Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Man of Destiny!

At the Special Collections Research Center, we recently began processing the W. Hugh Peal manuscript collection. A graduate from the University of Kentucky’s class of 1922, William Hugh Peal was an avid collector of 19th and 20th century manuscripts and autograph albums, especially those relating to the English Romantic writers Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Robert Southey. Peal also collected manuscripts by scientists, clergymen, artists, and political figures.

Of the political figures represented in the collection, a significant highlight is the unconventional and bombastic George Francis Train. Born in Boston in 1829, Train modestly referred to himself as a “man with the brains of twenty men, the energy of a hundred, and the magnetism of a God.”

The letterhead for Train’s 1872 presidential campaign asserted Train was “Unanimously Nominated for the Presidency by immense audiences everywhere” and featured a list of his rather aggressive platform positions, including “Death to Official Thieves, through Vigilance Committees.”

In response to harsh criticism from rival presidential candidate and New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, a facetious Train sent a portrait of himself and referred to Greeley as “the name caller.” 

Corresponding with a gentleman from The Liberty Insurance Company, Train eagerly contended that a man can subsist on a diet of bread and water “forever!”

Train also took it upon himself “to show New York just what a real Santa Claus is like," declaring that he would “eclipse all the old white-beard myths with bogus reindeers that ever appeared.” 

George Francis Train, professional "eccentrique."


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dieting in the early 1900s

1998ms005: William Townsend Collection

Found in the archives: an early 1900s diet plan, with accompanying letter, sent to Katherine Helm by her cousin Ruth.

Katherine Helm was born in 1857 to Benjamin Hardin Helm and his wife Emilie Todd, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. Kate Helm pursued a career as an artist following the end of the Civil War. She studied at the Art Students League in New York. Her work includes a portrait of Jefferson Davis and a portrait of her aunt Mary Todd Lincoln, which hangs in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. 

The first week of the diet plan:


Breakfast – 1st five weeks
1 raw tomato or tomato juice
1 soft boiled egg
1 cup of broth (beef cubes or chicken cubes may be used in a cup of hot water)
1 cup of black coffee

Luncheon – 1st week
1 cup of broth
1 soft boiled egg
2 fresh vegetables (uncooked)

Dinner – 1st week
1 cup of broth
1 soft boiled egg
2 green vegetables (uncooked, like carrots lettuce celery etc.)
1 cup of black coffee

Note – Fruits, except bananas, may be eaten at all times

The letter reads: 

Dear Cousin Kate,

This is really a fine diet list, just follow it or near as you can and you will find you will lose weight in one week’s time. Eat an apple every time you feel a little hungry between meals. The best part however is that one does not get a starved feeling.

Sarah and I lost six lbs in a week and we took sugar in our coffee and cooked vegetables on our second week.

Here’s wishing you luck.



Friday, May 13, 2016

Campus Birds of Prey

One of the red-tailed hawks that frequent campus for our succulent rodent population paid a visit this morning to the historical marker for Margaret Isadora King, the namesake of our building.