Monthly Archives: July 2014

War Bride Receives the Dreaded Telegram

Aline & Ralph Shrewsbury

Aline & Ralph Shrewsbury

“My Dearest”

“Last night was the first night that has gone by since I left you without my writing to you!  I think that was the hardest part of the whole day!  Oh, darling, I’ll never be able to tell you the anguish I’ve been in since I got that nasty telegram.  I thought–first–only that I’d never see you again–never wake up beside you anymore–never have your babies–never never anything anymore!  But then I thought of all the ways it were possible to get you out safely!  So now I’m beginning to hope again.”

So begins Aline Shrewsbury’s short journal on 4 August 1944, shortly after she received a telegram stating that her husband, Ralph Damon Shrewsubry, was missing in action.  The couple had been married less than two years when the dreadful missive arrived.  Aline’s journal from 4th to 21st of August 1944, along with photographs, service records, family correspondence, and news clippings documenting Ralph’s WWII career were recently donated to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Department of Library Special Collections by the couple’s daughter and former WKU Educational Resources Center librarian Becky (Shrewsbury) Leavy.


Becky Leavy donates the Shrewsbury Collection to Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Coordinator Jonathan Jeffrey

This small collection documents the story of the unlikely meeting, and subsequent whirlwind romance, of a Georgia medical secretary at Camp Blanding, Florida, Aline Lanier, and Lieutenant Ralph Shrewsbury from Caneyville, Kentucky.  Shewsbury had participated in ROTC training at WKU prior to the war.  Aline and Ralph married only a few months after meeting.  Wartime marriages are difficult for both partners, but the spouse left behind can imagine all types of distress.  Ralph did have quite an adventure after landing at Utah Beach in June 1944.  Part of the collection features Ralph’s narrative about his stay in a German-occupied hospital in France.  In relation to nourishment, he noted:  “The usual fare at the hospital was a tea made of apple leaves and a quarter of a loaf of bread for breakfast, and sometimes not even the bread.  At noon we received a very small bowl of thin soup.  For supper we usually had a bowl of soup or stew containing very little nourishment.  Some of the French people working in the hospital brought us eggs and bread on the sly.”  Eventually he escaped from a transport train en route to a POW camp.  After finding American soldiers, Shewsbury by chance reunited with his old WKU ROTC commander E.B. Crabill.  It is a small world after all.

To investigate other WWII collections archived at WKU, click here.

Comments Off on War Bride Receives the Dreaded Telegram

Filed under Uncategorized

“V” for Victory

Winston Churchill; signing pen for his honorary U.S. citizenship proclamation

Winston Churchill; signing pen for his honorary U.S. citizenship proclamation

It first appeared in Nazi-occupied Europe, then took hold in Great Britain.  Promoted by the BBC, the “V for Victory” campaign of World War II featured the letter “V” defiantly chalked on walls, sidewalks, streetcars and other public places, and its Morse code equivalent, three dots and a dash, musically rendered in the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth.  But its most iconic manifestation was the two-fingered sign unforgettably employed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  “The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny,” Churchill declared in a special message broadcast on July 19, 1941.

In 1963, Kentucky Congressman Frank Chelf took the floor of the House of Representatives as a co-sponsor of legislation to make the British leader an honorary U.S. citizen.  The son of an American mother, Churchill already commanded the deep affection of Chelf and his countrymen, but more importantly, Chelf declared, “as long as any of us shall live we shall carry the memory of the resolute, valiant Churchill . . . always holding his hand aloft, with his fingers forming his famous V-for-victory sign, standing as a shining symbol of hope and man’s determination to remain free.”

A week after Chelf’s speech, Churchill wrote a letter thanking him “for the very agreeable things you say about me and for the graceful way you expressed them.”  On April 9, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation conferring citizenship on Churchill, Chelf received the signing pen as a souvenir.

The papers of Frank Chelf, which include his work for Churchill’s honorary citizenship, are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For more political collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on “V” for Victory

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Brian E. Coutts received the Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award

Brian Coutts

Brian E. Coutts, Department Head, WKU Libraries

Brian E. Coutts received the Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award from David Horowitz, Vice-President of Sales for CQ/SAGE at a June 29, 2014 luncheon for the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The luncheon was held at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Brian Coutts Award

Past Winners: Lisa Norberg (Library Dean, Barnard College); Graham Walden, Head, Geology Library, Ohio State University; Bruce Pencek, College Librarian for Social Sciences & History, Virginia Tech; Brian Coutts

The award, established in 1996 by LPSS, honors an academic or law librarian who has made distinguished contributions to bibliography and information service in law or political science. It consists of a plaque and a check for a $1,000.

Brian Coutts Award

This award honors Marta Lange, 1990-91 Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) Chair, whose exceptional talents as a leader were enhanced by a wonderful collegial spirit. Her bright career, cut short in a fatal automobile accident in 1992, was an inspiration to others and a model of professional service.

Here is the link to the interview:

Comments Off on Brian E. Coutts received the Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Fourth!

Nathaniel Lucas's letter; modern July 4 fireworks

Nathaniel Lucas’s letter and modern July 4 fireworks

Robert Clay Blain, Jr., of Lincoln County, Kentucky was only 21 in 1839 when he composed “Union,” an eloquent love letter to his country.

“For more than fifty years,” he wrote, “has this union been formed–formed by those generous patriots who valliantly contended & nobly achieved their ‘dear bought liberties’–by those . . . who taught the haughty sons of Britton, that those contending for the cause of freedom are invincible.  It was union, Blain continued, that had been “the grand cause of our country’s prosperity” and had guided its founders to victory.  “Cemented by love and dearest ties of national interest, did these brave souls promulgate a declaration of their right; and fearlessly continued their course thro’ blood and fields of deepest sorrow until freedom was established.”

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections has many resources relating to the War of Independence including veterans’ pension applications, land grants to soldiers rewarding them for their service, and data assembled in the 1960s by WKU librarian Elizabeth Coombs on Revolutionary War veterans with connections to Warren County and southcentral Kentucky.  We even have a letter written by Nathaniel Lucas to his future wife just before the decisive battle of Yorktown.  “There is great appearance of success in our taking Lord Cornwallis,” he declared.  “Our army is very strong.”

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections.  For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on Happy Fourth!

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives