Monthly Archives: February 2010

What’s in a Name?

A postcard to Mary Lou

A postcard to Mary Lou

Sometimes, postcard collections donated to WKU’s Special Collections Library have a specific theme.  A handful of 10 from collector James H. Holland, for example, were mostly scribbled by merchants in Lexington, Winchester and Somerset during the 1880s to arrange for the delivery of whiskey, hemp seed or tobacco.  But among them is one addressed anonymously to Miss Mary Lou Barker of Lexington and posted from Maysville in the early 1900s.

“A mystery solved,” its writer declares.  “Coming in on the bus this morning, it was my good fortune to be seated by a sweet little girl of about two years of age.  She soon made friends with me,” the card relates, until, growing sleepy, she “nestled her head against me and I loved her all the more.”  Puzzled at the source of such sweetness, the writer soon found a simple answer.  “The veil was lifted, the cloud vanished–the mystery was solved, for her name was Mary Lou.”  Left to us is the small mystery of this turn-of-the-century token of affection, written by someone to a little girl named Mary Lou.

To learn more about our postcard collections, search for “postcards” in KenCat.


Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Build It with Clay

child building a clay vesselLooking for a fun activity for your child over Spring Break? Does your son or daughter have a creative side they need to explore? Register them for the Hand Building with Clay workshop at the Kentucky Library & Museum the week of April 5th – 9th. Taught by area ceramicist Laura Bain-Selbo, participants will learn various techniques and make both decorative and functional ceramic pieces. Designed for children in grades 1 through 5, the camp runs from 8 a.m. to Noon, and after camp care is available from Noon to 4 p.m.

More information.


Filed under New Stuff

Quilting Workshop at the Kentucky Museum

Learn to piece together nine-patch quilt designs with quilter Nancy Baird. Workshop will take place on March 27 from 9-3. Registration is $15 and includes material. Email for more info.

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Filed under Events

Beulah Collins Ellis Autograph Books

Edgar Cayce Autograph
Beulah Collins Ellis attended the Southern Normal School and kept two autograph books.  The first book has a padded cover of brown cloth and is in fragile condition. The majority of the autographs date to 1902 and 1903. Mrs. Ellis’ daughter Lena wrote in the book in 1922. Of special note is an inscription by Edgar Cayce:

“To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day. That you will be true to others. Your friend, Edgar Cayce, BG, September 17, 1902”

The Kentucky Library & Museum also holds papers regarding Edgar Cayce and his activities in Bowling Green.

The second autograph album dates from 1904-1907 and is autographed by natives of Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

Both books have been scanned and are available on TopScholar.  These and other records are available for researchers in the Kentucky Library & Museum.

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Filed under University Archives

Western Kentucky University Hosts US Bank Celebration of the Arts

US Bank Celebration of the Arts PosterThe US Bank Celebration of the Arts exhibit opens Sunday, February 28 at the Kentucky Museum. The exhibition, which runs through April 3, is the largest of its kind in South Central Kentucky.

“Our bank is proud to once again be the title sponsor for Celebration of the Arts,” said Craig Browning, Regional President for US Bank. “This art show has become a pinnacle event for many regional artists over the years. We’re pleased to partner with WKU and the Kentucky Museum to offer this unique and valued exhibit to our region.”

The art show originated in US Bank’s downtown office several years prior to its current location at the Kentucky Museum. According to Browning, they were forced to face a critical reality after the 1999 show—it had outgrown the facility. Being an Advisory Council member of the Kentucky Museum at the time, he approached museum officials about the possibility of taking ownership of Celebration of the Arts. The rest is history.

“The museum is absolutely the right venue,” said Browning. “The building is absolutely beautiful, the space is more appropriate for a show this size, and one of the things I’ve been most pleased with is the length of time the artists’ work is on display. The bank was only able to display this magnificent show for a few short days. The Kentucky Museum has been able to incorporate this show as a major draw for more than a month.”

“We look forward to this show every year,” said Timothy Mullin, Director of the Kentucky Library & Museum. “It’s well-received with hundreds of wonderful pieces displayed by community people as well as WKU faculty and students.”

This year’s exhibition has more than 360 entries said Donna Parker, Exhibits Curator for the Kentucky Museum. “We’re pleased that so many regional artists participate in the show. It’s truly a summary of the tremendously talented individuals we have within our area,” said Parker.

Parker said art show patrons will see a wide array of art pieces that are divided into seven categories: painting, watercolor, works on paper, fiber arts, ceramics and glass, sculpture and photography. All artwork will be judged in amateur or professional divisions in each respective category.

US Bank Celebration of the Arts is an open art exhibition for Kentucky residents, 18 and older, within a 65 mile radius of Bowling Green. Select works from the exhibit will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds from sales will benefit the Kentucky Library & Museum and the WKU Visual Arts Department Scholarship Fund. An opening reception will be held Saturday, February 27 for the artists and friends to enjoy the kick off and announce the top winners for each category. For more information, visit or call 745-6083.


Filed under Events, Latest News

A Jazz Age Memorial

Julian Whitfield Potter, 1889-1926

Julian Whitfield Potter, 1889-1926

It was the Roaring Twenties, and Bowling Green native Julian Whitfield Potter was riding high.  The son of prominent banker J. Whit Potter (for whom WKU’s Potter Hall is named), Julian served an apprenticeship with his father’s businesses before becoming vice president of the American National Bank at age 27.  Following service in the Naval Flying Corps during World War I, he headed for New York City to make a name for himself in commercial banking.  In 1923, at age 33, Julian Potter was elected president of the Coal and Iron National Bank.  As bankers are inclined to do, he was soon contemplating a merger of his firm with the Fidelity International Trust Corporation, a deal that would have put him at the head of one of the world’s largest financial institutions.

But it was not to be.  On New Year’s Day, 1926, after an eight-week bout with typhoid fever, 36-year-old Julian Potter died of pneumonia.  For his business colleagues in New York, memorials took the form of beautifully inscribed manuscripts forwarded to Potter’s mother in Bowling Green.  One arrived nestled in a polished wooden box, while another was in a slipcase edged with sterling silver from Tiffany & Co.  These are now in the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library, along with many other resources documenting the history and accomplishments of the Potter family.  For a finding aid, click here.


Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Author’s New Book Utilizes Kentucky Library & Museum Material

"Murder & Madness" by Matthew Schoenbachler

"Murder & Madness" by Matthew Schoenbachler

Matthew B. Schoenbachler, a history professor at Northern Alabama University, used materials from the Kentucky Library and the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives in writing his new book, Murder & Madness:  The Myth of the Kentucky Tragedy (University Press of Kentucky, 2009).  “The Kentucky Tragedy” refers to Jereboam O. Beauchamp’s murder of Colonel Solomon P. Sharp in Frankfort on November 7, 1825.  Schoenbachler deftly approaches the murder by examining the three parties involved:  Sharp, Beauchamp and the ever provocative Anna Cooke, whom he calls the “diminutive fury.”  It is a story of unbridled passion, romance and revenge.  The tale may resemble the plot of a modern romance novel, but it is a true tragedy whose chief characters hailed from southcentral Kentucky.  Within just a few short months, the three participants die:  one from murder, one from suicide, and one at the end of justice’s rope.

While conducting research at the Kentucky Library & Museum, Schoenbachler utilized Warren County and Logan County court records, including deeds, wills, tax lists, and circuit court cases.  He also used the personal papers of Joseph Underwood, Henry J. Fox, Joseph Younglove, and George D. Blakey.  The monograph’s bibliography demonstrates the author’s artful use of numerous primary source materials gleaned from the Commonwealth’s archival repositories.

Anyone remotely interested in “The Kentucky Tragedy” will find this book an interdisciplinary jewel, for the author weaves the historic warp with the literary line to create a beautifully crafted work.  Local readers will especially appreciate the detailed regional information Schoenbachler provides about the incident’s three main characters and its lesser known participants.   Literary history enthusiasts will laud the author’s effort to authenticate the use of the “Tragedy” in mid-19th century American literature, as well as the incident’s most famous and strict interpretation found in Robert Penn Warren’s World Enough in Time (1950).  Surely “The Kentucky Tragedy” is representative of the Commonwealth’s mid-19th century history, one brimming with politics, passion and hyperbole.

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Filed under Events

Anna Murl Fisher Scrapbook

Homecoming Poster

Homecoming Poster

Anna Fisher of McHenry, Kentucky attended WKU and graduated in the Class of 1932. This scrapbook includes unique items not found elsewhere in the University Archives collections including a homecoming poster for WKU vs University of Louisville football game and game program for WKU vs Cumberland College, 1928.

Anna Fisher went on to teach at Bunker Hill in Equality, Kentucky. A scrapbook she kept during those years “Memories of Bunker Hill School, 1929-1930” is also available in the Kentucky Library Call # SBK166.  Ask to see it in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Building.

Check out this and similar student/alumni collections in TopScholar.


Filed under University Archives

Far Away Places: Dr. Saundra Ardrey on Ghana

Dr. Saundra Andrey speaking about GhanaDr. Saundra Ardrey, Head of the Department of Political Science at WKU, spoke about Ghana in this month’s Far Away Places series at Barnes & Noble. Her lecture is part of the international talk series sponsored by the Friends of WKU Libraries and the Kentucky Museum.  Dr. Ardrey led a study abroad delegation from WKU to Ghana in 2009.  She’s partnering with the village of Sanka and with the village elders to provide needed resources for the village.

Dr. Ardrey received her PhD from Ohio State for her research on “The Political Behavior of Black Women in the South.”  She’s taught at Furman University in South Carolina and at the Washington Center for Internships and Seminars before joining the faculty of WKU in 1988.  She’s  co-founder of the institute of Civic and Social Responsibility.

More Photos | Podcast | Audio File


Filed under Events

The Stars of Spring: A Nine Patch Quilting Workshop with Nancy Baird

9patchExplore your creative side. Join quilter Nancy Baird in piecing together a variety of nine patch designs to create a wonderful wall hanging or table runner! All fabric will be provided. Participants must bring their own sewing machines, pins, and white or tan thread.

Time and Place: Saturday, March 27
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Kentucky Library & Museum

Cost: $15. Pre-registration is required. Want to reserve a spot? Call 270.745.6263, or email

Workshop flyer

Join quilter Nancy Baird in piecing together a variety of nine patch designs to create a wonderful wall hanging or table runner!

All fabric will be provided. Participants must bring their own sewing machines, pins, and white or tan thread.

Cost: $15
Pre-registration is required.

Call 270.745.6263 or email


Filed under Events