Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pass the Word

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives division of the WKU Special Collections Library recently made its inaugural entry to the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s (KOHC) Pass the Word project; the first of more than 500 collections containing thousands of individual interviews that the library intends to contribute to the project.  The first entry, Donald A. Beisswenger’s folk studies project titled “White Gospel Music in Logan County, Kentucky”, includes five interviews with Jeff and Gwen McKinney and Chester Whitescarver, detailing their memories of “singing schools” in and around Logan County.  The schools usually lasted ten days and were most often sponsored by and held in churches in the rural south, including Kentucky, and culminated in day long gospel singing events, sermons, and dinner-on-the-grounds.  Amateur singing groups often resulted from the schools, and participated in competitions at the community, state and national level; however, the typical result was the personal satisfaction of learning to read music and sing during church services.  People of all ages participated in the singing schools which were usually held in the fall after the harvest and served as both an opportunity for entertainmnet as well as instruction in the basics of reading music and voice.

“Older people such as my parents told me how everybody used to go to singing schools, anxious to go.  It was like that when I was growing up; no entertainment at home.  There was usually a singing school somewhere about every month when I was young.”  Chester Whitescarver

Since 1976, the HOHC has supported the creation of oral history recordings throughout Kentucky.  In an effort to facilitate greater access to Kentucky’s ever expanding oral history colections, the Commission published The Guide to Kentucky Oral History in 1991.  The Guide, which identified 25,000 interviews held at 41 repositories across the Commonwealth, became a searchable online database in 2001.  The latest effort by KOHC to enhance public access to Kentucky’s oral histories has been made possible with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kentucky Historical Foundation.  “Pass the Word”,, is an interactive, searchable oral history resource containing information about oral history collections and highlights projects which have grown out of these collections, such as books, documentaions, and school programs.

Whether researching a specific topic for an academic project of researching your family genealogy, Pass the Word, with its collection level and item level search ability, will be a valuable resource.  Other recent WKU additions to the data base include the Robert Penn Warren Oral History Collecton and the African American Heritage in Bowling Green and Warren County project;  upcoming entries will include the Kentucky River Project and the Downtown Henderson Project.

To see finding aids for other oral history collections at WKU click here.

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Electronic Records Day

The Kentucky Library & Archives in coordination with the Council of State Archivists have declared today the first Electronic Records Day.  At WKU faculty, staff and students are creating records on computers every day.

Electronic records are wonderful.  They can be shared through email, thumb drives, or on computer servers.  They can enable greater collaboration in research at increased speed.  Some contain confidential information that need special protection.

The WKU Records Management program identifies permanent and non-permanent records created by faculty and staff.  We also assist departments in the maintenance and preservation of those records in all formats.  In addition, we provide guidelines for the proper destruction of non-permanent records.

WKU Archives is working to capture and store permanent electronic records that have historic and administrative value in order to make them available to researchers for generations to come.  One avenue is through TopScholar, WKU’s institutional repository.  Here you will find departmental and administrative electronic records that document decisions of administrators and campus activities.


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Kentucky Live! Blood Shed in This War


WKU Libraries hosted Michael A. Peake for the presentation of his new book Blood Shed in This War on October 11 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Bowling Green, KY.
Photo Album | Audio | Podcast
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Hidden Gem Found in Monk’s Papers


St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, Bardstown, Kentucky.

An interesting 1827 letter written by Benedict Joseph Flaget to then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Clay was recently discovered while processing the papers of Francis J. Whitaker, a monk who lived at St. Maur’s Priory (South Union, Kentucky) from 1954 to 1988.  Flaget was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Bardstown; his authority stretched from Michigan south to Tennessee and from the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River.  Among his numerous responsibilities, Flaget planned and oversaw construction of the St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown.  Actually, the 1827 letter relates to that building’s construction.

In the letter Flaget asks Clay to use his power to waive the duty fees on a number of items being sent from Europe to adorn the new cathedral, since they “are not and cannot be objects of commerce.”  The items in question were chiefly gifts of the Prince of Naples and consisted of five “large candlesticks the whole of brass sumptously gilt, & executed by the Artists in his kingdom” as well as “fine paintings and many other vestments & ornaments for divine service.”  Flaget appealed to Clay’s friendship and his local attachments, pleading:  “For God’s sake, give me another proof of your generous friendship, & in favour of a town where I have been told, you have partly trained up.”  The bishop ends the epistle by stating his tender feelings for the United States:  “My zeal for the country which I have freely and deliberately adopted is unrelenting; & thanks be to God the good effects of it are sensibly felt not only in Kentucky, but in all the Western country.”

This fascinating letter’s route to St. Maur’s makes it even more unusual.  In letters to a number of Catholic historians, Brother Whitaker noted that the missive had been used as a bookmark in a tome which had been donated to St. Maur’s library.  Several scholars who corresponded with Whitaker mentioned that Flaget had several instances of “difficulty with the government in reference to exemption from duty on imports of a religious and education nature.”

To see a finding aid for the Whitaker collection click here.  Click TopSCHOLAR to search for other church and religious records housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives division of WKU’s Special Collections Library.

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Archives Month – Athletics in Archives

WKU Soap Box Derby

October is Archives Month and in Kentucky the theme is Athletics in Archives in honor of the 2012 Olympics. This year’s poster features images of sports being played and enjoyed by Kentuckians of all ages.  The WKU photo shows children participating in a soap box derby race down College Heights Hill.

The WKU Archives website is featuring links to Hilltopper related items housed here in the Kentucky Building.  The collections are open to researchers most Mondays – Saturdays 9 to 4.  The online inventories and digital objects are available 24/7 through TopScholar.

Archives throughout the Commonwealth capture and preserve records of all types of athletic activities.  Check out collections near you in person and those available online year round.

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