Archives & Special Collections celebrates Julius Friedman with Exhibit and Gallery Dedication

Early posters and other works by internationally renowned Louisville artist Julius Friedman are featured in the exhibit Graphic Pioneer: The Early Poster Designs of Julius Friedman, 1965-1980, hosted by Photographic Archives, part of UofL’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC). The exhibit opened with a reception on July 14 featuring the dedication and renaming of the Photographic Archives gallery in Friedman’s honor.

Image of man cut in half and duplicated in reverse beneath layers of yellow graduating to orange in the shape of butterfly wings. A graphic design of Friedman's.
The exhibit announcement features a 1973 graphic work by Friedman promoting the Center for Photographic Studies.

Friedman’s sister, Carol Abrams, donated the bulk of his artistic works to the Photographic Archives after his passing in 2017. Ms. Abrams states, “Julius loved to mentor students and fellow artists. In giving his work to the Archives and Special Collections, students can learn from his work.” Ms. Abrams also generously provided support to renovate the gallery, enhance storage for ASC’s photographic holdings, including Friedman’s work, and prepare the collection for research by the community. This preparatory work is ongoing, but the full collection is expected to be open to the public in 2023.

Shown are five people, four women and one man, holding a large pair of scissors and surrounded by balloons.
ASC Director Carrie Daniels, Libraries Dean Bob Fox, Carol Friedman Abrams, Archivist Elizabeth Reilly and UofL President Lori Gonzalez cut the ribbon to open the newly named Julius Friedman Gallery.

Beloved by the local arts community, Friedman was also highly regarded among international audiences. Perhaps best known for the posters “Fresh Paint” and “Toe on Egg,” Friedman created posters and other graphic works for a broad range of clients. Outside of his design work, Friedman created his own artwork through photography – often printing on unique surfaces like metals and fabrics – as well as sculpture, furniture design, collage, book art, and collaborative video.  While this exhibit focuses on his early posters, the collection includes this broad range of media and formats.

“Julius Friedman was such a significant figure in our local arts scene,” said Carrie Daniels, Director of ASC. “We are delighted to serve as the home of his archive, and to present a slice of it to the community in this exhibition.”

“Fresh Paint” is one of Friedman’s most recognized posters. 1978. By Julius Friedman and Nathan Felde.

Friedman was a graphic design alumnus of UofL and had a decades-long relationship with the University Libraries. His work frequently appeared in ASC exhibits, including a 2012 celebration of Photographic Archives’ 50th Anniversary, which featured Friedman’s photographic capture of a ballerina in mid-swirl. Friedman’s close friend, former Art Library Director Gail Gilbert, inspired one of Friedman’s later efforts, a project titled The Book.  Gilbert suggested that Friedman create works of art from old books that otherwise would have been thrown away, and he ran with the project, taking old books, tearing them, twisting them, boring into them, reconstituting them and creating art. The Book consists of 130 photographs of that art.

Promotional poster for D.W. Griffith Film Series showing graphic design of gray transparent photographs of a man's, film director Francois Truffaut's face duplicated in horizontal rows. In the middle is a row of yellow photographs showing the man's full face at the top and just the lower half of his face in duplicate below.
Truffaut poster, one of a group of posters for the D.W. Griffith Film Series. 1976. By Julius Friedman and Nathan Felde.

Among ASC’s Oral History Center (ohc.library.louisville.edu) digital offerings are two recordings of conversations between Abrams and ASC archivist and local historian Tom Owen. In them, Abrams discusses her memories of growing up with Julius, her older brother and only sibling, and how she came to work alongside him in his studio and then gallery to exhibit and sell his work commercially. Abrams recounts observing her brother’s talent burgeoning in childhood and watching him become successful as an adult. She also talks about establishing a nonprofit foundation in her brother’s name to help young people pursue academic degrees in the arts, the Julius Friedman Foundation (juliusfriedman.org).

The exhibition will run through December 16 in the Julius Friedman Gallery, on the lower level of Ekstrom Library. For more information, contact Elizabeth Reilly (502 852-8730; elizabeth.reilly@louisville.edu).


James Everett Recalls Beecher Terrace and ‘Old Walnut’ in the ‘40s

By Tom Owen, Archivist for Regional History, Archives & Special Collections

Photo of young James Everett
Young James Everett. Courtesy
of Howard Breckinridge

Howard Breckinridge of Plano, Texas, a longtime friend of our Archives and Special Collections and a fountain of information about West Louisville history, told me that his eighty-eight-year-old cousin James Everett also had keen memories of Louisville’s African American community in the 1940s. Everett and his parents were among the first residents of the brand-new Beecher Terrace public housing project on Muhammad Ali, and he spent his entire youth enjoying the bustle of the ‘Old Walnut Street’ business district. I jumped at the chance to capture those memories on tape since Beecher Terrace is being totally redone as a mixed-income community. At the same time, the wisdom of the destruction by Urban Renewal of that segregated commercial district immediately west of downtown in the late 1950s is being reopened for debate.

The problem was James Everett, an Indianapolis resident, was in poor health and under Covid protocols it was unwise for me to travel. Heather Fox, director of ASC’s Oral History Center, stepped into the breech, downloading an app to my cell phone that allowed me to record an almost one-hour interview with James Everett which as a digital file has been added to our massive collection of 2000 oral histories, gathered since the early 1970s and including many from the African American community.

Beecher Terrace public housing development, Louisville, KY, 1940s
D. W. Beard Housing Authority Collection. Photo Archives. 1987.61.028

In our interview last July, Everett recalled the family move to Beecher Terrace when he was eight as a God-send—a new comfortable home with central heat, indoor plumbing, and hot and cold running water which trumped in every respect their former rental in Louisville’s Black Hill neighborhood at Eleventh and Magnolia. He also remembered ‘Beecher’ as a safe, pleasant community where children were admonished by other parents if they got out-out-of-line and there were plenty of things for kids to do. For him, the lengthy ‘Old Walnut’ business district, which bordered his home on the south and stretched from Sixth to Thirteenth and beyond, offered a potpourri of possibilities: a favored donut shop, movie theaters, cleaners and tailor shops, pawn shops, dry goods and drug stores, cafes, and taverns and much more. (Some of the venues were Black owned.) At one point, James tells how as a teenager he snuck into the locally famous Top Hat Nightclub without being ejected by Frankie Maxwell, the watchful manager. On Derby Day, he said, ‘Old Walnut’s’ sidewalks were filled with fashionably dressed visitors—some not even headed to the track—and a large parade filled the street on Thanksgiving Day prior to an annual Central High School rivalry football game.

Walnut Street, now Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, KY, 1942
Walnut Street, Louisville, KY, 1942 https://digital.library.louisville.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cs/id/6563

One especially warm memory involved Mr. Davidson, James’ teacher at Central, who met eight or ten male students in the neighborhood and led them on a lengthy Saturday hike through Downtown Louisville, across the Second Street bridge, and down the Indiana shore to the Falls of the Ohio. Praising this youth mentorship, Everett told of wading into the shallow pools at the Falls to catch carp with his hands and stopping for lunch on the way back to Beecher Terrace. The last third of our interview is a chronicle of James Everett’s years in the Air Force, his brief return to Louisville, and a permanent move to Indianapolis where, after a decade of job changes, he was employed by Ford Motor Company twenty-eight years until his retirement.

Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, Howard Breckinridge texted that James Everett died on November 13. How happy I am that Heather Fox made possible a phone interview that will be preserved in our ASC Oral History Collection. Now we hold forever the memories of a childhood and youth of an elderly Indianapolis resident spent in the 1940s in Louisville’s Beecher Terrace housing complex along that once-vibrant ‘Old Walnut’ business district.


1937 Louisville flood badges reappear as posters during COVID-19 era

While walking last week in Germantown with Teddy, her medium-sized Terrier mix, Libraries Assessment Librarian Anita Hall saw a poster that looked familiar. It was a larger version of historic lapel “badges” issued to citizens during another difficult era: Louisville’s great flood of 1937.

The badges contained an upbeat pledge that ended with the catchphrase “I Dare You To Catch Me Not Smiling,” and were widely distributed after the historic 1937 flood to boost morale. Now posters are reappearing locally during the COVID-19 era in a variety of colors that differ from the badges’ original orange. An enterprising individual must have recognized a similar mood arising in our current reality and thought we could use the boost.

Pledge_p76

Pledge: From Mayor Neville Miller scrapbook, Rare Books, University of Louisville Archives and Special Collection.

“It made me quite emotional to think about other times that people in the city have come together to weather a crisis,” Hall said. “Seeing these makes me feel very connected to the whole city.”

The Ohio River’s over-spill engulfed 70% of Louisville and 90% of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and devastated other communities along the river from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Getting back to normal life after the waters receded was a shared public challenge.  During this time, Louisville Mayor Neville Miller created the Committee on Morale to prevent panic and encourage cooperation, service, and determination. Notices, broadsides, and posters were posted throughout the city to offer ways to cope and recover from the extensive damage.

Quarantine pass

Quarantine pass: from C. H. Burkholder Papers, University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections.

In 2017, Archives and Special Collections held an exhibit showcasing these artifacts and archival photography from its collections chronicling the flood’s impact. A part of the exhibit was Mayor Miller’s scrapbook kept during the era and now housed in ASC’s Rare Books collection – it includes the original orange flyers. Also part of the exhibit was a quarantine pass allowing individuals to leave their homes for a period of time; it is collected in ASC’s C.H. Burkholder Papers.

Poster seen in Germantown recently.

Poster seen in Louisville’s Germantown neighborhood recently echoes 1937 Flood publications.

“Even though I burst into tears when I first saw the poster, I’m smiling now!” Hall said.

Let’s all keep smiling!

(Thanks to Anita Hall and Rebecca Pattillo.)


Historic African American Newspaper Louisville Leader Now Fully Transcribed and Searchable

A group of descendants of I. Willis Cole, founding publisher of The Louisville Leader (1917-1950), gathered last week in the offices of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections to celebrate a milestone – the transcription of all issues of the historic African American weekly newspaper.

An online searchable archive of the newspaper’s stories was made possible by a crowdsourced transcription project launched seven years ago by Archives and Special Collections. Now the public can easily peruse the newspaper’s stories, which included local, regional, national, and international news as well as school, church, sports, theater, club, business, and social events.

bestgroup

Grandchildren and descendants of I. Willis Cole, publisher of the Louisville Leader, gather to celebrate the completion of the transcription project. 

First published on November 10, 1917 and continuing weekly until September 30, 1950, six months after Cole’s death, the newspaper had a strong editorial voice.

“It was a newspaper that celebrated freedom, spoke to power and advocated for the betterment of everyone,” said Aaron Cole, I. Willis Cole’s grandson.

“I was a white child in Louisville in the 1930s and 40s . . . and I thought civil rights began in 1950,” said Tom Owen, UofL archivist and historian. “It didn’t. You can’t hold these pages without realizing that civil rights began long before the 1950s.”

Fully digitized and publicly available since February 2013, the Leader has been an important resource for scholars and researchers. When a member of Ken Burns’ team working on a Jackie Robinson documentary sought to determine whether Robinson was jeered and booed in Louisville when he played with the (all-white) Major League, the Leader was able to provide an answer: yes. Among many other requests for information from the Leader’s pages, a local blues society consulted it for research on a historical marker; and an ASC intern consulted it to write a graduate paper on the segregation of Louisville’s public park system.

cake

Celebratory cake shows the Leader’s 20th Anniversary edition.

Original copies of the newspaper were stored at the Cole Publishing Company, where Aaron Cole said “there may have been a few field mice who were also enjoying it.” These copies were badly damaged by a fire in 1954. Eventually, the family gave the badly deteriorated bulk of the collection to Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky, who loaned them to the University of Louisville in 1978 for microfilming.

In 2011, ASC personnel had the microfilm scanned, intending to provide free online access, but the poor quality of the optical character recognition (OCR) hindered the discoverability of the content to search engines.

carrierachelrebecca

ASC Director Carrie Daniels, Digital Initiatives Librarian Rachel Howard, and Metadata Librarian Rebecca Pattillo.

Fortunately, a solution lay in online crowdsourced transcription, whereby volunteers type the stories from their home or office computer.  The project involved many Libraries personnel, including the server administrator, digital technologies systems librarian, web services librarian, and archivists, who collaborated to set up the software and design its look and workflow. A Public History graduate student interning in fall 2012 prepared issues for uploading into ASC’s Digital Collections and articles for transcription.

ASC launched the Louisville Leader Transcription Project during African-American History Month in 2013, and continued to upload articles for transcription, allowing volunteers and ASC personnel to transcribe text for search until mid-October 2019.

Digital Initiatives Librarian Rachel Howard said that by observing patterns in usage and hearing from some volunteers, she and her colleagues have learned many valuable lessons from the project.

student assistants

ASC student assistants who contributed to the transcription project.

“People choose to transcribe for the same reasons they seek to volunteer in-person in libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies,” she said. “It’s because they are interested in history, they want to contribute, and they have time to do so.

“The work of the volunteer transcribers didn’t need editing. Only one transcription failed to include the text of the article itself, and it was not spam, but a commentary on the current state of a public housing project that was new (and full of hope) in a 1940 issue of the Leader.”

One “super-user,” a local woman now in her 80s who contributed her time almost every day for many years, emailed Howard frequently when she noticed an incomplete article or a glitch with the software. Some of Howard’s favorite quotes from the contributor include: “I am now transcribing events that took place when I was 10 years old” “At all times we should keep in mind that ‘history’ is what we are living right now. We still have far to go, but oh, how far we have come.”; and “I am enjoying this . . . I know I am making a contribution, and in the process I am getting a good look at history from a different perspective. . . I feel that I have known some of these people, their clubs and church work, etc., as well as some of the issues that had meaning for them. I googled the Bard-Fleming case last week because I wanted to know how it ended. . . Yes, I am getting something out of this, too.”

“I really just want to thank everybody in the community, here and online, who made this accomplishment possible,” Howard said.

 


Tom Owen wins Top Award from Kentucky Historical Society

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.

2017KHSAwards0123

UofL Archivist Tom Owen with Constance Alexander, president of the Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board.

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:

Service/Special Awards

  • 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

Publication Awards

  • 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

Education Awards

  • 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.