Across the country, a substantial number of academic musical archives are dedicated to folk, world, country, bluegrass, classical and other musical genres, while other popular forms – namely punk, hardcore, indie and rock – are left out of the mix.
Aiming to correct this imbalance, UofL’s Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA) was established in 2013 to preserve recordings, photographs, videos, ‘zines, set lists, fan mail, and other artifacts of the Louisville underground music scene from the late 1970s until the present.
Not only does LUMA not consider these musical genres to be chopped liver, it recently pursued and was given a grant of $1,800 by the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC), allowing LUMA to add oral histories – interviews with individuals from the era – to its collection.
“These oral histories will be an excellent way to round out our collection” said Heather Fox, co-director of the Oral History Center and archivist for manuscript collections with Archives and Special Collections. Eighteen-hundred dollars doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it makes it possible for us to do this work,” said Fox, who will oversee the project.
Matched by funds from the ASC’s oral history budget, the project will be built with $3,600, most of which will go toward paying local journalist and former punk rocker Chip Nold to conduct interviews with musicians from the era.
Nold is not only an experienced journalist and interviewer, with a degree in history from Princeton, but was also the lead singer for Babylon Dance Band (aka “the Babs”), one of the first punk groups in Louisville, thus “the perfect candidate for the project,” Fox said.
“Chip had experience interviewing people for feature stories, but we made sure to train him on oral history methodology, and then sent him out with a trusty Marantz PMD 660 [a portable compact flash recorder] to get started.”
“The oral history project fills in the gaps of our collection,” she continued. “It lets us discover what it was like to be playing music during that era, and what it felt like to be there then. This is something oral history is great at fleshing out.”
Among the first interview subjects was a local music critic, with other musicians from the scene also on tap.
“LUMA is an effort to document part of Louisville’s culture that might not be documented otherwise. Music has played an important role in cultural life of Louisville and still does, and LUMA is filling in that gap.”
“When we’re collecting artifacts around a music scene, we’re less interested in the published material, because there are multiple copies of that. We’re more interested in finding unique items, like fan mail.”
As an example, LUMA has a collection of fan mail sent to Louisville hardcore band Endpoint. Mail addressed to the band came from fans in Louisville, around the U.S., and even Germany.
“Fan mail demonstrates the impact this music had on this community and in other parts of the country and world. . . .It documents the ways in which people communicated before the internet, which is really neat,” Fox said.
“There is fan mail from Louisville fans just across town to the guys in the band. I doubt that ever happens now. People are on Facebook or other social media and have immediate contact.”
Once completed, Fox will upload them to the digital collections where visitors will be able to search for specific passages within the recordings. Archives and Special Collections will be “integrating a new software that will allow us to index digital oral histories and then provide online access that will include a search box, to make the recording key-word searchable. It’s also time-coded, so you can go to the exact place in the audio to find that passage.”
“Ideally what we want is a full transcription of an interview; that’s the most time consuming thing of the process,” she continued.
Fox has eight years of experience with all aspects of oral history, including recording, transcribing and conducting such interviews. She also provided access to oral histories through her work at the Kentucky Historical Society on the Pass the Word website and at the University of Louisville’s CONTENTdm instance which provides online transcripts and streaming audio.
The LUMA advisory board is comprised of local musicians like Nathan Salsburg, musician and curator of the Alan Lomax Archive; musician and actor Will Oldham; Diane Pecknold, professor of popular culture who has written and edited books about country music (who is married to a member of the Louisville band Squirrel Bait); and other members of the community like John Timmons, owner of celebrated ear X-tacy, an erstwhile record store that employed many active participants in the scene, developed a list of active and well-known musicians in the scene during the early to mid-1980s.
Please browse the LUMA collection and find out more about Archives and Special Collections.
For completing a survey about his use of the University of Louisville Libraries, freshman Owen Powell was awarded an iPad Air 2.
Powell was drawn at random for completing the biennial survey, which helps the University Libraries determine how to better serve students and support their success.
“I really like the library; it’s been helpful for me this past year,” he said.
His favorite place to study in Ekstrom Library is a table on the second floor by the windows overlooking the quad.
“One day we got there just as it started snowing,” he said. “We sat and studied and watched it pile up all day. It was great.”
A pre-veterinary major, Powell was raised on a farm near Independence, Kentucky, and has experience giving shots to animals, and helping with the family’s herd of goats.
Melissa Laning, Associate Dean of Assessment, presented the iPad to Powell in Libraries Dean Robert E. Fox, Jr.’s office on March 10.
“We depend on students to give us feedback on our services, so that we can adjust and make sure we’re supporting them,” said Laning.
Maurini Strub, User Experience and Assessment Librarian, said some 1,998 students (764 undergraduate and 1,234 graduate) and 511 faculty had completed the 2016 survey. The Libraries has partnered with Institutional Effectiveness since 2012 to administer the survey, which seeks information on participants’ use and satisfaction with library spaces, services and resources.
The Archivist’s Eye: African-American Artistry and Community Activism Found in Collector’s ArtifactsPosted: January 18, 2016
By Tom Owen, Archivist for Regional History, Archives and Special Collection
Last September, I returned from vacation to find on my desk chair a file folder of fifteen or so miscellaneous archival items related to African-American history. They had been left there by Donna Woods, the niece of a committed friend of UofL’s Archives and Special Collections, Juanita White, who has been involved in local Black history research for decades. Woods subsequently told me that the materials had been part of a larger cache of historical documents found on a shelf in an upstairs closet of an abandoned house in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood that her father had purchased decades ago. She believed the collection of memorabilia had been assembled by a long-deceased African-American school teacher named Lucille Keene.
A couple of weeks ago I got around to putting my archivist’s eye on what at first blush might be like useless left-behinds found in an empty sock drawer. Should the disparate items be kept or pitched? Just because some items date to the mid-1920s doesn’t automatically mean you keep them. Is the information duplicated elsewhere? Is it relevant to the history of the Louisville area? Do the documents answer questions that future inquirers might ask?
If retained, should the items be kept together as part of a small identifiable collection or dispersed among topical reference files here in our archives? Could I make a better judgment if I knew more about the person who conscientiously clipped articles from newspapers, picked up a funeral leaflet at church, or assembled concert programs over a four decade period? Are there threads of meaning that give deeper purpose to Lucille Keene’s collecting?
The items in the file primarily document performances in Louisville of two classically-trained African-American concert artists, internationally-renowned Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson. Hayes, a native Georgian, actually worked as a waiter at Louisville’s Pendennis Club — a Louisville City Directory confirms he boarded in a West Chestnut Street home in 1911 — long before he hit the big stage. Clearly with both hometown and racial pride, Ms. Keene had kept Hayes’ programs from concerts in our River City in 1925, 1926 and 1961. Marian Anderson’s 1957 and 1959 Louisville concerts are documented with associated news clippings describing the turn-away crowds, the African-American sorority that sponsored her visits and a reception for Anderson in a private home. Finally, there is a 1960 funeral flyer containing a biographical sketch for Eugene S. Clayton, who had been elected to the old Louisville Board of Alderman in 1945 as the first African-American local legislator.
My archivist’s eye saw sufficient evidence that Lucille Keene had stashed away documents that celebrated Louisville-connected African-Americans who made a significant mark in the face of hostile circumstance. Clearly, her effort was worth preserving for future generations but did those few disparate items need to stay together as a Lucille Keene Collection? Led by both the collection’s small size and the fact that the items revealed no details about the life of the collector, I decided that research would be better served if the documents were placed in biographical reference files for Roland Hayes, Marian Anderson and Eugene Clayton that we maintain here in the archives.
Interestingly, after I decided the disposition of the file’s contents, I learned a lot more about Lucille Keene. With the help of Ms. White, an inveterate researcher in African-American history, we determined that Keene was not a teacher after all. In fact, born in 1893, Lucille (Hall) attained only an eighth-grade education and worked as a maid and tobacco factory “stemmer” before her marriage to John Keene, a butler and house man, when she likely became a housewife. From online searching it was determined that the Keenes owned their home in the Russell neighborhood for over fifty years with Lucille dying in 1969 and John in 1983. An even fuller picture of Ms. Keene emerged when I asked our research friend about those items from the closet cache that were distributed—a few at a time—to various schools and archival repositories across the U. S.
Had I known earlier, I would have urged Ms. Woods to keep Ms. Keene’s “archive” together here at UofL in a larger collection bearing her name. In that way, a researcher could quickly ascertain in one place many of Keene’s interests and commitments based on the totality of what she decided to stow away years ago! An online search of the archival finding aid that would be prepared for her papers would turn up documents that were specific to the organizations, institutions, individuals and places she touched.
From a verbal description of those items dispersed elsewhere it appears that John Keene’s income as a butler must have been sufficient for his wife to be fully engaged in the religious and social life of African-American Louisville. Despite her limited education, Lucille was a leader in the women’s movement of her American Baptist Church sometimes traveling to state and national conferences. In addition, she once served as president of her local women’s club affiliated with the Kentucky Association of Colored Women and was honored for her extensive volunteer service to both the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. Several postcards sent back home chronicle her travels to Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York noting her stops at sites that commemorated African-American achievement. When considered along with those items left on my desk chair, Lucille Keene was a busy Louisville woman who took great pride in the achievements of her race despite hobbling discrimination.
I’m grateful that I was able to put my archivist’s eye on a few things discovered in Ms. Keene’s closet and, with the help of Juanita White, to learn more about her significant community involvement.
The “Happy Birthday” song, originally titled, “Good Morning to You,” written by Louisville sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, has been much in the news lately as the focus of a lawsuit to determine its public domain status.
But there’s a fascinating local twist, as in UofL Music Library local. While archiving a collection donated in the 1950s, Music Library Director James Procell discovered what appears to be the earliest known manuscript of the “Happy Birthday” song.
And the local and national press is quite interested.
Please tune in to the following:
- Procell interview with Joe Arnold from WHAS11, September 1st at 6 p.m.
- WFPL radio interview with Procell on September 1st in the afternoon.
- Procell appearance on “Great Day Live” with Terry Meiners and Rachel Platt on WHAS11 on Thursday morning, September 3rd.
Also, please see the links below for further coverage. When more comes, we’ll let you know.
Kudos to James and the Music Library!
NY Daily News:
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Terri Holtze, Head of Library Web Services
When you need articles or primary sources for your research our Research Guides site is a great place to start. On December 16th the site will have some new features to make this process even easier for you.
- Find all guides in your area of interest from the homepage. The list of topics on the homepage will automatically give you a list of all our research guides on that topic – rather than just listing the general topic guide for that area. For example, rather than just going directly to the Business Research Guide, when you click on Business it will show you all the business-related guides like the one for Business Plan Research or the guide for the MKT 350 class.
- New subject areas. In the past we’ve tied our subject areas closely to areas of teaching and research at the University of Louisville. We continue to do that in the newest version, but we’ve added a couple of new subject areas that people frequently need help researching, including guides on Library Science and Louisville, Ky.
- Chat with a librarian. The homepage will now include a chat box that you can use to talk to a librarian about your research questions. They can help you choose a database, formulate a search strategy, or set up an appointment for more in-depth guidance.
- Find databases by subject. The new A-Z Databases list has some great new features. You can limit the list to just databases in a particular subject. Doing a subject limit will show you the most recommended databases in that subject first, followed by a list of all the databases that cover it. The results page will also show you who the subject librarian is and what research guides are available for the topic.
- Find databases by type. You can also limit the databases list to show only certain types of databases. This is a great way to find music (audio/video), images, primary sources, and more.
- Databases search. The databases list will also include a search box that will search through the database titles and descriptions.
Want to get a sneak peak before it goes live? You can see it at http://louisville.beta.libguides.com/. When it goes live it will have the same address as the current version which is http://louisville.libguides.com/.
If you’ve walked through University of Louisville’s campus, you may have noticed the sculptures situated on our lawns and paintings hung in different department. These eye-catching art pieces are part of the University’s art collection. Now you can use a new interactive map to find new favorite artworks!
The Art on Campus tool will let you explore the University of Louisville’s Belknap and the Health Sciences campuses to find geotagged images of art. Each pin on the map has information about the artist, the materials, and any additional information regarding how the artwork came to be located on campus. The website will work well on different internet browsers, as well as mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. There is even a feature that provides you Google Maps walking directions to each piece.
This map will help you discover hidden gems on campus. Many of us are aware of Rodin’s The Thinker statue in front of Grawmeyer Hall. However, did you know that a copy of Michelangelo’s iconic David statue sits inside Grawmeyer Hall?
The map also highlights the work of local artists, such as Alma Lesch, a fiber artist who was active in the city during the second half of the 20th century. Using the information on the map, you can also find out how to further research individual artworks. For example, the Bridwell Art Library has Alma Lesch’s papers in its manuscripts collection. More research resources will be added to the Art on Campus page in the future to help scholars research each piece.