Monthly Archives: May 2014
It’s a battered pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, with a few of them still inside, their innards having dried up and fallen out long ago. But, like the letters, photos and other papers of Congressman Frank Chelf housed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library, it tells a story. Chelf himself thought it worthwhile to inscribe the pack of smokes with the notation that a queen had partaken of its contents.
During his 22 years representing Kentucky’s Fourth District in the U.S. House of Representatives, Frank L. Chelf (1907-1982) found himself in the heart of Cold War politics. In 1951, he and other members of the House Judiciary Committee took a month-long trip overseas to investigate the problems created by thousands of refugees fleeing Soviet-dominated countries for Western Europe. While visiting The Hague, Chelf and his colleagues met with Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who had taken a particular interest in the issue. During World War II, Juliana herself had been forced to leave her country to live in Canada.
Expecting to take only 30 minutes of the Queen’s time, the group found her willing to talk for some two hours. Finally, Pennsylvania Representative Francis E. Walter got to his feet as if to take his leave. Inadvertently, he committed a diplomatic faux pas, for it was Juliana’s prerogative to decide when the meeting would end. But Chelf jumped in to smooth any ruffled feathers. He assured the Queen, who he knew understood American slang, that they didn’t want to “wear out their welcome.” And perhaps, his willingness to share a couple of cigarettes from his pack of Lucky Strikes had helped, too.
Click here to access a finding aid for the Frank Chelf Collection. The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library holds many other collections relating to Kentucky politics and politicians. For more information, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
WKU Libraries graduating student assistants were recognized May 14. Those in attendance were: Joseph Nimmo, Rebecca Nimmo, Simon Cherry, Jaclyn Melcher, Krystin Avakian, Katy Nash, and Uyen Tran. We wish them continued success.
On April 24, members of the Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority surprised Dean Connie Foster with a handmade thank you card. The Rho Chapter at WKU was founded in 1993 and is dedicated to serving the world around us, developing leadership skills, and building lifelong friendships. It was significant that a campus service group was honoring the Libraries for all that the Libraries offers the students. More than twenty members signed the card, and the three ladies who gave it to the Dean were gracious as they thanked Dean Foster and her faculty, students, and staff for their service to the university.
WKU Libraries celebrates its 80th anniversary as a United States Federal Depository Library this year. “Your long-term commitment to making Federal Government information available to the public is greatly appreciated,” said Mary Alice Baishe, Superintendent of Documents for the U.S. Government Printing Office. “Your partnership with the U.S. Government Printing Office helps accomplish a Government mission as well as meet your constituent service objectives. We look forward to working with you (WKU Libraries) and your staff for years to come as we all strive to provide the American public with free, easily accessible Government information.” WKU Libraries has been a designated Federal Depository Library since 1934. Go to http://wku.edu/library/dlps/gov_law/index.php for more information on the program.
In an April, 1848 letter to his nephew Robert in Marshall, Illinois, Woodford Dulaney discussed the family fortunes, both economic and personal. Writing from Cloud Spring Farm in Warren County, Kentucky, Dulaney had advice for Robert, who was overseeing some business interests in Illinois. He gave him instructions regarding the renewal of a store lease to one Greenough (“do so in black and white and bind him up close and have an eye to his neglect . . . for certainly he does not take any care of the property”). He also sympathized with Robert’s travails over the settlement of an estate (“I am in hopes if you have to resort to the law, you may have justice”). Dulaney reported that family health was mixed: “Your Aunt Nelly can’t stand it much longer has a very bad cold & cough,” but Robert’s 3-year-old cousin and namesake, Robert Fenton Dulaney, was “a bouncing boy & is cock of the walk.” Dulaney then cast an analytical eye on the local economy: “The merchants in Bowling Green are bringing on very heavy stocks of goods & selling them very low.” This was too tempting for the farmers, he worried, “for when goods are low they buy extravagantly.”
But Dulaney also had religious news, in particular of some recent activity in the local Shaker community. The 1840s was a decade of national revival, and in Shakerism it manifested itself in the dedication of a plot of ground where members assembled in the spring and fall, according to historian Julia Neal, to “commune with the voice and receive the great outpouring of the spiritual.” From what Dulaney had heard, however, this gathering promised to be unusual both in its size and public nature: a veritable 19th-century Woodstock, with the Shakers’ unique demonstration of devotion, their rhythmic marching and ecstatic dancing, much in evidence. “[T]he Shakers have commenced worship again they jump higher & quicker than ever,” Dulaney told Robert, “and on Monday the 1st day [of] May they are going to worship out in a grove”–a 10-acre tract, no less, which they had cleared in order to give themselves “a far sweep.” Likening the worshipers to frolicking creatures of the field, Dulaney declared “I intend to go and see them cut capers.”
Woodford Dulaney’s letter is only one of many sources on the Kentucky Shakers in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Special Collections Library. Click here to access a finding aid. For more collections about the Shakers and other religious faiths, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
More than 140 authors charmed thousands of eager readers—young and old—at the 2014 Southern Kentucky Book Fest on Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26. On Friday, the Children’s Day event brought in over 800 students, and the Kentucky Writers Conference had record-breaking numbers. Both were held at the Knicely Conference Center. On Saturday, bestselling author Charlaine Harris, well-known for her Sookie Stackhouse series which was the inspiration for the HBO series True Blood, filled a room of Sookie fans.
Book Fest volunteer Amy Hardin has been attending for years. “I love that you can interact with your favorite authors, sit in on entertaining panels, and be introduced to new authors–all in one weekend! Our community is blessed beyond measure to have such a world class event in its own back yard year after year,” said Hardin.
“When I saw Charlaine Harris was headlining Book Fest, I about fell out of my chair,” said Corie Martin, Manager of WKU Creative Web Services. “She is one of my favorites and I’ve been trying to get to one of her signings for years.”
In addition to the long line of urban fantasy enthusiasts eagerly waiting for Ms. Harris to sign their books, scores of people attended panel discussions and presentations from as far away as Michigan, Georgia, and South Carolina, and thousands visited the author signing area throughout the day.
When asked what she looks for when inviting authors to Book Fest, Kristie Lowry, Literary Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries and Book Fest organizer, says variety is key. “We want to bring an eclectic mixture of genres to meet the needs of all the different readers out there,” said Lowry. “We always welcome suggestions, and I am willingcontact the big name authors that might not venture to book festivals much anymore. You never know when Stephen King will decide that we are his one event for that year.”
Children’s Day featured author and illustrator Chris Raschka along with more than thirty other children’s and young adult authors. In conjunction with Children’s Day, the Kentucky Writers Conference (KWC) offered free writing workshops presented by Book Fest authors who came in a day early to teach a wide range of classes.
According to Lowry, numbers at the Writers Conference were the highest ever with more than 225 people in attendance. “This was the first year for an online registration process. We were so glad we had a count on each presentation as many of the classes filled up early,” said Lowry. “Filling your seats is always a great problem to have; the registration allowed us to better accommodate the larger group sizes.”
To see highlights and pictures from the weekend, go to sokybookfest.org or wku.edu/library.
Elizabeth Moseley Woods was born in Mississippi in the last months of the Civil War. When she was six, her family moved to Glasgow, Kentucky and, when she was sixteen, to Bowling Green. By the time she joined the WKU faculty in 1911 to teach modern languages, Elizabeth had traveled around the world and studied in England, France and Italy. She retired from teaching in 1937, but spent the next decade applying her passion for gardening and landscaping to beautification of the WKU campus.
To her younger sister Martha (Woods) Potter, however, Elizabeth Woods was just “Bethie,” and it is from Martha that we get an affectionate and intimate glimpse of this longtime WKU faculty member.
Bethie’s absent-mindedness caused particular mirth. Standing with Bethie in her living room one day in 1933, Martha noticed that “her pink panties were around her feet where they had dropped down and she never had noticed them. It would not have been so funny if it had been anybody but Bethie,” she wrote her children. Several years later, Martha reported that “Bethie distinguished herself by parading around the streets of Bowling Green with a strap to her panties hanging down between her legs almost to the ground.” Bethie explained that “the panties were the old fashioned kind with strap (a concession to what we used to call ‘open drawers’). . . . I went into stitches,” laughed Martha. “I told her I hoped that nobody took her for me.”
Bethie could be both clinical and sentimental in her opinions. After a 1934 visit to a venerable Bowling Green senior citizen, “Bethie said never again,” reported Martha. “She thought that old lady belonged under the ground.” Bethie was no more enamored of humanity’s other half. “She is a hard boiled man hater,” concluded her sister. Nevertheless, Bethie mourned the death of WKU president Henry Hardin Cherry in 1937, saying “no one ever knew what a good friend he had been to her.” She also liked Virginia Garrett, the wife of Cherry’s successor, because of their shared love of flowers. And when Bethie arrived at a friend’s house for lunch and realized that the friend had forgotten about the engagement, she “hot footed it down the alley,” said Martha, to spare the woman embarrassment.
Both Martha and Bethie were beset by failing eyesight in their later years, but reacted quite differently. “I know that Bethie can’t see as she should but she never admits it. All old people get that way,” said 82-year-old Martha of her 86-year-old sibling. After learning that, during dinner in a poorly lit room, Bethie had put down her fork and been unable to find it again, “I told her she should have just asked,” Martha wrote, “but she isn’t that way.”
Perhaps it was her willingness to let her older sister be herself that allowed Martha to coexist peacefully with Bethie until Martha’s death in 1963 at age 94. But hers was an early death, relatively speaking, for Bethie lived until 1967, reaching the age of 102.
Martha Potter’s letters about her sister Bethie are part of the Lissauer Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Special Collections Library. For more collections about Elizabeth Woods, the Potters and other Bowling Green families, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
WKU Libraries’ Educational Resources Center faculty, staff, and student workers participated in Student Appreciation Day at the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences on Wednesday, May 7. A steady flow of students visited the tables in front of Gary A. Ransdell Hall. In addition to samples of ERC materials that can be checked out, the Libraries table offered “Read” bracelets, candy, and a chance to win t-shirts, red towels, and book lights. Students also enjoyed using the Ellison Die Cuts to make bookmarks.
On May 1, WKU Libraries Assistant Professor Anthony Paganelli presented “Future Music Makerspace” for an Elementary Education Course at Elizabethtown.
The makerspace was a new concept to the students who enjoyed the presentation and were impressed with the possibilities of implementing the educational tool in their curriculum.