Author Archives: Nancy Richey

Kentucky Cave Wars

Since the first tourist tract written by Alexander Clark Bullitt in 1844, it seemed  everyone wanted to visit the “Mammoth Cave.” He considered such a visit an almost spiritual pilgrimage.  “Awe and apprehension soon yield to the influence of the delicious air; and after a time a certain jocund feeling is found mingled with the deepest impressions of sublimity. I recommend all broken-hearted lovers and dyspeptic dandies to carry their complaints to the Mammoth Cave, where they will undoubtedly find themselves ‘translated’ into very buxom and happy persons.”

Mammoth Cave is the country’s 26th national park and contains almost 60,000 acres of land in South Central, KY. But, the entire region, because of our 22545771karst topography is riddled with caves. This push for visitors lead to one of the most interesting parts of Mammoth Cave history. It was the period known as the “Kentucky Cave Wars.” It was a time when local cave owners used devious advertising and other illegal means to lure tourists to their underground treasures and away from the “real” cave.  They did this impersonating rangers and flagging travelers off the road before they could reach the cave and national park. A recent book by David Kem, The Kentucky Cave Wars: The Century That Shaped Mammoth Cave National Park, delves into this time by “telling the story of Mammoth Cave’s greatest competitors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.   From the death of Dr. Croghan and the first competitors popping up in Cave Country, to the national park’s creation and beyond, more than a century of fighting for tourist dollars shaped the decisions in and around the famous cave.” Kem used several photographs and other illustrative materials from the Kentucky Library Research Collections to illustrate his new book. Find materials about the cave and other subjects in the Department of Library Special Collections by searching TopSCHOLAR and KenCat or request more information from spcol@wku.edu.

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Focus On Special Collections

Kentucky Ancestors is a publication of the Kentucky Historical Society which features article topics appealing to family historians of all levels. They have ‘How-To’, Case Studies, and individual family histories as well as Book Notes, stories and commentary.  They focus on content related to Kentucky families and locations, as well as those areas from which many Kentuckians migrated.  The resource is no longer issued in print but is freely available online. A new feature for the magazine is “Repository Roundup.” They note that “Kentucky has a great reputation for being ‘Records Rich’ – but we want to know WHERE the records are located throughout the state.”  We were pleased that the Special Collections Library was chosen as the first library to be featured for this new series. Family historians and other patrons from around the United States and the world visit to see and use the many “books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, audio, video, and other material documenting the history, politics, culture, literature, daily life and folkways” of the families of the Commonwealth and beyond. The article featuring the Special Collections library is available at http://kentuckyancestors.org/repository-roundup-western-kentucky-university/Kentucky

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A Most Photographed Donkey

Mammoth Cave was and continues to be one of the outstanding scenic attractions in America. It was Kentucky’s first tourist attraction and visitors have been coming since 1816. Many guests stayed in rustic cabins or at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, which was at one time, considered a fine hotel. It was destroyed by fire on December 9, 1916. A newspaper article from the Louisville Times reported:  “Mammoth Cave Hotel Destroyed By Fire, Historic Structure Caught Fire From an Unknown Source Early Saturday Morning. The original Mammoth Cave Hotel, a part of which was built in 1811, was entirely destroyed by fire, of unknown origin, which started at three o’clock this morning, consuming the hotel in two hours. All the registers of the hotel and cave, which contained perhaps the greatest collection in existence of the autograph signatures of famous men and women of this country and other parts of the world, were destroyed. The registers of the Mammoth Cave and the Mammoth Cave Hotel, which in part were more than a century old, contained the names of such famous personages as the late King Edward of England, Jenny Lind, Edwin Booth, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, and Don Pedro of Brazil.”

The Hotel and cabins were also the background for many photographs. James Davis Rodes is shown posed on the infamous and also well photographed donkey. In our photographic collections, a donkey shows up many times with many different people. James was the son of Judge John Barret Rodes and Elizabeth Hines Rodes. Sadly, he died at an early age in 1914. (Note that some of the Mammoth Cave Hotel registers were not destroyed and are in the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Special Collections.)

To access finding aids for these Mammoth Cave collections, a part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat or email spcol@wku.edu for more information about photographic holdings.JamesDavisRodes

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Encased Treasures (Clement Reeves Edwards)

In the photographic holdings of the Kentucky Library Research Collections are several early photographic images by C. R. (Clement Reeves) Edwards. He was a photographer, portrait and landscape artist originally from Woodston, New Jersey. He came to Bowling Green in 1857 and opened a photography studio and also offered his services as a portrait painter. This ambrotype is
an example of his fine photography work. Although, the image is not identified, it may be Edwards’s farm and his third wife, Margaret Lewis, whom he married in 1858. He died on February 4, 1898.

Edwards Ambrotype

 The fragility of these one-of-a-kind photographs mandated that they be cased. In 1842, Samuel Peck patented a more durable case than the previous leather or wooden ones. These “Union” cases were composed of gutta-percha, an early plastic. They could be molded to hold any surface design and dyed. This Edwards ambrotypes has a “Union” case embossed with an elk and woods scene.  Additionally, the Kentucky Museum has 14 oil paintings by Edwards. Ten are portraits including two self-portraits and four are landscapes. For more information about early photographs and their identification and care email spcol@wku.edu  Other photographic and illustrative holdings of the Department of Special Collections may be viewed at KenCat at kencat.wku.edu

Case

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Lyndsey Pender, Kentucky Library Research Collections Student Assistant Receives Honor

On Tuesday October 7th, Lyndsey Pender, a student assistant in the Department of Special Collections, was inducted into the National Society for Collegiate Scholars Honor Society. The National Society for Collegiate ScholDSC06229ars is an honor society dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to develop their leadership skills, and opportunities to positively change their campuses and communities by participating in service activities. These opportunities serve to enhance the member’s undergraduate experience while preparing them with skills necessary to succeed post-graduation. The WKU Chapter of National Society for Collegiate Scholars was chartered in 2005 and it inducts new members every fall.​

Lyndsey is invaluable to the work we do in the KLRC. With her excellent skills in so many areas, she enables the library to accomplish not only daily tasks but long term goals. Like all student assistants, we are very dependent and thankful for each of them and their hard work. Congratulations to Lyndsey!

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Family Bibles

Each year the Kentucky Library Research Collection receives many valuable donations. Recently, we received a Woolsey Family Bible. The bible was an 1887 “Peerless” Edition of the Parallel Bible: containing the Authorized and Revised versions of the Old and New Testaments, arranged in parallel columns; a complete concordance; with a comprehensive Bible dictionary. Since one of our collecting strengths is genealogical, we greatly appreciated the marriages, births and deaths that were included starting with Sanford C. Woolsey and Angie Smith and their children. This genealogical information about this specified family also included photographs which made the bible even more unique. One of the marriages noted was also performed at Historic Diamond Cave in Park City, KY.Woolsey Family

Family bibles were very important before the advent of official government records. Even many non-religious families chose to use a family Bible as a record keeper. These bibles were sold in stores, by mail order and by door-to-door salesmen. The selling factor was not the holy scriptures but the blank pages between the Old and New Testaments that were waiting to be filled in with names, dates of births, marriages and deaths. This may have been the only record of such important dates in the lives of our ancestors and may give us that elusive maiden name and include other information such as baptismal information or names of godparents. The bibles also became the repository for numerous keepsakes such as newspaper clippings, funeral cards, pressed flowers, and other items that were valuable or meaningful to the owner.  Please see KenCat for a listing of our family bible holdings.

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Panama Canal Pedro Miguel Locks

Panama Canal LogoWhen the Panama Canal opened to traffic 100 years ago on Aug. 15, 1914, it was a great feat of innovation and skill and connected the world’s two largest oceans. The opening event drew many news outlets and photographers.  Its appeal has continued throughout the years as evidenced by this photograph produced by the Galloway Company of New York.  Native Kentuckian, Ewing Galloway (1881-1953) who was born in “Little Dixie,” in Henderson, started his career as a lawyer and city prosecutor. In 1920,  he opened his own photographic company which would become the largest stock photograph agency in the United States.  His studio trained many photographers who traveled worldwide taking images that focused on native peoples, transportation and commerce.  The agency today has photographic image holdings that amount to over four hundred thousand. In 1937, Galloway donated nearly 1000 photographs to the Kentucky Library. The photographs cover a wide variety of national and international themes. The image shown here showcases the Panama Canal’s Pedro Miguel Locks, with Gaillard Cut (formerly Culebra) in the distance, and features a large steamship leaving one of the locks for Miraflores on to the Pacific. Pan00011

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Lewis Completes Staff Leadership Program

Maria Lewis, Library Assistant in the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC), recently completed the 2013-2014 year-long training through the Staff Leadership Institute. This program is for WKU staff members who have demonstrated advancement potential in their work. Over the past months, Maria attended classes and workshops that taught and tested, improved leadership competencies, the ability to apply basic leadership principles and to employ knowledge of WKU resources campus wide. The program is sponsored by the Staff Council and Human Resources. Selection for participation in the program is competitive and requires recommendation and approval by supervisors and departments. The program notes that it “seeks to enhance job performance and personal development skills while challenging the spirit of each individual who participates.” Maria enjoyed the diversity of people and tasks in the program and learning more about the life of campus and how things work together. The Library Special Collections department is pleased that Maria was chosen to participate and was among the 2014 recent graduates. Congratulations to Maria!
Maria

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Reservoir Hill from Vinegar Hill (WKU)A recent donation of 11 stereographic cards opens up a view of early Bowling Green, KY. These images are from 1886 and show downtown Bowling Green, the Barren River, an early school, the Fairview Cemetery, Southern Normal School, Main and State Streets and two bridges. Many of these albumen images have not been seen before. Stereographs like these were a vehicle for popular education and entertainment in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  These images were mounted on cardboard with two almost identical photographs, side by side, and they had to be viewed with a stereoscope. Viewing them in this way created a three-dimensional effect. These images gave an opportunity for many to see views of far-away lands in a way that was not available to the general population. Their affordability and easy availability also made stereography a popular pastime that lasted over six decades. See other images of Bowling Green, KY by using KENCAT at kencat.wku.edu

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by | October 10, 2013 · 7:55 pm

Oh, The Places You Can Go…..Through Photographs

Maurice K. Gordon was born in Hopkins County, Kentucky in 1878. He saw service in World War 1, achieving the rank of major and returned to Madisonville, KY where he worked as an attorney. Gordon was very involved with the American Legion and was a world traveler. He was also an avid collector of books, manuscripts and autographs many of which were purchased by the Kentucky Library/Special Collections after Gordon’s death in 1974.  One of the most interesting acquisitions from this purchase was one of Gordon’s photograph albums (partial) that show his travels in the Mediterranean area, Western Africa and Israel. One horrific photograph (not identified) shows the loss of life and destruction of war. The Special Collections library holds many photographic images with global perspectives some of which may be seen by searching KenCat.RevolutionYoung Woman of Bethlehem

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