Monthly Archives: September 2013

September Cool Stuff

Athletic Village – article by Kelly Thompson

Beulah Collins Ellis Autograph Book

Autograph Album

Autograph Album

BUWKY 9/1938 – Bowling Green Business University student publication

Glasgow Normal School – collection inventory

Personnel File – September 1988 issue WKU newsletter

Rodes-Helm Lecture Series – posters & programs

Sophomores – links to images and information regarding Sophomore classes

Southern Normal Scrapbook Index

Van Meter Hall – building history

Wetherby Hall – building history

Zacharias Hall – building history

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JFK Memory Project at WKU

JFK Slider

To commemorate the life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the JFK Memory Project at WKU is collecting remembrances of Kennedy’s visit to Bowling Green on October 8, 1960 as a presidential candidate and or/memories of his assassination on November 22, 1963.

For more information about submitting a JFK remembrance, click here.  Search TopSCHOLAR for WKU collections that contain information about JFK.

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SOKY Reads “community one read”

DSC_0014DSC_0024Partners of the Southern Kentucky Book Fest featured author Michael Morris’ novel “Man in the Blue Moon” as this year’s SOKY Reads “community one read” novel. Morris interviewed with local radio and television stations and led a group discussion in a Creative Writing class on WKU’s campus. He provided a presentation at the Warren County Public Library Thursday night at 6 pm.

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The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East

Cairo Monthly Flyer

Cairo Monthly Flyer

Michael Cairo is Associate Professor of Political Science at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. His newest title “The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East.” Most students at WKU haven’t known a time when there wasn’t a mention of war in the Middle East.

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Filed under Far Away Places, Flickr Photos, Government Documents, Past Events, Podcasts

WKU Libraries announce winner of 7th Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award


Western Kentucky University Libraries has selected Same Sun Here, written by Silas House and Neela Vaswani, as the winner of the seventh Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award. The national award was created to honor the memory of former WKU librarian Evelyn Thurman, who made significant contributions to children’s librarianship and literacy during her 25 years of service to the university and community. Books eligible for the award must be written or illustrated by a Kentucky author or illustrator or have a significant Kentucky-related connection.

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Technical Services Librarian Jack Montgomery

Technical Services Librarian Jack Montgomery

We’ve Been Everywhere speaker series featured Technical Services Librarian Jack Montgomery on Tuesday, September 24 with his program “Remembering Grandma’s Hoodoo: The Current Revivial of Folk Spirituality and Magic.” Approximately 30 faculty and staff attended the program and were intrigued with Montgomery’s topic of discussion.

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“Conditions Could Not Be Worse”

Mary Leiper; Louisville flood scene

Mary Leiper; Louisville flood scene

As the Colorado rainwaters recede, we remember that Kentuckians are no strangers to floods.  One of the worst occurred early in 1937, when record rainfall swelled the Ohio River from Pennsylvania to Illinois.  Louisville, Kentucky, where the river eventually crested at 57 feet above flood stage, was one of many communities to suffer severe damage.

In the face of the growing disaster, Mary Taylor Leiper (1885-1973), a librarian at WKU, left Bowling Green with a motorcade of about 200 other cars to help evacuate Louisville residents made homeless by the flood.  In a letter to President Henry Hardin Cherry’s wife Bess, she vividly described what she encountered.  Arriving in Louisville, she was directed to a spot at the water’s edge where rescue workers pulled up in a boat and deposited in her car an 84-year-old man and his nurse.  Clutching his little Boston bulldog, the man was grateful for having survived three days in a house surrounded by water–and, Leiper’s nose told her, more than a week without a bath.

Leiper witnessed the grim conditions in the refugee centers: no heat or light, little water, and “shanties” set up in the middle of the street and connected to sewer lines to serve as toilets.  Finally, she set out for Bowling Green carrying “four lovely people,” a couple and their grown son and daughter.  At the end of the four-hour drive, Leiper took them to a church for food and coffee, then to the Armory for beds, the gymnasium at WKU having already been filled to capacity.

As she was leaving, Leiper described running into four other refugees, “old maid sisters” who, despite the circumstances, proved to be “the most attractive and interesting people” she had met in a long time.  She put them up in her own house for the next two days, where the women related harrowing stories of moving from place to place as the flood waters rose.  But they also made their hostess laugh as they told of watching two soldiers struggle to lift a 325-lb. woman into a truck, and of agreeing that if “Christ was not too good to be born in a manger,” then surely they could accept transportation in a railroad boxcar.  “I can never tell of the joy that we all got during the time these women were with me,” Leiper wrote, marveling at their courage and sense of humor.

Along with many other citizens of Bowling Green, Leiper spent days serving food, obtaining clothes (the four sisters helped alter some of her late husband’s suits to fit the two men she had taken to the Armory), and arranging for hot baths.  But her experiences with Louisville’s flood victims taught her that “there is a funny side to it all as well as a tragic one.”

Mary Leiper’s letter is available in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more on the Ohio River flood of 1937 and other Kentucky floods, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Michael Cairo

2013-09-09 11-41-05 4

The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East
by Michael Cairo

Transylvania University political scientist Michael Cairo is the opening speaker in this year’s Far Away Places series.  He’ll be speaking on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1680 Campbell Lane) about his new book The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East published recently by the University Press of Kentucky and about recent events in the Middle East.  A book signing will follow.


Michael Cairo

Cairo is a native of Clifton Park near Saratoga, New York.  Growing up he had ambitions to save the world but shifted these to focus on a career in International Relations. After an MA and PhD in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, he’s taught political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, Southern Illinois University, the University of Kentucky and Georgetown College.  In 2010 he joined the faculty of Transylvania University as an Associate Professor.

His interest in the Middle East stems from his interest in building understanding across cultures and he has visited Israel and Palestine most recently in July 2012 and May 2013.  His newest project is a second book focusing on U.S.- Israeli Relations.

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Far Away Places Event Flyer

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Apple Blossoms and Horseradish

Red Cross Motor Corps, 1944 (Elizabeth Coombs first row, second from left)

Red Cross Motor Corps, 1944 (Elizabeth Coombs first row, second from left)

Bowling Green native Elizabeth Robertson Coombs (1893-1988) spent much of her youth in New York City, but returned to Kentucky after the early death of her father, a railroad executive.  When the U.S. entered World War II, Coombs, who had worked for a decade as a reference librarian at WKU’s Special Collections Library, was ready to volunteer her skills.  In 1942, she filled out an application to serve with the local branch of the Red Cross Motor Corps.  She noted her proficiency in French, gave WKU uber-librarian Margie Helm as a reference, and for some reason boldly lopped nine years off her date of birth.

The Motor Corps was no delicate feminine pastime.  In their dark grey uniforms and caps, and with an identifying metal disk attached to their licence plates, volunteers undertook a variety of tasks related to the civilian war effort: carrying messages and deliveries, ferrying public health officials to their duties and children to hospital in Louisville, driving mobile canteens, transporting supplies for the blood donor program, doing office work and assisting at public gatherings.  Members attended meetings at the Bowling Green Armory and were liable to be discharged if they missed more than three; an acceptable excuse, however, was having a husband home on furlough.

In order to qualify for the Motor Corps, Coombs completed Red Cross first aid training, then took a 30-hour course in motor mechanics where she learned to change tires, put on chains, adjust brakes, and replace spark plugs.  But the Motor Corps also provided support to the civil defense authorities, and consequently Coombs received additional education in war’s worst-case scenarios, including the possibility of chemical attack.  She learned about the telltale odor of tear gas (fly paper or apple blossoms), mustard gas (horseradish), and paralyzing gases (bitter almonds or rotten eggs), the symptoms of exposure, and what aid to administer.

Fortunately, for Coombs and her fellow citizens, the discomforts of the home front did not extend beyond coping with a scarcity of consumer goods and a federal system of rationing and price controls.  Instructions on her books of ration stamps for food and gasoline gave her the right “to buy your fair share of certain goods” at reasonable prices.  “Don’t pay more” on the black market, warned the Office of Price Administration–and, conversely, “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”  Some commodities required special clearance; completion of a two-page form allowed Coombs and her mother to apply for a “home canning sugar allowance” subject to an annual limit of 20 lbs. per person and a warning to “only apply for as much sugar as you are sure you will need.”

Material relating to Elizabeth Robertson Coombs’ life during wartime is part of the Coombs Family Collection housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  Click here to download a finding aid.  For more collections relating to the home front during World War II, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Homemaker's pledge; ration stamps

Homemaker’s pledge; ration stamps

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Library student workers participate in orientation


WKU Libraries student workers attended an orientation in Helm 100 on Wednesday, September 11 to learn more about their responsibilities in the libraries. Brian Coutts, Department Head of Library Public Services, welcomed the students and gave an overview of library services. Brent Fisk from VPAL, Crystal Bowling and Paula Bowles from Library Technical Services, and Doug Wiles from Library Security all provided insightful information and offered assistance to the students workers. Upon conclusion, several students won a library t-shirt from the drawing.

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