Monthly Archives: May 2015

“Sober Rejoicing”

World War II-era envelope illustration (SC 1819)

World War II-era envelope illustration (SC 1819)

On May 7, 1945, only two weeks after the funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the White House press office issued a short statement: the new president, Harry S. Truman, planned “to make an announcement to the nation by radio at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.”  The end of World War II in Europe was at hand.

The press release was probably typed by Elizabeth (Phillips) Brite, a Bowling Green native, graduate of the Bowling Green Business University, and secretary to White House press secretary Jonathan W. Daniels.  Elizabeth was uniquely situated to witness Washington’s anticipation of the Nazi surrender.  On May 1, Truman had authorized Daniels to state that should hostilities cease, the President would “emphasize the necessity for thankfulness and for continuation by all Americans in the great war job which still lies before us.”  On May 2, the State Department released a chronology of the week’s negotiations with Germany–the summons of a Swedish intermediary, German commander Heinrich Himmler’s secret peace offer and his claim that Hitler was fatally ill, and America’s coordination with its British and Soviet allies.  Having demanded that capitulation be unconditional and delivered to all three Allied governments, President Truman agreed with London and Moscow that their announcements of victory would be simultaneous.

In Truman’s May 1 message, he had hoped that “there will be no celebration” in light of the unfinished struggle against Japan.  Fred Vinson, a Kentuckian directing the Office of War Mobilization, took a similar stance.  The government would “not attempt to prescribe a rigid rule of conduct” for local celebrations of victory, but he urged that there be no break in war production and “no greater interruption of normal activity than the peoples’ sense of sober rejoicing demands.”  Although many heeded his request for restraint, Victory in Europe Day–May 8, 1945, which also happened to be President Truman’s birthday–nevertheless brought jubilation.

Press releases and other materials relating to V-E Day are part of the Henry and Elizabeth Brite Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives holdings of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here to access a finding aid.  For other World War II collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

World War II-era envelope illustration (SC 1819) mocking Hitler by using the name of his father's unwed mother.

World War II-era envelope illustration (SC 1819) mocking Hitler by using the name of his father’s unwed mother.

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WKU students receive undergraduate library research awards


Western Kentucky University students Logan Secrest (Buffalo, Ohio) and Wesley Osborne (Owensboro, Kentucky) received undergraduate research awards at a recognition ceremony in Cravens Library on Monday May 4, 2015.  WKU Libraries and WKU University Experience faculty offer the awards in an effort to recognize the important role of good undergraduate research in college academic success.

“We look forward to honoring students for these research awards each semester,” said Sara McCaslin, University Experience Coordinator. “It’s a pleasure to spotlight students who have shown exceptional information literacy and research skills through their class projects. This critical skills set will aid them throughout their college careers as well as in life.”

Secrest is finishing his first year at WKU, transferring from the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Montana. He received his award for his annotated bibliography on a Ted Talk analysis with Shawn Achor’s The happy secret to better work.  His instructor was Cort Basham from the main campus University Experience class.

Osborne, a first-year student interested in Technology Management, received his award for the best career essay titled “Industrial Production Management.” His instructor was Anne Heintzman from the South Campus University Experience class.

Students received a monetary gift along with a plaque honoring their achievements. The winning documents, along with those of past recipients, are posted on TopSCHOLAR–WKU’s research and creative database—at For more information, contact Amanda Drost, chair of awards committee, at 270-745-2962.

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153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla

On the fifth of May each year Latinos in the United States and Mexicans everywhere commemorate the defeat of French troops near Puebla on May 5, 1862. On June 27, 1862 the New York Times reported “that the news of the unequivocal and complete defeat of the French army in Mexico will astound, not only France, but all Europe…” Mexican General Beriozabel was quoted in the Chicago Tribune on June 14, 1862 “We have taken some prisoners, who have been sent to the fortress, and have collected more than three hundred dead belonging to the enemy.”


The Battle of Puebla, 5 May, 1862 (oil) Mexican School, (19th century), hangs in Museo Nacional de Historia, Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico

The Battle of Puebla, 5 May, 1862 (oil) Mexican School, (19th century),
hangs in Museo Nacional de Historia, Castillo de Chapultepec, Mexico

Next to the celebration of national independence, Cinco de Mayo is the most important civic holiday celebrated in Mexico today. Each year, Mexicans commemorate 5 May, 1862 through dances, patriotic speeches, parades, and in Puebla itself there is a simulation of the battle staged by the Ministry of War. In the United States, people of Mexican heritage also celebrate Cinco de Mayo as a reaffirmation of their identity. The holiday has become more culturally inclusive over the twentieth century as community events in the U.S. and the increasing Americanization of younger generations of Latinos. Still today, Cinco de Mayo continues to serve its original purpose of remembering the past and celebrating identity.

To read more about how commemoration of this battle became the background for the celebration of Hispanic pride in the United States, check out:

El Cinco De Mayo: An American Tradition by David E. Hayes-Bautista, available in Cravens Library and in e-book edition

El Cinco De Mayo: An American Tradition
by David E. Hayes-Bautista, available in Cravens Library
and in e-book edition

Encyclopedia of Latino Culture: From Calaveras to Quinceañeras edited by Charles M. Tatum, available in Helm Library, Reference

Encyclopedia of Latino Culture: From Calaveras to Quinceañeras edited by Charles M. Tatum, available in Helm Library, Reference

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos & Latinas in the United States edited by Suzanne Oboler & Deena J. González, available in Helm Library, Reference

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos & Latinas in the United States edited by Suzanne Oboler & Deena J. González,
available in Helm Library, Reference


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by Carolyn Otto & José Manuel Alamillo,
available at ERC


Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade & Nanci Reginelli Vargus,
available at ERC

Accounts of the battle are reported in our Historic New York Times and Chicago Tribune, and articles about Cinco de Mayo can be found on databases provided by WKU Libraries, such as JSTOR.


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WKU Libraries receives national recognition for public relations campaign

ignite_190x240Western  Kentucky University Libraries received the “Award for Excellence” in the Library Public Relations Materials category at the awards banquet for the Academic Library Advancement and Development Network (ALADN) conference held in San Diego on Tuesday, April 21. The ALADN conference brings deans, advancement officers, and library professionals together to discuss current issues and share insights into the challenges of higher education fundraising as well as the importance of enhancing awareness of the resources and expertise found in academic and research libraries. All participating institutions are invited to enter materials into three of the ten categories which promote their institutions and advance their missions.

WKU Libraries’ award-winning materials featured WKU students from LibraryCampaign_Pottery190x240different colleges and disciplines on campus in an effort to highlight the student and his/her major, and bring a general awareness to the libraries. Jennifer Wilson, WKU Libraries Marketing Coordinator and campaign organizer, said the advertising targeted the campus community and displayed the promotion on digital screens across the university, display ads in the College Heights Herald, images on the library website, large 22×30 inch posters in the main campus library Commons area, and through social media.

According to Kathleen Schmand, Director of Development and Communications for the Cline Library at Northern Arizona University and committee member of the awards program, the organizers recruit a cross mix of judges from marketing, development, and communications backgrounds.  This librarycampaigncookingyear the selection committee was comprised of marketing and development professionals from San Diego State University.

“ALADN attendees always provide a wonderful display of materials for the awards and the general marketplace,” said Schmand. “2015 was no exception. Through the marketplace we can share the amazing ideas created to tell the story of how a library contributes to the institution and ultimately the success of its students.”

Other contributors to the award included WKU Libraries Dean Connie Foster, WKU Photographers Clinton Lewis and Bryan Lemon, and WKU Graphic Design Student Patric Peters.

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WKU Archives Intern

Ryun Warren

Ryun Warren, center, reviewing architectural drawings with fellow members of American Institute of Architecture Students.

My name is Ryun Warren, and I am a junior at WKU majoring in Architectural Sciences. This semester (Spring 2015) I had the opportunity to research, process, and catalog over two hundred sets of construction drawings pertaining to several projects on campus dating from the 1930s to the 2000s (UA30/1/1). Within these documents I was able to see how the design and drafting process has evolved over time, especially in regards to major technological advancements in the field (i.e. Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) software). The art of hand drafting has almost become a lost art with the efficiency of computer software in a fast-paced society. However, the majority of these sets of construction documents were hand drawn and reveal the level of detail and thought given to each building that is or has been a part of The Hill. From Van Meter Hall to the original Ogden College buildings, from iconic Cherry Hall to Diddle Arena, I was fortunate enough to be able to not only study architectural history but to study the history of our college campus, its story throughout time as told through its construction.

The importance of preserving this story was impressed upon me throughout my stay in the WKU Archives. Proper storage is the only way to ensure that these beautiful drawings withstand the test of time and are available for future generations to study and admire.

With over two hundred sets of drawings stored in various locations, a detailed catalog must be kept. I was trained to enter these drawings into PastPerfect – the cataloging database software used by WKU Library Special Collections to easily sort and process all of the documents, photographs, and manuscripts within its possession. These are available online through KenCat. In addition to PastPerfect, I created and maintained a detailed spreadsheet specifically for the construction documents containing such information as project title, associated buildings, drawing dates, architect(s) of record, and references to the PastPerfect photo entries where applicable (UA1C9).

1D3815This experience has truly been informative as both a study of architecture and a study of my WKU home. The history of this campus as told through its buildings is arguably as telling as any other means of relating the history of how The Hill came to be. Likewise, the proposed buildings and the thought of what WKU could have looked like if a different design won a bid provokes thought as to why a certain bid may have won and how people would interact differently with campus and with each other.

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Pauline’s Limited Edition

Pauline's cover          Pauline's titlepage.

From the 1930’s through the 1960’s Bowling Green Kentucky was home to one of the longest operating brothels in the history of the United States. Initially located in a small colonial-style house on Smallhouse Road, the business was opened in 1933 by Pauline Tabor, a divorced mother of two, who had been struggling to make ends meet during the Depression. In the 1940’s, the brothel was moved to a red brick house located at 627 Clay Street, where it managed to stay in business until 1968. Pauline Tabor is regarded by historians as an adroit businesswoman who was generous with her workers and who gave generously to charities and the local community.

In 1971, Tabor published her autobiography, Pauline’s: Memoirs of the Madam on Clay Street, which details her life story and experiences as a madam of the longest running brothel in the United States. The memoir also features photographs, portraits, and illustrations by jazz album cover artist David Stone Martin.

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a limited edition copy of Pauline’s, which is numbered and signed by the author. This deluxe copy was gifted by Lillian Levy of Prospect, Kentucky, and is bound in red plush velvet with gold edges and has a gold locket clasp. Special Collections also has an additional velvet copy bound with blank pages, which was likely intended to be used as a diary or journal. Both are accompanied by their own keys.

Click here to access the catalog record for this unique limited edition copy. Special Collections also has other editions of Pauline’s which can be located by searching TOPCAT.

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On the 45th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, read our 2010 blog about a Kent State professor’s letter to WKU librarian Julia Neal in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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Protest March

We were recently contacted by the May 4 Visitors Center at Kent State University to participate in the 45th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. According to the email WKU was one of 1250 universities and colleges that held protest demonstrations in the week that followed that Monday tragedy.  And indeed on Tuesday, May 6th WKU students joined the nationwide protest against the shootings and the escalation of the Vietnam War.   That protest began a two week sparring match between students and WKU administration. Continue reading

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