Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Oral Histories on ExploreUK

We’re pleased to announce the following Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History interviews are now available on ExploreUK.

Alben W. Barkley Oral History Project | 14 interviews from 1953
A native of Graves County, Alben William Barkley (1877—1956) was a prosecuting attorney and judge in McCracken County, served in the United States House of Representatives (1913—1927) and the United States Senate (1927—1949, 1954—1956), and was Senate majority leader (1936—1947) and vice-president of the United States (1949—1953). These interviews focus on Barkley’s career.

Moonshiners and Revenuers Oral History Project | 7 interviews dating from 1969, 1986-1988
Part of the Appalachia Oral History Collection
These interviews with moonshiners and revenuers in Wayne County document their lives, the making of moonshine, its economic benefits, the tactics used by officers in pursuing the distillers, and the tactics used by the distillers to escape them.

Earle C. Clements Oral History Project | 14 interviews dating from 1974-1976

Earle C. Clements (1896—1985), born in Morganfield, was a United States congressman (1944—1947), governor of Kentucky (1947—1950), and a United States senator (1950—1956). He served as the Senate Democratic whip in 1953 and as acting majority leader in 1955. Clements was a close personal friend of Lyndon B. Johnson in the Senate. In This project, his associates and staff members discuss his life and career.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rare 17th century manuscript now on ExploreUK

El Yucatan relacion : de esta provincia Mexicana is now available on ExploreUK. The catalog record notes the book “appears to be a copy of a manuscript written in 1601 which seems to have escaped the notice of all bibliographers. The book dealers could not locate it anywhere.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #83

On November 11, 1960 construction began on the Chemistry-Physics building.  The current site of the building once was occupied the by President’s garden and tennis courts.  Physics once occupied 33,600 square feet of Pence Hall and Chemistry 41,500 in Kastle Hall and an addition 3,600 square feet in an old wooden barracks.  The new Chemistry-Physics building provided three times the space for the two departments.

Clearing the way for science, 1960
The building was also outfitted for numerous special research facilities.  The silo at the northeast corner of the building was designed to house a 5.5 million volt Van de Graff electrostatic nuclear accelerator.  It has an internal diameter of 30 feet, it rises 58 feet above the ground and extends below ground for 13 feet.  The concrete walls are two feet thick and two underground laboratories are connected to the silo.

Construction of the physics "silo" that holds the Van de Graff nuclear accelerator, 1961
The Chemistry-Physics building was completed in April 1963 at a total cost of $6,084,076.  It has four floors and a basement for a total of 244,000 square feet.  The facilities were built for Physics to have: two lecture halls with 200 seats each; eight classrooms with 40 seats each; 20 faculty offices; 7 faculty office/laboratories; and labs for graduate and professional research.  For Chemistry to have: a 270 seat lecture room; 200 seat seminar room; 3 smaller lecture rooms with 150 seats each; 9 classrooms with 49 seats each; 15 instructional labs accommodating 48 students each; 12 faculty offices; and 15 faculty office/laboratories.  The total space accommodated 4,800 students.  The central library was built to house 50,000 volumes with 90 seats.

Housing physics and chemistry together was meant to assure greater capabilities for both departments at a time when it was becoming clear that the basic sciences were interdependent.  When the building was opened the Chemistry department employed a full-time glassblower while the Physics department had an instrument shop under supervision of a machinist and each was able to draw upon the resources of the other.
John French, Glassblower, 1963

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Reel to Real: Special Collections at the Movies"

The Special Collections Library is pleased to announce its new movie series, Reel to Real: Special Collections at the Movies, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at Worsham Theater in the University of Kentucky’s Student Center.

The five-movie series will explore popular movies through a historically accurate perspective based on primary source materials found in Special Collections. Screenings are free and open to the public, and will be held in Worsham Theater. Refreshments will also be served.

The current schedule is:
Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – “Daniel Boone, Trailblazer” (1956)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – “In Country” (1989)
February 2014 (time and date, TBD) – “Beloved” (1998)
March 2014 (time and date, TBD) – “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (1980)
April 2014 (time and date, TBD) – “Our Day” (1938)

Topics will be relevant to the following departments in the College of Arts & Sciences: African American and Africana Studies, American Studies, Appalachian Center & Appalachian Studies Program, Army ROTC (Military Science), Earth & Environmental Sciences, Economics, English, Folklore & Mythology, Gender & Women’s Studies, History, and those in the Center for Applied Energy Research.

Interested faculty and staff are welcome and encouraged to assign viewing of the movies for extra credit. Every movie will include a guide to materials that can help students and faculty better utilize Special Collections and archival documents in their research and teaching.

The project is sponsored by the University of Kentucky Libraries. For additional questions, contact Stacie Williams, Learning Lab Manager, Special Collections, at (859) 257-8371 or

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #84

Even though women were admitted to the University in 1880 it took 8 years until the first woman earned a degree, Belle Clement Gunn in 1888.  It took even longer for women to have a place to live on the campus.  In 1904, Patterson Hall was opened as the first women’s dormitory and the only one built entirely at the state’s expense.  It was built specifically as a women’s dormitory and it became the first building constructed off of the main campus.  It was originally built for around 125 women which each room to be used by two girls.  At the time, the cost of the ground, building and equipment was approximately $60,000.

It was named for first President James K. Patterson and in honor of his brother Walter Patterson who sought funding for the building and took one year off of teaching to oversee its construction.  At one time, then President Henry Stites Barker and his wife; the dean of women; and the house director all lived in Patterson Hall – imagine living in a dorm with the President!  At that time, James K. Patterson was still occupying the presidential residence (this was before Maxwell Place). The dorm became co-ed in the 1990s and is one of the oldest building’s on UK’s campus.

There is a bit of legend surrounding Patterson Hall. According to an article in the Kentucky Kernel, the Hall is located on an historic site where the first couple in Kentucky was married.  John Maxwell and his bride were married in an old block house near the property and then lived in a cabin on the grounds of Patterson Hall.  

On either side of the entrance to Patterson Hall was a ginkgo tree. In China, the ginkgo tree is planted in front of temple gates to keep out evil spirits.  The two trees were known as “mama” and “papa” on campus.  According to another Kentucky Kernel article, in the beginning of the 19th century, six Ginkgo trees were given to Henry Clay by an unknown Asian man.  Clay reportedly kept one tree for himself and gave the rest away, including the two in front of Patterson Hall.  Over time, it became apparent that the only female tree among the original six, was “mama.”  The demand for baby ginkgos was tremendous because of the style set by Henry Clay, so all of the early Kentucky ginkgos were descendants of Patterson Hall’s “mama” tree.  Additionally, “papa” had a sloped trunk which angled toward the ground and this made him the perfect spot for a goodnight kiss.  Different legends concerned the development of “papa's” angle.  One was that the weight of so many years of goodnight kisses caused “papa” to gradually bend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Louisville to Okinawa in WWII

Photographs of camp life from 2013ms0362: John C. Davis notebook and photograph album, 1944
This notebook, containing photographs and signatures, was kept by an African-American soldier from Louisville, Kentucky, named John C. Davis during World War II. Davis served in the Pacific Theater as a corporal in the 2284th Quartermaster Trucking Company, an all black unit.

Japanese atomic bomb survivors
The photographs document the men in Davis' unit, camp life, and the battle of Okinawa. Included is a picture captioned “This is the place that the atomic bomb fell with ened [sic] the war in Japan” showing a few Japanese survivors.

The notebook also includes a four page description of his mission on Okinawa to blow up a gasoline dump. The brief but detailed pages describe how he killed several Japanese soldiers, found the gasoline dump, and his attempts to get back to his unit.

" the distance I could see a big gun that looked like the empire state building swinging back and forth continually..."
The back pages contain signatures and messages written by the soldiers in Davis’ unit. The messages reflect the camaraderie and the pathos inherent in military service during WWII.
"This island was a sad place to live as a soldier"

"...for when your friends become your foe into the world your secrets go..."


Friday, October 11, 2013

Sesquiecentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #85

A Student’s Perspective from 1887

Picnic at High Bridge; James A., Tom Davenport, Jesse Mills, J. Tandy Ellis, Florance Dudley Dillard, Sallie Allen Hornbrook, and Jennie Hill Bissicks, 1887

A&M College, Lexington
February 26, 1887

Mr. Stanley Bridges,

Dear Cousin,
               I received your most welcome letter last night and was glad indeed to hear from you.  I dident [sic] receive but two letters last week and one was from my girl and the other from you.
               Stan you spoke of me having a little trouble.  Who told you about it.  I will tell you how it was.  We drill one hour every day and one day after the Drill was over I had started to the Dormitory and a little Dude was standing on the steps of College and just as I was passing by him he said to another fellow he is a regular Country Greener and I heard him and I went back and asked him if he knew who he was fooling with and he said he was fooling with a Damn Fool and I knocked him down with my Gun and he got up and ran like a turkey everybody was glad of it he hasn’t pestered me since I don’t intend for any of them to run over me.
               Stan you asked me how much Johnie Hil owed me it is $3.00 I wish you would spur him up on it.  Stan send me a pair of small scissors of some kind by mail next as I need a pair to cut things.
               Stan I think I shall have some pictures taken with my uniform on.  Ask Tomie what he thinks about it.
               How is Paw getting along with the Drummers does he hal [sic] many now I guess he makes Bill Smith stir around late and early.
               I heard that Leouie had gone to Houston to live.
               Stan you must go with my Girl some time and give her my best regards, tell Professor I will answer his letter soon and not to think hard of me for not writing sooner.  Tell Artie and Cretia I wish they would fix me up a nice box of eatables we doant [sic] get much to eat up here at Dormitory.  I must close for this time.
               Write soon to me
               Your cousin,
                              Jesse P. Mills
P.S. Tell Tomie to be sure to send me some money next week as I will be out.

Group of male students in 1886 or 1887; photo probably taken in the yard of Maxwell Place. Some of the names listed are: (fourth) Jesse Mills, (sixth) Keene R. Forston, (ninth) James Guthrie Herr, (thirteenth) J. Tandy Ellis, 1886