Monthly Archives: April 2011

SOKY Book Fest: A 13th Successful Event


The 2011 SOKY Book Fest, our 13th in a row, took place on Saturday, April 16, preceded by the Writers Conference and Children’s Day at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center on WKU’s South Campus. Headliners like Nicholas Sparks drew a big crowd to the event. They gave presentations and signed their books for hundreds of people.

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest is one of the state’s largest literary events and is presented by WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Held annually during National Library Week, the Book Fest appeals to thousands of readers of all ages who welcome the occasion to meet their favorite authors and purchase signed copies of their books.

Photo Albums: Headliners | Authors | PanelsAuthors’s Reception | Writers Conference | Children’s Day

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Local favorite Banjo Bill entertains the crowd at Java City

The Crowd at Java City was thrilled by local music legendbanjo bill3

and humorist “Banjo Bill” aka William Green

as he performed all of his favorites like “Bowling Green,”

“This All I Get For Looking Like Burt Reynolds?”

and “I want your blood” a vampire love song.

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Baptist Begat Both Bethels

Bethel College (Russellville)

Bethel College (Russellville)

Samuel Baker, a Baptist minister, is credited with initiating the scheme to begin two Bethel Colleges in southcentral Kentucky, one in Russellville for males and one forty miles west in Hopkinsville for females. Born in Sussex County, England in 1812, Baker emigrated to the United States in 1834 to study theology. He started his ministerial duties at Alton, Illinois in 1837, followed by pastorates in Missouri and Shelbyville, Kentucky.

In 1841, Baptists from Russellville aggressively recruited Baker to take charge of their fledgling church. The group “cordially” invited Baker “to take up his residence” and become their pastor for an annual salary of $600. The pastor search committee admitted that “the church has been long without pastoral supervision,” but assured the candidate of the church’s unity. The committee also informed Baker that they were willing to wait up to six months for him to settle his personal affairs in Shelbyville before assuming duties.

Baker remained at Russellville for five years before taking a similar position at Hopkinsville Baptist Church, where he served for four years. While at Hopkinsville, Baker chaired Bethel Association of Baptists’s education committee.  Under his leadership, the Association appproved the establishment of Bethel College in Russellville; it began operation in 1854. That same year Baker delivered an address at the Association’s annual meeting outlining the needs for a similar institution for young ladies. The Russellville school remained in operation until 1933; its female counterpart stayed open until 1964. Baker later served churches in Nashville, Williamsburg, NY, Chicago, Evansville and Brooklyn, New York. In 1873 he returned to the church in Russellville and pastored there until 1885.

The Kentucky Library and Museum owns a small collection of letters and documents that belonged to Baker. This material includes facsimiles of letters written by important Baptist leaders of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection also contains some of Baker’s personal correspondence related to his pastorates. The finding aid for this collection can be found here. For more information about Kentucky Baptists in the Kentucky Library & Museum collections search KenCat and TopSCHOLAR.

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Student’s Weekly

Students Weekly

The University Archives has completed digitization of the Students Weekly a publication that catered to the students of WKU, Bowling Green Business University and College High in the 1930’s.  We have an incomplete run for the period 1936-1939.  Items of interest beside school news are the ads for clothing, movies and interesting news tidbits.  The collection is available through TopScholar.  The originals are extremely fragile.  Researchers visiting the Kentucky Library and Museum will be asked to use the microfilm or digital copies.

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A Shaker Shakedown?

A $1000 note - or is it $100?

A $1000 note – or is it $100?

In spring 1827, John Boon took four flatboats of tobacco to New Orleans and made a killing.  His earnings of more than $6000 included two $1000 bills drawn on the Bank of the United States.  On the way home to Logan County, Kentucky, Boon instructed an agent to make a payment to Urban E. Johns, a member of the religious society of Shakers at South Union, for another boat that Johns had agreed to build for Boon at a cost of $110.  Unfortunately, the agent didn’t notice the extra zero on the bill, and paid Johns $1000 instead of the $100 intended.  A year and a half later, Boon discovered the error and sued the Shakers to get his $900 overpayment returned.

The claim was fabricated, answered nine representative Shakers on whom it had been served.  They lived and worked together for their economic as well as spiritual benefit, they explained, and the arrival of a $1000 windfall, dishonestly retained by a member, would have spread through the society like wildfire.  The con, they alleged, had been recently suggested to Boon by a disgruntled ex-Shaker.  Hoping that the society, already sensitive to public suspicion of its creed, would simply pay up to avoid bad publicity, he “hungrily caught at the bait.”

Boon misjudged the Shakers, who not only beat him in court but received judgment against Boon for their costs.  Along the way, the Shakers took particular exception to a state law passed in 1828 that allowed anyone with a money claim against them in excess of $50 to sue in chancery court in the absence of a jury.  Finding themselves singled out “as the peculiar object of legislative severity,” the Shakers protested bitterly that their constitutional protections had been unjustly diminished on account of their religion.

The documents relating to John Boon v. Society of Shakers at South Union are part of the Billy Holman Collection at WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid.  For more on the Shakers, search TopScholar and KenCat.

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Great Days and Great Performances at Java City

D - Lux Drian Crowd at Java City Concert

The beautiful weather brought a crowd to the patio outside Java City in Helm on Wednesday to hear Louisville based rappers D- Lux and Drian.

Zingara2 Zingara6

Last week featured a performance by belly dance troupe Zingara.  The troupe performed at Java City last year and is a University favorite.

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Figure It Out

Daniel Sutherland's ciphering book, 1825-1828

Daniel Sutherland’s ciphering book, 1825-1828

It is 1805.  Your task is to ascertain the weight of gold equivalent to a Spanish “piece of eight.”  Then you must convert English pounds to Virginia currency.  Master the addition, subtraction and multiplication of decimals.  Calculate simple and compound interest.  Determine the number of square feet in a circle.  Then solve one of those wonderful word problems to find the prices paid by a farmer who bought three items for X dollars, the second costing 4 times as much as the first and the third costing 5 times as much as the second.  No calculators, no computers, and only a candle to help your weary eyes.

If you were a diligent student of what was then known as ciphering, you first learned the rules for solving all these mysteries, copied them out in your ciphering book, then filled the rest of the page with practice exercises.

WKU’s Special Collections Library holds at least 20 such ciphering books in its collections.  Dog-eared and well worn, they date from as early as 1792 and document their owners’ struggles to understand the principles of mathematics, commerce, surveying and navigation.

Download .pdf files of John King’s 1831 ciphering book and John Bowles’ 1839 ciphering book.  For more, search TopScholar and KenCat.

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Janna McMahan @ Kentucky Live!


Award-winning Southern novelist Janna McMahan, a native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, spoke about her experience of the deep south during her writing career at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Bowling Green, Kentucky on the evening of April 17, 2011. Her presentation was part of the WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” talk series.

Photo Album | Audio | Podcast

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