Monthly Archives: September 2011

Lonesome Liz charms crowd at latest Java City Noon Concert

Lonesome Liz at Java City Fall 2011

The lunch-time crowd at Java City was treated to the sometimes sassy, sometime sultry, soulful sounds of singer/songwriter “Lonesome Liz” also know as Elizabeth Bissette.  Ms Bissette, currently living in Bowling Green, performed a musical cornucopia  of tunes ranging from 1930s blues to modern pop to her own distinctive originals.

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Heads Up!

Henry Clay Monument

Clay Monument Association Fundraising Chain Letter

Manuscripts Technician Donna Lile came across an unusual piece of undated correspondence while processing the Fennell Papers which document a prominent Cynthiana, Kentucky family. The undated letter’s first sentence is slightly unnerving. It reads:  “The Clay Monument Fund Association proposes to take subscriptions to accumulate a fund to place the head on the monument of Henry Clay.”

Henry Clay died in Washington, D.C. on June 29, 1852. A group of his Lexington friends resolved “that a NATIONAL MONUMENT OF COLOSSAL PROPORTIONS” be erected to commemorate “the virtuous deeds of his long and glorious life.” Eleven days later, Clay’s funeral service was conducted in front of his beloved Ashland before 30,000 people. From there, the body was moved with great fanfare and respect to Lexington Cemetery. The monument was completed on July 4, 1861 and featured a large marble statue of Clay carved by William Struthers of Philadelphia atop a 130 foot column. Clay’s remains were not moved inside the monument until his wife’s death in 1864.

On July 21, 1903 a terrible storm hit Lexington and the local paper reported that “not even the sacred effigy of Henry Clay could escape its malignant fury.” After being hit by lightning, the 350-pound sculpted marble head of the Clay staute fell and embedded intself in six inches of earth. The statue remained embarrassingly headless for several years. The Monument Fund Association sent out a “chain system” letter, such as the one found in the Fennell Collection, soliciting funds to replace the head. The letter entreated recipients to “mail ten cents, or any amount over ten cents, with this letter…to the Secretary and Treasurer…and write three distinct copies of this letter, signing your name and send them to three of your friends who will be interested in this movement.” Their efforts were largely unsuccessful, and the head was not replaced until the General Assembly appropriated $10,000 for the work.

Sculptor Charles J. Mulligan of Chicago was commissioned to replace the older Clay statue with a sturdier specimen. The new statue was hoisted into place in May 1910. Only a few months later, lightning again hit the Clay statue causing considerable damage. The General Assembly came to the rescue with $10,000 for repairs. The Mulligan piece was restored most recently in 1975, and rededication speeches were made on July 29, 1976. To see the Fennell Family finding aid click here.

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Louisa May Alcott: Wrote That? Gothic and Satiric Alcott


Dr. Sandra Hughes discussed 19th-Century gothic novels including Alcott’s little-known thrillers Behind a Mask: or A Woman’s Power and A Long and Fatal Love Chase at the Western Room in the Kentucky Building on the evening of September 27, 2011. This presentation was part of the SOKY Read! program co-sponsored by the SOKY Book partners consisting of WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

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SOKY Reads! Alcott Series Continues Tonight

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman behind Little Women

Jennifer Walton-Hanley (left) and Dr. Dorothea Browder (right)

This past Thursday, September 22, SOKY Reads! presented “Louisa May Alcott: Literary Phenomenon and Social Reform.” Dr. Dorothea Browder discussed the role of women in 19th-Century America, while Jennifer Walton-Hanley discussed how Alcott’s novel Work: A Story of Experience influenced women’s rights and responsibilities beyond the family.

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Students Drummed with TN’s Tuatha Dea Band at Java City


Last Thursday the folks attending the University Libraries  Noontime Concert Series at Java City were given a unique musical experience. Originally from Gatlinburg, TN, Tuatha Dea first began with a group of close friends gathering together once a week to drum for fun in 2009. Soon after the band began to write original music and playing at local social gatherings. As they began to build a small local fan base it was decided to try their hands at taking the show out into the public eye. They eclectically mix Scotts Irish, new age, traditional and modern rock standards like “White Rabbit” and the Cranberries’ “Zombie.”  On Thursday, they engaged the crowd in a collective drumming experience celebrating Native American songs and chants. The concert was co-sponsored by the Downing University Center.

Photo Album | Video

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SOKY Reads! Alcott series continues.

Louisa May Alcott:Through her Eyes presentation at KYLM

KYLM director, Timothy Mullin, answers questions about the Civil War Exhibit on display at the KY Museum

Tuesday night’s SOKY Reads! presentation on Louisa May Alcott focused on her experiences as a nurse during the Civil War.  Readings from her non-fiction work, Hospital Sketches, gave attendees a sense of life on the home front during the war, something noticeably absent from Little Women, her most famous work set during the same time period.  The series continues tonight at the Kentucky Museum with a discussion of the role of women in the 19th Century and the influence of Alcott and her work on women’s rights and responsibilities.  The discussion will be led by Dr. Dorothea Browder and will begin at 6pm.

Click here for more photos.

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150 Years Ago Today

Remnants of the Civil War fort on WKU's campus, about 1907

Remnants of the Civil War fort on WKU’s campus, about 1907

On September 22, 1861, William Howard wrote a letter to his family in Caldwell County.  A private in the 3rd Kentucky Infantry, Howard was with the first wave of Confederate troops who arrived in Bowling Green four days earlier from Camp Boone, Tennessee to begin a five-month occupation of the city.  “We are encamped at Bolen Green in Ky. Warren Co.,” he reported, and thanked his family for the socks he had received just prior to departing from Camp Boone.

Of Bowling Green, Howard wrote that “Union men here are as thick as dog hair”; nevertheless, he pronounced himself ready for a fight against the “Lincolnites.”  Over the next few months, he vividly depicted the trials of camp life for the ordinary soldier.  Like many of his comrades, Howard grew tired and ill as he helped to build fortifications in cold, rainy weather, and he watched as the “heep of sickness in camp” took its toll.  Early in November, he reported that deaths in his brigade were averaging about one per day, with 38 dead since their arrival.  The Yankees never showed up for battle, but in January 1862 Howard still believed that there would “be a big fight in Ky” before too long, “and then peace.”

When he wrote on September 22, Howard was apprehensive about the future, telling his family that “its extremely doubtful about us ever meeting again.”  He was right.  He died in Mississippi on February 12, 1863.

The letters of William B. Howard are part of the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid.  For more on our extensive Civil War collections, click here or search TopScholar and KenCat.

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Tyler Matl performs original music at Java City

Tyler Matl at Java City Spet. 2011Lexington Native, Tyler Matl performed for an appreciative crowd yesterday at Java City.  Matl, now based out of Nashville, played all original material in the latest in te Java City Noon Concert series.  Don’t forget, there is a special 2 hour performance by Tuatha Dea today at Java City- Helm.  Tuath Dea is co-sponsored by DUC.

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Jeanetta Bunch

Jeanetta Bunch

What is it?

A small homemade booklet written and illustrated by Mary Helena Callas about her class mates at the WKU Training School in 1936. It includes brief sketches of students Jeanetta Bunch, Junior Caldwell, Ruth Claypool, Florene Durham, Spencer D., Jake Evans, Norman Emmick, Julian Fitzpatrick, Jessie Fleenor, Mary Ford, Mary Graham, George Grise, Patricia Hollan, Willard Howell, Alma Jones, Leonard Kington, Kenneth Mason, David Mathews, Howard Mathews, Francis Mathews, Nancy Mathews, W.L. Mathews Jr., Elizabeth McChesney, Kenneth McChesney, Guilia McGinnis, Craig Middleton, Thelma Myers, Mary Oliver, Pattie Pemberton, Marie Pennington, Annie Phelps, Ray Purvis, Haydn Richards, Hilda Riggs, Alma Runner, Raldon Smith, Joanna Smith, Margaret Thomas, Winifred Wilson, William Whitney, Rodney Whobrey, Frank Yarbrough and Cecele York.

There is no explanation of what the title means, if anything. NERTS is just one of the many one of a kind items in WKU Archives. It is now available online at: 

Check out other unique items at KenCat.

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Plastic Friends Band at Java City

Plastic Friends

Local Bowling Green band “Plastic Friends” really wowed the crowd at Java City today with their tight, well-constructed alt-rock sound.  Plastic Friends performed an acoustic set today with Matt Long on lead guitar, Will Perkins on guitar and vocals and Justin Mutter on conga.

Plastic Friends Band

Today at Java City, Nashville singer/songwriter Tyler Matl performs at noon.

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