Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dear (Christmas) Diary

Cora Morningstar's Christmas diary

Cora Morningstar’s Christmas diary

Although the details of Christmas celebrations have long been features of 1-year or 5-year diaries, in 1899 Bowling Green merchants L. D. Potter & Co. gave their customers a little pamphlet-style “Christmas Diary” to make a special record of the season.  Cora (Gossom) Morningstar (1866-1926) picked one up and used it to note few incidents of her Christmas Day.  She arose at 7, and breakfasted at 9.  Under “state of weather,” she wrote “cold and snow.”  She enjoyed a Christmas dinner of turkey, cranberry sauce, biscuit, macaroni, oysters, olives, sweet potatoes and peas; for dessert there was ice cream, cake, nuts and raisins.  Cora’s dinner guests were two friends from Louisville, but perhaps their meal was a quiet one, since she made no notations under the heading for “Table Talk.”

That evening, it was time to open presents.  Among Santa’s gifts to Cora’s 5-year-old son Roy were a policeman’s uniform and patrol wagon, building and picture blocks, and some toy soldiers and guns.  Cora received some cut glass – a bowl, celery dish and tumblers – and (perhaps to christen the tumbers) two bottles of whiskey.

Cora (Gossom) Morningstar’s Christmas diary is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.   Click here to download a finding aid.  And (to quote her diary) “At this glad season of the year, / May health and plenty you attend, / May friends be near, / your heart to cheer, / And smiles with words of kindness blend.”

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WKU Libraries Celebrated Holiday and Their Best


WKU Libraries held their annual Holiday Party at the Kentucky Room on December 12, 2012. As a tradition, it was a time to give the Margie Helm Awards to its best. Recipients of the faculty and staff awards were Amanda Drost from DLTS and Alan Logsdon from DLPS. Brook Armstrong from DLSC, Carley Ferguson from DLTS, and William N. Hollowell and Kelsey Edwards from DLPS received the student awards, while the team award went to “the Late Night Patrollers” including Kathy Foushee, Angelica M. Harvey, Austin R. Williams, Xun Hong, Meng Meng Ding, Jessica L. Puckett, Lan Xu, Kelsi D. Campbell, Laura M. Bickett, Micheal W. Polston, and William N. Hollowell. The Libraries were honored to have in attendance retirees Dr. Earl Wassom, Director of the Libraries from 1972 to 1985; Dr. Sally Ann Strickler; Linda Allan; and Nancy Baird. Several lucky attendees won some wonderful door prizes after a sumptuous luncheon and a fun game of guessing movies with librarians involved in them.

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Big Red Had Great Fun in WKU Libraries


On December 7, 2012, Big Red visited the University Libraries at WKU and had fun with the students studying and those working in it. She had her first taste of The Commons at Cravens still under construction and seemed to enjoy herself there very much.

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Dean’s Office Celebrated Holiday at Federal Grove


Employees in the Office of Deans of University Libraries at WKU had lunch with Dean Foster at the Federal Grove Restaurant on December 7, 2012 to celebrate the Holiday.

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WKU Students Receive Undergraduate Library Research Awards


Bowling Green, Kentucky – Western Kentucky University students Polly Cowan and Chelsea Pitts both from Russellville, Kentucky, and Steven Fioretti from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, received an undergraduate research award at a recognition ceremony in Helm Library on Friday, December 7. WKU Libraries and WKU University Experience faculty offer the awards in an effort to recognize the important role of good undergraduate research in college academic success.

“The quality of the library skills projects this semester was outstanding,” said Sara McCaslin, University Experience Coordinator. “Information literacy and library skills are essential for student success at any level, and I am happy to be a part of introducing the importance of college level research skills to our first year students.”

Cowan, a first-year student from the University Experience class on the main campus, received the award for best annotated bibliography in the non-major category. Pitts, a first-year student from the University Experience class at South Campus, was recognized for the best career essay. First year student Steven Fioretti, double majoring in history and music, received the award for his annotated bibliography titled “The Legal Career of Abraham Lincoln.”

“I am so honored to be accepting this award,” said Fioretti. “It has built up my confidence as a writer, researcher, and critical thinker.”

Students received a $100 cash award along with a plaque honoring their achievements. The winning documents, along with past recipients, are posted on TopSCHOLAR–WKU’s research and creative activity database–at For more information, contact Tammera Race, chair of the Research Award Committee, at 270-745-6154.

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Funny Money

Baker Smith's counterfeit $50 note

Baker Smith’s counterfeit $50 note

It was 1872, and Baker Smith was in trouble.  The 40-year-old African American distillery worker had just been indicted by the Warren Circuit Court for passing a counterfeit $50 U.S. Treasury note.  Smith had used the note to pay for 10 cents worth of dry goods, but Bowling Green bankers Potter & Vivion had refused to accept it from the merchant.  Witnesses testified that after the note was returned to him, Smith attempted to pass it to another creditor.

At trial, the jury was instructed that, in order to find Smith guilty, they had to determine whether he knew the note was a fake and intended to represent it as genuine.  The evidence was conflicting: one witness testified that although the front of the note was better than the back, the counterfeiter had done a good job; another, however, pronounced the counterfeit a poor one.

In his defence, the illiterate Smith was able to claim a fair amount of due diligence.  After his emancipation from slavery, he had continued to work for his former owner (also named Smith) and had asked him to confirm that the note was genuine.  For good measure, he had also asked two other local men who professed to be “experts” on money, and they agreed with owner Smith that the note was good.  But now, these and other witnesses on whom Smith sought to rely had mysteriously disappeared, leaving him to plead with the court to suspend the trial until they could be located.

Although we may never know Smith’s fate, this and several other counterfeiting cases from the 1870s are part of a large collection of Warren County court cases being processed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  For further information, contact us at  For more about our collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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December Reference Area Book Display



You’re in the home stretch! Winter break is just around the corner, and with it, holidays and celebrations for one and all.  Our December book display covers a wide range of typical holiday symbols and customs; there are book on the events themselves, as well as plants (including the ubiquitous poinsettia), food, drink, presents, and tips for entertaining. Even if all you are celebrating is the end of the semester and a break from papers and exams, we in Helm Library Reference wish you a happy, safe and enjoyable Winter Break!

Books on Display

  1. The Cultural history of plants / Ghillean Prance, consulting editor ; Mark Nesbitt, scientific editor.   SB71.C86 2005
  2. One planet, many people : atlas of our changing environment / UNEP ; Ashbindu Singh, team coordinator.  GE149.O53X
  3. Quotations for special occasions, by Maud Van Buren.    PN6084.O3
  4. The master dictionary of food and wine / Joyce Rubash ; illustrations by Benchmark Productions, Inc.   TX349.R83
  5. Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl : an encyclopedia / edited by Melitta Weiss Adamson and Francine Segan.  TX731.E5824
  6. Difford’s encyclopedia of cocktails : 2600 recipes / Simon Difford.  TX951.D54
  7. Encyclopedia of holidays and celebrations : a country-by-country guide / Matthew Dennis, editor.  GT3930.E53
  8. Encyclopedia of recreation and leisure in America / Gary S. Cross, editor in chief.  ( 2 vol.) GV53.E53
  9. Chase’s … calendar of events. GT4803.C48 2013
  10. Toys and American culture : an encyclopedia / Sharon M. Scott. GV1218.62 .S37 2010

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