Tag Archives: dogs

Dog Days

Bertha Lindsay and Penny

Bertha Lindsay and Penny

With National Dog Day (Aug. 26) recently past, here are a few items in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections that feature appearances by man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

Bertha Lindsay (1897-1990), an eldress of the Canterbury, New Hampshire Shaker colony and a friend of WKU Shaker scholar Julia Neal, had a silhouette made with her golden retriever, Penny.  Bertha played Frisbee with Penny until she (Bertha, that is) was well into her 80s.



While on vacation in 1945, WKU librarian Margie Helm received a long report (no doubt at her insistence) from her dogsitter in Bowling Green.  “Now Jiggs is fine,” she assured Margie.  Despite a bout with fleas, and once scampering to the door when he thought he heard Margie’s car horn, the little fox terrier was content with his temporary family, sharing their meals of corn bread, muffins, baloney and chicken, and displaying some jealousy when the household’s children got a greater share of attention.

In letters from Alaska, gold prospector Abram H. Bowman of Louisville took a more utilitarian view of his dogs.  “Anyone coming into this country should bring lots of dogs as you can always sell them for a good price,” he wrote his uncle in 1898.  “You have no idea what a tremendous load these little dogs can pull,” he added.  “But they are like lots of people.  When you want to hitch them up you better not have the harness in your hand or you will never catch them.”

And for WKU art professor Ivan Wilson, dogs were both helpmates and beloved members of the family.  Enduring a long hospitalization in 1927, he dreamed of roaming over the countryside with his colleague, English professor John Clagett, and their favorite hunting dog, “Boy.”  Wilson’s papers also include a eulogy for his Irish setter “Rufus the Red,” better known as “Poody.”  Warning: readers should have a hankie ready when they peruse this tender tribute.

Ivan Wilson, John Clagett, and "Boy"

Ivan Wilson, John Clagett, and “Boy”

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

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Advice from Miss Margie

Margie Helm, her ancestors, and "Jiggs"

Margie Helm, her ancestors, and “Jiggs”

After processing the papers of Margie May Helm (1894-1991) in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, we have learned  a great deal about the woman who played important roles in building both the campus library system and the Bowling Green Public Library.

A native of Auburn, Kentucky, Margie Helm moved to Bowling Green as a teenager and was valedictorian of the first graduating class (1912) of Bowling Green High School.  She received her library training at New York’s Pratt Institute and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.  She joined WKU in 1920 and retired from her post as Director of Library Services in 1965.  Today, the Margie Helm Library, the Margie Helm Award, the Margie Helm Library Fund, and the Rodes-Helm Lecture Series remind us of the contributions of Miss Margie and her family to quality education at WKU.

“Aunt Margie,” remembered her niece Jane (Helm) Baker, “had three great loves in life: Family, the church, and Western.”  Indeed, her papers document not just her closeness to her parents, her three brothers and their families, but her spirituality (she was the first woman elder of the Bowling Green Presbyterian Church) and her heritage.  Research and correspondence traces Margie’s descent from no fewer than 8 Revolutionary War patriots, a lineage that made her a high draft pick for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames of America.

The keepsakes in her papers also show us a more personal side of Miss Margie: the wisp of blonde hair clipped from her 22-month-old head; poems and party favors; and photos of her adored fox terriers “Peter,” “Jiggs” and “Topsy.”  We also find her “notes to self” in which she contemplates the ingredients of a life well lived.  “While I was out walking with Jiggs tonight,” she scribbled on a piece of paper in 1941, “I decided that these were the essentials for happiness: 1. A clear conscience; 2.  A desire to do something for other people; 3.  A lively interest in something and at least some opportunity to develop it.”

After her death in 1991, her niece found this advice from Miss Margie, written on a small slip of paper:

My Philosophy

 1.  The golden rule.

2.  Make things simple and harmonious.

3.  Don’t be sensitive.  People are not thinking about you.

Click here to access a collection finding aid.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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