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Black History: WKU Libraries Resources for Research


Letters & Papers

Use the catalog to search for items authored by historic figures, including letters and correspondence, books or collections of their papers, and more. Letters & Papers by some prominent abolitionists include:

The Kentucky Library

The Department of Library Special Collections acquires and preserves materials primarily related to Kentucky and Kentuckians, with the objective of making them available to researchers interested in the state, its people and their relationship to the world. Visit us to learn about the Civil War, World War II, Kentucky authors, Mammoth Cave, Western Kentucky University, genealogy, folklore, Kentucky Shakers, politics and more. It consists of the Kentucky Library Research Collections, Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, and WKU Archives.

· Dr. Lucas’ research materials on TopSCHOLAR  
[Note: Because the files are so large, it may take several minutes for them to download.]
· Church minutes (including white and “colored” members).  Examples are:  Sandy Creek in Butler County, 1805-1903 (MSS 313); another Butler County church, 1830-1867 (SC 612); a Logan County church, 1844-1877 (SC  688); Mt. Pleasant, Barren County, 1804-1992 (SC 1175); Mt. Tabor, Barren County, 1798-1870 (SC 2162); Beaver Dam, Edmonson County, 1815-1847 (SC 620)
· John Hardin’s speech “African American Education in Kentucky,” 1996 (SC 972) 
· Ephemera (usually stereotyping Blacks, but occasionally a  rare gem like…)  the concert program at Western of  the First African American to record “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve  Seen” (Ephemera G-039)
· Student’s attempt  to receive credit for course taken at African American school, 1922 (SC 1658)
· Oral histories with African Americans:  29 interviews from 14 counties on their educational opportunities (FA 166); 22 interviews from Taylor County, 2006 (FA 202); 50 cassette tapes by Maxine Ray, interviewing Warren Countians, 1997-2000 (FA 509); Glasgow, 2004 (FA 457); Trigg County, 1995 (FA 196); one Warren county female, 1990 (FA 76); gospel musician, 1988 (FA 376)
· World War II  African American war service news clippings (MSS 326)
· General Education Board, Early South Program (on microfilm; MICRO D117, N36-44)
· Vertical file of  news clippings: KL VF General entitled “African Americans”
· Scrapbook of an artist Mazie Lee (Allen) Thomas, Adairville, Logan County compiled by niece (MSS 199)
· 1926 Warren County School Survey School Conditions summary (including African American schools) – Broadside)-3233
· Warren County African American burials (SC 2836)
· Photographs of lynchings in Scottsville, July 18, 1894 (2010.69.1) and in Russellville, 1908 (1997.175.1) ; Students  might  also be interested in NPR’s story on the last public  lynching in America which occurred in Owensboro, KY in 1912.
· Photographs with African American employees, workers, slaves, etc.
· Advertisement in Scrapbook:  child eating watermelon (SBK 147)
· Sheet music [again heavily stereotyped including “coon songs”] including SM01132, SM00625, SM03306, SM03177, SM03329
· Letter expressing “unrest among African Americans”, 1874  (SC 136)
· Campaign card & buttons (Ephemera B &  Kentucky Museum)
Books in Special Collections are found via  the one search box on the library home page.

Petitions Research

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875. It includes the Journals of the Continental Congress (1774-89); the Letters of Delegates to Congress (1774-89); the Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, or Farrand's Records, and the Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (1787-88), or Elliot's Debates; the Journals of the House of Representatives (1789-1875) and the Senate (1789-1875), including the Senate Executive Journal (1789-1875); the Journal of William Maclay (1789-91), senator from Pennsylvania in the 1st Congress; the debates of Congress as published in the Annals of Congress (1789-1824), the Register of Debates (1824-37),Congressional Globe (1833-73), and Congressional Record (1873-75); the Statutes at Large (1789-1875); the American State Papers (1789-1838); and congressional bills and resolutions for selected sessions beginning with the 6th Congress (1799) in the House of Representatives and the 16th Congress (1819) in the Senate. A select number of documents and reports from the monumental U.S. Congressional Serial Set are available as well.

This online collection houses the records of the U.S. Congress up to 1875, which includes the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, published by the Government Printing Office. To access the contemporary Congressional Record go to THOMAS, the Library of Congress's legislative information Web site.

State Archives

Thomas E. Bramlette's Governors Papers & Executive Journal (1863-1867)

Digitized by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, this source contains the Executive Journal and correspondence of Governor Thomas E. Bramlette (1863-1866).

From the Kentucky General Assembly, House of Representatives, coverage includes much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, passed

Acts passed by the Kentucky General Assembly, includes much of the 19th century and some early 20th century legislation. 

Acts of the General Assembly from the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Includes regular, adjourned, called, and special sessions in 1867, 1869, 1871, and 1922.

Contact the state archives of the state being researched (link to Kentucky) to see if the archive holds material related to Colored Convention petitions to the state legislature. See surrounding states for regional scope. Links to the Kentucky General Assembly are provided above and you can also search Hathi Trust Digital Library. NOTE: WKU Libraries is not a Hathi Trust member so students will only be able to discover resources and access information in the public domain (laws, publications before 1923, etc.) See Google Books for other full-text public information.

Petition Announcements in Newspapers

Newspaper readers watched for announcements about government actions. Use the databases listed under Newspapers, under Secondary Sources, in this guide to search for information about petitions.

Tips: It is helpful to have a date range and location in mind. If an announcement is not found, check the newspaper database's issue calendar to make sure the issues for this time period were digitized and added to the collection.

Petition Information in Secondary Literature

Reports from other researchers in journal articles and books can provide important details. For example, Thomas Holt reports the final outcome of the November 1865 South Carolina convention petition in his book Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction(1977). Holt also supplies the citation for the newspaper announcement in Charleston's Daily Courier (December 18, 1865). These details offer clues for further research.

Census Records

See these guides for research assistance on Census Search Tips and 5 Ways to Win the Name Game.

Faculty Subject Specialist

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Dan Forrest
Cravens Library, Room 606
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11067
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101