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.

Mid-century Louisville

The University of Louisville Libraries’ Digital Collections has a colorful new addition: the Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville, ca. 1956-1966. These 573 color snapshots document buildings in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1950s and 1960s, before urban renewal and federal highway construction made major changes to the architectural landscape.

ULPA 1998.09.424

609 West Walnut Street, Louisville, Kentucky. Image Number ULPA 1998.09.424 in Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville 1956-1966, University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

The photographer, Martin F. Schmidt (1918-2010), worked in his family’s Coca-Cola bottling business in Louisville before pursuing a degree in library science and applying his interest in local history to positions in the Louisville Free Public Library’s Kentucky Division and the Filson Club (now Filson Historical Society). He also published Kentucky Illustrated: The First Hundred Years (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), a selection of prints he collected documenting Kentucky’s first century. Schmidt was also a major supporter of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, where a library is named in his honor.

The albums he donated to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives (now part of Archives & Special Collections) include churches, schools, offices, and industrial buildings from the Phoenix Hill neighborhood to Portland and from the Central Business District out to the Russell and California neighborhoods. The saturated color images show late nineteenth century architecture with neon signage, painted advertisements (similar to those documented in our Ghost Signs of Louisville digital collection), mid-20th century automobiles, and pedestrians. Many of the buildings depicted have since been razed.

ULPA 1998.09.288

Martin Rosenberger Wallpaper Co., Miller Automatic Sales Company, and Royal Wallpapers, Inc., 525-19 West Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky. Image Number ULPA 1998.09.288 in Martin F. Schmidt Photos of Louisville 1956-1966, University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

Extra! Extra! Read (and type) all about it!

As announced during African American History Month last year , the University of Louisville Libraries has made its run of the Louisville Leader newspaper freely available online, and seeks the community’s assistance in transcribing the articles for enhanced access.

Articles from fall 1935 have recently been selected for transcription. In addition to local news and announcements, topics currently available for transcription and recently transcribed include nationally and internationally significant events, filtered through a local lens, such as:

  • Boxing’s “Brown Bomber,” Joe Louis, defeated Max Baer in New York in late September. Leader editors and readers were in attendance (calls for carpools were published in the weeks leading up to the fight), and New York-based former Louisville Municipal College instructor Earl Brown wrote an exclusive article on the event for the October 5 edition.
  • The Mussolini-led Kingdom of Italy encroached on the Haile Selassie-led Ethiopian Empire in what became the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Leader editors and readers noted parallels between the Fascist regime’s treatment of the African nation and their own treatment in Jim Crow America. They also noted the bias of the mainstream (white) media, singling out editorials by Hearst Newspapers’ Arthur Brisbane and Scripps-Howard columnist Westbrook Pegler.
  • The death of Thomas Blue, head of what was then known as the Colored Department of the Louisville Free Public Library, resulted in a Leader obituary heralding his status as the first — and, at that point, only — person of color appointed to head a public library department in the United States.
  • In another first, Republican Charles W. Anderson, Jr. was elected to represent the 58th Legislative District (Louisville 11th and 12th wards) in the Kentucky State House of Representatives. He was the first African American legislator elected in the South since Reconstruction.

19351116 Leader

Thank you to all who have contributed to our Leader project in the past year. More than 4,000 article segments have been transcribed! Please help us keep up the momentum, transcribing these stories and more like them so that future researchers can access them. Learn more about the project. Please note: at this time, the latest version of Firefox (v. 27) does not permit zooming and panning of the article images. We recommend using another browser.

UofL Intramural and Recreational Sports champions, 1962-2012, now online

The office of Intramural & Recreational Sports donated 50 years’ worth of Intramurals champions boards to Archives & Special Collections beginning in 2012, along with funding to have the images stored in archival boxes, scanned, and cataloged. The images, arranged by year, are now available online within the UofL Images collection of University Libraries’ Digital Collections.


The enormous posters documenting fun aspects of student life had long been displayed along the walls of three Belknap Campus gyms, where alumni reportedly stopped by when on campus to point out their champions photos to children or grandchildren, but the renovations of two of those spaces, plus the sleek, glass-walled design of the new Student Recreation Center (opened in October 2013), meant these “memory lanes” would have to find a new home. One of the functions of Archives & Special Collections (ASC) is to serve as the memory of the university, so this partnership was the perfect solution. Intramural & Recreational Sports plans to provide access to the collection via a kiosk in the new Recreation Center.

Image 2012_012_1483

The sports range from trends (Wallyball tournaments in the 1990s give way to Fantasy Football) to timeless classics (running and swimming); from individual achievements (bodybuilding) to team efforts (basketball, baseball, soccer); from indoor recreation (such as billiards) to outdoor fun (a springtime Putt Putt Golf excursion). Hairstyles and athletic wear also went through many changes during the five decades the posters were produced, but the individual and school pride and teambuilding instilled by the activities shows through across the board(s).

Image 2012_012_0180

Derby season


Louisville has been the proud host of the Kentucky Derby for the past 139 years. A Louisville Leader newspaper article (“Derby Visitors Feted As Hospitality Reigns“) from May 14, 1938 reports,

“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.

UofL’s proud basketball history–online!


Most Card fans know that the University of Louisville has a history of winning basketball teams–we are no strangers to championships. And we are no strangers to Wichita State: in February 1963, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees voted to join the Missouri Valley Conference, which then as now included the Wichita State Shockers.

50 years and three (soon to be four) conferences later, the University of Louisville Cardinals return to the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament for the 10th time on Saturday night, facing their former conference rival.

Photos from the University of Louisville Yearbooks show past meetups between the teams, such as these from the 1966-1967 season, featuring Louisville greats Wes Unseld (#31) and Alfred “Butch” Beard (#14).



The University of Louisville’s women’s basketball team dates back to 1909 when the dean of Arts and Sciences, John L. Patterson, heeded the request of a handful interested in forming a team.

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Check out our digitized U of L Yearbooks and Selected U of L images to find more women’s and men’s basketball history.



Help make Louisville African-American history more accessible

Louisville Leader banner

It’s African American History month, and UofL Libraries is pleased to announce the addition of a new online resource and a new participatory opportunity relating to local African American history.

The Louisville Leader Collection features all extant issues of an African American community newspaper covering local, national,
and international news published in Louisville, Kentucky from 1917-1950. The building which housed original copies of the paper was badly damaged by a fire, and the remaining issues, loaned by Kentucky State University and the widow of the publisher, were microfilmed by the University of Louisville, with the digital files created from that microfilm.

The long and winding road the texts have taken toward digital representation has made them less than ideal candidates for optical character recognition (OCR), which has difficulty transcribing faded, torn, or misaligned texts, even when they are readable to the human eye. We are therefore soliciting the public’s help to make these articles easier to search and discover by transcribing them. The transcriptions created through this “crowdsourcing” initiative will then be added to the digital collection, improving its accessibility.