Kentucky Library & Museum Manuscripts Used to Pen Biography of Author and Suffragist

Book coverLynn E. Niedermeier, archival assistant in WKU’s University Archives, has written a biography of Eliza Calvert Hall which has recently been published by the University Press of Kentucky. Hall (1856-1935) was an author, poetry, essayist, and folk art historian. She is best known for her several collections of short stories about an inimitable character known as Aunt Jane of Kentucky. Her books are said to have had a contemporary readership estimated at one million people.

Hall is also known as a significant Kentucky suffragist, joining the ranks of Laura Clay and Josephine Henry in the fight for women’s suffrage and equality. The book jacket declares: “While her passionate essays served as a direct appeal for this cause, her creative writing also carried a feminist spirit, celebrating the strength, humor, love, and art of the common woman.”

Niedermeier mined the rich resources of the Kentucky Building to assist her in writing the biography. “Several manuscript collections housed at WKU’s Kentucky Library & Museum,” noted the author, “were indispensable to the writing of this book. Most notably, the Calvert-Obenchain-Younglove collection which contains many of Eliza Calvert Hall’s poems and suffrage articles and scores of her letters, as well as letters and journals kept by members of her family.” Additional collections that were helpful in piecing together the story of Eliza’s life included: Clarence Underwood McElroy Collection, Presbyterian Church records from Bowling Green, the John B. Rodes Collection, the Mackie Bennett Collection, and Henry Hardin Cherry’s Papers which are housed in University Archives.

A public book signing for this new work will be held on November 8 at the Kentucky Building from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.

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