by Sarah-Jane Poindexter
The University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections (ASC) recently launched The Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA) Project. This timely project will document the history and culture of Louisville’s underground music scene from the 1970s to the present, with a focus on the 1980s and 1990s. Generally speaking, records of popular culture are underrepresented in archives, putting this history at risk for loss, and in this case, creating a gap in the historical record related to independent/underground music culture in Louisville.
ASC’s goal is to address the gap by actively collecting a wide variety of materials including oral histories, show recordings, set lists, photographs, zines, posters, flyers, t-shirts, ephemera, correspondence, business records, and early web history related to the music scene. This is in keeping with ASC’s mission to collect, organize, preserve, and make available for research rare and unique materials, particularly relating to the history and cultural heritage of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding region.
In addition to reflecting late-20th and early-21st century culture in the Louisville, the local music scene has had influence beyond the Ohio Valley, making it a subject of interest outside of our immediate community. Though the LUMA project just formally began, it has been developing for years in conversations between archivists Heather Fox, Carrie Daniels, Elizabeth Reilly, and Sarah-Jane Poindexter. Then in 2012 music writer and lawyer Paul Curry donated a run of the local music zines “Hard Times” and “Burt : the official Burt the cat fanclub newsletter.” This donation of local music writings, followed by the untimely passing of three major contributors to the music scene – Jason Noble, Jon Cook, John Kampschaefer – all within a year, the LUMA team felt a sense of urgency to officially launch the project.
Materials donated to this project will be professionally preserved, organized, described, and made accessible to students, scholars and the general public. LUMA project archivists will digitize select materials and make them available online via the Libraries Digital Collections. Items that are not digitized will be described and be discoverable through ASC’s website and may be accessed through the ASC research room on the lower level of Ekstrom library, Monday through Friday 8am-5pm. Ultimately, the Louisville Underground Music Archive will be an authoritative and comprehensive research collection freely available to the community and preserved for future generations. ASC plans to use collection materials to engage the public with Louisville music history through the curation of exhibits and other programming.
Keep up with the LUMA project on Facebook and stay tuned for the launch of the digital collections website as well as a community donation/archiving event in 2014. For more information or to make a donation, please contact the LUMA project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On November 6, Archives and Special Collections opens its latest exhibit, “All Aboard!” We are celebrating our L&N Railroad collections — the Photographic Archives collection of L&N photographs (including glass negatives), Rare Books’ early railroad publications, and University Archives’ L&N Railroad Company records. For the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of going through these materials looking for photographs, documents, maps, menus, timetables… all sorts of items that will help tell the story of the L&N.
I was already familiar with the L&N collections, since these records are frequently used by academic historians, community researchers, and train modelers. But preparing this exhibit helped me see it in a whole new way. First, it made me appreciate the tremendous variety and quality of photographs in this collection. As you would expect, there are many pictures of trains – interiors, exteriors, loaded freight cars, locomotives — you name it, and there is a picture of it.
Among my favorites are several shots of workers on and around the locomotives, as in this image of locomotive number 209 in Decatur, Alabama, taken around 1915.
The photographs sometimes include sweet surprises, as with this image of the of Ringling Brother-Barnum and Bailey circus train. If you look closely, you can see elephants reaching their trunks out of the car:
Working with the L&N Magazine has also been a special treat. In addition to stories on different cities, it ran features on the different types of freight carried by the railroad: the L&N shipped everything from bananas, peanuts and other types of produce, to coal (lots of coal!), to appliances, to special shipments including “Iron Lungs” and race horses.
The magazine also featured photographs of company sports teams, and shared information about different employees’ hobbies and family events including weddings. It warned workers of possible threats to their safety and their health, including alcoholism and heart attacks. It also profiled employees, departments, and services, helping promote a wider understanding of the tremendous variety of activities going on within this large and multi-faceted organization.
All Aboard! runs through February 7, 2014. Archives and Special Collections is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; we are having a special Sunday showing of the exhibit on Sunday, November 10, from noon to 5:00 p.m.
by Chris Poché
If you are working on a research project that requires work with primary sources, newspapers, or periodicals, chances are you may need to use microforms to get access to some of those materials. Despite the increasing availability of online resources, some materials are still most easily and, sometimes, only accessed through the use of microforms. The Current Periodicals & Microforms (CPM) department has added two new microform machines to improve service to our patrons needing access to such materials.
A traditional microform machine projects a microphotographic image of a document onto a monitor screen that is part of the machine itself. CPM still has one of these machines (a Canon 300) but has been moving in the direction of using machines that have their own software and display their images on computers.
In the summer of 2013, CPM purchased two ST ViewScan microform scanners, which offer ease of use, high quality imaging, and a variety of scanning options. Its most distinctive feature is called Clip Merge, which enables you to put several scanned images together in whatever configuration suits your needs. You can adjust the size of the images and juxtapose them in new arrangements. Also, you can highlight passages of text, write notes to yourself as you might write a note in the margin of a book, and more.
The ST ViewScan joins another relatively recent addition to CPM: the ScanPro 2000. The scanning options for the ScanPro 2000 are not as versatile as they are with the ST ViewScan, but it is also easy to use and provides high quality images. Its most distinctive feature is its powerful camera lens, which magnifies images up to 105x and is twice the power of the ST ViewScan.
Both the ST ViewScan and the ScanPro 2000 are capable of displaying and scanning documents in all the microform formats available in CPM: 35mm and 16mm microfilm (including 3M cartridges), microfiche, and microcard. Scans made with these machines can be saved in multiple formats (pdf, tiff, jpeg, png, etc.) to your flash drive; or, if you don’t happen to have a flash drive when you visit, scans can be emailed as well.
The microform collections and machines are available for use whenever Ekstrom Library is open, and CPM staff is available to assist you Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 8 pm, Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. The new machines themselves can help you to use them if CPM staff is not available at the time of your visit. Every button and feature is explained onscreen, and the ST ViewScan even has short video demonstrations of its main features.
As libraries navigate into the online future, microforms may seem stuffy and old school, but the technology being made available for their use has improved greatly to meet the demands of the tech-savvy library user.
Did you know that October is THE busiest month for students and the library? You might have suspected based on your syllabi, but take a look at the numbers:
- Catalog searches are at their peak in October. During October 2012 the catalog was searched 137,204 times — over 4400 times per day.
- Items checked out of the library are also hitting their peak. Today, nearly 14,700 items are checked out. (Don’t worry, though! The University of Louisville Libraries’ collection holds over 2.4 million volumes.)
Card photographs were as ubiquitous in the second half of the nineteenth century as camera phone and Instagram images are today. Primarily albumen prints mounted on card stock, card photos varied in several sizes. First came the carte de visite, French for “visiting card,” in the 1860s. Measuring 2½ x 4 inches, cartes de visite, or CDVs for short, took America by storm and created the world’s first photography craze. For the first time since the introduction of photography in 1839, portrait photographs were available to all classes as they were cheap to make, could be easily copied and sent through the mail without threat of damage. In fact, so many CDVs were sent through the mail as men were off fighting the Civil War, that the US government put a tax on them to help fund the war.
Cabinet cards were a larger version of the CDV, measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches and became very popular after 1870. The larger size allowed for greater decoration of the card mounts which advertised the photographer’s name and address. Gradually the mount designs, known as backmarks, grew larger and more ornate, often including many decorative elements common to Victorian design. Popular motifs included painter’s palettes and brushes with cameras to imply the association of photography with fine art, and the sun to symbolize the photographer’s dependence on light. Gilded borders, scalloped edges, colorful mounts and inks, patterned backgrounds, and highly stylized typography all appeared on the mounts of cartes de visite and cabinet card photographs. Some photographers hired artists to create original designs for their card mounts, but the majority chose designs from catalogs of photo supply companies. As a result, many studios from around the country produced card photographs with similar mount designs and backmarks.
Card photographs orphaned by their original owners and descendants that can today be found in thrift stores and flea markets may no longer hold the identity of the person pictured, but they can still be admired for their beauty and what they reveal about larger trends in Victorian culture, photography and graphic design. To see many more nineteenth century card photographs created in Louisville, visit the exhibit “Under the Skylight: Louisville’s Nineteenth Century Portrait Studios” in the Photographic Archives gallery from October 10 – November 1.
The only problem being the Imaging Manager in the Photographic Archives is the urge to know every photograph and fine print in our vault. That’s about 2 million images and, I guess, a bit impossible. Even if I could look through every image, I cannot look without wondering. It’s easy to spend a good thirty minutes observing one photo and asking what may be going on in the scene:
Is that man in the white suit looking straight at the camera? Where is the photographer standing? Why did he take a photo of this scene? What’s in that caged truck? What is going on with that traffic pattern?! How common was it to still be using a horse and cart? What is being constructed? How many of those buildings are still here? Arg, so many questions! But that last question, that’s one I can easily determine. When I run across an interesting photograph of a building or space in Louisville, I search Google maps, pick out a camera, go on a little adventure, and have some Photoshop fun:
This exercise in photography, research, and navigation works to expand my knowledge of our collection and its relevance to Louisville’s history. And it answers a few of those burning questions along the way!
Mark your calendar for the 2013 Corn Island Storytelling Festival, which will be held on UofL’s Belknap Campus on October
11! The stories start at 7:00, in the Quad in front of Ekstrom Library. If you haven’t been to a Corn Island Storytelling Festival before, I encourage you to give it a try – bring a blanket or a folding chair, sit back, and enjoy the stories. Some are clever, some are scary, but they all invite you to see the events unfolding in the narrative in your mind’s eye.
Storytelling is a rich feature of Kentucky culture, and we are proud to announce that the Corn Island Storytelling Festival has donated their records to Archives and Special Collections (ASC). These materials document and reflect the organization’s mission to celebrate and preserve the tradition of storytelling and oral tradition, from Corn Island’s founding in 1976 by Lee and Joy Pennington, to the present day – the materials tell the Festival’s own story. The collection totals 42.5 linear feet and includes operational records, correspondence, audio visual recordings and images of storytelling events, posters and promotional ephemera, articles and press, as well as biographical information and photographs of storytellers. We are preparing the collection for use by researchers, and hope to have them available for use by the public soon.
In conjunction with the storytelling festival and National Archives Month, we will exhibit items from the Corn Island Storytelling Festival’s history. The exhibit, which will open in early October, will be located on Ekstrom Library’s first floor. The theme of this year’s Archives Month is “folklore and superstitions,” which is a perfect fit for Corn Island. Come see how Corn Island has spread and ensured the survival of our folklore – and be sure to stay to listen to the stories.
By Latisha Reynolds
If you are a Louisville local, you may have heard of the old Walnut Street business district (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard). West Walnut Street from 6th to 13th Streets was a business, social, and cultural gathering place for African Americans. Beginning in the late 1800’s, the first African American businesses started to form on and around Walnut Street, and it grew to include over 150 businesses. The area served a vital need during segregation, and thrived especially from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. Although this area was demolished during urban renewal, it holds a special place in the hearts and memories of many African Americans in the Louisville community. I personally remember my great grandmother making references to restaurants, nightclubs, and other businesses on Walnut Street when I was a kid.
The UofL Libraries have books, photos, articles, and other archival materials that chronicle the rich history of this area. For a great summary of the Old Walnut Street business district check out the Encyclopedia of Louisville. The section Walnut Street African American Businesses in the encyclopedia discusses the history of the area, how it expanded over the years, and how it was impacted by events such as segregation, desegregation, urban renewal, World War II, and the Great Depression. Speaking of the growth, it mentions that as early as 1860 there were two African American businesses on Walnut Street (a boarding house and a barber shop) interspersed with other businesses and residences. By the 1900’s the number of black-owned businesses grew to 24, and that number grew to over 150 by the 1930’s. The growth continued through the 40’s, but began to decline in the 1950’s. Stated reasons for the decline and ultimate closing of the business district include: desegregation (many black residents took opportunities to shop in areas that were previously prohibited), the migration of many white residents to the suburbs, and finally urban renewal which later wiped out most of the businesses and resident homes in the 1960’s.
The businesses that dotted old Walnut Street included those for everyday needs like restaurants, churches, banks, insurance companies, news and printing services, barber shops, salons, gas stations, independent doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and more. However, the area was well known for the entertainment, including several theaters, nightclubs, and other gathering places. Clubs like the Top Hat drew crowds from out of town, as well as local black and white residents who came to see the top jazz musicians of the time. Derby was a popular time on Walnut Street!
Theaters such as the Lyric, the Grand, and the Lincoln were also noted as popular entertainment spots. Other businesses included: Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Co., First Standard Bank, Bowman’s Apothecary, The Louisville Leader, The Louisville Defender (Ekstrom Library microfilm newspapers- 2nd floor), and White Printing and News Service, to name a few. (Encyclopedia of Louisville, African American Businesses)
There are several materials located in Archives & Special Collections (Ekstrom Library, LL17) that discuss the history, people, and businesses of old Walnut Street. Below are some selected materials.
- Blacks: Walnut Street Business District – “Newspaper clippings and miscellaneous printed material.”
- Moorman, Frank., Sr., Scrapbook, 1879-1976 (microfilm) – “Frank Moorman was the grandson of a slave. He was born in Daviess County, Kentucky. He established the Central Drug Company at the corner of Sixth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) Streets in Louisville with Dr. J.C. McDonald in 1932. With McDonald, he opened the F&M Service Station at the corner of Eighth and Walnut Streets in 1937. The service station eventually became Frank’s Super Service, a franchise of the Standard Oil Company.”
- City Directories: Selected city directories list African American business owners on Walnut Street.
- Photos of Walnut Street/Muhammad Ali are also available in various collections.
- For additional print resources about African Americans and old Walnut Street check out the following:
- Bruce M. Tyler. African American Life in Louisville, Ekstrom Library African American collection (2nd floor) and other areas. Call number: F459.L89 N476 1998.
- John E. Kleber. Encyclopedia of Louisville. Ekstrom Library Reference book stacks; Archives & other UofL Libraries, Call number F459.L85 E54 2001.
- Mervin Aubespin, Kenneth Clay, J Blaine Hudson. Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A photographic History. Ekstrom Library, Browsing Collection (1st floor) and other areas. Call number: F459.L89 N429 2011.
While summer is usually a slow time for most areas on campus, we have been busy in the University Libraries! Over the spring and summer, we hired a number of new faculty and staff to fill key positions. Some of these positions, with titles such as User Experience Librarian and Social Sciences Librarian, were newly created ones to fill areas of strategic need thus improving our outreach and services to students and faculty. Our most recent hire is for a new associate dean who has been tasked with taking an already good set of services and resources and helping us to innovatively move forward.
While we are happy to welcome these new colleagues, we say goodbye over the next year to 10 of our coworkers who will be leaving under the voluntary separation program. I’ve turned a plan in for how we will maintain our operations while we experience this significant loss and I’ll share the plan once it is approved by the Provost. As we are allowed to gradually refill these positions, I look forward to working with you to take a step back and redesign the positions to meet user’s needs going into the future.
In addition to a number of new faces, we’ve also been busy updating our physical spaces. New furniture is arriving at the Art Library while new student and shelving spaces are being crafted on the third floor of the Music Library. Archives and Special Collections celebrated the opening of the Pennington Gallery – a state-of-the-art space to house and display primary source documents. The Collaborative Learning Center on the first floor of the Ekstrom Library has been completely updated and, based on student input, we are making the final updates to the newly refurbished Ekstrom 4th floor quiet study area.
So, instead of a quiet summer, it has been a time of transformation and change for our staff and our spaces – stay tuned!
By Tom Owen, Archivist for Regional History & Heather Fox, Archivist for Metadata and Scholarly Communication
One recent morning on the 4th floor of the Ekstrom Library, as Heather worked describing digitized historic images of Louisville to be uploaded to the UL Digital Collections website, she came across a mysterious panorama of what appeared to be downtown Louisville. Heather prides herself on having a reasonable grasp of the downtown geography, but she just couldn’t get a fix on what she saw so she hollered down the hall, “Tom, I need your help!”
Heather often requests Tom’s help with street and building identification due to his deep knowledge of local scenes acquired from almost four decades of historical hikes and bikes and local history reference work. Tom, the seasoned sleuth, scrutinized the photo carefully and finally exclaimed: “This isn’t Louisville!” Persisting, Heather replied: “But isn’t that the old Jefferson County Courthouse—now City Hall–in the distant left-center of the image?” and “if I zoom in here you can see Seelbach spelled out backwards (HCABLEES) atop the building in the center background.” Despite evidence of these local landmarks, Tom just couldn’t make sense of what he saw: What was that massive brick structure without façade ornamentation in the foreground? Or the building just to the left with the mansard roof? Or the substantial office building a little further to the left?
The two archivists turned to one of the trustiest and most–loved reference books in the ASC collection, Caron’s Annual City Directory. First published for Louisville in 1832, the directories contain householder name, occupation, and address as well as businesses and their addresses and, beginning in 1884, included a criss-cross section that listed householders and businesses by street and house number. By zooming in on business signs painted on buildings, then corroborating addresses with the criss-cross section, the archival team concluded that the photographer likely stood on the roof of the recently completed YMCA—now St. Francis High School—at Third and Broadway directing his lens on a broad sweep north and northwest toward the Ohio River.
Heather and Tom were thrown off by the fact that the two massive structures in the foreground were demolished long ago and by the fact that the substantial old Atherton Building—now the Francis Building—was “modernized” almost fifty years ago with an aluminum envelope. The U. S. Post Office and Customs House on the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut—demolished during World War II—had an iconic Renaissance Revival clock tower that was easily recognizable but who knew its far eastern wing ended with a mansard roof? In addition, Tom and Heather both couldn’t believe that the Masonic Temple with its auditorium which was almost mid-block on the south side of Chestnut between Third and Fourth was so large. Further, they were trying to “read” that massive structure from the rear. One of the “occupational pleasures” of being an archivist is the delight you experience identifying historic photographs but that panoramic view from ca. 1910 sure had the two sleuths stumped for some time!
Once identified, Heather added the image to the Caufield and Shook online collection. Take a look for yourself and see what kind of interesting things you can find!