Author Archives: Jonathan Jeffrey

Library Adds Rare Architecture Book to Collection

Recently the Department for Library Special Collections purchased a rare promotional book produced by the Louisville architectural firm of Kenneth McDonald and J.F. Sheblessy.  Kenneth McDonald worked as an architect in the Falls City for a number of decades. He graduated with a civil engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute in 1873.  While teaching, he worked for the architectural firm ran by his brother, Harry Peake McDonald.  In 1878 the two brothers joined forces under the firm name H.P. McDonald and Brother.  When they were joined by two of their other brothers, the firm became McDonald Brothers and enjoyed an enviable practice with commissions from around Kentucky and several contiguous states.  The building type for which the firm was most noted was the fortress-like jails built across the Commonwealth.  The old Simpson County Jail (now the Simpson County Archives) is the closest extant example of a McDonald Brothers’ jail.  They eventually designed over 100 jails in seven states. The main building for the Southern Exposition in Louisville is perhaps their best known design, but one that remains a favorite is the old Presbyterian Theological Seminary (today Jefferson County Community College) which can be viewed from the raised Interstate 65 as one passes through downtown Louisville.  In their wisdom, McDonald & Dodd selected Bowling Green limestone as the building material for that Gothic campus.

The Presbyterian Theological Seminary designed was designed by McDonald & Sheblessy.

The Presbyterian Theological Seminary designed was designed by McDonald & Dodd.

Kenneth McDonald left the firm in 1895 and practiced solo for several years before forming the practice with John F. Sheblessy in 1901.  This practice lasted less than five years, for in 1906 McDonald joined with architect William J. Dodd, a partnership that lasted until 1913, when McDonald moved to San Francisco.  Sheblessy (1873-1938) moved on to Cincinnati and enjoyed a long architectural career.  The brevity of the McDonald and Shelbessy partnership makes this promotional book quite rare.  Printing companies that specialized in this specific genre of architectural firm “advertising” were not uncommon, but this book was printed by the Courier-Journal Job Printing Company, again making it a rarity.

The Louisville Tobacco Warehouse.

The Louisville Tobacco Warehouse.

This book, containing both photographs and drawings, highlights some of the practice’s most important projects, including several churches–most notably Walnut Street Baptist Church, courthouses, residences, commercial buildings, and sprawling government structures such as the East Tennessee Insane Asylum.  The booklet also includes twenty-five pages of ads for regional contractors, building supply operators, lumber companies, fixture suppliers, etc.  One contractor of note is Peter & Burghard Stone Company whose name is mentioned in captions alongside a number of the photographs as providing the cut stone work for the highlighted projects. Peter & Burghard was known across the south for their tombstones and their other stonework.  When Van Meter Hall was built at WKU in 1911, Louisville architect Brinton B. Davis insisted on employing Peter & Burghard as the stone contractor.  According to WorldCat, WKU’s Library Special Collections is the only repository to hold this illustrated promotional piece.  To see other architectural treatises, drawings, and plan books in Special Collections search our catalog, KenCat.

Advertisement J.N. Struck & Brother Lumber Co.

Advertisement J.N. Struck & Brother Lumber Co.

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Filed under Acquisitions, Uncategorized

Early 19th-Century Mental Health Pamphlet Acquired

Title page of newly acquired pamphlet.

Title page of newly acquired pamphlet.

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.

Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum at Lexington

Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum at Lexington

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.

 

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Filed under New Stuff, Uncategorized

Architectural Acquisition Fund Built

"The Small House for a Moderate Income"

“The Small House for a Moderate Income”

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.”

"The House with the Green Shutters"

“The House with the Green Shutters”

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.

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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.”

To search other architectural related items in the Department of Library Special Collections, search KenCat.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, Uncategorized

What I Learned in Summer School…

Gabe

Gabe Sudbeck, summer intern in Manuscripts.

“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.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, Uncategorized

“All the King’s Men” Recommended

An early edition of ATKM with dust jacket.

An early edition of ATKM with dust jacket.

For its 75th anniversary, the editors at Parade Magazine asked author and Nashville bookstore owner Ann Patchett to compile a list of the 75 best books from the past 75 years.  One of the books she recommended from the 1940s-era was Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men.  Published in 1946, ATKM chronicles demagogue Willie Stark’s election and subsequent governorship in the deep south; Warren always minimized comparisons to Louisiana’s own Huey Long, but the similarities are strong.  The story is told through Jack Burden, a political reporter who becomes Governor Stark’s assistant.  Burden, a man of ethical and moral scruples, must wrestle in the mire of politics throughout the novel.  Response from the public and critics was positive. George Mayberry, in the New Republic, compared the book to such classics as Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby.  He ended his review with high praise:  “All together it is the finest American novel in more years than one would like to have to remember.”  Warren received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for ATKM.  Hollywood adapted the book into film in 1949 and 2006.  The 1949 version won the Academy Award for Best Picture.  The novel is rated the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century by Modern Library and Time magazine chose it as one of the best 100 novels since 1923.

The Robert Penn Warren Library housed in the WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections includes Warren’s own personal copies of ATKM as well as numerous editions, printings, and foreign language editions collected by Warren’s bibliographer Dr. James A. “Bo” Grimshaw, Jr.  The bibliographer’s collection contains 94 copies of ATKM, including copies of the first edition and many printings of paperbacks that have been used by high school and college students in literature classes for decades.  Bibliographers of literary figures are often engrossed with locating every edition and printing of an author’s works.

Numerous copies of ATKM found in the RPW Library.

Numerous copies of ATKM found in the RPW Library.

Ann Patchett’s novels include Bel Canto, The Magician’s Assistant and Commonwealth (due out in September). She is the co-owner of Parnasus Books in Nashville with Karen Hayes.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Gordon Wilson’s Love of Birds

Dr. Wilson's field glasses and some of his bird checklists.

Dr. Wilson’s field glasses and some of his bird checklists.

“Tiny Treasures,” curated by Special Collections Cataloger, Joseph Shankweiler, contains several pieces related to Dr. Gordon Wilson, former professor and head of WKU’s English Department as well as avid bird watcher.  The exhibition features miniature books from the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC), and one case highlights several bird identification guide books.  To enhance the case, the curator chose a pair of field glasses (loaned by the Kentucky Museum) that Gordon Wilson used on his well-known bird watching expeditions.  Also included in the case are several bird checklist cards, produced by the Kentucky Ornithological Society, on which birders could mark the specific birds they spotted on individual treks.  These two small cards, from a collection of close to 1000 similar cards in Dr. Wilson’s papers, document a trip taken in 1964 to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Alexander Gordon Wilson was born on 14 October 1888 in New Concord (Calloway County), Kentucky. He attended local public schools and Clinton College and afterwards taught in the rural schools of Hickman County.  He entered the Western Kentucky State Normal School, now Western Kentucky University (WKU), Bowling Green, Kentucky, in January 1908 and received a life teaching certificate in 1913.  He then matriculated at Indiana University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1915, a master’s degree in 1924 and a Ph.D. in 1930.  The two later degrees he earned while teaching at WKU. Wilson became an English instructor in 1915; he was formally appointed department head in 1928 and held that position until his retirement in 1959.  Besides teaching the classics, Wilson was nationally recognized as a folklore expert.  A finding aid to Dr. Wilson’s collection can be found by clicking here.

A typical bird checklist from the Wilson Papers.

A typical bird checklist from the Wilson Papers.

Wilson was an accomplished amateur ornithologist. He began observing birds around 1909 and recording information about his nature walks and sightings while he was at Indiana University. Upon returning to Bowling Green, he became more serious about the avocation and published his first major article on birds in The Auk (1921).  His fieldwork concentrated on south central Kentucky and he published several articles and pamphlets about the area’s birds.  Wanting to share his information with fellow enthusiasts, Wilson helped found the Kentucky Ornithological Society in 1923 and edited its publication, The Kentucky Warbler, for a number of years. In recent years, DLSC, in cooperation with the Kentucky Ornithological Society, has digitized copies of The Kentucky Warbler. They can be accessed by clicking here.

“Tiny Treasures” will be on exhibit through December 8, 2016, in the Kentucky Building’s Jackson Gallery.

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Vertrees Diary Featured in National Publication

Photo of Vertrees

Peter Vertrees (1840-1926)

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.

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Hopper Receives First Mills Scholarship

Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper

My name is Jessica Hopper and my major is History with a minor in Library Media Education. During the spring 2016 semester I began an internship at WKU’s Library Special Collections. My internship has given me new insights into how different departments within the library operate and what I might expect in my future library career.  I would absolutely recommend a similar internship to any WKU student; it has given me plenty of hands-on experience that I can use in future classes and employment. Not only does a student get to work in an environment similar to a potential library position, they are also acquiring skills essential for future employment such as use of the collections management software Past Perfect. In addition to gaining work experience, I received a $500 scholarship which is named for long-time Special Collections professor Connie Mills.

During my internship I worked in Library Special Collections’ three units: Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, WKU Archives, and Kentucky Library Research Collections (KLRC). While in Manuscripts I worked on a collection of World War II letters that were written by a sergeant stationed at Fort Knox to his beloved fiancé and future wife. I read each letter and jotted down important information that the letter contained in order to describe the collection in Past Perfect. In the WKU Archives I worked on a collection that contained documents that were still unorganized. I arranged, foldered, and boxed the material by date for permanent storage. The last department that I worked in was the KLRC, in which I focused on newspapers. I organized boxes of newspapers published in the Bowling Green area in order to provide better access for the library’s staff and patrons.  I created a spreadsheet listing the titles and dates, which can eventually be used to complete the processing of that collection.

While working in the different units, I learned how each type of document is preserved. Most of the smaller documents are kept in acid-free folders to prevent further damage. Once a collection has multiple folders it is then placed in boxes that will keep the collection together. Bigger items, such as posters, are kept in mapcases so that they can be laid flat in order to keep their shape and prevent creases and tears. Newspapers are also kept flat and in oversized boxes for the same reasons. I was not aware of these preservation techniques prior to my internship. I value the information I have learned as it will be a very important when seeking future employment.  As far as future classes, my internship has increased my skills in researching and utilizing primary source material.

Connie Mills

Connie Mills

The Connie Mills Special Collections Internship allows an undergraduate student to have a working, hands-on experience in the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC) at Western Kentucky University. Emphasis is placed on processing projects within the department. Interns are given an orientation to all three departmental units. The fund honors Constance Ann Mills (1944-2013), who spent twenty-five years employed in WKU’s Library Special Collections. Information about the internship can be provided to students by contacting Jonathan Jeffrey, the Department Head for Special Collections at 270-745-5265 or jonathan.jeffrey@wku.edu

 

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Garvin Exhibit Opened in Jackson Gallery

David Garvin

The Department of Library Special Collections recently opened an exhibit celebrating Bowling Green businessman and “Renaissance man” David Garvin.  The commemorative exhibition will remain up through June 1, 2016 and is located in the Harry L. Jackson Gallery on the Kentucky Building’s second floor.  The exhibit features photographs, artifacts, and manuscript material related to several important aspects of Garvin’s life:  his family, his community involvement, his interest in historic preservation, Camping World, Beech Bend, and his beloved Ironwood Farm.  Items on display include a large gaming wheel from Beech Bend Park, a portrait of Garvin, trophies won by Ironwood horses, catalogs from Camping World, a painting of the Old Richardsville Road Bridge which he restored, along with dozens of Beech Bend souvenirs and postcards.

David Berry Garvin was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on 22 February 1943, the second child and only son of Charles Cromwell & Martha (Berry) Garvin.  He attended the Western Training School and graduated from College High in 1961.  He attended Vanderbilt University and graduated from Western Kentucky University; he furthered his education by taking classes at Harvard Business School.  He was a member of Bowling Green’s First Presbyterian Church and the E.Q.B. Literary Club.

Friends and family gather in the Harry L. Jackson Gallery to commemorate the life of David Garvin.

Friends and family gather in the Harry L. Jackson Gallery to commemorate the life of David Garvin.

In the early- 1940s, David’s father, Charles T. “Charlie” Garvin purchased Beech Bend Park, which adjoined the family farm.  That began a long career in family recreation for both Charlie and David.  Beech Bend Park eventually grew to become a nationally known amusement park and raceway and one of Kentucky’s largest tourist destinations.  David was instrumental in helping develop the International Race Track at Beech Bend.

David worked at Beech Bend from the time he was 12 years old.  In his early 20’s, while still working at the park, David founded Camping World (1966), a company which serviced the growing number of people who owned or rented recreational vehicles.  Headquartered in Bowling Green, Camping World grew into an important mail order business and eventually opened 100 retail stores nationwide and employed 5,000 employees.  David eventually sold most of his interest in Camping World to dedicate more of time to the development of a thoroughbred horse operation at his Ironwood Farm.

Besides his business interests, Garvin maintained an avid interest in historic preservation.  He purchased and restored Ironwood, the historic home of Joseph Rogers Underwood on the Barren River near Beech Bend Park.  He also restored the Old Richardsville Road Bridge and the College Street Bridge and supervised the development of an adjacent river park.  Challenging CSX Railroad, Garvin almost singlehandedly persuaded the railroad behemoth to strip the old silver paint off the Barren River railroad bridge and allow the metal to oxidize therefore making it more attractive at this busy entrance to the city.  Garvin and his son David renovated the rear of the old Bowling Green Armory into an attractive apartment building.

Besides his development and management of Camping World, David also undertook several land development projects in the Bowling Green area, including the building of Sugar Maple Square, a retail shopping center, on Highway 185, northwest of Bowling Green.  He was also heavily involved in conceptualizing land use for a commercial recreational vehicle haven in Franklin, Kentucky–Garvin’s–that was to include several national chain stores, a recreational vehicle museum, amusement rides, and an area for camping.

Garvin married Charlotte Mann in 1969.  They had four children: Katherine, Kimberley, David, and Arthur.  Garvin died on 30 August 2014 at the age of 71.

 

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Your Discovery!

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC) recently added a discovery sharing page to its website that allows patrons to share items that they found in Special Collections and how the material aided their research.  Our first respondent was Michelle Dilliha, a local CPA and owner of Front Porch Rentals.  Dilliha has been responsible for adapting historic properties into multi-family living arrangements.  Most of these properties have been in the College Heights Historic District.  Before purchasing another property in which her company was interested, Dilliha came to Special Collections to see if the house’s original drawings existed.

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DLSC owns over 1500 sets of architectural drawings, chiefly from Bowling Green.  Although a number of architects are represented, the majority of them come from James Maurice Ingram (1905-1976), Frank D. Cain (1922-1994), Joseph P. Wilk (1926-1994), and Bill Finley (b. 1939).  By providing some details about the property including the address of an early resident–which Michelle gleaned from city directories–the DLSC staff was able to locate the drawings by James Maurice Ingram.  The original drawings provided information about the structure that was helpful in evaluating how the house had evolved over the years and the best way to handle several unusual details during renovation.

Dilliha was happy to find the drawings and was equally impressed with DLSC’s staff who were “extremely helpful” and “went above and beyond” expectations.  A basic database for searching the architectural drawings is available in-house; approximately 25% of the drawings have been cataloged in DLSC’s catalog KenCat.

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