For this National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), here are a few collections in the Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. Created primarily by students, they use interviews, photos, audio and video to document the customs and folkways of Kentucky’s Hispanic communities.
A 2005 folklife project profiled a Hispanic restaurant and grocery store in Frankfort, Kentucky, called La Chiquita. Both video and photos show a business alive with food, merchandise, music and unique decor.
In 2011, students in WKU’s Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology began an oral history and folklife survey of Allen County, Kentucky. Their work included an interview with resident John Hernandez about growing up in the county, speaking “Spanglish,” Hispanic foodways, and traditional 15th birthday celebrations known as “Quinceaneras.”
At the 2004 Shelbyville, Kentucky Heritage Festival, folklorists captured audio and video of the community’s increasingly diverse population, including its lively Hispanic-Latino culture.
And in 2007, student Linda Perez researched ghost stories and beliefs of the Hispanic community. Her informants, natives of Mexico and Guatemala, told her stories of the supernatural, including “La Llorona,” an eerily wailing, shape-shifting female spirit whose presence is often invoked to get a child to behave. Perez’s own husband described a “real life” ghost encounter when, at 8 years old, he came too close to a spirit masquerading as his father in the family’s cornfield, and required a folk healing ritual to recover from the ghost’s attempt to steal his soul.