Monthly Archives: April 2013

Latin Music USA


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Things I Learned…




My name is Curtis Spratte-Lennington and I have worked as an intern in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library at WKU for the spring of 2013.  I learned various new things.  I learned how to accession items, something that requires a little more concentration and focus than what I had previously thought.  I also learned about a noble and dedicated man who spent a great majority of his life ensuring he did not miss a single vote in the House of Representatives: Congressman William Natcher.  Even on his dying deathbed, he did not want to miss a vote in the House.  I wrote a biography for the William Natcher collection. I also organized, cataloged, and created accession numbers for the Natcher finding aid that will help future students to conduct research about this dedicated man.  Surprisingly there has never been a single book released that deals with the life of Congressman Natcher and I hope that with the use of these finding aids someone would be able to tell the story of this man and what he did for the state of Kentucky.

I also learned how to catalogue and file small collections within Manuscripts. One of the most interesting aspects of going through manuscripts is that they cover individual histories with photographs, family memorabilia, etc… and for me the chance to go through material is almost like conducting an archeological excavation through a person’s life and to learn the individual stories from individual people was like taking a journey through time.  By cataloging historical material I was able to understand what it means to be an archivist; it literally means to not only organize historical material but to ensure the collection’s integrity for generations to come.  Understanding historical material is literally understanding the individual who wrote or contributed it and understanding the time period where it came from.




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History comes to life…

My name is Taryn Rictaryn_ricee.  I have worked in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library at WKU for the past year as the manuscripts technician.  Previously, I served in the same unit as an intern for one semester and a student assistant for 3 years.  During my time here, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the study of historic documents.  One fundamental concept I have learned is the importance of primary source preservation to the study of history.

Primary sources are first-hand accounts about anything in history (from local family news to world wars) written during the time the events occurred. In 1863, a note from a Civil War soldier to his wife would just be a letter.  But to us in 2013, that letter is now a primary source that we can use to understand the Civil War on a more personal level.  Thanks to concerned and resourceful family members, we have letters like this in our collection that allow researchers to interpret the climate of the war.  What did this man see and experience?  How did Union soldiers view Confederates?  What was camp life like for a soldier traveling throughout the South with his regiment?  Even from reading a short, two-page letter, we can grasp a bit of perspective from an everyday man living through a destructive time in our nation’s history.

Last fall, I began teaching Kentucky History at a community college.  My initial nervousness began to wear off once I realized that I had access to the absolute best resource for this subject:  the Special Collections Library!  This job has prepared me in a very unique way to teach this subject.  In addition to incorporating research from current scholarly sources, I am able to bring the lives of Kentucky soldiers, mothers, couples, and politicians (to name a few) to a new generation of readers through their letters, certificates, and diaries.

In 2013, it’s hard to think of our emails, text messages, and twitter posts as significant historical documents.  But as insignificant as those “documents” may be to us now, we should consider what and how we should leave behind our own histories and life stories.  If you are interested in researching the Civil War or reading letters to and from Kentuckians over the past 200 years, make plans to visit the Special Collections Library.  If you would like your family’s papers to be preserved for future generations, please contact the Special Collections Library.trhhc

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America’s Music Series: Jazz; International Sweethearts of Rhythm


WKU Libraries and the Department of Music, WKU presented “Jazz; International Sweethearts of Rhythm” with Dr. Marshall Scott on the evening of April 23, 2013 at the Choir Rehearsal Room in the Music Hall on campus.

The presentation is one of the “America’s Music” series sponsored by Tribeca Film Institute, American Libraries Association, and other institutions.

The last of the series named “Latin Music USA; Fro Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale” will be presented on Tuesday, April 30 at the same location. It’s also a free and swipeable event.

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SOKY Book Fest Partners Presented Another Successful Annual Event


WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes and Noble Booksellers partnered up to present another successful Southern Kentucky (SOKY) Book Fest at the Carroll Knicely Convention Center adjacent to WKU South Campus on April 19-20, 2013. This was our 15th annual event. It comprised the Kentucky Writers Conference, the Children’s Day, and the event where participants had a chance to meet the authors, purchase their books, and get their autographs.  This year’s event featured such headliners as Henry Winkler, Mary McDonough, Chuck Sambuchino, Jarret J. Krosoczka, and many others.

A fundraiser for the promotion of literacy in our community, the SOKY Book Fest is one of the state’s largest literary events held annually during the third weekend in April. Each year, it draws thousands of readers of all ages who welcome the occasion to meet their favorite authors and purchase signed copies of their books.

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Cookbook Authors at the 15th Southern Kentucky Bookfest, April 20, 2013


KY and Southern cookbook authors at the 2013 Southern Kentucky Bookfest. (From left to right) Paul & Angela Knipple, Maggie Green, and Bobbie Smith Bryant.

The 9:00 a.m. session at this year’s Southern Kentucky Bookfest featured Kentucky and Southern cookbook authors.


Author Bobbie Smith Bryant displaying a family heirloom, a handmade quilt.

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SOKY Book Fest partners award Dr. James Nicholson the 2013 Kentucky Literary Award

DSC_0505Bowling Green, Ky. –Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners announced Dr. James Nicholson as the winner of this year’s Kentucky Literary Award for his book The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became American’s Premier Sporting Event. First awarded in 2003 and reintroduced last year after a brief hiatus, the Kentucky Literary Award is given to an author from Kentucky or one whose book has a strong Kentucky theme. Fiction and non-fiction books are recognized in alternating years.

     James Nicholson, a native of Lexington, attended his first Kentucky Derby at the age of 17. He grew up on one of Kentucky’s most famous horse farms, Jonabell, which was founded by his grandfather John A. Bell III in 1954 and sold to Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai in 2001. Dr. Nicholson received a BA, MA, JD and PhD in history at the University of Kentucky (UK). In addition to writing, he teaches American History at UK, practices law, and plays in a rock and roll band.

     Published in 2012 by the University Press of Kentucky, The Kentucky Derby: How the Run For the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event is Nicholson’s first book. Detailing the history of the Derby from its beginning in 1875, the book examines how and why the famous race has withstood the cultural changes of so many years and endures as the most exciting two minutes in sports.

     The award announcement was made at the Knicely Conference Center at an authors’ reception on Friday, April 19–the night before the main Book Fest event. Nicholson was recognized with a commemorative certificate and a monetary gift.

     The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners include Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and the Western Kentucky University Libraries. For more information about SOKY Book Fest, go to

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Gordon Wilson Collection

Gordon Wilson, in his ornithological habitat.

Gordon Wilson, in his ornithological habitat.

Among those who witnessed WKU’s two-day-long move from downtown Bowling Green to its new hilltop campus was Calloway County, Kentucky native Gordon Wilson (1888-1970).  But he and his classmates were not just mere spectators.  “At 1:00 p.m.,” he wrote in his journal on February 3, 1911, “students assembled at the old building and under the supervision of various teachers marched to the Hill carrying such furniture as was convenient, such as chairs.”  Books and heavier items were hauled in wagons to their new home, which was barely ready.  “[T]he Rotunda is unfinished,” Wilson wrote of Van Meter Hall, “and the great steps leading into the Auditorium are only about half complete.”

Gordon Wilson joined WKU as an instructor in 1915, and in August 1959 retired from a 31-year career as head of the English department.  Not only had he taught generations of students (in 1968, the former library building was named in his honor), but over his career had distinguished himself in two pursuits: folklore and ornithology.  Wilson published his first major article on birds in 1921, and was a founding member of the Kentucky Ornithological Society.  In 1935, he began his column “Tidbits of Kentucky Folklore,” which appeared in local newspapers for the next 35 years.

After retiring, Wilson ramped up his research and writing in both fields.  He was especially interested in the Mammoth Cave region of southcentral Kentucky–not just its bird life, but the speech, lore, superstitions and folk beliefs of its people–and his fieldwork generated numerous monographs, including Birds of the Mammoth Cave National Park and Folkways of the Mammoth Cave Region.  Always a prolific writer, Wilson still had time to compose his chatty “Diary to Kelly.”  Part autobiography, part history and gossip, it was a collection of musings to WKU president Kelly Thompson about life in general and the state of the university in particular.

Gordon Wilson’s research, writing and correspondence are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid.  For other collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues; Say Amen Somebody


WKU Libraries and the Department of Music, WKU organized the America’s Music series in the Music Hall on campus on the evening of April 16, 2013. This episode featured the blues and gospel music. The presenters were Clay Motley from WKU Honors College and Gospel Artist John Edmonds. Two movie clips were shown during the presentation.

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Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation: Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America

Dr. Julie Bunck and Professor Michael Fowler

Dr. Julie Bunck and Professor Michael Fowler at Barnes & Noble Bookstore

Dr. Julie Bunck and Professor Michael Fowler from the Department of Political Science, University of Louisville, discuss their newest book at Barnes & Noble Bookstore Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

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