By Melissa Laning and the new faculty
Melissa Laning is an Associate Dean at the University of Louisville Libraries.
Sarah-Jane Poindexter joined the libraries’ faculty as Archivist for Manuscript Collections/Co-director of the Oral History Center on January 2, 2013. Prior to joining the University of Louisville Libraries, Sarah-Jane was Associate Curator of Special Collections at the Filson Historical Society where she was responsible for arranging and describing document collections related to local history and assisting researchers with using the collections. Sarah-Jane has also held positions at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky, and Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, and internships at the Tufts University Digital Collections & Archives and the Boston Athenaeum. She holds a M.S. in Library and Information Science with an Archives Management Concentration from Simmons College in Boston, MA. Her B.A. in Anthropology is from the University of Louisville.
In her current position, Sarah-Jane preserves the cultural memory of UofL and the greater Louisville area by organizing, preserving, and providing access to items of enduring historic value. These archival items include letters, journals, photographs, oral histories, maps, and architectural drawings. She is planning an oral history project to document and preserve the history of Louisville’s LGBTQ community.
Before working in archives, Sarah-Jane was an archaeologist at the Public Archaeological Laboratory (Pawtucket, RI) and AMEC Earth & Environmental (Louisville, KY). She also served as a groundskeeper for Katherine Hepburn.
Heather Fox was appointed to the faculty on February 4, 2013 as Archivist for Digital Collections. Her prior professional experience includes serving as Associate Curator of Special Collections at the Filson Historical Society, Project Archivist at the Kentucky Oral History Commission and at the Speed Art Museum, Archival Consultant at Appalshop, Inc., and Data Wrangler at UofL Archives and Records Center. In each of these positions, Heather was responsible for arranging and describing historical collections in all formats including a born digital collection of the August 2009 Louisville Flood. In most of these positions, Heather’s work focused on making collections accessible to a broader audience through web technologies. She holds a M.S. in Library Science with a concentration in Archives Management from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville.
Heather works with the Digital Initiatives Librarian to provide web-based access to digital versions of archival collections and faculty research. She is currently working on describing and adding images to the Caufield and Shook photograph collection which contains images of Louisville from 1875-1939. http://digital.library.louisville.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/cs/
Heather plays in a (mostly) girl garage rock band and co-hosts a weekly garage rock radio show on ArtXFm.com with UL photo curator Elizabeth Reilly.
Maurini Strub joined the libraries faculty on March 11, 2013. She previously served as a Reserves Specialist at the Oakland University Library in Rochester, MI and as an Adult Specialist at the Oxford (MI) Public Library. In addition, Maurini worked on a multi-institutional Sakai Interaction Design Project at the University of Michigan. Her M.S. in Information is from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in Biology is from Oakland University.
User Experience and Assessment are relatively new areas for libraries. As our User Experience Librarian, she will study our how users interact with library tools, spaces and services. The information she collects will help libraries make user-research based decisions and changes. Maurini will use qualitative and ethnographic assessment methods to measure the usability, desirability, adoptability, and value of library programs and services. As the Assessment librarian, she will plan, design, and implement initiatives to measure the effectiveness of the University Libraries in meeting its strategic goals. It is also her goal to promote the integration of assessment into all phases of planning and services.
Maurini is currently working on analyzing the qualitative responses from the 2012 Benchmark Survey. This survey was conducted to evaluate how the U of L community uses the library and understand more about their needs.
Maurini was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, where she travels regularly to visit family.
“Not only is Louisville famous for its annual event at Churchill Downs but it has also become famous for its many social courtesies extended those who visit at Derby time.”
The University of Louisville Libraries’ collections include visual and written documentation of Derby races and parties. Travel back in time to Derbies past through these images freely available in our Digital Collections.
Finding information on Local Art and Artists
Have you ever wanted to know more about a local artist whose work you have seen or read about? If so, using the resources on local artists at U of L’s Art Library can help. The library keeps clipping files on local artists containing newspaper articles, exhibition announcements, pamphlets and sometimes even student papers. We have also indexed the Courier-Journal art columns since 1944 and those columns contain a treasure trove of material on local art and artists.
Romuald Kraus (1891-1954) is a perfect example of the art library’s resources. You might have seen his sculpture in the Music School. Called Reminiscence, it was made from Tennessee marble in 1939 and presented to the School of Music in 1952 by the Louisville Philharmonic Chorus and the sculptor. Below is Reminiscence.
A library file on Kraus provides the following biographical information: Kraus was born in Austria and emigrated to the U.S. in 1924. He taught at the Cincinnati Art Academy before coming to the University of Louisville in 1947. A man who eschewed the limelight, he nevertheless was thrust into it when, in 1935 he was awarded a commission in a national competition to sculpt a figure of Justice for the Newark, N.J. federal courtroom. Kraus’ Justice had no blindfold, scales or sword and definitely did not look like a Roman sculpture, the style we are all familiar with. Justice won accolades from most but censure from others. Federal judge Guy L. Fake, in whose courtroom the sculpture was supposed to reside, said the piece smacked “blatantly of Communism,” and that it conveyed “ruthless confiscation” rather than justice.
The astute researcher will also find that the Art Library has the papers of Romuald Kraus which contain correspondence between Kraus and his wife Esther, various Kraus relatives, the sculptor Henry Kreis, and others. The collection also includes Kraus’ sketchbooks and exhibition lists, along with biographical information about Kraus and his brother Leo, catalogs, articles, and photographs related to Justice and Kraus’ other work. Kraus’ papers were instrumental in the work of graduate student Eddie-Sue McDowell whose 1992 master’s thesis was titled Romuald Kraus : Justice and other work for the Works Progress Administration, 1933-1943.
Another researcher, Yale law professor Judith Resnick and co-author Dennis Curtis, used the Kraus papers for their book called Representing Justice; Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (Yale University Press, 2011, available in the Art Library). Resnick and Curtis furthered the research on the controversy surrounding Kraus’ Justice. In 1939, during the dust-up, the statue was part of an exhibit of modern art sent to San Francisco. It received not only praise and an award but also a request that it be installed in a federal building in Covington, KY. In 1941, the Covington courthouse got a copy of the work.
Below is a photograph of Kraus with the 7 foot tall, almost 700 pound bronze Justice.
by Kathie Johnson, Associate Professor
Kathie Johnson is an Associate Professor and the Curator of History Collections for Kornhauser Health Sciences Library.
As curator of the History Collections at Kornhauser Health Sciences Library I have a variety of duties, one of which is assisting researchers doing family history. Most of the research questions that I receive are genealogical in nature. Patrons want to verify that an ancestor attended and/or graduated from medical school in Louisville; or they have that information and want a copy of a diploma, a photograph, or information about medical education during that student’s time here.
Although the University of Louisville traces its roots to 1798, in reality it became an active and on-going educational institution in 1837, with the founding of the Louisville Medical Institute (LMI), which in 1846 became the Medical Department of the newly formed University of Louisville. By the end of the 19th century, Louisville had become a center of medical education with seven medical schools, but by the early 1900s, in response to pressure to improve medical education, four of the schools had been absorbed by the UofL Medical Department. Their alumni were officially listed as alumni of ULMD, and any records that still remained from the schools went to the combined ULMD and Jefferson County Medical Society Library, which is now the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library. The other two schools were closed by 1912.
One of the tools I have available to track alumni is a database that includes most of the medical students who attended LMI/UofL or the schools that were absorbed by UofL from 1837-1908. This database is also available on-line from the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library web page. While it is a simple matter to search this list for an individual name, there can be some challenges involved. Many of these names were transcribed from hand-written ledger books, some with almost illegible handwriting, and the spelling of names sometimes varies. Many of the students are listed with initials only, so common sir names may prove to be troublesome. Second, this list is massive, containing over 30,000 names, so as with any project this magnitude, a few names got omitted. An entry in the database only indicates attendance, not graduation, so follow-up in school records is needed.
All inquiries are written up on an “Information Request Form.” When the work is done, one copy is saved for tallying statistics, while a second is filed alphabetically by the name of the subject of the inquiry. If the research has already been done for a particular individual, that sheet may answer the entire question, thus this is the next step in my search. We also maintain extensive biographical reference files as part of the History Collections and a quick check there for a name is part of the process. These files may contain photographs, articles by or about a person, obituaries, CVs, and lists of publications among other things.
My search in not over after checking the above sources. Some very helpful tools are the various kinds of medical directories we have on hand. For doctors who could have died before 1929, I check the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929, which contains short biographical entries on most 19th century doctors. Next I go to the national medical directories, which in our collections date from 1878, and were published regularly from 1886 to the present. Entries may include location of practice, school and year of graduation, specialty, and occasionally additional details. Having over a century’s run of directories helps in tracking these individuals. If the database listing or any directory entries indicates that the person in question graduated from one of the Louisville medical schools, I can then check the school’s catalog.
Throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th, the catalogs listed not only the history of the school, the curriculum, the faculty, and the fees; it included the listing of the previous year’s students and graduates. The earliest ones also list the name of the students’ preceptor (or sponsor), their thesis titles, and their home state, or some combination of those three items. We hold a fairly complete run of catalogs for UofL and the schools absorbed by UofL along with some official alumni lists compiled periodically.
Many people also want to know about the courses offered in medical school, the length of the program, and other such information, which can easily be provided. The 19th and some of the 20th century catalogs are digitized and available in our Digital Collections, http://digital.library.louisville.edu/collections/kornhauser/ . There one can learn that well into the 20th century a college degree was not required for admission to medical school, or that for most of the 19th century, medical training only consisted of two four-month sessions.
We also house a collection of ledger books from the various schools, dating to 1880 for some, and beginning in 1908 for UofL. These may provide very little information or may include home addresses, names of preceptors, previous education, and even grades. It is a thrill to find a person’s name in a ledger, in 19th century script, especially if detailed information is also included.
If the person in question practiced in Kentucky prior to 1940 another source is the WPA files. One project of the Works Progress Administration during The New Deal in the late 1930s was the employment of writers to document the history of certain aspects of life and then produce a published work with this research. One of the Kentucky projects was to document the history of medicine. Writers traveled the state transcribing newspaper articles, obituaries and other written documents. This was all combined and indexed for easy searching.
Each time I receive an inquiry, it is a puzzle, a scavenger hunt, and a lot of fun. On top of that, I get paid to do this, making it even better. As mentioned in an earlier blog – I love my job!!!
by Andrew Clark
Andrew Clark is currently pursuing his master’s in Public History. For the past year, Mr. Clark has been processing the Lilialyce Akers Papers.
The Lilialyce Akers Papers, located at the University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections, are the record of a life well-spent in the service of humanity. Dr. Akers was an academic, a human rights activist, and an advocate for women’s rights on a local, state, national and international stage. Her papers serve as an important addition to the historical narrative of Louisville, Kentucky, as well as to the nation in the last half of the twentieth century.
The collection material spans from Akers’ undergraduate schooling at Wheaton College in the late 1930’s through her service in the American Red Cross during World War II, her graduate and doctoral work in Sociology at the University of Kentucky in the 1950’s, teaching positions at Midway Junior College, Morehead State College, Kentucky Southern College and the University of Louisville, ending with her death in 2008. The collection reflects the wide range of interests and activities that informed her life.
She was a committed educator whose career was spent at five colleges and universities in fifty plus years in academia. Her interests and activities varied widely throughout her life but the constant theme is that of an engaged and committed social justice activist, primarily concerned with feminist issues.
The papers were donated in two separate segments. The first was donated and processed in 2006, while Dr. Akers was still alive. This initial donation consisted of professional and personal papers and ephemera from her work with women’s issues. The primary focus of this portion of the papers was concentrated on her efforts to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as her work with local political organizations. The remainder of the collection was received by the archives after her death in 2008 and contained the additional personal papers as well as those of her husband Dr. Dee Ashley Akers.
The UofL Photographic Archives recently acquired three photographs by amateur street photographer Vivian Maier for addition to the fine print collection. Though not famous in the canon of photography along the lines of others found in the fine print collection, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Maier has been the buzz of the photography world for the last few years.
Her work was discovered when two separate men purchased boxes of unknown negatives and undeveloped film from an abandoned storage unit at a Chicago auction house in 2007. Shortly before the name of the photographer and her work began to attract attention, Vivian Maier died in April 2009 at the age of 83. A search for information about Maier revealed that she had worked most of her life as a nanny around Chicago and remained unmarried, having no children of her own. Her former charges described her as an intensely private, proud, opinionated yet very caring woman, who never showed anyone her photographs.
As Maier’s work has come to light through blogs set up by the owners of her archives, it has garnered national acclaim from photography experts, amateurs, fans and casual viewers alike. A master of the “decisive moment,” Maier captured street life in Chicago, New York, and beyond in France, Egypt, Asia and everywhere else she traveled throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s with a distinct sincerity. The quality of her work is undeniable, and the rate of successful images appears staggering. It is no wonder solo exhibitions of Maier’s work have appeared in galleries and museums all over the world, with a book published in 2011 and a documentary about her life impending.
The Photographic Archives is proud to add these three images by Vivian Maier to the collection, and is thrilled that the history of photography continues to evolve in such exciting ways. Come see our collections – we are free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm.
I had no idea there was a story behind Abraham Lincoln’s beard. Being a photo archivist, I knew that the well-documented photographs of Lincoln were usually noted as “with beard” or “without beard” though I didn’t think much of it. But while preparing a presentation of Lincoln’s life in photographs, I gained a bit of insight…
As it turns out, Abraham Lincoln had always been clean shaven during his time as an Illinois Congressman, Lawyer, and even most of his time as a Presidential Candidate. It wasn’t until he received a letter in October of 1860, the month before general election, that he decided to grow a beard. The letter was from an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell from upstate New York, who wrote:
“I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you will let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote, for you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”
Lincoln’s response to Miss Bedell would lead one to believe that he might brush off the advice: “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?” But, as it would turn out, Lincoln began growing out his facial hair soon after and was photographed on November 25th 1860 with the beginnings of his famous beard.
Come see the travelling exhibit “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War” in the Ekstrom Library and view the slide show “Abraham Lincoln’s Life in Photographs” on the adjacent kiosk. This exhibit will be up in the Ekstrom Library, East Wing main floor until April 8th.
I have never seen so many gallery visitors! Of course I haven’t even been working here for very long, but still, our current exhibit in the Photographic Archives is getting anywhere from 15 to 50+ visitors a day! “Louisville’s 1937 Flood: A 75th Anniversary Exhibition” includes 39 photographs showing Louisville’s historic flood of the Ohio River that submerged 70% of Louisville and 90% of Jeffersonville, IN, as well as locations up and down the river from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Photographs by well-known photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, who was sent by Life Magazine to shoot views of the flood in Louisville, show a range of scenes from a man on an improvised boat made of washtubs, to water-damaged and discarded pianos sitting in a street. And of course, Bourke-White’s famous “World’s Highest Standard of Living” photograph is most recognizable.
Photos by Corwin Short, the Louisville native who was Bourke-White’s escort during her trip, show the famous photojournalist at work: standing atop a car with her camera, walking the pontoon bridge, and eating lunch on a rowboat. Visitors have also been amazed at the aerial photographs on display that show the far-reaching devastation caused by the flood water. These photos were donated to the archive in 2010 and have never been exhibited here before.
Apparently, the Great Flood is still a big deal to Louisville residents, even 75 years later. It has been quite a learning experience, as many of the gallery visitors are eager to share with us their personal and family stories of the flood. In fact, there is a group of people sitting in the gallery sharing their stories with each other right now!
These photographs will be up until this Friday, March 9th, so hurry down to see them before they’re gone.
Students, have you ever walked into a library and wondered what library staff do behind those desks? Well, you can always just ask us! But, you can also gain more insight by applying for a job in the library. The UofL Libraries are always seeking energetic students to fill a variety of positions. Working in a library can be a great way to build communication skills, interact with a variety of resources that are useful for classes, and you can help others learn!
Beginning wages start at $7.25 an hour. Click here to fill out an application.
Formal Title: Diversity Residence Librarian
Specialty: EndNote, History, Women’s and Gender Studies
Years with the Ekstrom Library: 3
What’s the coolest thing about working in the library: Using the SmartBoard in the Instructional Labs.
Interesting reference question: Any one that starts with, “I don’t know if you can help me…”
Favorite book: Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Favorite Web 2.0 Tool: FlipSnack Flipping Book Software
What’s needed in the 21st Century Classroom: Democratic Learning
Dream profession (other than librarian): Cartoon Character Voice Actor
Interesting fact: I wear gloves through the year because it’s freezing cold in the library.