Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Tragic Ending


Joe Bolton

Joe Bolton

Manuscripts & Folklife Archives in the Special Collections Library has recently opened the papers of Kentucky native and poet Joe Bolton, which includes his accumulated loose poems.  Bolton’s highly biographical poetry received widespread praise and was published in three compilations:  Breckinridge County Suite, Days of Summer Gone and The Last Nostalgia, as well as in a number of literary journals.  The Last Nostalgia was published posthumously and edited by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Donald Justice.

Joseph Edward Bolton was born on December 3, 1961 in Cadiz, Kentucky, the son of Ed and Nancy (Foster) Bolton.  His parents were schoolteachers.  Bolton attended public schools in Cadiz.  He started his college studies at the University of Mississippi but transferred to Western Kentucky University (WKU) the following year.  He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from WKU, where he also received the Jeoffrey McCelvey Memorial Award and the Gordon Wilson Award.  He then matriculated at the Univeristy of Floirda (UF), where he received a Master’s in English in 1988.  He also finished all the requirements for a MFA from the University of Arizona.  He did other graduate work at the University of Houston and UF.  For a brief period he taught creative writing at UF.  Bolton committed suicide on 30 March 1990.

Besides Bolton’s poetry, the collection features Donald Justice’s research notes and correspondence related to publishing The Last Nostalgia.  Justice corresponded with Bolton’s father Ed and with one of his close college friends, Tonya Parsons, who provided information about Joe’s life while attending WKU.  The correspondence contains biograpical information about Bolton and reveals how friends and family deal with suicide.  To see a copy of the collection finding aid click here.  To search for other literary collections held by Manuscripts & Folklife Archives search TopSCHOLAR.


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A 19th-Century Tweet

R. S. Griffith's American eagle, 1859

R. S. Griffith’s American eagle, 1859

What employee of a mercantile establishment hasn’t passed the time on slow days behind the counter by indulging in small diversions?  At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like the Stubbins & Lucas Pork House had any time to spare in 1859.  The Bowling Green firm maintained a high-volume business, supplying sides and shoulders of pork, bacon and ham, both to individuals and to the steady flow of steamboat traffic on the Barren River.

Nevertheless, clerk R. S. Griffith had a few moments to daydream between transactions.  With web surfing, e-mail and social media still 150 years away, his expressions took the form of some elaborate doodles in his account book.  One in particular showed his patriotic sentiments.  His representation of our national emblem came out looking more like a chicken than a bald eagle, but the message was sincere.  “E pluribus unum” declared the wingspread creature.  Beside it, Griffith wrote, “Where is the man in this land of freedom would see the feathers stripted [sic] from the American eagle”?  Not here, we presume.  And then, back to work.

A finding aid for the Stubbins & Lucas Pork House account book can be downloaded here.  For other collections in WKU’s Special Collections Library relating to Bowling Green businesses, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Preserving a Family’s Legacy

Louise Sauerland with LaVega & Maggie Clements

Louise Sauerland with LaVega & Maggie Clements

In the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library, volunteers provide invaluable assistance in helping us organize and process collections.  After we received a donation of approximately 14 boxes of papers, letters, photos and other memorabilia of the Clements family of Owensboro, the task of sorting, arranging and foldering some of this material was taken up by one of our longtime volunteers, Louise Sauerland.

When LaVega Clements, the patriarch of the family, died in 1938, he had practiced law in Owensboro for almost 50 years and was a respected public office holder and real estate investor.  Remembered by all as a “larger-than-life” figure, he furnished his spacious mansion, “Highland,” with hand-carved furniture, china and silver.  He and his wife Maggie, who he married in 1890, became the parents of nine children.  Although three of them died young and one fell victim to the World War I influenza epidemic, the Clements name was certain to live on through LaVega and Maggie’s descendants.

And the family’s history, through both good times and bad, has been preserved in the documents Louise is now sorting.  Not only are letters from all surviving children represented in the collection, Louise reports, but it includes love letters LaVega and Maggie wrote each other in the 1880s.  A detailed genealogy and history prepared by a granddaughter helps her keep track of the members of this devoutly Catholic family, and the lengthy date span of the correspondence has allowed her to experience the march of time–in the aging penmanship, for example, of two aunts as they progress from young women to centenarians.

When the Clements family papers are fully organized and processed and made available to researchers, it will be in no small part due to Louise’s patient efforts.  The Special Collections Library appreciates the contributions of all of our volunteers!

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Art students create sculptures from books for display in Helm Cravens

An Art Installation class led by WKU Associate Art Professor Kristina Arnold worked with WKU Libraries this past semester to create unique displays in the Helm-Cravens Library. Using discarded and withdrawn books, the art students designed and produced two displays. The first installed is above a line of computer stations on Cravens 4th floor exhibiting books falling and flying across the long wall and the second, a set of “tapestries” using book pages and beeswax to produce a translucent effect as the pieces hang in the Reference Area in Helm.
Art Installation at Helm CravensArt Installation at Helm Cravens

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Canadian Consul General Visits Bowling Green

Dr. Roy Norton, Canada’s Consul General for the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky visited Bowling Green on Monday, May 7 as part of a sweep through the western part of Kentucky. Headquartered in Detroit’s Renaissance Center the Consulate promotes Canadian interests-trade, investment, the environment, culture and academic relations in the region.

While here the Consul General spoke to the Chamber of Commerce, met with Congressman Brent Guthrie and was interviewed by local media for a TV special. More than 20 Canadian companies are located in this region.

DLPS Head Brian Coutts was a lunch guest of the Consul and they spoke about the Canadian Studies Program at WKU. The Consulate recently awarded a 2011-2012 Canadian Studies Library Support Program Grant in the amount of $2,502.25 to WKU Libraries.

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Kentucky Museum Quilts on Exhibit at National Quilt Museum

Kentucky Museum quilts at the National Quilt Museum

Kentucky Museum quilts on view at the National Quilt Museum

Two basket pattern quilts from the Kentucky Museum are featured in the “New Quilts from an Old Favorite 2012: Baskets & Antique Basket Quilts” exhibit at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah. On view through July 10, the exhibit explores the relationship between traditional and contemporary interpretations of the basket pattern. Learn more about the exhibit.

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“I read thirteen hours every day”

Arthur Fox Wood, Philadelphia medical student

Arthur Fox Wood, Philadelphia medical student

In July 1851, Mason County, Kentucky native Arthur Fox Wood (1829-1878) was trying to decompress after a summer of medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania.  Writing to a friend, his thoughts dwelled on topics common to all students: the relative benefits of life at home and at school, recreation, and his academic prospects.

Philadelphia hadn’t made the grade.  Rather than the “City of Brotherly Love,” Wood termed it the city of “fiends and Hell-hounds.”  The women were the “uglyest” on earth, and the abolitionist political atmosphere reeked of “yankee-land.”  As the summer temperatures rose, however, Wood concluded that it was best to follow “all the fashionables out of the City” to enjoy the sea breezes at Cape May, New Jersey.  “Let’s go down to the Cape,” he urged his friend, but promised not to pick up a glass of wine there until concluding his degree.

As for Wood’s education, the next phase of his studies involved sniffing “the sweet perfume” of sickness in the wards of the Pennsylvania State Hospital, keeping up with thirteen hours of daily reading, and passing the “dread ordeal” of examinations, held in the venerable Green Room of the medical school.  “I expect to pass,” he declared, but “if I fall; down I go forever–the examinations are very strict.”

Oddly enough, given his opinion of the city’s female population, Wood married a Philadelphia girl the following year.  More predictably, after graduation he left “yankee-land” to set up a medical practice in Mississippi.  After serving as a surgeon in the Confederate Army, Wood returned home to Belle Forest, his family’s estate in Mason County.

Arthur Fox Wood’s letter is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid and access a typescript.  For other collections relating to medicine and medical education, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Cookbook Authors at the 2012 Southern Kentucky Bookfest


Virginia Willis, Brian Coutts, and Maggie Green


Kentucky native Maggie Green and Georgia native Virginia Willis headlined the 9:00 a.m. session at this year’s Bookfest.

Maggie Green's Book Cover

The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook


Maggie Green, Brian Coutts

Green is the owner of The Green Apron Company, a Northern Kentucky consulting firm specializing in culinary nutrition and cookbook development.  Her newest book, now into its second printing, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2011.  She talked about organizing the more than 200 recipes by season, incorporating Kentucky-grown and produced food with lots of tips on buying everything from produce to wine and even the pros and cons of organic foods. In addition to writing her own cookbook she’s been working for the “Joy of Cooking Kitchen” since 2000 and served on the editorial staff for the 75th Anniversary edition and answers email for their web site.  She’s recently launched a cookbook “camp” for would be authors. She writes a wonderful blog at: where she interviews famous cookbook authors.


Virginia Willis



Bon Appetit, Y'all

Basic to Brilliant Y'all

Basic to Brilliant Y'all









Virginia Willis, is a native of Evans, Georgia where she gained her love of cooking from her grandmother.

She spent three years in France and is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne.  Stateside she’s worked as TV Kitchen Director for Bobby Flay and later for Martha Stewart

and was the executive producer for the Discovery Channel’s Epicurious.  Moving back to Atlanta she wrote her first cookbook  Bon Appétit Y’All in 2008 followed in 2011 by Basic to Brilliant Y’All both of which have been nominated for best cookbook awards.  Virginia talked about taking 150 refined southern recipes with suggestions on how to dress them up for company.  Virginia spoke about her March trip to the Paris cookbook fair where she demonstrated her “shrimp and grits” and about a visit to the White House where chefs from around the country were invited to promote First Lady Michelle Obama’s child nutrition initiatives.  She was recently named a contributing editor of Southern Living. She teaches cooking classes around the country and shares some great recipes at:



DLPS Department Head Brian Coutts moderated the session.


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Dean’s Office Says Farewell to Graduating Student Assistant


Staff from the Office of the Dean of WKU Libraries said goodbye to their graduating student assistant Cassandra Matthews at a lunch party in the Olive Garden Restaurant on May 7, 2012.

Cassandra has been working in the Dean’s Office for the last three and a half years, specifically helping with the Southern Kentucky Book Fest project. Her work ethnic and her smile will be missed by everyone in the office.

As a token of thanks, the office staff gave her a memorabilia to take away with her: a framed poster of an artfully rendered map of the WKU campus.

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WKU Students Receive Undergraduate Library Research Awards


Bowling Green, Kentucky – Western Kentucky University students Christina Costa from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Dominique Dillard from Louisville, Kentucky, were each given an undergraduate research award at a recognition ceremony in Helm Library on Thursday, April 26.  WKU Libraries and WKU University Experience faculty teamed up last year to begin offering the awards in an effort to recognize the important role of good undergraduate research in college academic success.

“It’s important for students to recognize the role research plays in their college experience and we try to do that as a part of the University Experience course,” said Sara McCaslin, University Experience Coordinator.

Dillard, a first-year student from the University Experience class at South Campus, was recognized for the best career essay. Costa, a second-year student from the University Experience class on the main campus, received an award for the best annotated bibliography.

According to Costa, who is currently undecided on her major, the experience was a positive one. “I greatly enjoyed researching for the annotated bibliography. It gives me a new avenue to explore for my future,” says Costa.

“Students and teachers in entry level courses need encouragement to keep going for the long stretch,” said Carol Watwood, WKU librarian and selection committee chair. “It is a great privilege to work with young people in higher education and watch them succeed.”

Dillard’s University Experience instructor was Kim Cunningham at South Campus and Costa’s was Paula Trafton on the main campus. Both students received a $100 cash award along with a plaque honoring their achievements. The winning documents, along with past recipients, are posted in TopSCHOLAR–WKU’s research and creative activity database–at For more information, contact Carol Watwood, chair of the Research Award Committee, at 270-745-6977.

For details, contact Jennifer Wilson by telephone at 745.6977 or email at

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