Author Archives: Nancy Richey

That Muhlenberg Sound

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare set of newsletters that highlight the richness of Southern Kentucky Music and the loyalty of its followers. Journalist, author and Muhlenberg County, KY native, Bobby Anderson produced for several years, a newsletter KL026devoted to “that Muhlenberg sound.” The newsletter, by the same title, was “published every once in a while, and sometimes not that often.” It began in 1994 with Vol. 1, No. 1, featuring discussion of a musical documentary on coal mining, an Everly Brothers festival in Central City, KY and the “Home of the Legends” thumb picking contest winners. Other issues include articles about such varied topics as: a new cassette by the late thumb picker Bobby Barber of Sale Creek TN, Mose Rager Day, “Home of the Legends” thumbpicking open class, Les Haney (former Merle Travis picking buddy) cassettes, National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame inductions and history. Other issues showcase “behind the scenes” stories such as the tale of how Merle Travis and his wife were married when a couple of other fellows became their “pappies.”

See this newsletter and other Southern Kentucky music related items at the Special Collections library. Search the collection by using KenCat, TopSCHOLAR and the One Search online catalog.

 

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Mammoth Cave Stereoviews 1866

The Department of Library Special Collections at WKU already has an impressive collection of illustrative material related to Mammoth Cave. These items include glass plate negatives, post cards, guide books, etc. A recent acquisition of a complete set Charles L. Waldack’s 1866 stereo views will greatly enhance these materials as Waldack is the first photographer of the cave. The 42 “Magnesium Light Views in Mammoth Cave” were published by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. and include scenes of the Hotel, guests, the African American cave guides and many interior shots of cave formations. Waldack, origimage015inally from Belgium came to the United States in 1857. It was noted that he brought “sunlight” to the interior of the cave by the use of magnesium, so that one of the greatest natural wonders of the world could be seen by many. His biography from a special edition of the “Journal of Speleological History” (2000) notes: “These were the first high quality photographs produced underground in any cave. Waldack was naturalized as an American citizen after his marriage to Mary Tanner (born about 1849) of Kentucky, who was also a photographer. He set up a photography shop at 31 West 3rd Street in Cincinnati and made many excellent views of buildings, streets, and bridges between 1857 and 1873. Most important was his 42 stereo cards of Mammoth Cave. The Anthony series was continuously printed until about 1872, and 12 of the photographs were printed as engravings in the 1870 book, “A Historical and Descriptive Narrative of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky” by William S. Forwood.

These stereo views can be seen at by visiting WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections or by clicking on the link to access the images at KenCat.

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ROSA PARKS IN GLASGOW, KY?

Ragerbook004

No, Rosa Parks was never in Glasgow, KY but her defiant and freedom loving spirit was there ten years before her own historic act. It is noted she was not the first person to resist bus segregation and this article from the April 27th, 1944 edition of the Glasgow, (KY) Republican highlights this fact.  Lucy Franklin and Enna [Emma] Collins, sisters, who were in their early 30s, were visiting their hometown and grandmother, Harriet Allan in Barren County. Little did they realize, they were also a part of the birth of the Civil Rights movement and “mothers” also of the movement. They refused to move to the back of the bus, “We’ll sit just where we are. We paid our fare same as anyone else.” The newspaper report notes their arrest for this defiant act and that they “missed the bus.” Thankfully, their brave act in our local community finally allowed others to never “miss the bus” again. Lucy and Emma’s act, like many others, “strengthened blacks’ resolve and ability to resist their “second-class” status in the United States. Thus, their efforts in the period during and after the Second World War, aided by the international attention to race brought by that war and the Cold War, led to a modern civil rights movement. [This] would dismantle legally sanctioned segregation and discrimination in public accommodations within two decades. (CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA: RACIAL DESEGREGATION OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, p.31.)

Find materials about this topic and other subjects in the Department of Library Special Collections by searching TopSCHOLAR andKenCat or request more information from spcol@wku.edu.

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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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