Monthly Archives: May 2011

Alfred Leland Crabb Papers Available for Research

“None of the life of a good man should be lost but should be preserved for the beneficent results it would give posterity.”     Alfred Leland Crabb

Alfred Crabb included the above epigram in a letter to a former student prior to being approached by Mary Leiper Moore, head of the Kentucky Library & Museum, about depositing his correspondence and manuscripts at WKU.  Although he taught at Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville for over twenty years, Crabb had deep ties to WKU.  He was born on 22 January 1884, the son of James Wade Crabb and Fannie (Arbuckle) Crabb in Warren County’s Girkin community.  He attended the Plum Springs Grade School and later matriculated at Bethel College in Russellville.  He received a life [teaching] certificate from Western Kentucky State Normal School in 1910.  From 1913 to 1927 he served on the faculty at Western.

After completing his doctorate at Peabody, Crabb accepted a faculty position there in 1927 and remained until his retirement in 1949.  He wrote extensively for scholarly journals and was editor of the Peabody Journal of Education from 1932 to 1967.  He is best remembered for his historical fiction novels about Civil War-era Nashville and middle Tennessee.  However, he never forgot Warren County.  Crabb wrote a number of “Plum Springs School” stories, several published in national periodicals, which recalled his early educational experiences.  He also published the locally popular Peace at Bowling Green, a saga that traced the Park City’s heritage from the 1790s to the Civil War.

Crabb’s manuscript collection consists chiefly of his published and unpublished writings, including a draft of Peace at Bowling Green.  Of interest is a large grouping of manuscripts entitled “Hilltop Stories” which are loosely based on his experiences as a student at WKU.  Anyone familiar with WKU’s history will recognize the professors Crabb creates and no one would fail to discern that the president of Hilltop Academy is based on Henry Hardin Cherry.  The collection includes one box of correspondence which includes a number of letters penned by Dr. Cherry as well as Thomas Crittenden Cherry, James Lewie Harman and J. Murray Hill, Sr., and other Bowling Green notables of the era.  Click here to see the finding aid for the Crabb Collection.  To look for other literary and historical collections in WKU’s Manuscripts & Folklife Archives search TopSCHOLAR and/or KenCat.

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It’s Magic!

From Bob Law's magic files

From Bob Law’s magic files

In 1951, 14-year-old Robert “Bob” Law of Franklin, Kentucky ordered a few items from Abbott’s Magic Novelty Company, including a “wacky wand” and an “applause card.”  The magic bug must have bitten hard, because he was soon corresponding with magicians’ clubs, associations and suppliers seeking membership information and more tricks of the trade.  The Lindhorst Magic Den in St. Louis sent him a price list for essentials such as a “spook hand,” a “comedy growing flower” and a break-apart beer bottle.  Bob obtained the secrets for performing such famous illusions as the “Hindoo rope trick,” a levitation routine called “Grant’s Miracle Suspension,” and the “Dagger Chest,” in which the head of a lovely female assistant appeared to take leave of her body.  Magicians across the country were friendly and helpful to the young man who wanted to join their ranks.  Jack La Wain (“The Mysterious La Wain”) signed off on a letter to Bob with this blessing: “May the Goddess of Magic smile upon you kindly as always is the sincere wish of the Old Mystic himself.”

Bob Law’s correspondence and magic trick secrets are part of the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here for a finding aid.  For more about our collections, search TopScholar and KenCat.

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Libraries’ Cravens Building Close at 1 and Reopen on Wednesday

We appreciate your forbearance during the past two very hot and humid days without air conditioning.  A transformer that controls the water pump has broken.  While it was hoped that the replacement part might arrive and be installed today it appears that the part may not arrive until tomorrow at the earliest leaving the building with no air conditioning until Wednesday.

We are therefore closing the Cravens Library effective at 1:00pm today and plan to reopen at 8:00AM on Wednesday.

I will continue to check on the progress of the arrival of the part and the installation, so please continue to check your email for updates in the event it is repaired earlier or it is delayed longer.

If you have any further questions please email

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WKU Confucius Institute Chinese Learning Center Opens in Helm Library


“Led by traditional Chinese Lion Dancers to summon luck and fortune, several hundred people entered Helm Library on Friday afternoon to participate in the new Confucius Institute Chinese Learning Center at WKU…” reported WKU News. Visit WKU’s Blog to read more of the news.

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Bowling Green Rotary Club Collection Now Available

Bowling Green Rotary Club's 1962 newsletter

Bowling Green Rotary Club’s 1962 newsletter

When 15 local citizens (including WKU’s alumni director, William J. “Uncle Billy” Craig) organized the Rotary Club of Bowling Green, Kentucky on September 1, 1920, they joined a nationwide network of clubs dedicated to the creed of “service above self.”  Since then, Bowling Green Rotarians have played a role in countless projects for the benefit of the community: road, hospital and airport development, children’s camps, school lunch and mentoring programs, and partnership with the Salvation Army, to name a few.  In order to carry out more effectively the responsibilities of commercial and civic life, the club deliberately cultivates members from a wide variety of businesses and professions.

WKU’s Special Collections Library now houses a large collection of materials documenting the history and activities of the Bowling Green Rotary Club.  Dating from the club’s organization to the present, this collection of more than 7,500 items includes minutes, correspondence, newsletters, programs, membership and project records, clippings and photos.  With future additions, the collection will serve as an ongoing record of the Rotary tradition of service and civic involvement in Bowling Green.

A finding aid for the collection can be downloaded here.  For more on local clubs and organizations at WKU’s Special Collections Library, search TopScholar and KenCat.

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WKU Libraries Said Farewell to Tracy Harkins


After her service as the Manager of Community Outreach for WKU Libraries for four years, Tracy Harkins left her position for another job on campus. WKU Libraries threw a  farewell party to thank her for her service on May 19, in Cravens 100.

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Kentucky Library is Well Guarded, Word

That was the headline of an article in the Students Weekly, October 31, 1935.  The reporter goes on to say:

“Shades of the two-headed dog, Cerebus guarding the gates of Hades an the dragon that guarded the golden fleece are recalled when one seeks to enter the treasure house of the Kentucky Library at Western.  Just above the door is an old muzzle-loader and swinging in the doorway is one of the largest hornets’ nest that has been one’s fortune to see.”

This and other articles about the WKU Libraries’ history are now available online in the first two library scrapbooks covering the period 1911 through 1959.  In addition to newspaper clippings, there are photographs of the library, faculty and staff members along with some biographical sketches of early librarians and staff. 

WKU Libraries Scrapbook 1 –

WKU Libraries Scrapbook 2 –

These and other records regarding the history of Western are available in the University Archives and online through KenCat.

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“We are going forward”

A postcard from Mia Kleijnen, 1945

A postcard from Mia Kleijnen, 1945

During World War II, Maria Jozefina “Mia” Kleijnen and her family lived in Heerlen, a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands.  When her country was freed from Nazi occupation in 1945, 19-year-old Mia wrote with relief to the family of George Grise in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  While serving in Europe, George had befriended Mia and her boyfriend Fritz Kraat, and George’s sisters Dorothy and Mary Ruth, his brother Richard, and his parents Mary and Finley Grise had also embraced the Kleijnens.  Mia’s letters to them, part of the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library, continued for more than 20 years.

Mia’s letters provide a portrait of an ordinary Dutch family grateful to have survived the war.  “The Americans are our liberators and friends and therefore we’ll always be thankful!” she declared.  The Grises sent gifts and other support, but immediate postwar conditions hampered the Kleijnens’ efforts to rebuild their lives.  Christmas gift-giving in 1945 brought Mia “2 pieces of soap, a pair of summer socks and a chocolat bar”–less than before the war, but much more, she admitted, than over the past five years of German occupation.  Other precious consumer goods were slow to reappear.  “I think whole Holland needs shoes,” Mia observed.  She had finally redeemed her ration ticket for a pair of “real leather shoes,” but laid aside her ticket for stockings as “they are not to get in no shop.”  Explaining to Dorothy Grise that fountain pens were only available on the black market at high prices, Mia asked if she could arrange to buy one–even a used one–from America for Fritz’s birthday.  Nevertheless, Mia was hopeful as she moved toward marriage and a family of her own in the postwar world.  “We are going forward, a little slow,” she wrote, “but we go.”

A finding aid for Mia Kleijnen’s letters to the Grise family of Bowling Green can be downloaded here.  For more on our collections, search TopScholar and KenCat.

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Potter College Class of 1903

These twenty ladies comprised the Potter College for Young Ladies Class of 1903. To date we have identified Mamie Johnston, Maud Cole, Celeste Cuthbertson and Hallie Brite.  As with many photographs in the WKU University Archives, we need your help to identify the remaining members of the class.  A larger version of this image is available online at: So take a closer look and let us know if you can identify anyone else. 

Check KenCat for other “unidentified” images and see if you recognize anyone.  It may just be you!

We have also digitized the extant Green & Gold Potter College student magazine published between 1902 and 1909.  We are missing the Vol. 3, No. 3 issue.  Please contact us if you have a copy to donate to the archives.

The Potter College yearbooks called Golden Rod and Talisman are also available online.

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WKU Libraries Gave Reception to Dr. Binder


On the afternoon of May 9, 2011, WKU Libraries gave Dr. Mike Binder, Special Assistant to the Provost and former Dean of Libraries, a reception for all he has done in the past 25 and a half years. Among the gifts was a memorabilia scrapbook photos. On behalf of Interim Dean Connie Foster and the employees of the WKU Libraries, Brian Coutts, Head of Department of Library Public Service, made a speech thanking Dr. Binder for his services and initiatives.

Photo Album


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