Daily Archives: April 15, 2010
On Wednesday, April 13, 2010, faculty of the Department of Library Public Services, WKU had their meeting and celebrated National Library Week at the Glasgow Campus Library. The event was coincided with a visit to the library by the mayor of Glasgow, Kentucky.
Kentucky did not maintain death records at the state level until 1911, but earlier records kept by municipalities can sometimes solve riddles for genealogists and other researchers. In the case of Bowling Green and Warren County, WKU’s Special Collections Library holds a unique collection of almost 3,500 “Return of a Death” certificates dating from 1877 to 1913.
Submitted to the city clerk in order to obtain a permit for burial within the city of Bowling Green, the Return of a Death certificate was filled in by both an attending physician and undertaker. Although many certificates are not complete in all respects, they offer information about the deceased including: date and cause of death, age, race, birthplace, residence, place of interment, and parents’ names (if the deceased was a minor). If the death occurred elsewhere and the remains were sent back to Bowling Green for burial, additional documentation from the place of death is frequently present.
Besides supplying genealogical data that might not otherwise be accessible, these death certificates provide a fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking glimpse at the types of disease and injury that afflicted local citizens and the frequency of child mortality in families during the late nineteenth century.
A complete alphabetical listing of Bowling Green, Kentucky death records (1877-1913), together with images of the records themselves, can be downloaded by clicking here.
One of WKU’s five founding institutions was the Southern Normal School and Business College, generally referred to as the Southern Normal. The teacher training school was founded by A.W. Mell and Tom Williams when they moved the Glasgow Normal School to Bowling Green in 1884. The University Archives holds some administrative records, publications, class lists and photographs for the school. An outline of sources and a finding aid are available online. These are available to researchers in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room Monday – Saturday 9 – 4.