Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Here’s to Coach Arthur and the Victorious Basketball Girls!”

1915 WKU Hilltoppers

1915 Varsity Team*

The 2012-13 women’s basketball team is a roll. Led by Coach Michelle Clark-Heard—herself a former Lady Topper—they join a long line of great basketball teams here on the hill. But where did that tradition begin?

98 years ago, on this day in 1915, the women of Western Kentucky State Normal School played their very first game against another school. This team was an unusual group. In the fall of 1914, each literary society in the school organized a girls’ basketball team. That’s right—the athletes came from the literary set. They learned the rules, practiced diligently, and then played each other.

The Senior team handily won every game they played, but all of the teams came in for compliments in the school magazine, The Elevator. Even the Kit-Kats and the Loyals, who only won three games between them, were praised, “because they have improved so much since they began. They have nerve, courage and ‘that other thing’ that has strengthened them against the attacks of a stronger force.”

When their intermural season was over, a varsity team was chosen from the best players of all the society teams. They challenged Logan College in Russellville to a game for the first day of March, 1915. The Elevator reporters reveled in the game: “On that great and memorable day the chosen ten from the Western set forth to seek renown for our dear old Normal by completely vanquishing and utterly subduing the basketball Amazons of Logan College.” Vanquish, they did. The newly formed varsity team “played with all the vim and determination and ‘that other thing’ that Normalites are famous for,” and won the game, 12 to 8.

When that game ended, that was it. One game and the “season” was over. Regular games didn’t start again until 1921. However, the legacy of this plucky team was on-going. In fact, one of those winning varsity players, guard Josephine Cherry, became the coach of the 1921-22 team and supported the teams that followed.

The Elevator said at the time, “The whole school joins in congratulations to these valiant girls in whose hearts are ever burning the bright fire of zeal and interest in every phase of our athletic work.” 98 years later, we join them in congratulations and appreciation to the 1915 Women’s Basketball varsity team for laying down a lasting foundation.

To learn more about this team, check out the February and April Elevators.
Search our online catalog, KenCat or visit the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Library & Museum (Monday – Saturday, 9 – 4) for more information on women’s intramural basketball or any of the teams that have played since.

[*Photo Identification, first row, l-r: Zona Lee Searce, Mary Brown, Anna McClusky. Second row: Pearl Jordan, Josephine Cherry, Lucy Booth, Laura Phelps.  Third row: Coach J. L. Arthur, Mary Holton, Martha Holton, Louise Jordan.]

Blog post written by WKU Archives Assistant Katherine Chappell.

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A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music

Jason Howard

On the evening of March 7, 2013 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bowling Green, Kentucky, WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live!” series featured Jason Howard, James Still Fellow at the University of Kentucky. He presented his newest book “A Few Honest Words: The Kentucy Roots of Popular Culture,” which illustrates how the land and culture of Kentucky have shaped American music through the years. Among those profiled include: Naomi Judd, Matraca Berg, Dwight Yoakam and Skinny Deville of Nappy Roots.

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Material from Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Used in Publication

Song from Betsy Smith's Shaker hymnal (MSS 143, Box 1, Folder 3)

Song from Betsy Smith’s Shaker hymnal (MSS 143, Box 1, Folder 3)

Recently Carol Medlicott, professor of cultural and historical geography at Northern Kentucky University, published an article about music in the western Shaker communities titled “Let’s mingle our feelings”: Gender and Collectivity in the Music of the Shaker West” in Common-Place, vol. 13, no. 3 (Winter 2013).  In the article she features photographs of manuscript music from several Shaker hymnals housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library.  Her article is partially the result of research performed at the Special Collections Library as a Research Fellow several years ago.  Medlicott’s journal article is available online by clicking here.

 Over the past eight decades, the Special Collections Library has become one of the premier research libraries for researching the Shakers or the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.  One reason for this niche collecting area is the library’s proximity to the Shaker village at South Union and the location of another Shaker village in the Commonwealth at Pleasant Hill.  Many printed and manuscript items about Shakers, and particularly South Union, are found in the Special Collections Library.  Examples of Shaker furniture, textiles, and other artifacts are housed in the Kentucky Museum.  Another reason for this outstanding collection was the tireless efforts of former Kentucky Libray & Museum director and Shaker expert, Mary Julia Neal, to add relevant Shaker and other utopian studies materials to the library.  To see the finding aid of Miss Neal’s own manuscript collection, click here.

To locate finding aids for other Shaker research collections in Manuscripts & Folklife Archives search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Alaska and the Yukon: North to the Future

Alaska and the Yukon

WKU Libraries’ “We’ve Been Everywhere” series featured Connie Foster, Dean of Libraries, on the morning of February 26, 2013 in Room 100, Helm Library. She shared her trip and adventure in Alaska and the Yukon with her fellow library employees.

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Teachers, Miners, Soldiers, Farmers

Oral history project interviewees

Oral history project interviewees

For many years, WKU history students have been assigned the task of finding some history in their own back yard–that is, to interview a Kentuckian about his or her life, create a record of the interview, and write a summary paper about the experience.  A large collection of these oral history projects, consisting typically of an interview recorded on cassette tape, a complete or partial transcript, a paper and sometimes a photo, is part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.

The interviews open a window for students onto the early lives of their parents, grandparents, friends and acquaintances, many of whom grew up poor or in rural areas, saw military service in World War II, Korea or Vietnam, worked on farms and in coal mines, taught school, and endured the Depression, segregation and the struggle for civil rights.  But the projects also acquaint students with the craft of interviewing and the challenge of eliciting a compelling oral history.  They often comment on the difficulty of drawing out a taciturn subject, unwilling to talk about poverty and war, or simply puzzled at why anyone would be interested in such an “ordinary” life.  “Some things,” like the loss of his wife, “were too painful to discuss,” wrote one student of her grandfather.  And: “Although he didn’t mention this in the interview, I know that his hearing was forever damaged due to his role as a gunner in the Navy.”

But once the students have gotten their interviewee to “open up,” they achieve a new appreciation of history as experienced by those around them.  Wrote another student of his 86-year-old subject: “A person listening may think that Bessie and people like her are ignorant.  That would be a mistake.  I believe Bessie is one of the smartest people I know.  She knew things about . . . surviving hard times that many more ‘informed’ people would be ignorant of in her world.”

Click here to download a finding aid for the WKU History Department’s Oral History Project Collection.  For other interviews and oral histories, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Patti’s 1880’s Settlement Restaurant


Chip Tullar, the proprietor of Miss Patti’s 1880’s Settlement Restaurant, spoke in the Kentucky Live! series on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

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DLPS Faculty Surprised Head of Department with Birthday Party


At the monthly faculty meeting in Helm 201 on February 14, 2013, faculty from the Department of Library Public Services surprised Brian Coutts, head of the department, with a party to celebrate the 65th anniversary of his birthday. Faculty and staff from other units of the WKU Libraries joined in the party.

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WKU Libraries’ Organizers of “Kentucky Live!” Visited Speaker in Grand River


On February 10, 2013, WKU Libraries’ faculty members Peggy Wright, Brian Coutts, and Haiwang Yuan paid a visit to Chip Tullar, proprietor of Patti’s Restaurant at Grand Rivers. Mr. Tullar has been invited to give a presentation of his restaurant for the Libraries’ talk series “Kentucky Live!” to take place on February 21 at Barnes & Nobles, Bowling Green. Brian’s wife Karen and Haiwang’s Shizhen, who is a staff member of the WKU Libraries, were also present during the visit.
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Flirting With Disaster

Fannie the FlirtThe British diarist Charles Lamb noted that on Valentine’s Day 1830 “the weary two-penny postman sinks beneath a load of delicate embarrassments not his own.”  The valentine card has steadfastly remained a cherished method of communicating one’s amorous affections for others.  The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentine cards will be sent this year, the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas.

On of the most cherished valentines in the Manuscripts and Folklife Archives section of the WKU Special Collections Library was sent from an unidentified suitor to Fannie Morton Bryan (1870-1965), an avowed flirt of Russeville, Kentucky.  She often noted her flirting exploits in her diary.  After receiving a lovely pair of sugar tongs from a Mr. Bradshaw in 1889, she wrote:  “I am almost tempted to flirt with him.  O Fan! Fan!  Why can’t you behave yourself.  Why do you want to make the boys suffer so?  I try to help it but it seems second nature with me to make others suffer.  I almost feel as though that was my mission on earth.”

The valentine pictured here was sent to Fannie in 1902, when she was well past the acceptable age for marriage.  An image of a man dangling from a fishing pole line can be seen on the valentine’s right margin, and above it the sender wrote:  “One of the victims.”  The valentine proved apocryphal when it predicted “For flirts, whene’er their beauty fades, Recruit the army of Old Maids!”  Despite Fannie’s prowress as a flirt in her younger days, she died an old maid.  She taught school in Logan County until 1940 and passed away in 1965.  To see a finding aid to the Fannie Morton Bryan Collection click here.

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Macy’s Used Book Sale


Hundreds of eager readers shopped the Macy’s Used Book Sale this past weekend (February 8-10, 2013), raising money for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest held in April. This year’s Book Fest headliner Henry Winkler is sure to bring in many fans along with many other authors including Mary McDonough (best known for her role as Erin from “The Walton’s”), Bob Edwards former host of Morning Edition, and bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon. Among many of the children’s authors and illustrators participating this year are Obert Skye, Amy Ignatow, Debbie Dadey, Stacey Curtis, Jarrett Krosoczka, and Kristin O’Donnell Tubb. The event will take place at the Knicely Conference Center on Saturday, April 20. For more details, go to
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