UK College of Medicine group tours WKU Libraries

Dean Connie Foster gave the Student Affairs Working Group from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine a tour of the main branch of WKU Libraries on Thursday, January 19. WKU recently partnered with UK and the Medical Center at Bowling Green to help expand medical education in the south central and western regions of the state.

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“The Elephant Was the Great Show”

The circus comes to Bowling Green, 1921 (Kentucky Library)

The circus comes to Bowling Green, 1921 (Kentucky Library)

The recent news that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will shut down “The Greatest Show on Earth” in May 2017 brings to mind Bowling Green’s long history of circuses, some of which is documented in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.

Research into the city license records by a former librarian reveals that by 1875, some 36 circuses had come through Bowling Green, often several times a year.  The P. T. Barnum circus paid for its first license in 1853, with an additional fee for “one side show.”  The very first circus, however, appears to have been in 1839, when the “Raymond & Waxing” troupe came to town.  A witness to the extravaganza was Henry Fox, who marveled at the many kinds of animals, including camels and lions.  But “the elephant was the great show,” he remembered, the biggest creature he had ever seen: “He had tusks that come out and crossed and he could throw his snout up and drop it down.”

In an age when entertainment on such a scale was rare, the arrival of the circus in Bowling Green caused tremendous excitement.  One April day in 1879, 15-year-old Josephine Calvert went to school as usual, where her older sister Lida happened to be the teacher.  Lida, however, had to give up and dismiss the class when only three students showed up.  The reason?  “There is a circus in town,” Josie wrote in her diary, “and all are perfectly crazy.”

True to their reputations, circus folk and their animals could generate some strange legends.  Born in 1852, Elizabeth Gaines recalled her mother’s description of a cholera epidemic in Bowling Green “said to have been caused from the death of a very large snake,” that had expired while the circus was in town.  “They buried the snake,” Elizabeth was told, but some of the people connected with the circus also fell victim to the disease.

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections.  For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

"Step right on in" (Fannie Morton Bryan Collection)

“Step right on in” (Fannie Morton Bryan Collection)

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Kentucky Live! presents “Wine-ing Your Way Across Kentucky” with Becky Kelley & Kathy Woodhouse

Wineing Your Way Across Kentucky (18)
WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” speaker series opened up its spring season with “Wineing Your Way Across Kentucky: Recipes, History, and Scenery” on the evening of February 16, 2017 in Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Bowling Green, KY. While Kentucky is known for its bourbon industry, wine has been a growing industry in recent years with new wineries applying for licenses every year. Childhood friends Becky Kelley and Kathy Woodhouse traveled across Kentucky visiting over seventy wineries. The book includes Kelley’s description of each winery, with its location, hours, and events information, along with Woodhouse’s amazing photography and favorite recipes using the wines.

Photo Album | Recording | Podcast RSS

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Lots of Luck

Lynwood Montell and his "luck" data cards

Lynwood Montell and his “luck” data cards

On this Friday the 13th, here are some of the thousands of superstitions collected by (now retired) WKU folk studies professor Lynwood Montell and housed in the Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.

According to Dr. Montell’s research, it’s bad luck to:

Enter and leave a house by different doors.
Give away a small chicken.
Trim your fingernails on a Sunday.
Sing before breakfast (you’ll cry before supper).
Step over a baby (it will stunt its growth).
Carry money in more than one pocket.

On the other hand, it’s good luck to:

Turn your chair’s back to a gaming table and sit astride it.
Find a needle, especially one pointed toward you.
Kiss a girl over a cow’s back.
Eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day.
Sneeze three times in a row.
Find a rock with a hole in it.

The Folklife Archives contain many other collections, created mostly by students, of superstitions and folk beliefs that have developed over generations to address every facet of life.  For example, quilters should know that it’s bad luck to start a quilt on a Friday.  Food-lovers should know that it’s bad luck to sing at the table, or to take the last thing on a plate.  And everyone should remember that it’s bad luck to leave a funeral before it’s over. . . because you’ll be the next one buried.

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections.  For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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WKU Libraries’ International Year of South Korea Bibliography

Republic of Korea Flag

Republic of Korea Flag

In cooperation with WKU’s “International Year of South Korea, 2016-2017” series, WKU Libraries has compiled a multidisciplinary bibliography with over 100 resources pertaining to South Korea in fields like: Anthropology, Art, Cuisine, Economics, Education, Film, Geography & Travel, History, the Korean language, Literature, Music, Political Science, Sociology, and Science, Technology, Engineering, & Medicine. The bibliography includes not only books but also DVDs of popular South Korean action thrillers, CDs by K-Pop groups, and web resources for information and news about South Korea.

WKU Libraries IYO South Korea Bibliography

WKU Libraries’ International Year of South Korea, 2016-2017 Bibliography

Whether you are looking for some reading material like Han Kang’s Man Booker International Prize novel The Vegetarianor want to learn how to curse in Korean with As Much as a Rat’s Tail: Korean Slang, you will find all the new South Korean books on this bibliography. Visit our Visual and Performing Arts Library (VPAL) on the 2nd floor of Cravens library to watch some popular Korean movies like Oldboy or A Brand New Life, or check out music by world famous K-Pop stars from Wonder Girls to PSY.

This bibliography is a great comprehensive guide to learning about all things South Korea! You can easily locate information about WKU International Year of South Korea and the bibliography from the WKU Libraries home page and the links below:

IYO-South Korea for the International Year… page

Bibliography for the IYO South Korea WKU Libraries Bibliography

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John Glenn, 1921-2016

“You couldn’t pay that officer too much attention,” said Bowling Green’s Martha Potter, when Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., became the third American to go into space (after Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom) and the first to orbit the earth.  One of the original “Mercury Seven” astronauts, Glenn circled the earth three times during his five-hour flight on February 20, 1962.

Project Mercury commemorative stamp (Frank Chelf Collection)

Project Mercury commemorative stamp (Frank Chelf Collection)

Like all Americans, Martha was transfixed, even though numerous delays had postponed the flight.  “I got [up] at five o’clock the first morning [January 27] he was to make his trip,” she wrote her children.  “The TV was working fine and I saw him get in his capsule and was still watching when he came out.”  On the day of the successful launch, she had invited some friends over to play cards, but the group quickly turned to the unfolding event.  Martha “lived at the TV” until late evening and in the days afterward, when Glenn was feted with a ticker-tape parade.

In Washington, Kentucky Congressman Frank Chelf joined the chorus of praise for Glenn.  On February 26, he introduced a bill to award Glenn and his fellow Mercury Seven astronauts the Congressional Medal of Honor plus a bonus of two years’ salary.  A version of his idea became law in 1969, when Congress authorized the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for astronauts who distinguished themselves in the space program.

In recognition of the many contributors to the milestone, Chelf’s bill also provided $5,000 to each of the scientists, engineers and technicians associated with the mission.  Glenn himself was the first to credit the “team effort of many, many thousands of people” behind Project Mercury.  A thank-you letter written on his behalf to Bowling Green native Lillie Mae Carter and her first-grade pupils in Toledo, Ohio put his pioneering feat in perspective: “Many things were learned from this and from the earlier flights of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom,” it noted.  “Each flight is a stepping-stone in our ever-expanding manned space flight research program.”

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections featuring the late John Glenn in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Library Professor named in Huffington Post’s Best Film Books of 2016

Congrats to Library Professor Sean Kinder and author of Una Merkel: The Actress with Sassy Wit and Southern Charm Recently named Huffington Post’s Best Film Books of 2016 (Listed under the section “More biographies of Actresses)!unamerkel_bookjpg

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2016 Margie Helm Awards

WKU Libraries celebrated the end of Fall 2016 with a holiday gathering at 440 Main.

Congratulations to the following Margie Helm Award winners:

2016 Faculty Award to: Nancy Richey

2016 Staff Award to: Kenneth Foushee

Student Awards to: Brendan Bird, Kelsea Perkins, Kole Feinauer, and Lein Vu

Team Award: The Alma Implementation Team: Project Manager Deana Groves, Eric Fisher, Uma Doraiswamy, Laura DeLancey, Dan Forrest, Jack Montgomery, Terry Perkins, and Nelda Sims

Team Award: The Helm-Cravens Display Committee: Katie King, Paula Bowles, Ryan Dowell, Debbie LaMastus, Jessica Simpson and Allison Sircy

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Pardon Me (Please!)

Josiah Pillsbury's respite

Josiah Pillsbury’s respite

On December 10, 1861, the Confederate States of America officially recognized a group of secessionists calling themselves the Provisional Confederate Government of Kentucky.  This “shadow” regime, however, never gained legitimacy in Frankfort; in fact, it chose Bowling Green, then under occupation by Confederate forces, as its capital.  (A historical marker commemorating the designation stands on WKU’s campus).

The first governor of Confederate Kentucky was Scott County lawyer George W. Johnson.  In need of someone to fill the position of Auditor, and because his first choice had declined, Johnson asked Josiah Pillsbury of Bowling Green to serve in a temporary capacity.

Pillsbury’s reward for doing this favor for his friend was to find himself, along with other officials of the Provisional Government, indicted for treason by a Warren County grand jury.  In “claiming to be auditor in said pretended government,” read the indictment, Pillsbury had acted “in usurpation of the regular legitimate and constitutional government of the state” and cooperated with an army in “open rebellion” in order to wage war on the good citizens of the county.

Horrified, Pillsbury wrote a “my bad” letter, now in the collections of the Kentucky Historical Society, to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette.  He had wanted no part of the Confederate government, he insisted, but accepted the Auditor’s position only to accommodate Johnson until a replacement could be found. Supporting Pillsbury’s request for clemency were prominent Bowling Green attorneys William V. Loving and Robert Rodes.

Governor Bramlette obliged, but the document filed with the Warren County court was not a full pardon.  The constitution, Kentucky’s Secretary of State warned Pillsbury, only gave the Governor power to issue a temporary “respite”; the document Bramlette signed was, in fact, an edited version of a form used to extend the time for criminals “sentenced to be hung.”

The indictment of Josiah Pillsbury (who was eventually pardoned by President Lincoln) and other members of the Provisional Confederate Government of Kentucky, along with Bramlette’s respite, are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more Civil War collections, click here or search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Japanese American Student at Western During WWII

Kany Stickles Letter

Kany Stickles Letter – Click to see entire image

Alumni often encourage others to attend their alma mater. In 1940, Julius Kany persuaded James Takeichi Oshiro to attend Western Kentucky State Teachers College in Bowling Green, Kentucky, even though it was far away from his home in Hawaii. James Oshiro enrolled at Western in September 1940, but this wasn’t just any time in history, and James Oshiro was distinctive among the student body at the time due to his Japanese ancestry. The attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, prompted the United States to enter World War II. The severity of the attack engendered fear and hatred for Japan, and, by extension, anyone who looked Japanese.

In the official history of WKU, Lowell Harrison described James Oshiro and his situation. “Born in Hawaii of Japanese parents, he lived in Japan for sixteen years before returning to Hawaii. Nine years later he was persuaded by a Western alumnus to go to the Hill. The short, slight, twenty-six-year-old student enrolled in September 1940 to major in history. His financial support from a brother-in-law in Honolulu was suddenly cut off after the Pearl Harbor attack, and no one could predict the reaction of Western students and Bowling Green townspeople. ‘It breaks my little heart even to think of this horrible war between two nations,’ James wrote President Garrett in late December; he would gladly fight for the United States, ‘and I am sure that God will forgive me having fought against my parents’ country.’” (2) Continue reading

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