Midway Woman’s Club records – an update

March 19, 2014 in Oral history, Research methods

Photo of the home to the Midway Woman's Club

Midway Woman’s Club


With gratitude to Reinette Jones of the UK Libraries and hearty congratulations to my former UK History students Angelia Pulley, Kyle Shaw, and Brad Wexler, I am proud to announce that the finding aid for Midway Woman’s Club records they helped to collect during their service learning project now is available for viewing on ExploreUK.

You can view their project, “Midway Woman’s Club and the ‘Better Community’ Project,” including original oral history interviews and images from their work on the Club’s archives at http://www.kywcrh.org/voices/midway.

Angelia Pulley, Kyle Shaw, Brad Wexler

(l-r) Angelia, Kyle, Brad presented their findings on the Midway Woman’s Club at their winter holiday meeting, Dec 2010


Reflections on an Internship: Women in Kentucky Politics

February 16, 2014 in 1960s-1970s, Political history

Elisabeth Jensen for CongressLast semester, I had the opportunity to intern with Elisabeth Jensen, a woman running to be the next Congresswoman of the 6th congressional district, which includes Lexington, Frankfort, and Richmond. I heard of this opening through the internship coordinator from my summer internship with Congressman John Yarmuth. She had told me about the importance of empowering women in politics and encouraged me to get involved with Elisabeth’s campaign.

I knew that this internship would be different from when I worked with Congressman Yarmuth in Louisville, mainly because Elisabeth was new to politics and had decided to enter the race only in May of last year—a few months before I started my internship. She did not have much experience in politics at all; in fact, she had previously worked with Disney and in merchandising.  Nonetheless, I could tell that Elisabeth was passionate about running and it seemed that she believed in helping the district. Currently, she is the director and president of Race for Education, a non-profit in Lexington that provides scholarships and educational services for those in financial need. Elisabeth was also a graduate of Emerge Kentucky, a program in Louisville that provides classes and workshops for women interested in running for a political position.

Elisabeth Jensen and son Will

Elisabeth Jensen, at home with her nine-year old son, Will

Since women are underrepresented in politics, I wanted to know if Elisabeth had dealt with any negativity during the campaign. Interestingly, she explained that the Lexington Democrat community has been very supportive of her and she has not faced any animosity because she is a woman or because of her lack of political experience. She also said she was aware of the feeling towards women in politics and has actually faced more sexism while working in the business world.

Women in Kentucky politics have been increasing in recent years. Programs like Emerge have been instrumental in training and empowering women to take on government jobs. During the civil rights area, African-American women such as Georgia Davis Powers and Mae Street Kidd were part of the few who dared to go down a predominately white, male-dominated career path in which very few women, or African-American women at that, seemed bold enough to do. Nonetheless, the charisma these women had certainly helped to influenced the civil rights in Kentucky. Currently, there aren’t very many African-American women in politics, but women such as Governor Martha Layne Collins and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes are representing a new generation that can continue to serve as torchbearers and role models for younger women hoping to one day make an impact in politics.

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes (photo from Wikipedia)

It is interesting that Elisabeth was running with two other Democratic candidates—both of whom dropped out of the race in November of last year—who were men, making her the only woman running on the Democratic ticket for Andy Barr’s position. I think it takes much audacity and strength for her to continue in the race and it is clear that Representative Andy Barr’s experience and expensive campaign certainly won’t scare her away.

In terms of the internship itself, I learned a lot about the campaigning side of politics. I think it is probably the toughest part, especially when it is your first election, which makes fundraising a bit more challenging when trying to make a name for yourself. It is helpful that other women before Elisabeth have made the effort less taxing, perhaps providing motivation and encouragement knowing that even African-American women were capable of achieving feats that no one ever thought could be accomplished.

AAUW Community Action Grant proposal features KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative

January 23, 2014 in 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Research methods

AAUW logoAfter several weeks of planning and creating new partnerships here in central Kentucky, I submitted an AAUW Community Action Grant for 2014 that features our KYWCRH.org initiative. The title of the proposal nearly tells the whole story (it’s long enough, anyway):

Empowering Girls in Central KY with Digital Humanities and Writing Wikipedia Code: Women’s History and the 1964 March on Frankfort for Civil Rights

Here’s the list of partners who wrote letters in support of the proposal:

When the project moves forward, it is exciting to know that it is likely that there will be many more organizations and people involved.

The aim of this proposal is to engage women and girls in researching, collecting and recording women’s civil rights history in Kentucky. In support of the Fayette County Race, Community & Child Welfare initiative, the proposal builds on the commemoration of the 1964 March on Frankfort by spotlighting the work of Kentucky women in that event – before and after. The target audience is 10 families whose teenaged girls are/were part of the Fayette Co. child welfare system. The partner organizations will recruit those who are African-American/Black or Hispanic/Latino or mixed race to work together on oral history and multi-media projects. The girls, together with one or more family member, will partner with University of Kentucky undergraduate female students to learn about their community’s leaders and strategies undertaken by politically active citizens and organizations to improve the quality of life for all.  In brief, the proposed program will rely on collaboration among the above partners in these four major components:

  1. Learning about Kentucky women’s history in the context of the 1964 March on Frankfort (for desegregation of public accommodations and the implementation of fair housing laws) through a series featuring Kentucky civil rights activists and oral history projects.
  2. Orientation and training in appropriate use of research resources and digital media for creative digital storytelling and for the development of general knowledge articles on women in Wikipedia. Learning how to find and use community resources and government documents crucial for our citizens to use in life-long learning and for self-empowerment.
  3. Training in and applying skills in basic coding languages used commonly in creating webpages and social media – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) – for the KYWCRH.org site and the markup coding used in creating effective Wikipedia pages. A Kentucky WikiMeetup will allow for the teams to work with experienced Wikipedia editors.
  4. Developing skills in civic leadership and college/career readiness modeled by local community members in partnership with higher education students and faculty.

CKCPJ and the Lexington-Fayette NAACP branch will collaborate to offer a series of community-based lectures, films and neighborhood walks on KY civil rights history and women’s roles. The Project Director will work with the UK Nunn Center to prepare and train project members in how to conduct oral history interviews (to be digitally archived in the OHMS database) and with MATRIX staff at MSU to teach UK undergraduates and their partner teams to create multimedia projects showcased in a redesigned KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative. The celebratory showcase will not only celebrate the project teams’ work but also increase the visibility of AAUW-KY’s contributions toward achieving educational opportunities and equitable resources for women and girls.

The proposed timeline is for the program to begin in Summer 2014 and conclude by the end of the school year in Spring 2015:

Summer 2014: 10 girls aged 13-17 selected from a pool of applicants recruited from the Fayette Co. RCCW target audience. Lexington NAACP and CKCPJ plan a community-based series (lectures, films, neighborhood-walks) by experts in civil rights activism, history and racism in the U.S.  The series is recorded and posted on KYWCRH.org – which will be updated and redesigned courtesy of MATRIX at Michigan State. The families involved in the project will be encouraged to ask for reimbursements to reoup costs for childcare and food costs to attend project-related activities as well as transportation to conduct oral history interviews, to work with the UK undergraduate students while research or working on multimedia projects at the University, or other required meetings with the project director.

Fall 2014: UK offers EXP396 (Experiential Education) and faculty oversee learning contracts for each of the 10 undergraduate females recruited. UK students will be trained in the use of the oral history interviewing equipment available from the UK Libraries Oral History Department. Also in the UK Libraries for students are the PresentationU and Media Depot @ the Hub which support the students and community partners as they build their Wikipedia articles and multimedia projects showcased on KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative. The educational series and training meetings with the project teams will take place at The Plantory (in Lexington’s East End neighborhood) or Imani Family Center (north of Lexington) during the Fall and Spring. The project partners will also journey to the Kentucky State Capital to visit the Kentucky Commission on Women offices and to view the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit. The families and their undergraduate mentors will take the free School of Open course (either self-paced or live webinar sessions) on Wikipedia. Basic training in coding and publishing in Wikipedia will accompany skillbuilding exercises in how to find and analyze general resources in the community and government documents crucial for citizens to use for self-empowerment.

Spring 2015: The oral history interview digital files are processed by the Nunn Oral History Center staff and indexed for use by the project teams and community in the OMHS data repository. A Wiki-Meetup allows the teams to work on their entries in a face-to-face setting with experienced Wikipedia editors. The project teams are invited by the UK Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education to present their digital media projects in April at the UK Undergraduate Research Showcase. The AAUW Bluegrass Central Branch hosts a celebratory showcase event and highlights specific projects via social media.



My Friend Suzy

October 11, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Primary source

An update on the Suzy Post project (http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/post).

When I signed up to do a project on civil rights activist Suzanne Post, I was highly unaware of what all I would gain from that project. Suzy is a phenomenal woman, and she went from a figure in history, to a personal friend of mine. In studying her, I learned of her conviction and dedication. In knowing her, I have learned of her charisma, sweetness, and true passion. Since the interview, I have been fortunate to have correspondence, as well as to meet with Suzy again.  We have plans to meet up in the fall.

As a fellow activist, I find her insight invaluable.  She continues, despite her age, to be involved within the community.  She has never given up on the issues she is passionate about. Conversations with her provide a perspective unlike any other- a woman that has been through so much, and persevered so honorably. She never runs out of solid advice or stories.

This experience has reminded me the importance of seeking out the exceptional people within our communities. I want to raise Suzy up, to provide a role model for young girls across Kentucky and beyond. Imagine if a generation of young girls and women aspired to be more like Suzy, and less like the common idols and role models perpetrated by modern media. I believe in intelligent women, in women of substance, in women who can stand up and make a change even when it’s easier to be silent.

I am so thankful for the experience with KYWCRM for introducing me to a role model, mentor, and friend for life, Suzy Post.


Alice Dunnigan on Elizabeth R. Fouse

September 22, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Political history

Dunnigan, 1982

Alice A. Dunnigan’s portrait in The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians (1982)

One of the most useful books to have on your bookshelf is The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Traditions, by Alice Allison Dunnigan (The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, 1982).

Fouse, 1931

Lizzie Fouse, 1931

Here is her short biography of Kentucky activist Elizabeth R. Fouse (p. 374) under the section “Women in Politics.” We present this subsection in full for your consideration. It is curious to us to think that this greatjournalist – who broke so many barriers in her own profession – would give such an important woman’s biography a mere mention of a political appointment, and leave out so much more political work Fouse had taken on through the years. Is this an oversight on her part? The paucity of this entry is puzzling. What does Dunnigan know that she’s not telling us?


Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beatrice Cooke Fouse (1875–1952) “Elizabeth R. Fouse, a prominent Lexington educator and club woman moved into the political arena as early as 1944 when she was appointed by Governor Simeon Willis to serve on the Kentucky Commission for the Study of Negro Affairs, a commission which he had recently created for the purpose of study the problems of black people. “This group soon acknowledged that the greatest barrier to the advancement of colored people of Kentucky was segregation. It, therefore, recommended legislation to abolish Jim Crow practices. This included the abolition of segregation in transportation, an amendment to the State Day Law so that black students could attend professional and post graduate schools, and the inclusion of non-discrimination clauses in state contracts and public projects. “Kentucky became the first state in the South to make any such recommendations. “This bi-racial commission was co-chaired by J. Mansir Tydings and William H. Perry. The latter was Secretary of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association (KNEA) at the time. Robert E. Black, former Secretary of the Louisville Urban League was appointed Secretary.”


Wikipedia logoWhy does Dunnigan choose to add the last three sentences highlighting three men’s names when the topic is women and the focus was to be on Fouse? Dunnigan left out so much of Fouse’s leadership and other political actions, e.g., her work with the NAACP, her leadership in founding a YWCA for black youth in Lexington (named after the poet Phyllis Wheatley) her founding of a segregated branch of Lexington’s WCTU (named after the abolitionist Sojourner Truth). Was this because she, like so many others, believed that descriptions of political actions could only entail electoral or commission work? See more on Fouse in a Wikipedia article started by a History student at the University of Kentucky. The civic activism of this brave and intelligent Kentucky woman deserves a full-length biography to place her squarely in the middle of our state and national political history — a history that she helped to create.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

August 26, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1960s-1970s, Political history

Women’s Equality Day is on August 26th – a date selected by Congress in

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one-hour segments) is narrated by Oscar-winning actress and activist, Meryl Streep, and gives an in-depth, bi-partisan examination of the women’s movement in America over the past 50 years.

Makers: Women Who Make AmericaThe film has 3

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  • Part One: Awakening (the start of the post-WW2 women’s movement)
  • Part Two: Changing the World (1970s feminism and backlash)
  • Part Three: Charting a New Course (focusing in on the workplace and the “glass ceiling”)

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the KCW’s website, the following celebration events took place across Kentucky this year: August 19, 2013

  • The Greater Hardin County Women’s Network, 458 Congress Drive, Radcliff, KY 40160 Contact: Nancy Chancellor-Cox 270-272-2281
August 25, 2013
August 26, 2013
August 27

Suzanne Guy Alexander – 2013 Inductee, Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame

July 29, 2013 in 1940s-1950s

Suzanne Guy Alexander (1957- ) was born in Scottsville, Kentucky and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in music. She is an inductee this year in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame for her leadership in the National Airspace System, ensuring the safety of the flying public.

Alexander joined the Federal Aviation Administration in 1982 as an air traffic control specialist in Dallas-Fort Worth after the PATCO strike.  When she first started, the towers did not have radar, and pilots would have to tell the controllers their position and altitude verbally. Women were hired as air traffic controllers for the first time during World War II, but remain underrepresented in air traffic control and technical operations: today only about 20% are women. (see Michael Huerta, “Seventy Years of Service”).

air traffic controllersShe moved from Texas to Seattle, Washington in 1990, where her duties expanded to a supervisory role for the northwestern United States – including Colorado and Washington. Transferring to Charlotte, North Carolina, she was promoted to Assistant Air Traffic Manager. Later, Alexander was back in Seattle, deeply involved in bringing a new Terminal Radar Approach Control system into operation.In 2005 she was promoted to manager of the FAA control center in Memphis, a busy air traffic area due to FedEx operations at its airport. This position also had authority over air traffic control for the eastern portion of the United States, from Maine to Puerto Rico. She was the equivalent of a group manager in a service center, as well as an enroute Air Traffic Manager and a district manager. She moved with her husband, who is a pilot, and her daughter, as she took on increasing responsibility with each new job.

Alexander completed her FAA career as Director of Operations for the FAA Eastern Terminal Service Area, managing more than 100 facilities with oversight of over 200 federal and contract air traffic control towers and radar approach controls in the eastern part of the country – including New York, Washington, and Atlanta.

For more on the women in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, see the Aeronautical Achievers project site.

WPA Pack Horse Library Project, 1936-43

July 22, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Primary source, Social history

Though Kentucky politicians today and in the past have regularly bemoaned intervention from outside state, women and minorities  benefit from the influx of federal funds.  One of the most interesting projects that the federal government subsidized in Kentucky is the Pack Horse Library Project of the Works Progress Administration. The WPA hired women in Appalachia to deliver books and other reading material to remote mountain schools and homes from 1936-1943.

The usual library extension services in the mountainous region had declined by the 1930s, but the wonderful work of Cora Wilson Stewart and the brave teachers of the Moonlight Schools before World War I had whetted locals’ appetite for literacy. The Pack Horse Library Project eventually reached nearly every resident in the nearly 10,000 square mile region of Appalachian Kentucky. More details about this library project can be found in Donald C. Boyd, “The Book Women of Kentucky: The WPA Pack Horse Library Project,” Libraries & the Cultural Record, Vol. 42, No. 2 (2007): 111-128. You can see some of the wonderful photographs in a project by Angelia Pulley, now a graduate student in UK Library Sciences program. The images and their captions come from the Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection in the Goodman-Paxton papers (PA64M1,Special Collections, University of Kentucky).

Visual Display of Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky - a WPA Project

Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky, 1936-1943

Kentucky Black Heritage now online

June 20, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Historiography, Primary source

Mrs. W.H. Faus, circa 1944

Mrs. W.H. Faus of Lexington, holding a certificate of appointment to serve on the KY Commission for the Study of Negro Affairs, created in 1944 by Gov. Simean Willis.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights recently announced that its out-of-print history reference book, Kentucky’s Black Heritage: The Role of the Black People in the History of Kentucky from Pioneer Days to the Present (1971), can now be downloaded in its entirety from the Commission’s website. The Commission had charged a committee of prestigious scholars – including one woman and several men of color – and support staff to create it as a textbook supplement for Kentucky junior high school history courses. Only five years before, in 1966, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act had passed. The book is free and now widely available to the public.

Filled with photographs and profiles of many African Americans in the history of Kentucky from pioneer days through the 1960s, the book is still an interesting resource for us to use today. Though few passages in the book refer to women, there are some key points that make the book still valuable, especially for those of us searching for ways to craft a more inclusive narrative about Kentucky’s history.

It was common all through the Civil Rights Era to overlook and to forget to document women’s participation in the Movement – and this book was compiled and published just as Black Power and the feminist movements were taking off.  This booklet is no exception even though its purpose was to correct the wrongs of discrimination and exclusivity in traditional, mainstream histories.

The Kentucky Black History Committee for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights were listed at the back of the book (pp. 141-144). There were 15 African-American and 2 white members:

  • Dr. Eleanor Y. Alsbrook

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook, KY Black History Committee

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook (daughter of Whitney Young, Sr.), assistant professor and assistant dean, University of Louisville

  • Dr. Rufus B. Atwood, President-Emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Henry E. Cheaney, professor and chair of Afro-American Studies, Kentucky State College
  • Mr. Charles Franklin Hinds, Director of Libraries, Murray State University
  • Mr. Lyman T. Johnson, Assistant Principal, Manly Junior High School, and Treasurer of Louisville NAACP
  • Mr. Howitt C. Mathis, Superintendent, West KY State Vocational-Technical School (Paducah)
  • Mr. James O’Rourke, Head Librarian, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Charles H. Parrish, professor-emeritus at University of Louisville, acting chair of Division of Social Sciences, Lincoln University
  • Dr. William H. Perry, Jr., Grand Sec’y of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F.& A.M. of Kentucky; Deputy for Kentucky, the United Supreme Council, 33 degree, Southern Jurisdiction
  • Mr. Alvin M. Seals, assistant professor, Kentucky State College and President of Lexington Montessori Society
  • Mr. Frank B. Simpson, assistant superintendent, Jefferson County Schools
  • Tava Taylor

    Tava Taylor, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

    Mr. Maurice Strider, assistant professor, Morehead State University

  • Dr. Rhea A. Taylor, associate professor, University of Kentucky
  • Dr. George D. Wilson, professor emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Whitney M. Young, Sr., President-Emeritus, Lincoln Institute
  • Miss Tava Taylor, student at Kentucky State College
  • Miss Charlotte Dunne, student at Eastern Kentucky University

The three women who were on the Committee probably felt tremendous pride in getting the book out at all.  I can’t help but wonder, though, if any one of them had wished for more information on women’s history to include in the book.  It may have changed some of the narrative as well when expressing the history of an event or series of events from a woman’s perspective too.

Charlotte Dunne

Charlotte Dunne, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

In addition to these women, the acknowledgements (p. 145) showed that more women scholars were involved in the creation of the booklet.  Librarian Jacqueline P. Bull (director of Special Collections and Archives) at the University of Kentucky, Mrs. Amelia Buckley of Keeneland Racetrack Library, Librarian Elizabeth Gilbert of the Hutchins Library at Berea College as well as Barbara Miller from the Louisville Free Public Library are thanked for helping the Committee members with information and archival materials.  Mrs. Charles Farnsley of the Lost Cause Press, Mrs. Lillie Gleaves of the Jefferson County Department of Welfare are also mentioned for helping to research facts and aiding the Committee in acquiring many of the rare pictures published in this book.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how these women worked to create the book – and to wonder if they had been able to craft a different book than the one we now have in our possession.





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by mookygc

End of the Year

May 1, 2013 in Primary source, Research methods

It is hard to believe that the end of the year is already upon us. At the beginning of this class, I had no idea the magnitude of the projects I would undretake, and the feeling of accomplishment I would gain. I am so proud of the research I was able to do on Douglass School in Lexington, Kentucky, and hope that some one will find that resource helpful at some point in the future. It is enough for me that now the information that exists is at least mostly in one place; at least the information I could find.

I am so grateful for my group members for the project on Governor Martha Layne Collins for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. At times, we really struggled to find the information we needed or that would be helpful, but luckily I had group members that were not willing to give up or compromise their standards, just because the work was difficult. Shortly, we will have a finished product that we will all be proud of (see the Start page at http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/collins).

I am not sure what I was expecting of this class when it began, but I know I didn’t expect any of the work we did to have a direct impact on the community and the people we were researching. That opportunity is not one I have experienced in any other class in my college experience thus far. I have gained so much knowledge about research methods that I know I will use for the rest of my college career, and all of my future endeavors. I will forever be extremely grateful for the experience of this class.

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