Monthly Archives: February 2012

Herbert A. Oldham interview preserved in Folklife Archives

Herbert A. Oldham's high school photo

Herbert A. Oldham’s high school photo

A student intern in the Folklife Archives of WKU’s Special Collections Library has recently transcribed the tape of a 1993 interview with Herbert Alexander Oldham (b. 1932), an African American and native of Christian County, Kentucky who grew up in Memphis Junction and Bowling Green.  A 1951 alumnus of State Street High School, Oldham graduated from St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina, then returned to Bowling Green for a career in teaching and administration that included service as principal of High Street Elementary School.

Oldham’s interview includes his memories of the African American educational experience in Bowling Green.  “I lived in a kind of communal community where I had white friends and black friends,” he recalled.  “We played together all day long.  We would leave home together in the mornings going to school and we would walk up Main Street to Center Street.  We got to Center Street, and my white friends went to Bowling Green High School.  I turned left on Center and went to State Street.  In the afternoon, we’d meet on the same corner and we come on back home.”  Oldham remembered not being able to eat at the Woolworth’s food counter and using segregated seating in the balcony of the local movie theater.  He also recalled Bowling Green’s thriving African-American businesses, especially along Main Street between Clay and Kentucky Streets.

Although Oldham went to college “as far from Bowling Green as I could get,” he fulfilled his intention to return home, where he taught science and coached at High Street School and at Bowling Green High School.  After WKU permitted African Americans to enroll, Oldham earned his master’s degree and returned to High Street School as its principal.  His long career in education ended with his retirement in 1993.

The complete transcript of Herbert Oldham’s interview can be downloaded by clicking here.  Search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat for more resources on African Americans in Bowling Green and Kentucky.

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The Richardson Quilt Gallery Opens with Ribbon Cutting


The Kentucky Museum welcomed its newest exhibition, The Richardson Quilt Gallery, on Friday, February 24 with a Chamber Ribbon Cutting and reception for about 75 quilt enthusiasts, friends of the Kentucky Museum, and family of Elizabeth Richardson–the woman responsible for acquiring the significant collection of quilts and textiles samples her daughter June McGuyer donated to the Kentucky Museum.

The program opened with remarks from the Chamber, followed by Kentucky Museum Director Timothy Mullin and ended with June McGuyer talking about her mother’s lifelong interest and affection for quilts. McGuyer donated the quilts in honor of her mother for preservation purposes and in hopes that others will be able to study and enjoy them as well.

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Bachelors Beware: It’s Leap Year!


Library Special Collections has numerous leap year postcards.

In the Jackson Gallery at the Kentucky Building, an exhibit of leap year postcards, comic valentines, dance cards, photographs, correspondence and ephemera focuses on American interpretation of leap year customs between 1850 and 1950. Invitations and newspaper accounts depict the concept’s use in 1888 as a focal point for social events.  Curator Sue Lynn McDaniel’s interest in American courtship customs first prompted her to collect and then donate many of the early-twentieth century postcards which evince the humorous way single females and males enjoyed the suggestion that usual courtship etiquette was suspended during leap years.  The exhibit runs through June 2012. For more information on Library Special Collections’ holdings, see:;keyword=leap%20year;dtype=d

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US Bank Celebration of the Arts Award Ceremony


More than 400 artists, family members and friends showed up Friday, February 24 for the US Bank Celebration of the Arts award ceremony and reception kicking off the largest art exhibition in the region. About 190 artists displayed more than 350 works of art in categories of Painting, Watercolor, Ceramics and Glass, Sculpture, Fiber Arts, Works on Paper, and Photography.

Interim Dean Connie Foster welcomed the group and US Bank representative Greg Wassom shared a few words on behalf of US Bank. Kentucky Museum Director Timothy Mullin announced the winners in each of the categories for both amateur and professional levels with Foster and Wassom assisting in award distribution.

Best of Show was awarded to Steve Clay with his sketching of Down the Drain and Jacqui Lubbers received the Purchase Award for her fiber arts A Come Apart.

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The Ralph Bunche School

Ralph Bunche (Library of Congress)

Ralph Bunche (Library of Congress)

Public supported education for African Americans in Barren County began inauspiciously in 1866, when the General Assembly earmarked a mere one-half of revenues generated from taxation of property owned by blacks for the support of black schools in Kentucky.  Although common school funds were later distributed to districts on a strictly per capita basis, black schools continued to struggle; the number of black elementary schools in Barren County declined from 27 in 1892 to 18 by 1931.

In Glasgow, the Glasgow Training School served black elementary students as a unit of the county system.  In the mid-1920s, the school added two years of high school work, which was soon expanded to four.  In 1950, the school became the first state-accredited, 12-year institution for black students in Barren County.  It was renamed the Ralph Bunche School in honor of Ralph Bunche (1904-1971), a political science professor, civil rights advocate, diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Today, the school is succeeded by the Bunche Center which, along with the Liberty District Association, seeks to aid and counsel high-risk youth and families.

In 2009, with funding from the Kentucky Oral History Commission, a WKU student interviewed 10 African Americans about their experiences at the Ralph Bunche School when it was still a segregated institution.  The seven women and three men talk about the school, its teachers, the values they learned there, segregation and attitudes toward African Americans, and the importance of the school to the community.  Their recorded interviews are part of the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid for the Ralph Bunche Community Center Oral History Project, and here for a related series of interviews about the Ralph Bunche National Historic District in Glasgow.  For more on African Americans in Kentucky, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Dave Isaacs Performs in Java City


Master musician from Nashville, Dave Isaacs, performed in this installment of our noon Concert series at the Java City in Helm Library on February 21, 2012.

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Buffalo Trace Distillery @ Kentucky Live! Series


This month’s “Kentucky Live!” series,  sponsored by  WKU Libraries and Barnes & Noble Booksellers, featured Amy Preske, PR and Events Manager of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin County, Kentucky. She shared the history of the nation’s oldest continuously operating distillery through a video and slides. She also brought bourbon candies for tasting and a gift basket of Buffalo Trace products as a door prize. The lucky winner was Rosemary Meszaros, Professor and Coordinator of WKU Libraries’ Government Documents.

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Nashville artist Dave Issacs performs at Java City today

The Spring Java City Concert Series continues at noon today with a performance by master musician from Nashville Dave Issacs.  Hailed as one of the most talented performers on the planet by, Dave is a world class guitarist who has played everywhere from dive bars to concert halls.

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Join Us for a Step Performance in ERC

This event has been canceled. We are sorry for the inconvenience this cancellation may cause you!

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Far Away Places: To Kill a Tiger: a Memoir of Korea

jidlee_s On the evening of Februrary 16, 2012, Professor Jid Lee from Middle Tennessee State University spoke about her book To Kill a Tiger: A Memoir of Korea, a personal narrative of her girlhood in a traditional South Korean family against the traumatic events of recent Korean history including the Japanese occupation. Her lecture is part of the Libraries’ Far Away talk series that take place monthly at Bowling Green Barnes & Noble Booksellers on Campbell Lane. The event concluded with book signing.

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