Monthly Archives: October 2013

JFK and the Country Ham

John F. Kennedy receives a country ham from Bowling Green mayor Bob Graham, October 8, 1960

John F. Kennedy receives a country ham from Bowling Green mayor Bob Graham, October 8, 1960

Southcentral Kentucky Democrats were waiting on the morning of Saturday, October 8, 1960, when presidential candidate John F. Kennedy arrived in Bowling Green for a highly anticipated campaign appearance.  After landing at the airport, Kennedy traveled by motorcade to City Hall, where he spoke before a platform of dignitaries that included Governor Bert Combs, Lieutenant Governor Wilson Wyatt, Congressman William Natcher and Bowling Green mayor Robert D. “Bob” Graham.

After the speech, Mayor Graham presented Kennedy with a token of his visit: a two-year-old “Kentucky country ham,” courtesy of Jimmy Siddens’ market.  Many remember Kennedy’s reaction as he looked at the ham, then ran his hand over its coating of greenish mold — a proper but, to a New Englander, perhaps unappetizing byproduct of the aging process.  One onlooker interpreted his expression as “What in the *** do I do with this?”

But Kennedy, a clever and witty politician, recovered quickly.  Drawing on the skills he had employed the previous evening in his second debate with Republican opponent Richard Nixon, Kennedy joked that back in Massachusetts, “it took a brave man to eat the first oyster,” so “I’m going to take your word for this.  If you say it’s good, I’ll eat it.”

Back at the airport, before boarding the plane for his next stop in Paducah, Kennedy asked Mayor Graham to send instructions for cooking the ham to his wife, Jackie, in Washington, and scrawled the address on a slip of paper.  Graham taped the souvenir into his scrapbook, then quickly obliged — sending two recipes, in fact, so that Jackie would “have a choice.  Just like in politics.”  The story of the country ham was reported both locally and in newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and, ironically, the Dallas Morning News.

As part of the JFK Memory Project at WKU, those who witnessed Kennedy’s Bowling Green appearance and/or experienced the shock of his assassination three years later have added their own recollections to the historical record.  Click here for a finding aid to the JFK Memory Project at WKU.

JFK's handwritten address for the country ham recipe

JFK’s handwritten address for the country ham recipe

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

WKU’s research and creative database TopSCHOLAR® hits one million downloads

WKU Libraries’ TopSCHOLAR® research and creative activity database has reached one million full-text article downloads since its launch in May 2007.   

“We are very pleased to learn we’ve reached and exceeded the millionth mark,” said Connie Foster, Dean of WKU Libraries. “This milestone signifies the value of WKU’s intellectual capital and global reach.”

The millionth paper, accessed on October 21, 2013, was a masters theses titled “Internet GIS as a Historic Place-Making Tool for Mammoth Cave National Park” by Ann E. Epperson, published December 12, 2010.

TopSCHOLAR showcases accomplishments from all disciplines. Mary Bennett, Director of WKU School of Nursing, uses TopSCHOLAR® for ease of availability. “It’s a great place to post copies of my publications so they can be easily searched and accessed by people from all over the world,” says Bennett. “Often graduate students and international researchers face challenges obtaining full-text access to journals… my research has been translated for use in Spanish language countries, in Sweden and in Belgium.”

John Cipolla, Associate Professor in Music, and Bruce Kessler, Professor and Department Head of Mathematics, both agree that TopSCHOLAR®  is a great way to share research activities. “The monthly reports not only help me track readership, but help me stay connected with the interest of my colleagues,” says Cipolla.

In addition to faculty, graduate students have the opportunity to post their works on TopSCHOLAR® . Professor Aaron Hughey, Department of Counseling and Student Affairs, sees the digital repository as a great option to reach an audience that would have not been possible otherwise. “It also serves as a motivational tool for students and helps to insure high quality,” says Hughey. “Knowing their work will be available around the world is a powerful incentive to produce the best research available.”

For more information on TopSCHOLAR®, go to or look for TopSCHOLAR®  at

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FoodDriveJPEGWKU Libraries Food Drive which is now underway will forgive library fines for up to $20. Students can bring in nonperishable food items, toiletries, or cleaning products to Cravens Circulation on Cravens Fourth Floor and will be forgiven $1 per item donated.  Items will be taken until Wednesday, November 26. For more information, contact Paula Bowles at 745-6167.


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A Piece of the True Cross(roads) in Clarksdale, Mississippi

 Event Location: Clay Motley @ Far Away Places, Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 1680 Campbell Lane.

Perhaps no other place in America is as singularly linked to its music history as this small southern city on Highway 61 seventy-seven miles south of Memphis.  Here, since the early twentieth century, an astonishing number of significant musicians were born or lived from W. C. Handy, Son House, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters to Sam Cooke and Ike Turner while Influential blues artists like Charles Patton and Robert Johnson played in its juke joints, and some argue the first rock and roll song was written and rehearsed in 1951.

The "Delta Avenue" and "Blues Alley" street corner.

The “Delta Avenue” and “Blues Alley” street corner.

Clarksdale, Mississippi Population: 17,733

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Fairview Cemetery

Fairview Cemetery, about 1886

Fairview Cemetery, about 1886

As Pioneer Cemetery filled up during the Civil War, the town of Bowling Green began looking for land on which to establish a new public burying ground.  One of the sites considered was WKU’s own hill (then known as Copley Knob) but the property, stripped of trees and littered with the debris of war, was deemed unsuitable.  (Perhaps the city fathers also took note of what might wash out of and down the hill during a heavy rain?)

Instead, in 1864 the town established Fairview Cemetery on 30 acres of land purchased from one William McNeal.  Formally dedicated in 1865, the cemetery has expanded to more than 100 acres and has become the final resting place for many notable citizens, including Mariah Moore (daughter of city founder Robert Moore), WKU’s first president Henry Hardin Cherry, and cake mix magnate Duncan Hines.

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library recently received a donation of an early cash book for Fairview Cemetery.  Spanning the years 1871 through 1897, the well-worn book records transactions for lots and supplies, and for the manual labor required to maintain the cemetery — planting flowers, sodding and, of course, digging graves.  Alongside regular lot purchases appear payments from the sheriff for “paupers graves” as well as expenses for “reinterring,” reflecting the decision of some families to transfer their loved ones’ remains from Pioneer Cemetery and elsewhere.

Coincidentally, among some stereographic photo cards recently donated to the Special Collections Library are two 1880s images of the cemetery, showing a general view as well as the Confederate Monument, dedicated in 1876.  These photos and the cash book recall a time when Fairview Cemetery was only a few decades old, yet well on its way to becoming Bowling Green’s “city of the dead.”

Click here to access a finding aid for the Fairview Cemetery cash book.  For other collections relating to cemeteries, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Deed to Fairview Cemetery lot, 1878 (McElroy Collection)

Deed to Fairview Cemetery lot, 1878 (McElroy Collection)

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We’ve Been Everywhere: Housing the Dead


DSC_0381WKU Libraries faculty, staff, students, and friends enjoyed a presentation on Tuesday, October 22 in Helm 100 with Jonathan Jeffrey, WKU Special Collections Library Professor and Manuscripts/Folklife Archives Coordinator. Jeffrey took participants on a journey around the state through his visual display and discussion on “Housing the Dead: Grave Houses in Kentucky.” The grave house images illustrated the various types of resources used by families to build them and several came with unique stories shared by Jeffrey from his research. He explained the largest house was built in eastern Kentucky for four children who passed away from the same family and another house was built to keep a family member dry who had died in a body of water. At the conclusion of the program, a reception followed.

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Faraway Flix – Germany: The Lives of Others

FAFlix Germany

WKU students, faculty, and staff enjoyed the second film of the semester on Friday, October 18 as part of the Faraway Flix international film series at the Faculty House. The featured film “The Lives of Others” is a 2006 German thriller by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Roger Murphy, WKU Associate Professor from the Department of Political Science introduced the film and led a brief discussion at the end of the viewing. German snacks were provided and a few students won door prizes at the end of the night.

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Filed under Events, Far Away Places, Flickr Photos

Library Open House

Come to the Libraries: Open House this Saturday, 10 – 11:30am


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David Bell – Never Come Back


David Bell

WKU’s bestselling author David Bell, an Associate Professor of English, makes a return visit to WKU Libraries Kentucky Live! Southern Culture At Its Best series on Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 1680 Campbell Lane.  He’ll be talking about the “key elements” in writing a good mystery novel and how they differ from regular fiction and reading from his newest novel.  A book signing will follow.

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Filed under Events, General, Kentucky Live, Latest News, New Stuff, Stuff, Uncategorized

Marder packs the house for Far Away Places speaker program

DSC_1588Holocaust survivor and professional violinist Samuel Marder spoke to a standing room only crowd at Barnes & Noble on Thursday, October 17 as part of the WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places speaker series. At the age of ten, Marder was a victim of the Holocaust where he lost his father during his 3 and a half years in a concentration camp in what is now Ukraine. Marder, his mother, and sister survived and eventually moved to New York. His discussion focused on the ill effects of prejudicial attitudes and behaviors and how our world continues to repeat history. He ended his program with a poem he wrote about a dream he had the night his father died, and a display of photographs from the Holocaust. Mr. Marder currently plays the violin for the Radio City Hall orchestra and conducts presentations to help combat prejudices of any kind.

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