Oldham's Red Towel Sketch
The red towel tradition began in the 1940’s. According to Chip Royal, an AP feature writer “A towel came flying down out of the air at Madison Square Garden and landed on a spectator’s head — and another basketball fan met Ed Diddle, the colorful Western Kentucky State coach.” Royal’s article was printed in the Daily News on February 14, 1943. The towels continued to appear and disappear as the athletics and physical education departments swiped towels back and forth. Diddle decided to dye the athletic department towels red to differentiate from the physical education supply.
Crume's Red Towel
Through the years the towel tradition has grown. Now few fans appear at a game without a red towel. In 1970, athletics director John Oldham drew a sketch of an arm waving a towel on the back of an envelope which he gave to Dr. Chuck Crume to develop into a logo. These original drawings are now housed in the University Archives along with personal papers of Ed Diddle, John Oldham, Chuck Crume and others involved with the athletic program.
Check out Hilltopper Heritage and KenCat for additional information on these and other University Archives collections.
Barbara Niss, archivist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York responded: “Archives are not where information comes all neatly wrapped in a package; they are a place for searching and thinking and piecing together bits and pieces of fact, near-fact and outright lies. Which leads to: Archives are NOT boring!”
While we archivists do work to make the collections we care for more accessible through arrangement, research, digitization and the creation of finding aids, we cannot do the work for our users. The materials are here, cared for and ready to be read or looked at and they are certainly NOT boring!
WKU is fortunate to have an excellent Special Collections Department in WKU Libraries. There are manuscript collections representing individuals, families, religions, corporate entities, towns and counties across the state. There are photographs documenting life in Kentucky from the beginning of the medium. There are rare books, maps, oral histories, film and video. There are university records for WKU and its founding institutions. There is a museum full of exhibits highlighting the artifacts, costumes and artwork collected through the years.
In honor of Archives Month, try to visit an archives near you. (Hint: We’re located in the Kentucky Building
). Check out the Kentucky Archives Month
website to learn about other archives and activities throughout the state. Take a look at KenCat
to see some of what is available here in the Department of Special Collections.