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Owensboro Student Completes Internship in Special Collections

Hello, my name is Noah Hancock, and I am a history major here at WKU. I have had the opportunity to experience, learn, and work with historical materials through a

Noah Hancock, a WKU senior from Owensboro, has just completed an internship in Manuscripts, a unit of Library Special Collections.

summer internship in the Department of Library Special Collections in the Kentucky Building. This program allowed me to acquire skills and knowledge necessary to carry out tasks, such as organizing documents, reading and transcribing holographic letters, digitizing information, and entering data into TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Jonathan Jeffrey was very helpful, and he taught me the general processes of how the collections are acquired, accessioned, cataloged, and made accessible to the public both in person and online. For instance, one of the first things I learned was that the items in a collection are arranged in chronological order, which helped me to file and sort documents easier. One of the projects I worked on throughout the summer was a large collection of photocopied Civil War letters, diaries, roll calls, statistics, and records from both the Union and Confederate Armies. There were over twenty boxes filled with vast, indispensable information for research relating to the Civil War.  Dr. Kenneth Hafendorfer, Louisville, Kentucky, collected this material when writing his Civil War books.

While sorting these documents, I came across some original, personal letters written by certain Civil War soldiers to their respective family members. These letters were dated and had names and locations of where they were stationed. Some letters were short, others were long, with details regarding camp life, troop movements, combat actions, health conditions, and some even requested that items be sent from home. The letters contain information on a variety of subjects that were important many years ago. I found this intriguing, because they provide insight into historic topics, such as the controversy regarding slavery.

Moreover, I was assigned the task of reading and typescripting some of the letters, and creating finding aids with summarized descriptions. With Jonathan’s assistance, I uploaded the transcribed documents to TopSCHOLAR. Lastly, I cataloged them into a system called KenCat, the Department’s collection management system. This program allows, the Library to keep track of all documents and materials within the collection.

I greatly appreciate Jonathan’s help and mentorship throughout the summer! The internship opened doors for me to experience and explore new possibilities; it also enabled me to use my knowledge and skills. It will no doubt be beneficial in my future career endeavors.

If you would be interested in an internship in the Department of Library Special Collections, contact Department Head, Jonathan Jeffrey, at 270-745-5265 or jonathan.jeffrey@wku.edu

Blog post written by DLSC intern Noah Hancock.

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Senior DLPS Faculty to Retire this Summer

Brian E.  Coutts, Rosemary Meszaros and Charles H. Smith, Professors in the Department of Library Public Service retire this summer.

Brian Coutts served as Coordinator of Collection Development from 1986 to 1991 and since 1991 has been Head, Department of Library Public Services.

He received the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor, the Isadore G. Mudge Award in 2017 and is a past winner of the CQ Press Marta Lange Award for Distinguished Law & Political Science Librarianship and the Louis Shores Award for distinguished reviewing. For WKU he served as moderator for more than 200 programs in the WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places Series and Kentucky Live Series and was one of the founders of the Southern Kentucky Bookfest. From 1986-2016 he selected the “Best Reference Sources of the Year” for Library Journal, the nation’s leading trade journal. He serves on the Dartmouth Medal Committee and is a judge for the Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Rosemary Meszaros joined the DLPS faculty in the spring of 1998 and has served as the Federal Depository Librarian for the Second Congressional District and as the Coordinator of Government Information and Law.  She received the Government Documents Round Table’s

“Documents to the People Award” in 2018 and is a past winner of Kentucky’s Academic Librarian of the Year Award. She’s the author of Rising Through the Ranks: Women in War and chapters on government periodicals in numerous editions of Magazines for Libraries.  With Katherine Pennavaria she’s been a popular presenter at numerous academic and public libraries around the state on genealogical sources and strategies. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Academic Librarianship.

Charles H. Smith joined the DLPS faculty in March of 1995 and has served as Science Librarian and principal liaison to Ogden College of Science and Technology.  He’s a past winner of the American Library Association’s Oberly Award for distinguished bibliography and a Presidential Award for Distinguished Public Service.  Over the past two decades he has created the Alfred Russel Wallace Page as one of the leading and most widely consulted online sources on one of the world’s most distinguished scientists.  One of the world’s leading authorities on Wallace, his many books and articles on Wallace led to his induction into the distinguished Linnaean Society of London. He’s been a featured speaker in Mexico, Brazil, and the UK.  His Alfred Russel Wallace Page and his Classical Music Navigator sites are frequently consulted. His newest book on Wallace will be published by the University Press of Chicago in 2018.

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Faraway Places & Kentucky Live Series to End

After more than 200 programs over the past two decades, most held at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, our DLPS Series will be ending this spring.

Peggy Wright and Brian Coutts conceived of an international series following the return of former Kentucky Librarian Nancy Baird from a trip to South Africa.  We launched our first program in September, 2000 and followed with programs on Costa Rica, China, Brazil, England and Germany.  We took our name from a 1948 song “Far Away Places with Strange Sounding Names ”. Since then we’ve visited every continent and places from Alaska and Greenland to Antarctica. Our final program was Soleiman Kiasatpour’s fascinating talk on Morocco in April. 2018

In February, 2003 we launched a companion series “Kentucky Live, southern Culture at Its best!” with a program on Jonesville & Shake Rag: Historic Black Community of Bowling Green from Maxine Ray and Dr. John Long, Department Head of Philosophy & Religion. Programs on photographers, artists, poets, writers, restaurants, historians, bourbon, coal mining,  the Derby and virtually every iconic Kentucky product from the Louisville Slugger to Fruit of the Loom Underwear, and the Corvette followed. Our final program this April was from J.D. Wilkes founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band.  What a great way to end.

None of this would have possible without our genial hosts Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Special thanks to Jennifer Bailey, David Hollifield and before them Natalie Boddeker and David Coverdale and all of your fine staff for setting up all those chairs and ordering all those books and helping us promote these programs.

Thanks also to Dr. Richard Weigel, Professor of History who edits the Book Page for the Bowling Green Daily News for running so many reviews of books from our featured speakers.  The attention you focused on many regional authors was very much appreciated by them and by us.

David Keeling, Michael Trapasso, John Dizgun and Haiwang Yuan, and so any others from around the country and beyond—world travelers all—thanks for so many exciting evenings.

To our sponsors Coca Cola, Trace Die Cast, Integra Bank and the Friends of WKU Libraries—we appreciated your interest and support.

To former Deans of WKU Libraries Mike Binder and Connie Foster—thanks for your interest and support.

Finally—thanks to our series team over two decades—Peggy Wright, Bryan Carson, Haiwang Yuan, Daniel Peach, Eric Fisher, Ryan Dowell, Shaden Melky, Jennifer Wilson, Christopher McConnell and a host of talented DLPS Office Assistants and Students.

Hasta luego,

Brian Coutts, Moderator

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Rosemary Meszaros Receives National Award

Rosemary Meszaros, Professor and Coordinator of Government Information and Law, in the Department of Library Public Services at WKU since 1998 was honored on Sunday, June 24, 2018 with one of the American Library Association’s, Government Documents Round Table’s highest honors, the ProQuest/GODORT/ALA “Documents to the People” Award.  The award which consists of a cash prize of $3,000 goes to an individual, institution or library that has most effectively encouraged the use of government documents in support of library service.  A reception was held at the Louisiana Supreme Court Building, 400 Royal Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Rosemary received her MLS from LSU’s School of Library and Information science and an MA in history from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Prior to coming to WKU she worked at Boston University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In 2015 the Federal Depository Library for the Second Congressional District of Kentucky celebrated its 80th Anniversary.

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Special Collections Gains Oral History Accreditation

Western Kentucky University’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, a part of the Department of Library Special Collections, was recently granted accreditation status by the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC). Archives that receive accreditation serve as “permanent repositories for oral history collections, which KOHC sponsors through grant awarded funds.” With its newly appointed status, the Folklife Archives joins a group of state-recognized institutions dedicated to the long-term care, preservation, and maintenance of regionally-specific oral history projects. These projects, conducted by professional and amateur researchers, highlight the nuanced and complex issues surrounding community, identity, heritage, and tradition throughout the commonwealth. Accreditation is granted for a five-year period, after which the institution must re-apply.

The accreditation certificate issued to Manuscripts & Folklife Archives by the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

“Having accredited repositories available throughout the Commonwealth is an important asset to the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC). Preservation and statewide access are two of our keystone values, and WKU is now our western-most accredited institution. The KOHC has enjoyed a long and happy relationship with Western Kentucky University, and this distinction will only strengthen it,” said Sarah Schmitt, current Oral History Manager at the Kentucky Historical Society.

The application process, which was completed over the span of several months by Jonathan Jeffrey, the Department Head of Library Special Collections, and Delainey Bowers, a graduate student in the Folk Studies program, emphasized the Folklife Archives’ commitment to creating a repository, both as a physical space and as an online environment that values progressive storage policies and practices. With more than 5,000 audio recordings in analog form—including oral histories on reel-to-reel audiotapes and cassettes, as well as born-digital materials—the Archives places an importance on making collections available and easily accessible to the public. Through the use of online platforms, such as WKU’s TopSCHOLAR and Pass the Word, a KOHC-sponsored discovery tool geared towards oral history collections throughout the state of Kentucky, the Folklife Archives continues to prioritize recorded content in progressive and meaningful ways.

“I’m pleased that we have attained accreditation and met the standards set by KOHC’s progressive leadership. Kentucky has long boasted one of the country’s finest oral history programs. WKU’s Folk Studies and Anthropology and History departments have helped us amass a significant collection of audio material that document the Commonwealth’s folklore and history,” said Department Head Jonathan Jeffrey. Significant aid for this project came from former Folk Studies and Anthropology Department Head, Dr. Michael Ann Williams, current Folk Studies Director, Dr. Ann Ferrell, Director of the Kentucky Museum and Kentucky Folklife Program, Brent Bjorkman, Dean of Libraries, Susann DeVries, Library Systems Office Coordinator, Michael Moore, Provost, David Lee, and the Potter College of Arts and Letters.

According to Ferrell, “The Folklife Archives at WKU was started in 1953 by renowned folklorist D.K. Wilgus who taught in our program at that time. It includes collections completed by students and faculty since then, including retired Professor Lynwood Montell, as well as the collections of the Kentucky Folklife Program, which moved from Frankfort to WKU in 2012. We are thrilled about the receipt of this accreditation, as it will open further opportunities for the deposit of materials of regional significance.”

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, housed in the Kentucky Building, has been collecting material related to the history and culture of Kentucky since the late-1920s. The Department has three units: the Kentucky Library, Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, and WKU Archives.

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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”

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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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