Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Town Branch and the Meadowthrope Neighborhood

Construction on New circle, aerial taken in late November, 1960

John C. Wyatt Herald-Leader photographs, 2004AV001 #1.16-3049

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Benham Coal Company records now online!

The Benham Coal Company records, one of several Appalachian collections to be digitized by UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities funded Coal, Camps, and Railroads project, is now available on ExploreUK.

Located on the eastern side of Harlan County, Kentucky, Benham is a coal town developed by the Wisconsin Steel Company, a subsidiary of International Harvester. Beginning in 1910, the city was constructed from rural communities once tied together by subsistence agriculture to provide the raw material to another industrial city where steel was made. Benham was often described as a “model” coal camp, one with better quality housing with running water and electricity, schools, churches, a hotel, commissary, meat market, theatre, baseball diamonds, a doctor, and other amenities supplied by the company. As the demand for coal diminished in the 1940s and 1950s, miners and their families looked elsewhere for work. By the 1970s, Benham‘s continued loss of population corresponded to its dwindling coal production and in 1986, International Harvester left Benham altogether.

The Benham Coal Company records (151 cubic feet, 302 Boxes; dated 1911-1973) focus primarily on the early years of Benham Coal through the 1940s, including office files, employee benefits association records, files on accidents and safety, and photographs.

UK Libraries was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2013 for the Coal, Camps, and Railroads project. Over 130 cubic feet of portions of the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, including the Benham Coal Company records,  will be selectively digitized, focusing on 189 years of economic development in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields from 1788 to 1976.

The materials document the search for, extraction of, and distribution of coal, oil, and natural gas resources, the creation of railroads to bring these raw materials to industrial manufacturers and electrical power generators across the United States, as well as the company towns, their services, and the individual lives that grew up to sustain and make possible this economic development.

The Sherrill Martin papers, Tacony Oil Company collection, and the Kentucky Union Land Company records have also been digitized as part of the Coap, Camps, and Railroads project and are available on ExploreUK. More information on UK Special Collections Research Center’s online Appalachian collections can be found here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye to the "Mother of Folk"


Jean Ritchie, Appalachian folk singer, songwriter, author, and dulcimer player, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Born and raised in the Cumberland Mountains, Ritchie was known as the “Mother of Folk”. She released several albums on Elektra records and performed at Carnegie Hall. Ritchie also worked to record and document American, British, and Irish ballads. A graduate of the University of Kentucky (1946, B.A. in social work), Ritchie was the first recipient of UK’s Founder’s Day Award, and in 2002, she was awarded a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship.

Above: President H. L. Donovan presents Jean Ritchie with the school’s first Founder’s Day Award, 1955

The University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center houses the typescript of Singing Family of the Cumberlands, Ritchie’s 1955 publication on her family’s history.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Russell Rice collection on UK sports now online

The Russell Rice collection on University of Kentucky sports (10.5 cubic feet, 30 boxes; dated 1876-1994 and undated, bulk 1920-1973) is now available on ExploreUK. The collection is comprised of sports-related materials gathered by Russell Rice, which largely focus on University of Kentucky basketball and football but also include materials related to other campus sports. There is extensive coverage of Adolph Rupp, specifically in the areas of correspondence and photographic materials, as well as correspondence related to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts (1968-1991). Rice was the sports information director for the University of Kentucky Athletics Department (1968-1987)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Clay Lancaster Slide Collection Now on ExploreUK

Clay Lancaster’s collections of slides are now available on ExploreUK. The collection dates from 1939-1992 and consists of 35mm slides taken by Clay Lancaster, depicting interiors, exteriors, and drawings of many buildings in the Bluegrass area. The collection provides a visual history of architecture in the Bluegrass. Additionally, the slides are organized according to Lancaster’s own subject scheme, providing insight into how Lancaster envisioned the progression of change in the architectural landscape of the Bluegrass. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Clay Lancaster won recognition both regionally and internationally for his scholarship, creativity, and advocacy in a variety of fields.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New collection guides available

Our processing team has been busy! Check out all the new and updated finding aids now available on ExploreUK.


Midwifery Collection (94m2; dated 1926-1932, undated; 0.45 cubic feet; 1 box) consists of reports and rules and regulations concerning midwifery in Eastern Kentucky during the early 20th century.

Jim Newberry speeches (2010ms051; dated 2006-2010, undated; 2.45 cubic feet; 7 boxes) consists of the speeches of former Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry. Speech topics include the University of Kentucky, building dedications, award banquets, news conferences, and the arts.

Margaret Hammond papers (2013ms0672; dated 1856-1870; 0.01 cubic feet, 8 items) comprise five letters, two land sale-related affidavits and one obituary for Kidd’s nephew, Alexander Bell.

Joseph M. Tanner typescript (59m28; dated circa 1925; 0.15 cubic feet; 1 folder) consists of a typescript written by Tanner, a Lexington, Kentucky, attorney and city treasurer, recording his recollections of Lexington between 1875 and 1925.

Confederate States of America documents (50m40; dated 1861-1865, undated; 1.61 cubic feet; 7 boxes) comprises documents relating to the legislation and governance of the Confederate States of America.

Charles K. Wheeler papers (92m4; dated 1879-1933, undated; 3.5 cubic feet; 11 boxes, 1 folder) consists of correspondence, bound volumes of congressional material, legal documents, and case files pertaining to Charles K. Wheeler’s career as a lawyer and member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

James G. Wheeler papers (94m3; dated 1880-1958, undated; 17 cubic feet; 41 boxes) contains case files, legal documents, correspondence, contracts, and printed materials which document Wheeler’s career as a corporate lawyer in Paducah, Kentucky.

Richard L. Pace papers (2014ms0255; dated 1972-1996, undated; 3 cubic feet; 3 flat boxes and 5 oversize folders) comprise examples of Richard Rick Pace’s fine art printing, book jacket/publishing design, exhibit catalogs, and other printing and design work, 1972-1996.

Spurr family papers (2012ms721; 1839-1916; 0.03 cubic feet; 15 items) comprise letters, receipts, invitations, and memos kept by the Spurr family of Fayette County, Kentucky.

Laura Massie papers (1997ms295; dated 1952-1970, bulk 1962-1964; 4.76 cubic feet; 10 boxes) consists of administrative records, correspondence, newsletters, articles, pamphlets, newspapers, scrapbooks, and reports, documenting the operation of the Lexington Committee on Religion and Human Rights (LCRHR) and Laura Massie’s personal interest in civil rights and religion.

Lambert Luten letters (2013ms0469; 1861-1865; 0.02 cubic feet, 14 items) comprise correspondence written by Lambert Luten, a Civil War Union solider, to his brother, Hiram, and his parents, Berteld and Gezinna Luten.

John Craig Shelby papers (72m23; dated 1838-1968; 127 cubic feet; 277 boxes, 2 rolled items) contains correspondence, letterbooks, receipts, checks, daybooks, certificates and diplomas, and law case files, which document the law careers and family life of both John Craig Shelby and his father, John Todd Shelby.

David Francis Crawford papers (62m125; dated 1889-1927, undated; 0.9 cubic feet; 2 boxes) contain blueprints, test results, project notes, and reports David Francis Crawford collected throughout his career as a railroad machinist and superintendent.

Berkshire family papers (59m50; dated 1820-1892; 0.23 cubic feet; 3 folders) contain deeds, indentures, receipts, checks, stock policies, land surveys, home insurance policies, and tax receipts belonging to John G. Gaines, James N. Early, and William C. Berkshire.

J.J. Glenn papers (65m2; dated 1913-1921, 0.23 cubic feet; 1 box) contains articles, speeches, and a manuscript written about history and culture in Madisonville and Kentucky.

General Roger Williams papers (2008ms013; dated 1823-1991, bulk 1898-1929; 62 cubic feet; 149 boxes, 1 folder) contain materials related to the businesses, investments, and military service of the prominent Kentuckian from 1898 until 1929.

Sweeney family papers (2009ms210; dated 1819-1963, bulk 1865-1950; 0.58 cubic feet; 2 boxes) contain scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, genealogy documents, photographs, and memorabilia from the 1905 Presidential inauguration, documenting the Sweeney family of Kentucky, particularly Mary and Sunshine Sweeney.

Robert F. Sexton papers (2013ms0834; dated 1908-2010; 19.2 cubic feet, 18 boxes) primarily comprise research and subject files, correspondence, writings, reports, press releases, meeting minutes, and publications documenting Robert (Bob) Sexton’s activities as an educational advocate, civic leader and board member, and historian of Kentucky politics.


Alfred Cortot collection (2011ms069; dated 1491-1853; 375 volumes) As a pianist and music educator, Alfred Cortot actively collected materials relevant to his study of the history and theoretical structure of music and music performance. This collection contains primarily theoretical and historical treatises from the 15th to the 19th centuries that were once owned by Cortot.

John Jacob Niles papers (82m9; dated 1905-1984; 63.45 cubic ft.; 220 boxes) contain correspondence, musical and literary manuscripts, and other materials written or collected by John Jacob Niles.

Marie Hochstrasser papers (2010ms002; dated 1929-2012, undated; 15.5 cubic feet; 40 boxes and 6 folders) consist of the professional and personal material of art educator and textile expert Marie Hochstrasser.

William W. Ranney papers (59m36; dated 1858-1927, undated; 0.5 cubic feet; 2 boxes) document family life in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century in Boston, Kentucky. Descriptions of the problems facing those who moved West in the latter half of the nineteenth century are present in the correspondence as well as personal and business letters.

Scott family papers (64m98; dated 1746-1962, bulk 1870-1915; 11 cubic feet; 24 boxes) consist of the business and personal papers of Lexington, Kentucky, attorney, Robert Augustine Thornton and his descendants.