Monthly Archives: February 2013

Buenos Aires: City of Immigrants


On the evening of February 14, 2013 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Dr. John Dizgun, Assistant Director of KIIS, WKU, told WKU and Bowling Green attendees to the WKU Libraries-sponsored talk series Far Away Places about his experiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Marriage Rights Expand in 1866

African American marriage declaration, 1866

African American marriage declaration, 1866

Among the many indignities visited upon enslaved African Americans was their disqualification from entering into civil contracts, most notably marriage.  Many slaves, nevertheless, performed their own marriage ceremonies in which they pledged themselves to each other as husband and wife.

With emancipation came the freedom to marry and to have the marriage legally recognized.  In A History of Blacks in Kentucky, WKU professor Marion B. Lucas writes that “[s]tate laws prohibiting legal marriages for blacks and mulattoes remained in effect until February 14, 1866.  Then an 1866 law declared cohabiting blacks legally married and their children legitimate if they paid a fifty-cent fee and recorded with a county clerk their intention to remain husband and wife.”

Exactly 5 months after it became legal to do so, Nancy and Vilindee Beason appeared before the clerk of the Logan County Court and declared that they had lived together and desired to keep living together as husband and wife.  Their declaration was duly filed, but like many newly freed slaves, they may have had difficulty paying the extra 25-cent fee required to receive a marriage certificate to take home with them.

A copy of the Beasons’ declaration 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 relating to African Americans, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Black History Month honored

WKU Libraries honors Black History Month with a display on the fifth floor of Cravens.






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Military Broadsides

In 1943, World War II was in full swing. U-boats were sinking, London was being bombed, the Trident Conference was taking place, Italy was being liberated by the Allies—and military squadrons were heading to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Why did so many squadrons come to town? They were using Bowling Green as a part of their troop training. We know that our airport was used for training beginning in 1943. The 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was deployed to the Bowling Green Airport for about four months in 1943 and 1944 and some of the other divisions were probably doing air training as well, though the reasons for a tank division to be deployed here is less clear.

Jim the Pilot

Jim the Pilot

Five military broadsides found in the WKU Archives were apparently made by different squadrons as thank you cards to the citizens of Bowling Green for their hospitality. These broadsides offer some interesting information about soldiers who were about to head off to war. They reveal a sense of humor that underscores the stereotype of the happy-go-lucky, charming, confident American soldier boy. Nicknames like “SNAFU,” “Tough Boy,” and “Toothless” pepper the signatures. Corporal Martin “Snooks” Schnall Jr. is called “Headquarters (Brains of the Outfit)” on one poster. Some posters include references to the battalion’s purpose, like a tank or the outfit’s insignia or a plane, piloted by “Jim,” whose picture has been cut out and pasted into the airplane’s window.  [Click on images to enlarge].



One broadside is a complete mystery, though. Why does it have two ships from different eras passing or a sketch of a dog? Instead of including the signatures of the men in the outfit, there is an illegible inscription at the top and a lot of shorthand at the bottom.



There are a few other unanswered questions. What brought the tank battalion to town? It was the only part of its division to see engagement; did their training here help them get there and get through? Were hand-drawn posters a typical thank you to towns they visited? And what on earth does this shorthand say?



If you have the answer to these questions or know someone who was attached to any of these squadrons, we would love to hear from you! Please contact or leave a comment. Use the links below to take a closer look at the broadsides in TopScholar.

These and other university records are available for researchers to use in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Building, Monday-Saturday, 9 to 4.

Blog post written by WKU Archives Assistant Katherine Chappell.

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Grand Opening of the Commons at Cravens

The Commons at Cravens officially opened Thursday, January 31, with a crowd of more than 200 faculty, staff, students, and community members.  Dean Connie Foster officially welcomed the crowd followed by remarks from Provost Gordon Emslie, President Gary A. Ransdell, and graduate student Mark Reeves. The newly renovated Cravens 4th floor space offers a single service desk for research assistance, technology support, and writing center tutoring—all conveniently located across from Circulation Services. Patrons are enjoying the new computer lab access, bistro style chairs overlooking the campus, and the modern chairs and bench tables for both collaborative projects and individual study. For more information about services available at The Commons at Cravens, call 745-6125.

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February Reference Area Book Display

February's Display Quote

This month’s book display comes to us from the age of romanticism and mysticism, England’s Victorian Period. The Victorian period, named after Queen Victoria , consists of the years of her reign, from 1827 to 1901. Supplementing the books on display are books on the Gilded Age, in America, which ran concurrent to the latter half of the Victorian era.  Despite its reputation for being stodgy and stuffy (in line with Queen Victoria’s own strict personal morality), the Victorian era was actually a period that valued emotion, particularly in artistic and literary works.

Books on Display

  1. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era / edited by John D. Buenker and Joseph Buenker.  E661 .E53 2005 (1 of 3 Volumes)
  2. Kings, queens, bones, and bastards : who’s who in the English monarchy from Egbert to Elizabeth II / David Hilliam. DA28.1 .H55 1998
  3. Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760-1850 / Christopher John Murray, general editor. NX452.5.R64 E53 2004 (1 of 2 Volumes)
  4. Historical dictionary of the Gilded Age / T. Adams Upchurch. E661 .U66 2009
  5. The Brontës A to Z : the essential reference to their lives and work / Lisa Paddock and Carl Rollyson. PR4168 .P28 2003
  6. A companion to Charles Dickens / edited by David Paroissien. PR4588 .C636 2011
  7. Cambridge companion to Victorian culture / edited by Francis O’Gorman. DA533 .C36 2010
  8. The Gilded Age / Judith Freeman Clark. E661 .C575 2006
  9. The Cambridge companion to English literature, 1740 to 1830 / edited by Thomas Keymer and Jon Mee. PR441 .C36 2004
  10. Victorian Britain : an encyclopedia / Sally Mitchell, editor; Michael J. Herr, editorial and research assistant ; advisory editors Josef L. Altholz . . . [et al.] DA550 .V53 1988

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