Monthly Archives: September 2009

Lauren Conkin at Java City

Lauren Conkin Singer/songwriter/WKU student Lauren Conkin entertained the crowd at Java City today with her unique lyrics and melodic sounds.

Lauren’s Myspace


Filed under Events, Java City Concert, People



DSCN0825On Thursday, October 24, 2009 Dean Mike Binder, Library Public Services Head Brian Coutts and Rob Harbison toured the new WKU-O Building under construction with Owensboro Campus Director Gene Tice.  Scheduled to open on January 10, 2010 the 31,000 square foot structure will include 18 classrooms and a totally wireless environment.  The group reviewed plans for library services in the new building.  A Task Force has been appointed to plan for an opening day collection to be housed on the second floor of the Hartford Road structure.

Brian Coutts

DSCN0826 ~ DSCN0833

WKU Owensboro on Flickr.


Filed under Events

1833 Letter Describes Bowling Green’s Lost River Cave & Mill

1833 Joseph Baldwin letter

The Manuscripts & Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections has recently added this fascinating letter to our collection.  On May 19, 1833, Philadelphia merchant Joseph Trimble Baldwin, traveling through Kentucky on his way to Nashville, penned a letter to his young wife Louisa.  Beginning a long, uncomfortable stagecoach ride from Lexington, he had passed through Glasgow and arrived “in this distant region which is one of the most comfortless and sterile in Ky.”  A few miles from Bowling Green, however, he saw “one of the most interesting natural & artificial curiosities” he had ever experienced.  “[I]n one of the deep dells, with which this country abo[u]nds,” he wrote Louisa, “a very large spring rises from a depth which the proprietor informs me has not yet been fathomed” to “turn the water wheel of a grist mill situated at the mouth of the cave.”  From there, the flow of water disappeared into “a yawning cavern in the rocks, where it courses its devious way for more than a mile under the mountain, till it is finally lost amid its dark and inscrutable recesses.”  Looking into the cave from the main road to Nashville, which passed over the top of the mill, Baldwin found the view at first frightening, then fascinating as he learned more about the “fearful legends of the place.”  Waxing romantic, he noted that the “lugubrious sounds” of the turbulent water brought to mind the “moan & lament . . . of the uneasy–and sinful spirits whom we have been taught to believe are chained beneath earth’s centre–to atone for deeds of ill and thoughts of evil.”

A finding aid for Baldwin’s letter, together with a typescript, can be downloaded here.


Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Carlton Jackson & the Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers, 1952

The Hilltoppers, 1952

Jimmy Sacca, Billy Vaughn, Don McGuire and Seymour Spiegelman were students at Western Kentucky State College (now WKU).  In 1952 they hit the  big time as the Hilltoppers quartet with their song “Trying.”   The group had several more hits including “P.S. I Love You” and performed together through 1963.  Billy Vaughn went on to have a successful musical career with his orchestra.   The group was honored at WKU’s homecoming in 1972.  Check out the University Archives website: for more information regarding the group.

Carlton Jackson came to the WKU History department in 1960 where he served with distinction through 2001.  He is the author of nearly 20 books and innumerable articles which earned him the title Distinguished Professor of History. 

In 2003, he began researching the Hilltoppers.  Dr. Jackson met and corresponded with surviving members of the group and fans, including fan club president Bobbie Ann Mason.  The result was his book P.S. I Love You: The Story of the Singing Hilltoppers.  The research notes and correspondence he compiled along with the drafts of the book are now a part of the University Archives Faculty/Staff Personal Papers Collection.  Just processed, these papers are now available for researchers and fans interested in the back story of the Hilltoppers.  The finding aid is now available through TopScholar at:

If you have Hilltopper records, photographs or memorabilia that don’t appear in the finding aids, please contact the University Archives at 270-745-4793 or via email at

Check out KenCat to get information on other University Archives collections:

1 Comment

Filed under Events, University Archives

Duncan Hines Collection Used in National Web Site

Duncan Hines ice cream adUnveiled in early August,“The Story of Duncan Hines 1908 – Today” recently went online. Featuring images from the Duncan Hines Collection, this web site explores the history behind the Duncan Hines brand of food products, which is owned by Pinnacle Foods, a sponsor of the ongoing exhibit, Recommended by Duncan Hines.


Filed under Events

Writeup on Dress in Civil War Exhibit

Civil War Dress reproductionThe fall issue of Dress magazine includes a writeup on the reproduction of a Civil War era dress included in the A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky exhibit. Made by Dr. Martha Jenkins, a long time museum volunteer and retired faculty member from the Consumer & Family Sciences Department at WKU, the reproduction is based on a circa 1867 dress worn in Paris, Kentucky. Constructed from silk drapery fabric and other materials, this garment required more than 100 hours to research and reproduce.


Filed under Events

Footwear Featured in Knitting Magazine

stockingsA pair of brightly colored striped stockings are featured in an article in the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Knits. Written by Joanne Seiff, the author of several books on knitting and fiber production, the article explores the possibility that this footwear was made by Mrs. James M. Jones of Warren County, KY.

1 Comment

Filed under General

Tommy Womack at Java City

Tommy Womack Tommy Womack, well-known singer/songwriter/ Nashville recording artist and Bowling Green native performed his favorites for the crowd today on the Java City patio.

Photos of the event.


Filed under Events, Java City Concert

WKU Libraries Announces Third Winner of Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award

Book coverWestern Kentucky University Libraries has selected Sluggers #2: Horsin’ Around by New York Times bestselling writing team Loren Long and Phil Bildner as the winners of the third Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award. The national award was created to honor the memory of former WKU librarian, Evelyn Thurman, who made significant contributions to children’s librarianship and literacy during her 25 years of service to the university and community. Books eligible for the award must be written or illustrated by a Kentucky related author or illustrator or have a significant Kentucky related connection. Long, who is the illustrator for the book, was raised in Lexington, KY and graduated with a BA in Graphic Design/Art Studio from University of Kentucky.

Sluggers #2: Horsin’ Around is the second in a series of books about a baseball team, known as the Travelin’ Nine, that travels the country playing baseball and solving mysteries. According to Sean Kinder, chair of the selection committee, the committee was particularly impressed with the book for several reasons. “Sluggers #2: Horsin’ Around engages readers with its exciting plot, historical accuracy, excellent character development, and unique visual and graphic elements, all of which combine to make a compelling and satisfying reading experience,” said Kinder.

The author and illustrator have been invited to attend an awards luncheon in their honor at the Kentucky Library & Museum in November. Each will receive a monetary award and commemorative plaque. During their recognition visit, Long and Bildner will also visit local schools as a finale for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners’ weeklong Fall into Books program, which brings noted authors to area schools and also provides free books by the visiting authors to children. To learn more about the winning novel, go to For more information about the award, visit


Filed under Events

Sumpter Collection Expands

Irene Moss Sumpter

Irene Moss Sumpter

Irene Malone (Moss) Sumpter (1902-1996), a Warren County, Kentucky native and WKU graduate, was an author, genealogist and local historian.  She was a member of the Samuel Davies chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames of America for the State of Kentucky, the Warren County Historical Society, the Landmark Association and the Hobson House Association.  In 1954, for the benefit of their daughter Reta, she and her husband Ward Cullin Sumpter (1903-1977) completed a genealogical project entitled “Our Daughter’s Ancestry.”  In 1976, she published Our Heritage: An Album of Early Warren County Kentucky Landmarks, and in 1985 published Medical Doctors of Bowling Green and Warren County, 1796-1985.  Over many decades, Mrs. Sumpter collected research in support of her publications as well as genealogical materials — wills, deeds and other legal documents, family pedigree charts, photos, letters and news clippings — tracing the lineage of dozens of families, many with Warren County connections.  Most letters and legal papers are photocopies, but some, mainly those of the Watson and Coleman families that reveal their relationship to Texas politician Collin McKinney (1766-1861), a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico, are originals.

An earlier collection of Sumpter’s research, totaling more than 1,300 items and housed in WKU’s Special Collections Library, has now been supplemented by a second collection of more than 700 items.  Finding aids for both collections can be downloaded here and here.

Comments Off on Sumpter Collection Expands

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives