Tag Archives: Kentucky history

Great War Reads

One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Four days later, Congress voted in favor of a war declaration and the U.S. formally entered the First World War. In honor of the centennial, we’re featuring some of our favorite releases about WWI, both before the U.S. entrance and after, on the home front and on the western front.


My Life before the World War, 1860–1917: A Memoirpershing4.indd

Few American military figures are more revered than General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860–1948), who is most famous for leading the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The only soldier besides George Washington to be promoted to the highest rank in the U.S. Army (General of the Armies), Pershing was a mentor to the generation of generals who led America’s forces during the Second World War.

Though Pershing published a two-volume memoir, My Experiences in the World War, and has been the subject of numerous biographies, few know that he spent many years drafting a memoir of his experiences prior to the First World War. In My Life Before the World War, 1860–1917, John T. Greenwood rescues this vital resource from obscurity, making Pershing’s valuable insights into key events in history widely available for the first time.

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york.final.inddAlvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne

Alvin C. York (1887–1964)—devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I—is one of America’s most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper’s Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France—a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

At war’s end, the media glorified York’s bravery but some members of the German military and a soldier from his own unit cast aspersions on his wartime heroics. Historians continue to debate whether York has received more recognition than he deserves. A fierce disagreement about the location of the battle in the Argonne forest has further complicated the soldier’s legacy.

In Alvin York, Douglas V. Mastriano sorts fact from myth in the first full-length biography of York in decades. He meticulously examines York’s youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in the Great War, and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity. By reviewing artifacts recovered from the battlefield using military terrain analysis, forensic study, and research in both German and American archives, Mastriano reconstructs the events of October 8 and corroborates the recorded accounts. On the eve of the WWI centennial, Alvin York promises to be a major contribution to twentieth-century military history.

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The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory, and the First World Warchristmas_truce_final.indd

In ate December 1914, German and British soldiers on the western front initiated a series of impromptu, unofficial ceasefires. Enlisted men across No Man’s Land abandoned their trenches and crossed enemy lines to sing carols, share food and cigarettes, and even play a little soccer. Collectively known as the Christmas Truce, these fleeting moments of peace occupy a mythical place in remembrances of World War I. Yet new accounts suggest that the heartwarming tale ingrained in the popular imagination bears little resemblance to the truth.

In this detailed study, Terri Blom Crocker provides the first comprehensive analysis of both scholarly and popular portrayals of the Christmas Truce from 1914 to present. From books by influential historians to the Oscar-nominated French film Joyeux Noel (2006), this new examination shows how a variety of works have both explored and enshrined this outbreak of peace amid overwhelming violence. The vast majority of these accounts depict the soldiers as acting in defiance of their superiors. Crocker, however, analyzes official accounts as well as private letters that reveal widespread support among officers for the détentes. Furthermore, she finds that truce participants describe the temporary ceasefires not as rebellions by disaffected troops but as acts of humanity and survival by professional soldiers deeply committed to their respective causes.

The Christmas Truce studies these ceasefires within the wider war, demonstrating how generations of scholars have promoted interpretations that ignored the nuanced perspectives of the many soldiers who fought. Crocker’s groundbreaking, meticulously researched work challenges conventional analyses and sheds new light on the history and popular mythology of the War to End All Wars.

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9780813168012Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front

From five thousand children marching in a parade, singing, “Johnnie get your hoe, Mary dig your row,” to communities banding together to observe Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Kentuckians were loyal supporters of their country during the First World War. Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the nation, and the state increased its coal production by 50 percent during the war years. Overwhelmingly, the people of the Commonwealth set aside partisan interests and worked together to help the nation achieve victory in Europe.

David J. Bettez provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great War on Bluegrass society, politics, economy, and culture, contextualizing the state’s involvement within the national experience. His exhaustively researched study examines the Kentucky Council of Defense—which sponsored local war-effort activities—military mobilization and preparation, opposition and dissent, and the role of religion and higher education in shaping the state’s response to the war. It also describes the efforts of Kentuckians who served abroad in military and civilian capacities, and postwar memorialization of their contributions.

Kentucky and the Great War
 explores the impact of the conflict on women’s suffrage, child labor, and African American life. In particular, Bettez investigates how black citizens were urged to support a war to make the world “safe for democracy” even as their civil rights and freedoms were violated in the Jim Crow South. This engaging and timely social history offers new perspectives on an overlooked aspect of World War I.

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Lossberg’s War: The World War I Memoirs of a German Chief of Staffuntitled

General Fritz von Lossberg (1868–1942) directed virtually all the major German defensive battles on the Western Front during the First World War. Hailed as “the Lion of the Defensive,” he was an extremely influential military tactician and, unlike many other operations officers of his era, was quick to grasp the changes wrought by technology.

Now available for the first time in English, Lossberg’s memoir explains how he developed, tested, and implemented his central principles—flexibility, decentralized control, and counterattack—which were based on a need to adapt to shifting conditions on the battlefield. Lossberg first put his theory of elastic defense combined with defense-in-depth into practice during the Battle of Arras (April–May 1917), where it succeeded. At the Battle of Passchendaele (June–November 1917), his achievements on the field proved the feasibility of his strategy of employing a thinly manned front line that minimized the number of soldiers exposed to artillery fire. Lossberg’s tactical modernizations have become essential components of army doctrine, and Lossberg’s War: The World War I Memoirs of A German Chief of Staff will take readers inside the mind of one of the most significant military innovators of the twentieth century.

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More books about military history can be found in our American Warriors  and Battles and Campaigns series

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Singing the Summer Southern Harmony

There’s something about music during the summertime—outdoor concerts, guitar-playing on the porch, festivals across the globe. One of the oldest and most popular southern singing traditions is that of “Shape Notes.”

Shape notes have been in use by classrooms and congregations for more than two centuries, and arose to simplify the notation, teaching, and arrangement of songs. Rather than traditional musical notation heads, shapes are substituted that correspond to different sounds:

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion was first published in 1835. During the nineteenth century, when advertising was mainly by word of mouth or relatively sedate ads in weekly and monthly papers and pamphlets, Southern Harmony sold about 600,000 copies, and is perhaps the most popular songbook ever printed.

9780813118598 As far as is known, Benton, Kentucky, is the only place where the Southern Harmony is still used regularly. The Big Singing, usually held on the fourth Sunday in May, has been an annual event since 1884. Before World War II it is said that many thousands attended; as many as four extra trains in each direction were added to bring in the crowds.

 

Preface to the 1835 edition:

1835-walk-2-lg

The CD included with Southern Harmony and Musical Companion contains more than 300 tunes, hymns, psalms, odes, and anthems, including “New Britain (Amazing Grace),” “Happy Land,” “O Come, Come Away,” “Wondrous Love,” and many, many more. The recordings were made at the Big Singing in Benton, Kentucky, between 1966 and 1992. We’ve included two of the more popular tunes, “New Britain” and “Newburgh” below.

The Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

Plan Perfect Derby Party

Like the big race itself, Kentucky Derby parties never go out of style. This post was originally published on our blog on May 2, 2015:

Of the many traditions that go hand-in-hand with the Kentucky Derby—the hat, the silks, the roses, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”—hosting a Derby party can be the most fun, especially for those who can’t make it to Churchill Down; but it can also be the most stressful. If you’re looking to throw the perfect Derby party, look no further than the recipes, decor, and ideas below. If you’re looking for something printable, download a PDF here: Plan the perfect KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY.

The Space:

tissue paper roses DIYRoses, roses everywhere! Run to the florist, or fake it up with red tissue paper to celebrate the Run for the Roses. Plus, its easy to coordinate with red plates and dinnerware. Set up a photo station with your own blanket of roses covering a blank stretch of wall. It only takes three things: thin wire, a cheap shower curtain, and plenty of red tissue paper. Here’s a great how-to from Brit and Co.

Fun & Festive:

It’s not a party without party games! Here are a few of our favorites to keep the good times going until the call to the post:

  • Bring the Derby to the Derby party! Place the names of the horses (or the numbers 1 -20) on folded slips of paper into a hat (bonus points for using a derby hat!) Guests can draw the number of the horse they’re rooting for in the big race. Make sure to have a fantastic prize for the winner, maybe an extra Race-Day Pie to take home?
  • The weather is (almost) always beautiful the first weekend in May. Horseshoes and/or Corn Hole move the party outdoors into the yard, putting Derby hats to good use under the sun.
  • Speaking of Derby hats, why not have a contest to see who has the best Derby hat? The men are invited too!
  • And lastly, an idea from KentuckyDerby.com: Ice Cube Jockey Races. Freeze small jockeys (or any differently colored or shaped tokens) to the tops of ice cubes. At the start of the race all participants can wager on a horse. Take a flat, smooth surface (glass from a large picture frame, an over-the-door bathroom mirror, etc.) and lay it across a table at an angle. Line the ice cube jockeys up, keeping them in place with a yard stick and then let them loose all at once for a fun and crazy race. To repeat simply refreeze the jockeys on new ice cubes and freeze until the down time between the next races.

The Drinks:

C’mon, this one’s obvious: mint juleps all around! Easy to prep and easy to serve, you really can’t go wrong with the most traditional of traditions; it’s a classic for a reason. Perfect MINT JULEP For the younger partiers, the designated drivers, and those who might not be bourbon fans (it’s OK, we forgive them), you can’t go wrong with a non-alcoholic sparkler. You can even reuse your mint-infused simple syrup for extra flavor. Derby Sparkler Drink

The Food:

Origin stories differ greatly, but burgoo has definitely evolved into a delicious “catch-all” stew. Basically, you can’t go wrong throwing everything you’ve “caught” into a giant pot and letting it simmer until ready. But if you’re looking for a specific recipe, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by nutritionist Maggie Green, has great ingredients and an easy, one-pot method.

Kentucky Fresh Burgoo

For small-bites, try Maggie Green’s steamed asparagus or green beans with toasted sesame mayonnaise:

Trim the asparagus and/or green beans and steam until bright green and tender (but still a little crisp). To make the toasted sesame mayonnaise dipping sauce, whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 tablespoons dark sesame seed oil, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve on the side as a dipping sauce, or thin with a bit more lemon juice and drizzle it over the veggies.

Sweet Treats:

Race-Day Pie, Saturday-in-May Pie, Bluegrass Pie…whatever you call it, the trademarked treat with bourbon, chocolate, and pecans in a pie crust is a must-have on the first Saturday of May.

In Bourbon Desserts, Lynn Marie Hulsman offers up the recipe for her Grandma Rose’s Big Race Pie. If you want to go really Kentucky, snag your flour from Weisenberger Mill, your pecans from Hickman, Kentucky, and your chocolate from Ruth Hunt Candies (or your favorite, local chocolatier).

Bourbon Desserts Derby Pie

Georgia Powers’s Indelible Impact, 1923-2016

We were saddened to learn today that Kentucky icon, Georgia Davis Powers has died at the age of 92. Both the first woman and the first African American elected to the Kentucky state senate, Powers leaves behind a legacy of service and leadership that won’t soon be forgotten.

Recently, the University Press of Kentucky published the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, featuring Georgia Powers. While the KAAE goes a long way in honoring and remembering the legacy of the impact of leaders like Powers, we also encourage you to read more about this powerful advocate. 

POWERS, GEORGIA MONTGOMERY DAVIS (b. 1923, Springfield, KY), first woman and first African American elected to the Kentucky Senate.

Georgia Powers Kentucky SenateBorn on October 29, 1923, in Springfield, KY, as Georgia Montgomery, the second of nine children and the only girl of Frances (Walker) and Ben Montgomery, Georgia was always determined to rise above the discrimination her gender and interracial heritage imposed on her. In 1925, the Montgomery family moved to Louisville, where Georgia received the majority of her education. She attended Virginia Avenue Elementary School (1929–1934), Madison Junior High School (1934–1937), Central High School (1937–1940), and Louisville Municipal College (1940–1942).

Additionally, she received certificates from the Central Business School and the United States Government IBM Supervisory School. A year after her graduation from Louisville Municipal College, she married Norman F. Davis. The couple had one son, William F. Davis. In 1968, the couple divorced, and Georgia married James F. Powers in 1973.

Powers began her political career training volunteers for Wilson Wyatt’s U.S. Senate campaign in 1962. She led campaigns for candidates for governor of Kentucky, mayor of Louisville, the U.S. House and Senate, and U.S. president within the next five years. Additionally, she participated in many civil rights activities throughout the 1960s. As one of the organizers of the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights, a group that worked toward the enactment of fair- employment and public-accommodations laws, she helped organize the 1964 March on Frankfort. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the keynote speaker. The next year, Powers helped organize the Kentucky Christian Leadership Conference and attended the historic march in Selma, Alabama, supporting the national Voting Rights Act. Among many other important civil rights activities, she marched with Dr. King in the Memphis sanitation struggle.

In 1967, Powers ran for the Kentucky State Senate with endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the Kentucky Medical Association, the Kentucky and Louisville Education Associations, and the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. She won that seat easily, and her first bill for statewide housing passed in no time. She collaborated with Representatives Mae Street Kidd and Hughes E. McGill in introducing the first open-housing law in the South, which was passed in 1968. Other legislation that she either sponsored or cosponsored included bills for low-cost housing, the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution, and a bill to omit “race” from Kentucky driver’s licenses. She was also the secretary of the Kentucky Democratic Caucus during her entire senatorial career.

While serving in the Kentucky Senate for 21 years, she chaired the Health and Welfare Committee (1970–1976) and served as a member of the Rules Committee (1976–1978) and the Labor and Industry Committee for 10 years (1978–1988). Since her retirement in 1988, Powers has received numerous accolades. In 1995, she published her memoirs, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion, and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator from Kentucky. She also published The Adventures of the Book of Revelation in 1998 and Celia’s Land, a Historical Novel in 2004.

Happy Bourbon Heritage Month!

September is finally here, which means it’s Bourbon Heritage Month, a national celebration of America’s native spirit! We’ll also be raising our glasses next weekend at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Kentucky Bourbon Festival


Bourbon New Books on America's Native Spirit

manhattan.final.inddThe Manhattan Cocktail covers everything that the aficionado needs to know about the classic cocktail through an examination of its history and ingredients. Author Albert W. A. Schmid dispels several persistent myths, including the tale that the Manhattan was created in 1874 by bartenders at New York City’s Manhattan Club to honor the newly elected Governor Samuel Jones Tilden at Lady Randolph Churchill’s request. Schmid also explores the places and people that have contributed to the popularity of the drink and inspired its lore, including J. P. Morgan, who enjoyed a Manhattan every day at the end of trading on Wall Street.


PeacheeCvCompF.inddIn The Birth of Bourbon, award-winning photographer Carol Peachee takes readers on an unforgettable tour of lost distilleries as well as facilities undergoing renewal, such as the famous Old Taylor and James E. Pepper distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful book also includes spaces that well-known brands, including Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace, have preserved as a homage to their rich histories.

 

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville

The editors of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia will participate in a panel discussion this Wednesday, August 19 at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville at 6:00 pm. Sponsored by the Filson Historical Society, editors Gerald L. Smith, John Hardin, and Karen Cotton McDaniel will present individuals, events, places, organizations, movements and institutions that have shaped Kentucky’s history. Admission to the event is FREE. For more information on the event, visit FilsonHistorical.org. For more information on The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, or to purchase the book, visit KentuckyPress.com.

from WHAS 11 Great Day Live (click for video)

WHAS Mack McCormick University Press of Kentucky Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

C-SPAN’s Cities Tour Visits Lexington and “Reads” a Few Great UPK Books

On a mission to feature the history and literature of cities across the U.S., C-SPAN’s Cities Tour rolled into Lexington this weekend to explore all things Bourbon, Bluegrass, and Book-related! The Cities Tour team sat down with Mayor Jim Gray, UPK authors Maryjean Wall, Karl Raitz, Paul Holbrook, and Tracy Campbell, and toured unique Lexington landmarks like Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, Keeneland, and the Mary Todd Lincoln House. We’re sharing a few of the videos here, but hop over to the Cities Tour website to watch all of the videos.

Books by featured UPK authors:

Videos:

Videos are not embedded. You will be re-directed to the C-SPAN site.

Maryjean_Wall_CSPAN_video Paul_Holbrook_CSPAN_Video Karl_Raitz_CSPAN_Video Tracey_Campbell_CSPAN_Video