Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Date in History

A photo of Eastern Kentucky State Normal School girls gardening about 1918 is featured on this Date in History, a mobile app for Android and Apple created by LaGuardia Wagner Archives. Check it out.
The QR code takes you to the Android app.
QR Code

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

1937 Flood

In January, 1937, seventy-five years ago, six to twelve inches of rain fell in Ohio over a ten day period causing wide scale flooding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. The floods left a million people homeless and communities throughout Kentucky were called upon to help house the refugees.

Special Collections and Archives has several collections that contain information about the floods. Hidden in the Lilly Family Papers is a folder of items that document the refugees that were housed at the First Christian Church. This documentation includes thank-you letters from the families after they returned to their homes and cards for all the men who stayed in the church as well as other memos from the Red Cross relating to the organization of relief efforts.

A scrapbook compiled at the time includes newspaper clippings of various articles about Louisville during and after the flood as well as several photo postcards.

Dr. Henry G. Wells, Director of the Madison County Health Department, worked in Greenup County from January 30 through February 16 aiding in the flood relief effort. His records from that time period are in the archives.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eastern Students had Fun, Fun, Fun til the Beach Boys Drove Away

Today, we often see event and concert postings all over campus from various organizations including Student Life and the Student Government Association's Student Activities Council. But where and when did this tradition begin? Sure, we have had awesome concerts like Hinder and Bowling for Soup, but who else has graced EKU's stage? Better yet, who started the tradition with some "good vibrations?" That's right. The answer is none other than than the famous surfing sound of the Beach Boys.
In 1966-67, Eastern formed a fund and special committee known as the All-Campus Entertainment Committee to research and bring entertainment to students on campus. Their first act of business was hosting the Beach Boys at Alumni Colliseum on April 20, 1967 at 8pm. Compared to today's average ticket cost of $150, students only paid $2 for the performance!

However, before the Beach Boys took the stage, they took to the dirt on the baseball diamond, warming up with some softball. Bass guitarist Bruce Johnston commented to the Eastern Progress that, "This is what we miss most; the chance to lead normal lives and enjoy the things other people are able to take part in."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Student Projects Unveiled at Archives Month Event

Special Collections and Archives and the Crabbe Library hosted Eastern's first ever Archives Month event last night. The event unveiled two new websites created with archival materials and resources using Omeka software. Both websites are fully functional, but are still works in progress, so have more features yet to come.

Madison's Heritage Online was developed by Kathryn Engle. Kathryn wanted to make the column "Madison's Heritage", written by Dr. Robert Grise and Dr. Fred Engle, more accessible to researchers. To do this she tracked down, organized and digitized over 2000 vignettes of local history that had appeared in the Richmond Register since 1969. These articles are now searchable and are more accessible than ever before.

Historic Madison was developed by Daniel Weddington to provide online accessibility to Madison County Rediscovered, by Lavinia Kubiak. This out-of-print title is full of information about the historic architecture of Madison County. Daniel retyped the information in the book, organized and digitized the photographs and added additional functionality, such as virtual tours of various locations built with Google maps. These tours can also be opened on a smart phone allowing users to access the information during a walking or driving tour.

Dr. Rob Weise also talked about the importance of archives in his research and the importance of preserving the records for future scholars. Dr. Weise received the 2011 Collins Award for a recent article in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Special Collections and Archives staff would like to give a big thanks to all who worked so hard to make this event a success.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Martha Layne Collins Oral History Project

A few weeks ago, I received the opportunity to do a project on Martha Layne Collins who was the first female governor for the state of Kentucky. While working on this project, I had the responsibility of writing abstracts and creating keywords for a set of tapes that contained Libby Fraas's interviews with some of the people involved in the Collins's administration, which included Harrison Hickman, Joe Prather, Bob Stewart, Ted Sauer, Crit Luallen, Mary Helen Miller, and Duke Gordon. During these interviews, she questioned the individuals about how each of them became involved in politics, how Mrs. Collins ran her administration, how the governor was able to convince a Japanese company to move its Toyota plant to Kentucky, and how they were able to establish an education reform package for the state.

Although all of the topics listed above were interesting, I have to say that I found the story of Martha Layne Collins's emerging political career the most fascinating because she did not start out as a politician or a politician's wife. Instead of having a background in politics, she was just a hardworking home economics school teacher who sought to make a difference for the people of her beloved state through her teaching. It was just by chance that Mrs. Collins became a politician. According to the interviews done with the former governor, she just happened to stumble onto a career in politics when she began participating in local school and community organizations. Her involvement with various organizations fueled her interest in politics and made her want to learn more about the world of politics. In order to learn more about the field, she volunteered her services to local senatorial campaigns where she stuffed envelopes, answered phones, created fliers, etc. Eventually, her hard work in politics was noticed and she was talked into running for clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1975, which she won. This victory set Martha Layne Collins on a long and successful political career that would last until 1987.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Battle of Civil Rights: An Eastern Perspective

As students of the 21st century, it is easy to take the circumstances of daily living for granted (especially in the summer). Some sign up for classes and many may apply for financial aid to get through such classes. Then we zoom through a 6-8 week course and are ready to move on, easily forgetting the little effort that it took to achieve such tasks. But there are some students who we'll never forget in the fight of equality, especially those with such diligence as Andrew Miller, EKU's first African-American student.

Andrew Miller, who had already attended the University of Cincinnati, had been teaching at Richmond High School prior to 1950 with the help of Eastern's President Dr. William Francis O'Donnell (president from 1941 to 1960). Thanks to the amendment of the Day Law(named after Carl Day of Breathitt County who was adamantly opposed to desegregation) in 1948, colleges no longer had to abide by segregation laws and could decide admittance for themselves. In March 1950, Miller appealed to President O'Donnell once again, but this time to take classes to further his education and obtain a master's degree. O'Donnell was reluctant and suggested the University of Kentucky (who had admitted their first black student the previous year). Miller attended UK until 1954, when financial burden and his mother's illness kept him in Richmond. In the meantime, Miller persistently contacted O'Donnell, explaining the situation and asking admittance, since most every other college had already actively desegregated.

From 1954 to 1955, O'Donnell and the Board of Regents remained in favor of segregation and held out African-American admittance until the Board of Regents meeting in March 1956. O'Donnell and the Board then concluded that they had no other choice due to the Board on Higher Education's upholding desegregation and the Supreme Court's ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954).

In the summer of 1956, O'Donnell allowed Miller to be admitted into the graduate school and he graduated with his master's degree in teaching in the 1958-1959 school year. In 1961, Anne Peyton Spann became the first black student to complete all four underclassmen years at Eastern and graduate. Despite this breakthrough, the students at Eastern still waived Confederate flags at occasional ball games due to other schools having many black athletes.

However, even as soon as 1958, some students were beginning to show a different stance on segregation and expressed their disdain for Eastern's actions and reluctance in the Progress. In 1959, the Progress quoted, "Our government does not ask too much of us to at least give this issue on integration a chance."

In the following years, Eastern grew in leaps and bounds, undergoing a complete 180 degree change of attitude. Not only did Eastern open its doors to black students, but in 1967, the university hired the first black professor, James Way. Way taught in the industrial technology department until 1983 and quoted to the Progress in a February 1989 issue, "As far as teaching was concerned, there were no social differences. As far as the department was concerned, I worked with fine people."

Monday, April 18, 2011

You Never Know What You'll Find in the Archives

Hi, it’s Cherrelle Harris again. My latest project that I’ve been working on is organizing a collection of photos taken by a man named Jimmy Taylor. I scanned the images and entered them into the EKU Archives image database. The collection dates from 1940 to 1972. Jimmy was born August 6, 1913. According to Kentucky death records, Jimmy Taylor died at age 61 on April 9, 1975 in Madison County. According to the Lexington Herald, he was a professional photographer. He owned a restaurant called Jimmy’s Restaurant. Jimmy was survived by his wife Beulah Day Taylor. His funeral was at First United Methodist Church and he was buried in Richmond Cemetery. Jimmy’s photo collection was donated to our library archives by his wife, Beulah, in 1976.

I found something very cool when organizing the Jimmy Taylor photo collection here in the archives. One day during my project I discovered that a few images were missing. The missing photos were of a wedding here in Madison county. When we found the hard copies I recognized the people in the photo. The first person I could identify was my dad’s brother, Paul Harris. In the photo he’s maybe 8 years-old. The next person I recognized was my Uncle Bobby. I was staring at the picture and was immediately shocked at what I found. A picture with some of my family members in it at my job was the last thing I expected to find.

Jackie suggested I write a blog about it, but I couldn’t remember the other people in the photo. The name I found on the back of the photo was Anne Harris. I called my dad to ask him about the picture. My Uncle Paul told my dad that he was the ring bearer at their Uncle Leon and Aunt Anne’s wedding when he was 8. I didn’t recognize Uncle Leon at first, but when my dad told me who he was I immediately remembered him. I met him during one of our several family reunions. I can’t recall if I’ve ever met Anne. This experience has taught me that a lot more than we think can be discovered in the archives, we just have to look for it. You never know what you’ll find.