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“But when you love the green backed dollar, sorrow always bound to follow”

The 1978 Kentucky Derby Winner, Affirmed

The 1978 Kentucky Derby Winner, Affirmed

Bettin’ on the ponies ain’t no easy task, but former folk studies students Robert Sherman and William Adams may have cracked the code. In their 1972 paper titled “Kentucky Horseracing and Horse-Betting: Various Gambling Patterns and Techniques of the Kentucky Horseracing Community,” Sherman and Adams hoofed it to Churchill Downs on Opening Day to learn the ins-and-outs of wagering, handicapping, and risking it all for sweet taste of victory.

Whether betting across the board, eyeballing a Daily Double, or keeping your fingers crossed for a win, place, show, playing the ponies is a beacon of light for casual bettors and professional gamblers alike. Sherman and Adams’ subjects divulged their reasons for hitting the tracks, which ranged from hopes of financial gain to enjoying a simple recreational pastime, but all agreed that horse-betting—an art form in and of itself—requires patience, dedication, and a small touch of luck.

If you’re willing to go all-in for the Longines Kentucky Oaks filly race today, or if you’d rather raise the stakes at tomorrow’s Derby, you may want to keep these tips ‘n tricks in mind:

1. Let the Lucky Numbers Be Your Guide

Jim Ray, a native Kentuckian, is a believer in the power of lucky numbers. Writes Sherman, “He told us that he selects the horse according to the last digit in the weight that horse carries. If the weight of the horse is 118 pounds, then he would bet on the 8th horse listed.” Ray admits that his technique is a little unusual, but the cash in his wallet speaks for itself.

2. Go With Your Gut

Intuition exists for a reason, or at least Martha Bangston believes it does. Bangston keeps her system simple, an amateur approach that favors the odds without running against any longshots. Sherman explains it as, “There are usually nine races on a daily card. [Bangston] breaks these down into three groups of three races each. In the first race of each group, she bets the horse with the best odds on the program. In the second race, she bets the horse with the second best odds and so on.” Her success rates with this method are high, and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

3. A Thoroughbred by Any Other Name

Lorene Budd, a cautious gambler at best, factors in the horse’s name when placing her bets. “A horse that has a name similar to one of her friends or relatives is the one that she selects,” writes Sherman. So if you have an uncle’s whose name sounds similar to Firenze Fire (and don’t we all?), or a bestie named Magnum Moon, you’d better start the drive up to Louisville.

For more information on the Kentucky Derby, racetrack betting, or jockey lore, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database featuring manuscripts, photographs and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

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Former Governor Steve Beshear at the Southern Kentucky Bookfest

The SOKY Bookfest was honored to have former Governor Steve Beshear as one of our very special guests on Saturday, April 21 for our 20th Anniversary. Brian Coutts moderated his 11:00 a.m. session.

Beshear was elected the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2007 and reelected to a second term in 2011. Among the many issues he focused attention on were sustainable economic growth, lifelong learning opportunities and Affordable Health Care and enjoyed considerable success in each one of these. He used the Affordable Care act and Medicaid expansion to insure some 300,000 previously uninsured Kentuckians.

So successful was he that the Democratic Party selected him to give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017.

Susann deVries, Dean of WKU Libraries, speaks with Steve Beshear

Since leaving office he’s served as a Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and written a new memoir People Over Politics.

Following his talk he answered numerous questions about his memoir and current political issues and signed copies of his book.

Steve Beshear (left) with Brian Coutts

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Nursing Material Finds Home at WKU

Because her parents had suffered through the Great Depression and because she had no doubt heard stories of people who lost their jobs in economic downturns, Donna Jean Allen wanted to enter a secure profession after high school. When she considered her options in the summer of 1963—almost a full year before graduation—she was confident that with proper nursing training she would be  employable in a necessary, thus secure, profession.  Allen, who at that time lived in Annandale, Virginia, began a correspondence with the School of Nursing at Louisville General Hospital (LGH).  School officials sent her promotional material and explained the benefits of LGH’s program.  At that time many large hospitals operated nursing programs, and most vocational nurses trained at medical facilities rather than at colleges or universities.  The highly respected program at LGH had operated since 1886 and had trained over 1,100 nurses by 1963.

Donna Jean Allen in her nurse’s uniform.

When corresponding with Allen, Registered Nurse Mary Cecil, the school’s guidance counselor, noted that the LGH program was one of five accredited ones in the Louisville area and that the curriculum was similar at all of them. The real difference Cecil noted was in the clinical experience: “Ours is a large public teaching hospital and admits all patients regardless of color, race, creed and disease from the group of citizens who cannot pay for medical care.”  LGH was operated by the Louisville & Jefferson County Board of Health which provided universal health care to all.  Cecil added:  “The private hospitals, as you know admit usually those patients who can pay for care; these hospitals may or may not discriminate in admission policies.”

In March 1964, Allen took some “pre-nursing tests” and scored highly enough to be considered for admission to the LGH program. The following month she boarded an Eastern Air Lines flight to Louisville in order to spend two days visiting the hospital, talking with administrators, taking more tests, and completing a physical examination.  She stayed in Henninger Hall on the LGH campus, where she was mildly warned to consult with the Housemother before leaving the premises and more sternly advised to “not leave or return to residence alone after dark.”

In May she was informed that her application for admission had been approved, and she started her course of study in September 1964. The program was not all work, as plenty of social activities were available in the city; planned and impromptu trips were also part of Allen’s LGH experience.  Besides following the rigors of medical training, Allen also matured socially as administrators frequently mentioned when writing to her mother, Mildred.  Although the majority of Donna’s twenty-eight member class consisted of white females, like herself, it did include one African American and two males.  One of the interesting requirements for continued progress in the program required that students remain single for the first two years of the program, then they could request permission to marry but it must be done in writing and at least one month before the marriage date and must be “endorsed by the parents.”  Donna completed the program in June of 1967, and enjoyed a steady career in nursing.  Eventually she married, becoming Donna Hill, and was the mother to two boys.

Photograph of Allen’s graduating class.

Recently Donna Hill donated her nursing uniform from the LGH program to the Kentucky Museum and papers related to her school program to Library Special Collections, which is always pleased to add collections related to the medical and allied health fields in Kentucky.  This material helps document the importance of the medical field to the Commonwealth’s history, and it supports outstanding academic programs at WKU.

To see the finding aid for this collection click here.  Other medical and health related collections can be found by searching our finding aids on TopSCHOLAR or KenCat.

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Far Away Places presents Soleiman Kiasatpour on “Morocco At the Crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East”

Morocco (6)

Soleiman Kiasatpour, an Associate Professor of International & Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Science at Western Kentucky University, talked about “Morocco At the Crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East” in our Far Away Places series sponsored by the Friends of WKU Libraries on the evening of April 12, 2018, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

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Far Away Places presents Nancy Rice on “The Magic, Mystery and Misfortune of Modern Kenya”

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WKU Biologist Nancy Rice talked about “The Magic, Mystery, and Misfortune of Modern Kenya” in WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places series on Thursday, February 22 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

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State Street High School

One of the prized holdings in the Department of Library Special Collections is the 1951 Mustang, the yearbook of the State Street High School. The State Street School served this area’s African-American students starting in 1883; High Street school took its place in 1955.
Edward Tipton Buford, known as E.T. Buford, was the principal of the school and is featured in this yearbook. He made a tremendous impact on many students in this region and state. He was born in 1894 in Giles County, TN and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a Master’s degree from Indiana University. He served as principal of State Street and High Street schools from 1924 to 1964. Like many other African American educators, during the time of segregation and limited resources, it was said that “Buford developed an advanced curriculum, got the school accredited, recruited highly educated teachers and secured needed resources.”

Some other African American teachers in Warren County were Robert Barlow, Christine Barlow, Ethel Buford, Virginia Cabell, Lula Carpenter, Clara Cole, Addie J. Edmonds, Lutisha Frierson, Willie Gossom, Lena Hudson, C. A. Hutcherson, Latter Huston Cox, Eva Kuykendall, Lila Bell Lee, Frances Luvalle, Charity McCrutchen, Emma Milligan, Mabel Moore, Frank Moxley, Claude Nichols, Alroma Nichols, Mattie Patticord, A. L. Poole, Ethel Ray, A. P. Williams, Delorese Williams, Clara Bell Yarbrough, and Henry Yost.

Click here to see this yearbook; search for other yearbooks at WKU One Search box. Contact Special Collections at 270-745-5083 or spcol@wku.edu

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Exhibit Commemorates Kentucky’s Role in WWI

Title panel for “Kentucky in the Great War.”

The Department of Library Special Collections invites you to view an exhibition titled “Kentucky and the Great War” through January 28 in the Jackson Gallery found on the second floor of the Kentucky Building.  The exhibit highlights several themes including military service, the costs of war, life on the home front, and the effects of war on the family.  Over 150 artifacts, documents, photographs, posters and sheet music specimens are used to document Kentucky’s involvement in the war effort.

World War I (July 1914 – November 1918) was a global and devastating conflict that attracted the attention of the world’s leading powers.  Shortly into the war, the death toll crescendoed for all nations involved in the hostilities.  German submarines began sinking passenger ships traveling across the Atlantic resulting in the deaths of many American civilians.  In response, American forces entered into the war  in April of 1917 with support from most United States citizens.

A medic uniform and helmet worn by a Kentucky soldier.

This exhibit highlights the lives of a few Kentucky soldiers and their contributions to the war effort.  We are able to follow our soldiers from the U.S. to France via correspondence and photos.  In addition, we take a look at the home front and how civilians on U.S. soil, particularly Kentuckians, aided the troops from home.  The ‘Great War’ resulted in millions of lives lost on all fronts.  This exhibit aims to honor their memory and celebrate their lives.

One of the exhibit cases features letters, photographs, and other memorabilia documenting the supreme sacrifice made by George Dewitt Harris of Simpson County, Kentucky.  The Harris Family Collection contains well over 50 letters written by George, a lawyer from St. Louis, to his family back in their hometown of Franklin.  They brim with confidence and are filled with detailed insights into military life from an educated professional.  George was wounded near Epionville, France when a piece of shrapnel broke his jaw as he aided a wounded commanding officer off the field on October 7, 1918.  George died a week later and was buried in France.  Later letters document how the family handled the grieving process as they continued to search for answers surrounding George’s death.  The collection also documents the eventual return of George’s body to the U.S. and internment in Franklin’s Greenlawn Cemetery.

A doughboy doll from the Kentucky Museum.

Another case documents the construction of Camp Zachary Taylor, the largest of the sixteen cantonments built in the continental U.S.  Camp Taylor, located near downtown Louisville, consisted of nearly 2,000 chiefly frame buildings which hosted nearly 40,000 troops at a time.  Despite its vast size the cantonment was built in a mere 90 days.  It closed in 1920 and only one of its buildings still stands today.

The main purpose of the exhibit is to demonstrate how international events trickle down to the local stage.  It all boils down to one person at a time being engaged in the event, whether that person served in the military or participated in the war efforts on the home front.

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Over Here and Over There: World War I Songs

Patriotic recruitment song published in Louisville, KY.

In The Piano in America, 1890-1940, Craig Roell states that by 1915 the majority of white middle-class urban families had pianos. With such a large market, it is not surprising that author Bernard Parker located over 9500 patriotic songs published in the United States between 1914 and 1920.
WKU Library Special Collections currently has a total of 4,438 pieces of sheet music. Our World War I holdings include titles that show the many facets of the war experience. Probably the best known hit patriotic song written for troop recruitment was George M. Cohan’s “Over There.” Louisville, Kentucky, musicians did their part with Clarence Zollinger and Billy Smythe’s rallying recruitment song, “Fight for the Flag We Love.”
Tucked among many love songs is the title “I Wish I had Someone to Say Goodbye To.” Children of soldiers are represented by “Don’t Leave Me Daddy,” “I Miss Daddy’s Goodnight Kiss,” and “Just a Baby’s Prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There).” Loved ones left stateside were admonished not to let their tears add to the soldiers’ hardship in “Keep the Home-Fires Burning (‘Till the Boys Come Home).”
Soldiers’ experiences vary from “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” to “When Yankee Doodle Learns to ‘Parlez Vous Francais’.” A lyric that also speaks to the world experience gained in France appears within “Johnny’s In Town:” “he’s been aroun’, He knows French and ev’rything, You should hear him when he goes ‘Ooo-la-la-la.’” A father’s concern about the Paris exposure is expressed in the well known “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm.”

Popular WWI songs often spoke of the gaiety of Paris.

Due to the generosity of numerous donors, including Mary Clyde Huntsman, Drucilla Jones, and Bob and Carol Crowe Carraco, WKU is fortunate to have a good representation of the songs of World War I.

For additional reading, see: Bernard Parker, World War I Sheet Music: 9,670 Patriotic Songs Published in the United States, 1914-1920, with More Than 600 Covers Illustrated. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland, 2007; Vogel, Frederick G., World War I Songs: A History and Dictionary of Popular American Patriotic Times with over 300 Complete Lyrics. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland and Company, Inc., 1995; Watkins, Glenn.. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2003.

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50 Years Ago (or so) Today

“Set the Night on Fire” by Tom Poole. Located on Cravens 4th floor.

 

Written and recorded in 1966, The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” is both eternal and a singular moment in time, a whirling, seemingly incongruous vortex of Bach, Coltrane, William Blake, psychedelia, Latin music, and the Lizard King.   On paper, it shouldn’t have worked.  But on July 29th 1967 it exploded onto the Billboard charts, landing at #1 and staying there for three weeks.  The vortex struck a nerve.

The Doors self-titled debut album from 1967 features the full length version of “Light My Fire” at track 6.

And 50 years later, it still does.

     The time to hesitate is through; no time to wallow in the mire.  Try now.

Jim Morrison sang those words in the bright and tumultuous 1960s, but they could have been written this morning.

–Michael Franklin, Aug. 1 2017

If you want to hear The Doors (and you do), come see us at the Visual And Performing Arts Library (VPAL) on the 2nd floor of Cravens.

       

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Making 1797-1850 Marriage Records Available Online

This week a patron from St. Louis came into the Library Special Collections Reading Room looking for documentation relating to his ancestors’ 1809 marriage in Warren County.  He had already been to the courthouse, where he was told that Special Collections had many of the original Warren County marriage bonds from 1797 to around 1850.  I was thrilled to be able to help him, because he was our first in-house patron to use the scanned Warren County Marriage Records online in TopSCHOLAR.  Rather than pulling out the vulnerable originals, I was able to guide him through the search process of finding the record online.  The marriage records have been scanned in the same order they appear in the collection, which is first arranged chronologically by year and then alphabetically by the gro0m’s last name.   If you don’t know the groom’s name, then you can do a keyword search by the bride’s maiden name by using the search box that appears in the top left corner of the page.  At this time, we only have the first fifteen years online.  We are adding new records incrementally as we complete the scanning and encoding.

Marriage bond.

An original Warren County marriage document from 1797.

Scanning these records and making them accessible is a time consuming and expensive process.  Personnel in Manuscripts & Folklife Archives will make tremendous progress on the project this summer, as we have a student and one part-time employee committed almost exclusively to the project.  The funding for their wages was made possible through a challenge grant made by Marilyn Forney, a friend of Special Collections from Pennsylvania but with local family ties.  Her grant was matched by members of the XV Club, Ray Buckberry, Tad Donnelly, Dean Connie Foster, and Jonathan Jeffrey.

The marriage records are our most requested resource both in-house and online.  This digitization project will not only make the items accessible to the public in the comfort of their homes, it will help save the documents by decreasing human handling.  To peruse the records scanned thus far click here.

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