Monthly Archives: January 2013

Macy’s 2013 Used Book Sale


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A Hero’s Namesake

Lieut. Charles L. Taylor, Jr.; Charles L. T. Smith and his children at Taylor's grave, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten (courtesy Charles L. T. Smith)

Lieut. Charles L. Taylor, Jr.; Charles L. T. Smith and his children at Taylor’s grave, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten (courtesy Charles L. T. Smith)

Among the Hilltoppers who never returned from World War II was Lieutenant Charles Leland Taylor, Jr., son of agriculture professor Charles L. Taylor.  When his flying fortress was shot down over Nazi-occupied Holland on July 28, 1943, some of the crew members survived and were captured by the Germans, but Taylor, the pilot, was killed.  Rinnie Haadsma, a Dutch woman who lived near the crash site, obtained the names of the victims and wrote to their families after the war with details of the crash and of a local monument honoring their sacrifice.

The story of Haadsma’s letters appeared in Bowling Green’s Park City Daily News, and the article caught the attention of the family of WKU dean Finley Grise, whose son George had served in the Netherlands and befriended a Dutch woman named Mia Kleijnen.  The Grises clipped the article about Taylor and later donated it, along with their letters from Mia, to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library.

Fast-forward to today, and to architect Charles Leland Taylor Smith’s search for information about the man after whom he was named.  Smith’s father, a neighbor of Lieutenant Taylor, had told him a slightly different story about the pilot, namely that he had survived the crash and was sheltered by the Dutch Underground for some time before dying of his injuries, and that a woman who cared for him had corresponded with his mother or wife.  But the death date on Taylor’s grave at Margraten Cemetery–the same day as the crash–seemed to contradict this account.

Through TopSCHOLAR, Smith found out about the Daily News article in the Kleijnen Collection and contacted us.  In addition to supplying the article, we were able to provide some further information on Lieutenant Taylor from a collection of clippings about Warren County servicemen maintained by WKU librarians during the war.  Those reports confirmed that after Taylor’s plane crashed, there was uncertainty about whether he had died, and his family clung to the hope that he was alive and a prisoner.  It was only months later that verification of his death on July 28, 1943 came from the Germans via the Red Cross.

No matter how our collections are discovered, or by whom, we are always glad when something therein helps, as Mr. Smith requested, to “get the story told, and told right.”

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WKU Libraries Welcomes ProQuest Newsstand…

 Our New Core Resource for Newspaper Access!


WKU Libraries has added ProQuest Newsstand, a searchable database offering one the of the best full text collections of international, national and regional newspapers, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Tennessean.

ProQuest Newstand also provides full-text access to historic issues of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. Abstracting and indexing are available for the more than 1,370 newspapers; of these, over 1,270 are full text.

This resource is available through campus computers and off-campus using your WKU NetID and password.

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Western Kentucky University Libraries Announces The Commons at Cravens

IMG_2624WKU Libraries is pleased to announce the opening of “The Commons at Cravens” located on the fourth floor of the Cravens Library at Western Kentucky University’s main campus. The Grand Opening will be Thursday, January 31 at 4 pm with remarks at 4:30 pm by the President, Provost, WKU student Mark Reeves, and Dean of Libraries.

“This is an exciting transformation for the Library,” said Connie Foster, Dean of WKU Libraries. “Students can work as a group in one of the collaborative booths, sit at a bistro table overlooking the campus, or just BYOD (bring your own device) and plug into one of the stations at the laptop counter.”

According to Foster, the newly renovated floor offers a single service desk for research assistance, technology support, and writing center tutoring–all conveniently located across from Circulation Services. The space will provide students with more computer access, whiteboards for study, and movable furniture to fit their study needs.

Tiffany Hayes, Project Manager from WKU Planning, Design, and Construction, said the construction began October 1, 2012 on approximately 9,600 square feet of space and was completed January 15, 2013.

 “The scope of improvements included new carpet and rubber flooring, fresh paint, vinyl wall covering, a new laptop counter, soffits above circulation and reference desks, and decorative wall panels,” said Hayes. “The furniture company installed new computer workstations, booths, and the reference desk. The existing circulation desk was rearranged.”

“We hope this transformation creates a positive place of possibilities-a place Where Knowledge Unfolds,” said Foster.

For more information on WKU Libraries, go to

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Invest Locally!

Bowling Green Savings & Building Association stock certificate, 1932

Bowling Green Savings & Building Association stock certificate, 1932

Stock certificates often provide interesting information about a generation’s cultural and financial history. This certifcate for the Bowling Green Savings and Building Association was recently added to the Manuscripts collections in WKU’s Special Collection Library. The 1932 certificate documents the establishment of an independent savings and loan assocation which was funded solely through local stock purchases. The proceeds were used to make loans for local home and land purchases. The Association sold $750,000 worth of $3 shares within six months. The business, ran by John A. Logan, operated until he began to experience poor health in the mid-1940s. Logan owned extensive land holdings in the Smiths Grove area. He also worked as an attorney for the Kentucky Rock Asphalt Company in Edmonson County and served as president of Smiths Grove Deposit Bank.

Although Logan chaired three of Edmonson County’s Liberty Loan drives during World War I, he later opposed the patriotic pressure placed on the American public, particularly poorer rural citizens, to purchase government bonds over simply saving their money in local banks. In 1933 he wrote:  “The using of the savings of rural country people in the purchase of government bonds instead of depositing their money with their banks and building and loan associations has done more to deplete the cash reserves of banks than any other one thing. The withdrawal of money from banks to purchase government bonds forces the banks to press the people and to collect their outstanding notes in order to keep up their cash reserves required by law.”

The Bowling Green Savings and Building Association was founded to invest local funds in local financing. This was a real boon to people who experienced difficulty borrowing from faltering, or heavily regulated, banks at the time. This certificate indicates that Elbert Eugene Cook purchased three shares of capital stock in the Association for three dollars per share.  Click here to see a finding aid for this small collection.

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A Watery Farewell

Charles J. Van Meter; a scene from the flood

Charles J. Van Meter; a scene from the flood

By the time of his death on January 7, 1913, Charles J. Van Meter had become a much-loved citizen of Bowling Green.  The 87-year-old son of Jacob and Martha Van Meter began his adult life as a clerk and farmer, but in 1856 he and two partners built a steamboat to run on the Barren River.  After establishing the Bowling Green Navigation Company, Captain Van Meter was instrumental in constructing a system of locks and dams to facilitate river traffic and enhance the commercial prospects of his native city.

Captain Van Meter may have had command of the Barren River during his life, but the waters almost got the better of him on the day after his death.  As was the custom, Van Meter’s body lay in his house pending the funeral, but the river had been rising and a severe flood was imminent.  As told by J. B. Donaldson, a bank clerk who witnessed the flood, the cellar of Van Meter’s house was filling and the water was six inches deep in his yard.  Fearing that access to the coffin would be cut off, Donaldson, undertaker Eugene Gerard and another man carried it out of the house to a waiting hearse.  As the waters began to cover nearby roads, the men transferred the coffin to Gerard’s funeral home by cutting fences and driving through fields.

Donaldson himself had already had a narrow escape from the flood.  The house he rented was inundated, but before leaving he managed to free some mules in an adjoining barn that were in water up to their backs, and to send a young calf swimming to safety by tying it to one of the mules.  Returning to his house later in a borrowed boat, he managed to recover a few of his soggy possessions.

J. B. Donaldson’s account of the Barren River flood of 1913 and the “rescue” of Charles J. Van Meter is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.   Click here to download a finding aid.  For more of our collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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His Honor

John Barret Rodes (1870-1970)

John Barret Rodes (1870-1970)

As the story goes, Kentucky native and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Fred M. Vinson was chatting with a colleague who was on his way to Louisville for a meeting of the state bar association.  Upon arrival, Vinson instructed him, he should find the man who “looks, talks, and acts most like a judge.”  That man would be John B. Rodes of Bowling Green, to whom Vinson wished to convey his best regards.

The long and distinguished career of John Barret Rodes (1870-1970) included not only service as a lawyer and judge, but as mayor of Bowling Green from 1930-1934, president of the Kentucky State Bar Association from 1940-1941, member of the WKU Board of Regents from 1944-1948 (he is the “Rodes” in Rodes-Harlin Hall), and leadership in many civic organizations and causes.

In 1897, however, John Rodes was just a giddy young man in love.  Writing to 21-year-old Elizabeth Davis Hines–“my sweetheart”–he couldn’t hide his feelings for the woman who would soon become his wife.  But he also harbored a little of the natural dignity that Justice Vinson would praise so many years later.  Rodes wrote Elizabeth that he must forgo the pleasure of calling on her that evening because an illness had left him not only “wrapped in salves, liniments and bandages” but unable to wear a collar–“a very little thing & yet a very large important thing for it is indispensable in calling to see you.  In fact,” Rodes declared, “when I come to see you I cannot do without a collar.”  With this simple rule to help him avoid any uneasiness about his appearance, Rodes concluded that “my collar shall always be easy and my burden light”–a misquotation of Scripture, he observed, that made him “devilish good.”

John and Elizabeth Rodes’s letters are part of the Rodes Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to download a finding aid.  For more collections relating to the Rodes and Hines families, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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January Reference Area Book Display


The reference desk may have moved to its new home in the Commons at Cravens, but the reference collection and book display remain where they have always been, and this month’s display is brand new, with a hobby theme. January is National Hobby Month. The books on display cover a wide range of hobbies, from cooking, to martial arts, to woodworking and more. Find a new hobby or rekindle an old passion with the books in reference!


Books on Display

Hobbyist sourcebook. GV1201.5 .H63

Classic American cars / by Quentin Willson. TL23 .W583 1997

Chef’s companion : a culinary dictionary / Elizabeth Riely ; illustrations by David Miller. TX349 .R48 2003

Martial arts of the world : an encyclopedia / edited by Thomas A. Green.  GV1101 .M29 2001

The video game explosion : a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond / edited by Mark J.P. Wolf. GV1469.34.S52 V52 2008

Crossword puzzle dictionary / Andrew Swanfeldt. GV1507 .C7 S85 1990x

The encyclopedia of the sword / Nick Evangelista, foreword by William M. Gaugler. GV1143.2 .E93 1995

Dictionary of photography : pocket companion. / Richard Ehrlich. TR9.E37 1984

Reader’s digest complete do-it-yourself manual. TT155.R4

Wood : identification & use / Terry Porter. SD536 .P67x 2006

The illustrated encyclopedia of musical instruments / general editor, Robert Dearling. ML102 .I5 I55x 1996

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