A new exhibit has opened in the Photographic Archives this month: HomeLands, by Robb Hill. The photographs are documents from a long-term project examining how a person’s identity is informed by the land on which they live and what happens when the connection is severed by alterations to that land.


Hill grew up just outside the town of Utica, Indiana. This area is now changing dramatically because of the I-265 extension but Hill’s project began before the construction. “HomeLands started as a documentary project, to record the land where I grew up before big machines erased it. I have been returning to Indiana several times a year for the last ten years to hike the trails and fields I played in as a kid. With each footstep I looked for signs of the world I once knew so well.”


The panoramic, black and white, landscape photographs of HomeLands are a meditation on the idea of home. Hill posits that by shaping the land people create their sense of self and asks, “When the bond between land and people is broken what happens to identity?” The connections Hill photographs range from natural changes and decay to man-made alterations of the landscape he remembers. “I believe land makes people who they are. The relationship you have with the land you’re on sets the cornerstone of your being.”

More than simply nostalgia for Hill, HomeLands connects with viewers through rich images and icons, current and disappearing, of our region’s past and present.


HomeLands will be on display in the Photographic Archives Gallery, in Ekstrom Library, from March 12 through May 22. The gallery is open from 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.

A Royal Visit

My typical day as director of Archives and Special Collections (ASC) is interesting and varied: a discussion with a potential donor, a meeting to plan an exhibit, creating catalog entries to facilitate discovery of our collections… Last Friday was interesting in an entirely different way.

Merv Aubespin and Ken Clay at entrance to exhibit

Merv Aubespin and Ken Clay at entrance to exhibit

ASC has a long-standing partnership with Ken Clay and Merv Aubespin (also known as Legacies Unlimited), who, with Blaine Hudson, authored Two Centuries of Black Louisville. Many of the historical photographs in this book came from the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, and we mounted an exhibit when the book came off the press in 2011. We’ve recreated this exhibit as part of the “Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville” events at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage for the last two years.

We were told a couple of weeks ago that the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall would be visiting the Center, and that our exhibit would be a featured attraction. It was a huge honor, and required that we (and when I say we, I really mean Marcy Werner) had to reprint all of the images so they could be framed and reinstalled.

A portion of the Two Centuries exhibit

A portion of the Two Centuries exhibit



It also meant that we were invited to be at the exhibit when the royal couple came through. I am not normally all that interested in royalty – I was old enough to be very much aware of the Prince’s wedding to Diana, and I didn’t even try to watch it on television. But even I couldn’t pass up the chance to see what a royal visit is like. We were given some ground rules on the morning of the visit: don’t reach out to them, but you can shake their hand if they reach out to you; call them both “your Royal Highness”; and something about cell phones. I think we weren’t supposed to be taking pictures, but… everyone was taking pictures.

Crowd of people at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

Crowd of people at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

When I agreed to attend the event, I knew there were a large number (30-40) of other exhibitors, and I expected them to be promoting the Commonwealth’s industries and agriculture. Instead, the event focused on health, innovation, sustainability, and — in our case — history. There were students and teachers from local schools demonstrating projects and organizations that promote sustainable agriculture, as well as University of Louisville’s FirstBuild. There were choirs, bands, and the Louisville Orchestra. It was very impressive, and something that the University should be proud to have been a part of.

As it turned out, Camilla (but not Charles) toured the Two Centuries exhibit, guided by Ken Clay and Merv Aubespin. I was not permitted into the gallery when she was viewing the exhibit, so I can’t gauge her level of engagement, but she stayed longer than I expected. Our collections helped a member of Britain’s royalty understand something about Louisville’s history – this is a departure from our usual daily activities, to say the least. While it was fun to be part of the hoopla, and I am proud we were asked to participate, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the day-to-day work that we do: things like working with academics from all over who want to study the Stryker papers; neighbors who want to stroll down memory lane via old photos of department stores that are no more; and students who have to write a paper on a UofL building.

The Beginnings of the UofL Band

by James Procell

first uniforms

UofL Band displaying their first uniform, on the front steps of Grawemeyer Hall, E.J. Wotawa, conductor, 1928

The University of Louisville Band began in 1928 when E.J. Wotowa came to the University of Louisville from Male High School to teach music. He recruited musicians for his all-male band by offering college credit for participation in the ensemble. Robert Worth Bingham, a local newspaper owner, also provided funding for the band. In the Fall of 1933, the UofL band began performing at football games. Shortly after, Wotowa stepped down as director, and was followed by a string of other successful directors. In 1937, the band received a standing invitation to play My Old Kentucky Home at the Kentucky Derby. To this day, the band continues to attend the Derby and perform the song to an audience of millions.

In 1938, Ernest Lyon was hired as director of the band. Though World War II caused a decline in the band’s activity, he worked very hard to resurrect the program in the early and mid-1940s. In 1947, UofL president John Taylor gave the rebuilding effort a boost. He set up an independent Division of Bands, and Lyon was allotted a large number of $50 per semester scholarships to encourage musicians to join the band. Under Lyon’s direction, the band quickly grew to over 100 members, and included female members for the first time. In 1947, the band travelled to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to attend the UofL vs. Southern Miss. football game. The band, previously known as the “Best Dressed Band in Dixie,” had to abandon that title after it was discovered that another university band held claim to the title. The band then became known as the “Marching Cardinals,” a title that it still holds today.


UofL Band in formation in front of Grawemeyer Hall with Hilda Gay Mayberry, majorette, holding her Miss Majorette of America 1952 certificate

The late 1940s through the early 1950s were a particularly active time for the band. Fans at Manual and Parkway Stadiums were treated to spectacular halftime shows, including amazing twirling performances by Hilda Gay Mayberry, who was named the nation’s best majorette in 1952. Outside of the marching field, the concert band commissioned many new works via the work of Ernest Lyon and the newly-formed music fraternity Pi Kappa Omicron, which was founded at the University of Louisville. Works commissioned by the fraternity include Vincent Persichetti’s Psalm for Band and William Schuman’s Chester, amongst many other works which are now considered standard repertoire for concert bands.

The photos are from the music library’s UofL Historic Band Collection, which includes hundreds of photographs, clippings, recordings, and other early band memorabilia. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the band or this wonderful collection, please contact music librarian James Procell.


UofL trumpet players in uniform pose for photo with Thinker statue in front of Grawemeyer Hall, early 1950s

Women’s History Month: Library Resources

March marks Women’s History Month. As noted last week regarding African American History Month, the University of Louisville Libraries provides access to a host of sources for learning about women’s history, particularly from a local perspective.

Explore the Guide to Women’s Manuscript Collections in the University Archives & Records Center (UARC) to start researching women’s lives in Louisville through history. The Women’s and Gender Studies research guide links to primary and secondary sources on this topic.

Digital Collections includes images and oral histories relating to women, including The Kate Matthews Collection by a pioneering woman photographer from Pewee Valley, and Jean Thomas, The Traipsin’ Woman, Collection documenting Kentucky folk culture.

The University of Louisville’s Hite Institute of Art is now home to the International Honor Quilt. Watch this blog for upcoming news about this resource for women’s history, art, and craft.

African American History in Louisville: Primary Sources

African American History month may be drawing to a close, but so many fascinating resources abound you’ll be engrossed in the subject year round. Where can you start? Here are some suggestions.

    • Documenting African American Life in Louisville: The fine folks in the University Archives have created a research guide to materials on the African American experience in Louisville. Manuscripts include personal papers and materials from churches, government agencies, educational institutions, and community organizations. The guide also includes information about newspapers, University records, interviews, and secondary sources on African American history.
    • University of Louisville Digital Collections: Includes
      • African American women at polls, 1920

        African American women at polls, 1920

        Louisville Leader Collection: The Louisville Leader was an African American newspaper published in Louisville from 1917 to 1950. It covered issues and events . It covered local religious, educational, social, fraternal, and sporting activities, as well as national and international news.

      • African American Oral History Collection: These interviews from the 1970s captured life experiences of African American Louisvillians. The interviewees talk about their parents, their upbringing (often outside Louisville), their experiences in school, their careers, and their achievements. They discuss everyday life as well as the big events in the history they lived. The interviews that are online include audio and transcripts.
      • As well as hundreds of images on African American life in Louisville

First Floor Renovations Update

by Dean Fox

We continue to make great strides in several areas including implementation of Worldshare Management System (WMS), bringing up our new institutional repository, and in finalizing plans for the 1st floor East Ekstrom renovation. In this blog, I’m going to focus on our Ekstrom 1E progress.

We have just signed off on the architectural plans for the space. Significant accomplishments will include:

  • Constructing a new east side combined services desk
  • Moving the Writing Center to the first floor with other student support services
  • Consolidating Ekstrom reference/information literacy personnel into one location
  • Opening up wall space/barriers to allow more natural light into the space
  • Significantly enhancing group and individual study spaces including new group study rooms
  • Updating and refreshing the space to tie it more closely with the newer west wing

These changes were incorporated to meet comments from users and library staff about increasing user seating, providing better zoning between group and individual spaces, and improving lighting, way finding, and building aesthetics.

I’m including several images so you can see the proposed floor layout as well as several 3-D renderings of how the new spaces will look. These represent some exciting changes to how our users will interact with the first floor spaces and how these spaces can reflect what modern research libraries can and should be.

1E layout 1E rendering 1 1E rendering 2 1E rendering 3

Next steps for the physical spaces include final furniture selection and going out to bid for the demolition/construction phase.

In addition to the physical updates, we continue making progress on updating our service model and staffing plans for the new spaces. While these plans are still being finalized, they include meeting the goal of providing a consistent user experience in services and staffing at both the new east desk and the existing west desk. They also include revising some of our existing positions to reflect departmental mergers and service consolidations. We expect to begin implementing some of these service/position changes during the remainder of the spring semester.

Getting Words Down on the Page

by Adam Robinson, University Writing Center

The hardest part of writing for me is getting those first words down on the page. And I’ve worked in the Writing Center long enough to know that I’m not the only person who has this difficulty. I’m dedicating this blog entry to any writer who is blocked or has been blocked. Hopefully, I can offer a little advice or at least some empathy with your situation.


Image credit: desiitaly

I usually get stuck because my expectations for my project are too high in the beginning—insert image of a frustrated writer staring at a blank screen, writing then deleting opening line after opening line. The best way for me to free myself from the burden of high expectations is to start my projects with low stakes writing that won’t likely (or perhaps shouldn’t) make it in my first draft. I’m talking sloppy, unpunctuated sentences paired with some doodles and a few lists. In fact, low stakes writing is a constant presence in all stages of any project I’m working on. I’ve seen three benefits from this casual approach to writing. 1. I’m less bored with my writing process. Low stakes writing is a needed break from the formal, “correct” writing expected of polished drafts. I allow myself to go on tangents and explore my thoughts in my low stakes writing. 2. These tangents and explorations reflect the simple reality that we write or should write to discover what we know and don’t know about whatever it is that we are writing about. It’s often repeated among writing teachers that “writing is thinking.” 3. Lastly, writing the first draft seems less intimidating because I’ve already started writing. I was taught a linear approach to writing that involved picking a topic, researching, outlining, and drafting. That process certainly helped me develop as a writer. But that process also put a lot of unneeded pressure on me when it came time to write the first draft. I had already done a tremendous amount of research and thinking. I had completed an outline that promised a beautiful, logical final product. I needed to see that hard work immediately pay off with a successful first draft. I don’t thrive on that kind of pressure. I like to lower the stakes with my writing.

More importantly, however, I remind myself that I never write in isolation. I need other people (usually other writers) for motivation, guidance, and inspiration.   Reading other people’s words and ideas often unblocks me. And like low stakes writing, reading is always a part of each stage of my project.   I obviously read before I write a draft to get a sense of the conversation circulating around my chosen topic. But even after I’ve written a few drafts and have gotten closer to something that resembles a complete essay, I find myself needing and wanting to do more reading. I may reread a critical source for inspiration or to find something new, or I may seek out a new source that can plug a hole in my thinking.

And, of course, I seek out advice from other writers, which leads me to a final point…and plug for the Writing Center. We can help you with any project (professional or personal) at any stage of that project. We will engage you in a productive conversation about your writing. We’ll answer your questions and listen to your goals and concerns while asking you a few questions of our own and giving you a thoughtful response to any writing that you share with us. And since we always think about your writing as being in process, there is no judgment about the quality of your draft. It’s just a draft to us. There are no grades. No number scores. We are simply trying to help you move your project forward and to share with you some ways to approach future writing projects. We want you to come away from an appointment feeling more confident and more prepared to work on your project. You can visit our website (http://louisville.edu/writingcenter) to learn about our consultations and to access our handouts, videos, and other writing related resources.

Have a good semester!



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