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.
Author Archives: Nancy Richey
A broadside found in the Moore House at 801 State Street in Bowling Green reveals resolutions supporting Matthew Lyon and his bid for the election of 1802. Lyon was born in Ireland in 1749 but immigrated to Connecticut in 1764. He served with the Green Mountain Boys and lived in Vermont before moving to Kentucky. He served four terms as the Congressional Representative from the Western District of Kentucky and was first elected in the fall of 1802. Lyon was the first person to be put to trial for violating the Alien and Sedition Acts and criticizing President John Adams thus becoming a defender of free speech rights. The broadside entitled, Resolutions of the Corresponding Society was produced in Russellville, KY and condemns the criticisms of Lyon. For more information about this and other Special Collections library materials see our search engine, KenCAT.
In addition to the many print and microfilm resources in the WKU libraries’ Special Collections, we have DVD and tape visual resources. A recent find in our collection is a 3 minute 8mm black and white film that showcases former President Harry Truman’s visit to Paducah, Kentucky on October 24th, 1959. Truman’s Vice President, Alben Barkley was from Paducah and served as the 35th Vice President of the United States (1949–1953), under Truman. Barkley spent much of his life in Paducah, and has a lake, an airport and other landmarks named after him in the area. The film shows Truman going to a coffee shop, meeting with Paducah citizens and officials and speaking at a banquet during a fund raising dinner. We have converted the film to DVD and so it is available for inhouse viewing.
David and Jeanne Heidler have written numerous books and articles dealing with the history of the early American republic, the Antebellum period, and the Civil War
Their most recent work is Henry Clay: The Essential American. The Heidlers present Clay in his early years as a precocious, witty, and optimistic Virginia farm boy who at the age of twenty transformed himself into an attorney. They reveal Clay’s tumultuous career in Washington, including his participation in the deadlocked election of 1824 that haunted him for the rest of his career, and shine new light on Clay’s marriage to plain, wealthy Lucretia Hart, a union that lasted fifty-three years and produced eleven children.
The Heidlers will speak at Christ Episcopal Church (next door to the Main Library) on Thursday, October 13 at 6:00 p.m.
Free tickets are available at any library location or by email: email@example.com
WKU Students will be able to swipe their student ID for these events. For more information about these events, call 270-781-4882.
My great-grandfather was Baptist Minister; do you have any church records or minutes in your collections?
Church records are among the best records for genealogists to locate and study. They can provide information that is not recorded in any other source such as births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and even the burial location of your ancestor. Additionally, you can learn about your ancestor’s participation in the church’s life or separation/transfer from the church rolls. Discipline in churches has changed dramatically over the years but in many cases, members were removed from the church for non-attendance, profanity, drinking or dancing. They can reveal the extent to which your ancestors participated in religious affairs. They are also helpful for tracing family relationships or migration patterns.
For those ancestors who were ministers, priest or rabbis, biographical information may be found in a printed source, obituary listing or in church or synagogue archives.
Finding theses important records can be difficult. Many churches do keep good records but they may have been sent to a central archive, placed in private hands or given to a historical society or special collections library. Fortunately, many churches have microfilmed these records, or at least given copies to local organizations.
The Kentucky Library and Museum’s manuscript collection of church records can be found at
Other records have been published in book form and may be found by using TOPCAT.
There are excellent chapters on the information provided by church records and how to locate them in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, edited by Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny (Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984) and in Val Greenwood’s revised edition of the Researcher’s Guide to American Records (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Md., 1990.
I want an obituary or a death certificate for my grandmother who died January 7th 1903. Can you help me?
This is a very frequent request as obituary information is very helpful to family historians/genealogists as they are conducting research and creating and verifying family ties. Unfortunately, it is a request that is many times difficult to fulfill. Kentucky did not require its counties to register births and deaths until 1911 and did not require marriage registrations until 1958. There was a short period in 1852 when statewide registration was first enacted but Kentucky’s compliance was sporadic. This early requirement lasted only ten years with some births and deaths being recorded for 1852-1862, 1874-79, 1892–1910. Some larger cities such as Louisville, Covington, Lexington and Newport maintained registered births and deaths for the years 1890–1911 in their respective health departments. See Jeffery M. Duff’s Inventory of Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1852–1910 for county holdings. At the Kentucky Library and Museum, we hold microfilmed copies of death certificates from 1911 to 1959. These certificates become public records after 50 years.
Local newspapers are a great source for obituary information if one has a pinpointed date of death. However, there are not always extant papers for the years sought. The Kentucky Library and Museum has an extensive collection of microfilmed newspapers for this area and surrounding counties. The KLM also has death registers from various funeral homes and select Bowling Green, Kentucky – Death Records, 1877-1913 that are “physician’s death certificates and undertaker’s certificates relating to permits for burials within the city of Bowling Green. [These certificates] include information on the deceased’s date and cause of death, age, race, and marital status, place of birth, residence, and date and place of intended interment. [And they] may include other documentation if a death occurred outside Warren County.” See http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_mss_fin_aid/1246/ for an index. Other indexes for 1911 and after include: Kentucky Vital Records Index (University of Kentucky) http://ukcc.uky.edu/vitalrec/, the Kentucky Vital Records Project http://kyvitals.com/index.php and http://vitals.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ky/death/search.cgi
Sources for online newspapers with obituaries include Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. This site allows you to search and view select newspaper pages from 1860-1922 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ The Kentucky Library and Museum also has access to the Historical New York Times (1851-2006), the Historical Los Angeles Times (1811-1986), the Times Digital Archives (1785–1985) and for the local area, the Park City Daily News archive (1999-to present). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Though the Kentucky Library and Museum’s major focus has followed our mission statement, “We Collect Kentucky,” our collections can now be characterized as both local and global. A sample of recently cataloged items illustrate this new focus: Institutes of Hindu Law and the History and Antiquities of Carborough, Viciniti: with Views and Plans, The Northern Campaigns and History of the War, from the Invasion of Russia, in 1812, and Memoirs and Recollections of Count Segur: Ambassador from France to the Courts of Russia and Prussia, and Important Engagements Which Took Place Between His Majesty’s Forces and the Rebels, During the Irish Rebellion, 1798., by John Jones. These primary source materials enable researchers to delve into what it was like to live during the earlier centuries by reading these types of first-hand accounts of everyday people, leaders, revolutionaries and their times. For the last title by John Jones, we are among a few libraries that hold this original book including the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg and the British Library. Additionally, our unique holdings are now more accessible through our “KenCat” catalog which uses the collection management program, PastPefect. The collection is searchable online at http://wku.pastperfect-online.com/35749cgi/mweb.exe?request=ks and covers a wide variety of materials in four areas: objects, archives, photographs and library materials. For more information about these unique collections contact email@example.com or 270-745-5083.
Today, scrapbooking is a popular pastime but fortunately for historians and genealogists, this activity is not new. Many early scrap bookers were also genealogists and through their scrapbooking activities, they preserved not only a part of their life, but left a legacy of their family’s history. Many of the scrapbooks in our collections contain such diverse items as photographs, correspondence, telegrams, tickets, obituaries, booklets, programs, correspondence and newspaper photographs and clippings, certificates, telegrams, narratives, bills of undertakers, promotional notices, grade and postcards.
One scrapbook donated by Mary Vogel contained a hand written 1851 genealogical chart for Johannes Volpert who was born in Germany in 1795. Though the chart is written in German, there is a note on the chart in English “this was given me by the Priest in my mother’s home, I was in the house where she was born, in the church where my grandparents were married…”
These wonderful time capsules show that with care and consideration genealogy and family history can very easily incorporated into today’s scrapbooking to create lasting legacies.
The Kentucky Library and Museum (KLM) holdings include many city and telephone directories. There are similarities between the two and if used skillfully, they can reveal a great deal of personal and family history information such as occupational data, relationships, home ownership and locations. They also can help with identifying persons with the same names or initials. City directories in particular list items such as asylums, cemeteries, fraternal organizations, newspapers, railroads and schools. They also have city maps with defined boundaries and can, through the years, include the changes of street names. Even in the addenda, there is pertinent information that was “too late for insertion” or and in some select directories, there were lists of deaths in an epidemic year. City directories were often compiled through door-to-door surveys and so had the benefit of verified information from the householder. The library has city directories from Bowling Green starting in the late 1880s and telephone directories starting in the 1920s.