Monthly Archives: September 2015

Reconstruction-Era Broadside Outlines Democratic Party Woes

The Kentucky Library Research Collections in the Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare broadside related to civil rights in Kentucky after the Civil War which includes a blistering attack on Democrats who were supportive of Reconstruction and universal male suffrage. The broadside was addressed to voters in Henderson County, but it discussed political wrangling within Kentucky’s Democratic Party.

FullSizeRenderThe broadside begins with a diatribe against the “Radical party led by the dominant majority in Congress on the one side and the friends of Constitutional government on the other—This Radical party is led by those men in the North, who for many years have been notorious sectional agitators, enemies of the Union and the Constitution, and who ceased to proclaim their hostility to them both, only when the war offered them the means of gratifying their malignity, and effecting their sectional and selfish ends.”

After providing a list of 5 grievances that the state party had with national leaders, the broadside writer turns his attention to recent events within Kentucky’s Democratic Party.  Chief among them was two conventions called to elect a state party leader.  Both meetings were held in Louisville; one in May and the other in June.  The more conservative faction of the party elected Alvin Duvall as party chairman, and the liberal leaning members elected General Edward H. Hobson.  Interestingly, the writer never refers to Hobson by his full name, only as General Hobson.  He had no kind words for the General, saying “Hobson is supported by every radical newspaper in the State, and every one, which has delighted to stigmatize Northern Democrats as copperheads and traitors.  And his election is advocated and desired and will be hailed as a cheering omen by every radical man and newspaper in the North, who has spoken or who will speak of it.”

The writer surmised that if Duvall was elected as the true leader of the Kentucky’s Democratic Party, “the friends of the Constitution will accept it as a cheering omen of approaching triumph, as the breaking light of a glorious morn, and after a long and dreary, and almost hopeless night, and encouraged by the omen, will follow Kentucky’s lead as in 1798, to a universal national triumph, and the restoration of our ancient liberties.”

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Filed under Uncategorized

1866 Stereoviews of Mammoth Cave

mc28The Department of Library Special Collections at WKU recently acquired a complete set of Charles L. Waldack’s 1866 stereoviews of Mammoth Cave. The collection of 42  stereoviews are magnesium light views about Mammoth Cave, and include scenes of the Hotel, guests, the African American cave guides, and many interior shots of cave formations. Stereoviews, also known as stereoscopic photographs or stereographs, were introduced in the early 19th century for viewing two almost identical images through a stereoscope to offer a 3D illusion.

Originally from Belgium, Waldack came to the United States in 1857, and is the first photographer of the cave. Waldack was noted for bringing “sunlight” to the interior of the cave by the use of magnesium to create images of the cave and the surrounding area.  The 42 views of Mammoth Cave were published by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co.

According to the Journal of Speleological History, “These were the first high quality photographs produced underground in any cave.” Waldack had a photography shop at 31West 3rd Street in Cincinnati and made many excellent views between 1857 and 1873. His most significant were his 42 stereoviews of Mammoth Cave. Twelve of his photographs were printed as engravings in the 1870 book A Historical and Descriptive Narrative of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky by William S. Forwood.

“WKU has long been a premier research institution for speleology and karst studies, and we have a particular interest and emphasis on Mammoth Cave due to its proximity and its long history as a tourist destination,” said Jonathan Jeffrey, Department head for WKU’s Library Special Collections.  “The Waldack stereograph collection is a major and unique acquisition for WKU; we are thrilled to make them available to our researchers.”

These stereoviews can be seen by visiting or by viewing it on the KenCat collection at;keyword=waldack;dtype=d

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Filed under Acquisitions, Latest News

WKU Librarians teach genealogy and local sources

On August 22, 2015 at the Cave City Convention Center, Katherine Pennavaria and Sue Lynn McDaniel presented a total of four of the ten sessions aimed assisting genealogists in their research at “Finding Your Family Story: Genealogy Symposium.” In the morning, McDaniel presented Beginning Genealogy 101-Part I and Beginning Genealogy 101-Part II, while that afternoon Pennavaria presented “Dancing with your skeltons” and “What else does the census say?” All four sessions were well attended and received positive feedback from participants.

Informing local historians and genealogists about Library Special Collections is a constant goal.

Informing local historians and genealogists about Library Special Collections is a constant goal.

Library Special Collections also had a table informing the public about one of the best genealogical libraries in the state of Kentucky. Available for pickup were Special Collections rack cards, WKU Libraries: Your Research Partner, McDaniel’s business card, WKU Libraries pens and candy. McDaniel plans to have a table at the upcoming Louisville Genealogical Society’s Annual Seminar on October 17th. Working with the LGS Seminar Chairman 2014 and 2015 Donald C. Howell, McDaniel will plan a Louisville Genealogical Society field trip to Library Special Collections to learn more about unique resources in our collection.

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Filed under Events, People

Back in Time – August

We’re changing up the format a bit due to the website audit. We will be highlighting documents, photos and events which took place 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago.rotate1

25 years ago – Student Activities & Organizations 1989-90 Annual Report

50 years ago – Photos of students moving into the dorms in 1965.

75 years ago – Nina Hammer Oral History.  William Jenkins interviewed the former Bowling Green Business University Registrar about her time as a student and working at the BU.

100 years ago – Photo of the WKU student body in 1915

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Filed under University Archives

His Dream Home

J. C. Browning

J. C. Browning

In thousands of World War II soldiers’ letters in the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, servicemen express their patriotism, love of family, apprehension, boredom, determination, and a host of other emotions.  Reading of a man’s hopes for the future, however, is especially moving if we know that he didn’t make it home to realize those hopes and dreams.

Edmonson County, Kentucky native James “J.C.” Browning left his teaching job, wife Lila and infant daughter for service with the U.S. Army at Fort Knox in August 1941.  He trained in Ireland, then embarked for North Africa, where he was killed in November 1942 during the Allied invasion campaign known as Operation Torch.  But J.C.’s letters to Lila rarely dwelt upon the threats he faced (he seemed more worried about what would happen to their baby if Lila died while he was overseas!)  Instead, he returned time and again to one of his fondest wishes: that after the war they would purchase a home.  As these excerpts from his letters show, J.C.’s dream was vivid, and no doubt sustained him until his death:

If we really save while I am in the army this year we can make a down payment on our home somewhere. . . . We would admire it and love it as we made it better and better.  I’m really looking forward to that.

I would like to buy a home as quickly as we can. . . .  It takes an awful long time to build up a farm home that we would be proud of.  That is what I want and I will never be satisfied until we get started on it.

We want a very fertile farm close to town.  It should contain about 80 or 90 acres and have the modern conveniences of town.  In other words we want a town home out in the country.

Remember that we have a home to establish and it is a semi-country home.  It should contain about a hundred acres of good land and a tenant house because most of our work will be done for the public.

We must select a good location, one that we would like when we are old as well as now.  We should know what we are going to be doing 10, 20 or more years from now.  We must think and plan things to the best of our ability.

Click here to access a finding aid for J. C. Browning’s letters to his wife Lila.  For other World War II collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives