Tag Archives: Rodes-Helm Lecture Series

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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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Rodes-Helm Lecture Series

On September 27, 1961 the College Heights Herald announced the $25,000 endowment of the Rodes-Helm Lecture Series.  The money was donated by Harold and Mary (Rodes) Helm in honor of two individuals close to them.

John Rodes was a judge in the Warren County circuit court described as “one of the most distinguished jurists in the South.”  Judge Rodes was a native of Bowling Green and graduate of Ogden College.  He went on to study law at the University of Virginia.  He was also the father of Mary Grider Rodes Helm.

Margie Helm, Harold’s sister was born in Auburn, Kentucky and grew in Bowling Green.  She attended Randolph Macon Women’s College, Pratt Institute Library School and Chicago Graduate Library School.  She returned to Bowling Green in 1920 taking the position of assistant librarian at WKU.   In 1923 she was appointed head librarian and held that position for 42 years.  Two years after her retirement, WKU rededicated the library building as the Margie Helm Library in her honor.

Kelly Thompson stated that the Rodes-Helm Lecture Series “will be used to bring to the Western campus, personalities, thinkers and speakers whom we might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet.”  Some of those have included Pearl Buck, William Buckley, Chet Huntley, Buckminster Fuller and Charles Kuralt to name a few.  

The record series includes programs, press releases and recordings of some lectures.  The initial press conference announcing the gift and establishment of the lecture series was recorded on a 33 1/3 lp which is also part of the collection.  The finding aid for the series is available online at: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_fin_aid/123/  Researchers can use view and listen to the items in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Building, Monday-Saturday, 9-4.


Filed under Events, University Archives