University of Louisville Libraries Archivist and Historian Tom Owen was awarded the Distinguished Service Award, the top honor of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS), at its annual awards ceremony on November 10.
A former Louisville Metro Councilman and caretaker of Louisville lore and history, Owen was cited for his “service to history, to UofL and to Louisville; his work as an archivist, making UofL’s records and archival collections available to researchers; and his walking tours—both the physical tours and their recordings. He made the city his classroom.” He was also praised as a “scholar who popularized history and . . . elevated history’s importance for many people.”
Owen is known for his walking tours, which capture the color and history of a particular corner of the city as part of a series on local public television, titled Tom Owen’s Louisville. Recently, he also offered weekly tours of UofL’s Belknap campus, detailing the background and stories of various buildings and areas. His research in this area led to the recent publication of a book in collaboration with Archives colleague Sherri Pawson, University of Louisville Belknap Campus.
Owen is also well-known as a politician locally, having served as a Louisville Metro Council member from 2003 until his retirement in 2016, and prior to that, on the old Board of Alderman from 1990 to 1998. He has been an archivist with UofL for 42 years.
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor the Kentucky Historical Society presents. DSA winners have provided great services to Kentucky and the field of history in their professional or personal lives. The ceremony was held at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, 100 W. Broadway, in Frankfort, Ky.
Additional recipients included:
- Tom Owen, Louisville, Distinguished Service Award
- Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence Award
- Donna Russell, Oldham County, Award of Distinction Award
- Ken Reis, Campbell County, Frank R. Levstik Award for Professional Service Award
- Kurt Holman, Boyle County, Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History Award
- Scott Clark and Brian Mabeltini, Boyle County, Brig. Gen. William R. Buster Award
- Kentucky Humanities Council, Community Impact Award
- Hannah O’Daniel, Louisville, Kentucky Public History Intern Award
- David J. Bettez, “Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front”
- Shawn D. Chapman, “Removing Recalcitrant County Clerks in Kentucky”
- Ronald Wolford Blair, “Wild Wolf: The Great Civil War Rivalry”
- John David Miles, “Historic Architecture of Shelby County, Ky, 1792–1915”
- Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society
- 43rd Annual Hopkins County Yearbook
- Charles W. Logsdon Historic Downtown Walking Tour, Elizabethtown
- Jeff Crooper/Logan County Genealogical Society, “The Future of Indexing”
- James Graham Brown Foundation and John Kleber, Brown Fellows Program, Kentucky Connections Handbook
KHS also honored Jennifer Faith, an Eastside Middle School (Shepherdsville) teacher who was Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher of the Year for Kentucky, and Collins Award recipient Andrea Smalley, associate professor, Northern Illinois University. The Collins Award goes to the author of an article from The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to Kentucky history. Smalley’s article, “‘They Steal Our Deer and Land’: Contested Hunting Grounds in the Trans-Appalachian West,” was in the summer/autumn 2016 issue of The Register.
Several faculty and staff will represent the University of Louisville Libraries at the upcoming Kentucky Library Association Conference this weekend at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Following are some of the presentations and presenters at this year’s event, which runs from September 21-23.
ETDplus: Guidance for Graduate Students’ Research Output
Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian, and Dwayne Buttler, JD, Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication
The IMLS-funded ETDplus project has produced guidance documentation, workshop materials, and software tools for students and staff to use in managing complex digital objects such as research data sets, video installations, websites and music recitals. These intellectual works cannot be captured in words alone and implicate copyright, metadata, file formats, versioning, and other research and practical challenges. We will demonstrate these freely available resources and their potential uses.
Renovations and Innovations: Merging Departments and Unit Cultures
Matthew Goldberg, Head, Access & User Services, Ekstrom Library; Ashley Triplett, Student Supervisor and Social Media Library Specialist, Ekstrom Library
This is the story of Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville and its renovations during 2015 and the experiences we had merging nine separate sub-departments into a single unit called Access and User Services. What may seem like a challenging process turned into an opportunity for growth and development. We will explore how we reexamined how the public desks prioritized our patrons and how we grew from several disjointed departments into a single unit with a unified department culture.
Kentucky and the Great War: Filling and Operating Military Camp Libraries
Jonathan Jeffrey, Department Head, Manuscripts Coordinator, Western Kentucky University; and Delinda Stephens Buie, Curator of Rare Books, Archives & Special Collections
The American Library Association provided library services in U.S. military camps during WWI. To fill those libraries, Americans donated 3 million books in 1918 with Kentuckians contributing generously. Louisville’s Camp Zachary Taylor was part of the ALA’s work to provide wholesome activities in the training camps. They also sought to show the value and even “manliness” of libraries. Perhaps ironically, much of the work at Taylor was done by women from the Louisville Free Public Library.
Research DIY: Enhancing Online Learning Through Strategic Planning and Collaborative Professional Development
Robert Detmering, Information Literacy Coordinator, Information Literacy Coordinator; Amber Willenborg, Online Learning and Digital Media Librarian
We enhanced and expanded our online instruction program, while building buy-in within a departmental culture that was not enthusiastic about this work. Through strategic hiring, staffing reallocation, and collaborative professional development, we created general and customized online tools and services, including course-embedded content. We will share our team-based creative process, promotional activities, and initial assessment data for our homegrown research DIY site, Discover It Yourself.
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.