Minute obstacles can cause huge delays when moving armies. If anyone doubts this, they need only see how a small accident or distraction can stymy traffic on a major interstate. During wars, strategic transportation routes are often heavily reconnitored or destroyed in order to impede an army’s progress. In Kentucky roads and railroads were of major importance for moving troops and supplies during the Civil War, particularly in the interior. Steamboats were more significant on the Commonwealth’s perimeters.
A Civil War era illustration from Frank Leslie’s.
In a letter recently donated to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Department of Library Special Collections, Confederate J.J. Williams writes to his wife Emeline about how the southern army had played menace with the Louisville and Nashville railroad, which had only recently been completed through Bowling Green. To disable the railroad, Williams wrote, “our men had torn up the rail road some 5 or 6 miles and Blowed up the tunnel and burnt the ties[,] beat the rails to pieces with a Sledg[e].” They wreaked further havoc by blockading the Louisville and Nashville road “by cutting the trees a cross it for a bout 3 miles and Some other Place they have plowed up the road so they can not haul a thing a long it.” To see the finding aid for this small collection and a typescript of the letter, click here.
To search finding aids for hundreds of other Civil War letters in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit, click here.
The salutation of J.J. Williams’ letter to his wife, 13 January 1862.
As the memory of WKU, WKU Archives maintains records of past employees. Often, this information can be found as part of the records of various departments or committees, in university publications, and other places where the imprint of their presence can be found on the historical record. In particular, past employees generally have a personnel file. Personnel files have been designated as record group UA1D and become available to researchers after the employee has been separated from the university for 30 years or upon his or her death.
During 2015, record group UA1D has undergone significant expansion. Catalog entries for UA1D have also been revised so researchers can find information more easily.
Biographical Vertical Files Integrated
Before computer cataloging, newspaper clippings and other items regarding employees of the university were maintained in “vertical files.” Over time, these files grew to over six cubic feet. These were stored in the closed stacks and not catalogued in KenCat because they were not considered part of the collections, but rather as a reference tool. These materials have now been integrated into UA1D files so researchers can find them using KenCat. In some cases, this means a file exists for an employee who is still alive and is still employed by the university. The personnel file materials will be added to these files and become available to researchers in the future once they meet the criteria, above. Continue reading