6, 2016 death of Elaine “Penny” Harrison.
According to her family, it was while watching a movie that the young Elaine Maher and two childhood friends decided to assume the names of the film’s three heroines. Thus was born Elaine’s lifelong nickname, “Penny.”
A Connecticut native, Penny met WKU alumnus Lowell H. Harrison while working at New York University. After they married in 1948, she followed him to London on his Fulbright Scholarship, then to Texas, where Dr. Harrison taught at West Texas State University and Penny earned a master’s degree in history. In 1967, Dr. Harrison returned to Bowling Green to teach at his alma mater and Penny joined the Kentucky Library (now part of the Department of Library Special Collections), where she served as manuscripts librarian until her retirement in 1986.
While at WKU, Penny earned a master’s degree in library science, completed special studies in archives at the University of Wisconsin, and developed a manual for processing manuscript collections at the Kentucky Library. The first treasurer and archivist for the Kentucky Council on Archives, she was honored with a KCA fellowship in 1987 to recognize her outstanding contributions to the profession. Special Collections Librarian Sue Lynn McDaniel says that Penny also enjoyed mentoring students in her field. In fact, McDaniel recalls, “she gave me the career/education advice that allowed me to become her successor as Manuscripts Librarian at WKU.”
Penny and Lowell Harrison (who died in 2011) also gave generously to WKU and the Kentucky Library. Acknowledging their financial support for collection development, then-Special Collections Department Head Riley Handy told them simply: “We have no better friends than you.”
On Saturday, April 16, 2016, the Spring Political Americana Collectors of Kentucky show occurred in Louisville, KY. WKU Alumnus and PACK member Bob Westerman invited Kentucky Museum curator Sandy Staebell and Special Collections Librarian Sue Lynn McDaniel to exhibit items and our online access to the Rather-Westerman Political Collection. Our ephemera and artifact collection is the best worldwide for primary sources on campaigning by national, state, and local politicians in Kentucky.
We set up two computers. One allowed us to do Kencat searches on politicians, types of collectibles, and locations of interest. The second computer played the “Campaigning in Kentucky” gallery of Worth A Thousand Words: Special Collections Galleries in TopScholar http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/pol_camp_ky/. In addition, we brought some of our most unique items in protective display cases to create interest among the members viewing our booth.
The high point of the day was the arrival of charter member Julius Rather who began donating to Library Special Collections and the Kentucky Museum in 1983. Other PACK members rushed to greet Mr. Rather, his wife, daughter, and grandson. Mr. Rather enjoyed seeing other members and getting more familiar with WKU’s online presence of the Rather-Westerman Political Collection. For WKU, the day was a huge success as other members asked questions about making donations and accessing our collection. One vendor donated a stuffed toy donkey with a Democratic candidate’s pin on it to the Kentucky Museum.
Researchers interested in learning more about WKU’s Rather-Westerman Political Collection should visit kencat.wku.edu and search “Rather-Westerman” or the politician, county, or office of their choice. If you need assistance in online viewing, contact our Research Assistance Desk, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT. If you are a potential donor, we would love to talk to you about items you may have collected over the years. For a woman who disliked politics for her first 50 years, I can know say that the “Rather-Westerman Political Collection” and PACK shows are fun!
Star, the sweet therapy dog from WKU’s Counseling & Testing Center, ventured over to Helm Library the Thursday before finals week to meet and greet students in Java City. The eight-month-old Aussiedoodle turned out to be popular with students coming and going through the Helm Library entrance. “This is just what I needed today,” said Maddie Hughes, WKU piano major from Georgetown, Kentucky. Star’s mild temperament and soft coat was just the ticket for all the stressed out students running in to study or for a quick snack at Java City between final classes for the semester.
Carol Watwood, assistant professor in Library Public Services, and Betsy Pierce, Outreach Coordinator for Counseling & Testing Center, organized the visit with Star. “I was very pleased with how the morning visit turned out. Several students really enjoyed the break with Star,” said Watwood. “Hopefully she’ll be back next semester for a return visit.”
After graduation from the Louisville College of Dentistry, Edward Wallace Barr (1887-1962) joined his father’s practice in his home town of Bowling Green, Kentucky. When the U.S. entered World War I, however, Barr was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Dental Corps and sent to France. As a member of the Sixth Heavy Artillery, he was considered the first dentist to “go into the trenches,” but in November 1917 was put in charge of the dental offices at the general headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces in Chaumont, France. There, his patients included Commanding General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.
As his appointment book showed, Dr. Barr treated many servicemen until his discharge early in 1919, but perhaps it was only General Pershing who merited a discussion between Barr and Pershing’s former dentist, Colonel Ross T. Oliver of the Chief Surgeon’s Office. “I am glad you found that upper bridge in good condition,” he wrote Barr. As to the gum disease affecting the General’s lower molars, “that condition has existed for a number of years.” His recall of one particularly troublesome tooth that had “such a loss of substance that we could easily run an instrument through the bifurcation” suggested, nevertheless, that Pershing could look forward to many more happy hours in the dentist’s chair.
Records and correspondence relating to E. Wallace Barr’s service in the U.S. Army Dental Corps are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. Click here for a finding aid. For more collections about medical professionals, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
WKU Libraries Professor Haiwang Yuan’s book Tibetan Folktales recently received an Honorable Mention in the Special Storytelling Resources category of the 2016 Storytelling World Resource Awards. Yuan coauthored the book with Awang Kunga, who is a native Tibetan, and Bo Li. Its publisher is Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO. Incidentally, another of Yuan’s books Princess Peacock: Tales of Other Chinese Peoples won the same recognition in 2010.
For more than 20 years, the Storytelling World Resource Awards Program has a panel of judges who evaluate new books in the field and identify outstanding works to help storytellers connect with the resources that will be most impactful for their practice.
Tibetan Folktales contains more than 30 traditional Tibetan stories that give readers a taste of the land, people, culture, history, religion, and psyche of this remote region. The tales are gathered from contemporary Tibetan storytellers and translated from written sources that represent a rich oral and written literary tradition.
“I feel honored to get this recognition on a national level, and I believe my coauthors will feel the same way,” said Yuan. “I surely hope that this award will help my book reach a wider audience so that more people will be able to learn about a great people like the Tibetans and their wonderful culture and folklore.”
Yuan has been a member of Western Kentucky University’s Department of Library Public Services for 19 years. He has edited, authored, and contributed to several books and dozens of articles. Visit TopSCHOLAR to learn more about his works and his website about his other creative activities.
Early in the morning of April 29, 1945, Adolf Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun. The next day, with Soviet troops only blocks away from his bunker at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, he and his bride committed suicide.
Among the millions who received the news without a flicker of mourning was Martha (Woods) Potter. The 76-year-old lifelong resident of Bowling Green had followed Hitler’s rise to power with outrage. “Isn’t Hitler the last word in audacity or is it Mussolini?” she asked as early as March 1936. “That pair could come over here and take America away from us if they took a notion.” In September 1938, as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain negotiated with the Nazi leader over the fate of Czechoslovakia, she observed to her daughter that “Hitler will have a great deal to answer for if he lets the world go to war.” After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, she understood the Fuhrer’s grip on his people, declaring “We all hate Hitler and blame him instead of the Germans.” In June 1940, with France about to fall and England in the crosshairs, Martha was in favor of America sending the British “all the armaments they want,” and deplored Congressional reluctance to do so. “They are all afraid of what Hitler will think,” she complained. “Who cares what the Hun thinks? He needs a rope around his neck and while they are tying they might get Mussolini’s neck caught in the same noose.” At news of the Fuhrer’s ignominious death, Martha was triumphant. “Now if we can give Hitler’s dead body a few kicks it will be to suit me,” she wrote her children.
Martha’s animosity was nothing, however, compared to that of an unknown soldier at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In “A Letter to Hitler,” he laid out in explicit verse the indignities awaiting the dictator–specifically, the fate of certain of his body parts and the pristine splendor of his “palace”–once American GIs caught up with him.
Click on the links for finding aids to these letters, part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.