I have always loved history.
My earliest educational memories involve me getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch School House Rock. In the first grade I may not have been able to spell Declaration of Independence, but oh, could I recite to you its preamble. As I grew older, my love for history grew deeper. In the fourth grade I had to introduce the rest of my class to a county in Kentucky. I introduced Taylor County with, naturally, a heart-shaped poster. In middle school I felt like an amateur history detective—piecing together bits of evidence to find out who killed King Tut; and in high school I wrote my very first thesis paper on the Harlem Renaissance. (And I got an A!) The summer before my freshman year at UK I was agonizing over whether to pursue a degree in Political Science or History. I tried to let history go, but thanks to the late Dr. Bowman, a wonderful American history teacher with a love for Antebellum America, I realized just how much I missed history and picked it right back up again. My other passion involves books, which is why I after graduation I am pursuing a Master’s in Information and Library Science. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, other than to introduce myself to you and to show how you excited I am to be working at the Kentucky Historical Society this summer.
My first day here began with me realizing the doors are closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays, due to a gradual decrease of frontline staff over the last 3 years (35% reduction, yikes!) so it pays to have a cell phone number handy. Check. Within 15 minutes I go from knocking on an outside window to searching the rare book collection with my boss and things have been that great ever since. If I had to describe my work experience so far in one word, I would choose overwhelming; not because the workload is impossible, but because the amount of historic information here is incredibly enormous. One day I am pin-pointing on a Kentucky county map the stops General John Hunt Morgan made in the state during his havoc-causing raids...
...the next I am listening to and summarizing oral interviews made by late Kentucky Governors...
...and the day after that I am looking through a collection of postcards of Kentucky spanning ten-thousand pictures.
My favorite aspect of this job is that I learn something new here everyday. Did you know that during the civil war the term “brothers against brothers” was taken literally in one household in Clark County? The Honorable Samuel and Matilda Hickman Hanson had five sons who served during this war: Two served in blue, three served in gray. Do you know which Kentucky Governor made the unpopular stand during the Southern Regional Education Board conference supporting the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision? I could tell you the answer, but what fun would that be for you? Pull out your magnify glass—or reading glasses, whichever you prefer—come visit the library and see for yourself!
Drawing of townspeople preparing for a raid by John Hunt Morgan, ca. 1864. Handwritten caption at botton of image reads "Main Street while Morgan was expected". Laura G. Pugh Photo Album of Conferate Army Officers and Elected Officials, 2000PH05.42.
"Oldest Brick House in Kentucky, Built in 1782, Crab Orchard, Ky." ca 1910. Black and white photo of the same home as postcard 3.397. This photo includes several people standing in front of the house. Graphic 5 Ronald Morgan Kentucky Postcard Collection, Graphic5.Box3.398.