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Speakers Roster

Constance Alexander
Constance Alexander
Kentucky Writer & Columnist
Murray, KY

Phone: (270) 753-9279 (Home) or (270) 293-7920 (Cell)
Email: constancealexander@twc.com

History & Writing

The Curious Incident of Poetry at Rotary

Not old, dead, nerdy, or stuck-up, poetry is alive and well and flourishing in Kentucky. This interactive presentation features snippets of poems by contemporary Kentucky poets, and provides opportunities to match titles and lines of poetry. “The Curious Incident” in the title refers to the first time this talk was presented publicly, at the January 3, 2019 meeting of Rotary in Murray. Audience consensus was that this was one of the best and most memorable presentations ever made before this decidedly un-poetic group.

 

Kilroy Was Here: Children on the World War II Home Front

On December 7, 1941, the United States was plunged into World War II. Life changed for everyone on the home front, regardless of age. Kilroy Was Here uses oral histories conducted with people who grew up in that turbulent era to tell the story of one Kentucky family. Artifacts from that time — including soldiers’ letters, a recipe, radio advertisements, and quotes from one of FDR’s most famous speeches — make Kilroy Was Here a history lesson and a moving family saga. Alexander’s presentation features excerpts from her book, Kilroy Was Here, and allows time for questions and discussion of oral history techniques as a way to capture family history and community stories that should not be forgotten.

 

Equipment needs: Microphone, podium

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Geoff Baggett
Geoff Baggett
Kentucky Writer & Revolutionary War Historian
Cadiz, KY

Phone: (270) 350-8816
Email: bagg373@bellsouth.net

History

Revolutionary War in a Trunk

This hands-on, interactive program is fun for all ages! Baggett brings to his listeners an old wooden trunk full of interesting items and military equipment from the Revolutionary War period. His presentation utilizes reproductions of 18th century weaponry, camp tools and equipment, clothing, toys, personal hygiene items, and other everyday necessities. This trunk full of Colonial “treasures” helps bring to life the reality of living on the Virginia and Kentucky frontier in the 1770s.  

Equipment needs: Display tables

 

The Siege of Fort Jefferson — Western Kentucky’s Forgotten Battle of the Revolution

Most Kentuckians associate the raids and combat of the Revolutionary War in their home state with the central and eastern sections of the Commonwealth. Precious few people know that there was actually a Revolutionary War battle and siege in the far western end of Kentucky. Baggett tells the story of Fort Jefferson, a short-lived frontier outpost along the Mississippi River in what is now Ballard County. The fort was established in 1780 but abandoned in 1781 after a siege by the British and their Chickasaw Nation allies. The engagement involved the only major combat between American and Chickasaw forces in the American Revolution.

Equipment needs: Video projector, screen, display table

 

Betsy Johnson:  Girl Patriot of Bryan Station, Kentucky

In August 1782, the remote outpost at Bryan Station came under siege by a large band of Shawnee natives and British-Canadian Rangers. A group of incredibly brave women and their daughters ventured outside the walls of the station to carry water from the nearby spring back to the desperate families taking refuge inside the fort. Ten-year-old Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnson was one of those brave girls. Later that night, once the attack began in earnest, Betsy took an action that changed the course of American history. In this presentation, Geoff Baggett, author of A Bucket Full of Courage: Betsy Johnson of Bryan Station, tells the story of the Johnson family and their journey to Kentucky, their life on the frontier, and little Betsy’s amazing bravery as a Patriot of the American Revolution.

Equipment needs: Video projector, screen, display table

Ted Franklin Belue
Ted Franklin Belue
Kentucky Writer & Retired Professor of History Murray State University
Murray, KY

Email: tbelue@murraystate.edu

History

Daniel Boone: America’s First Frontier Hero & the Strange Fate of His Remains  

Ted Franklin Belue places Boone in the context of American expansion, discussing his Kentucky explorations, his hunting skills, myths associated with the woodsman, and how Boone’s role as the heroic Natty Bumppo in Last of the Mohicans helped spawn American western literature. Belue also tells of Boone’s last days and the mysterious fate of his remains. 

 

Black Indians & Black Mountain Men: Restoring a Vanishing Legacy     

Just as there were Boone and Crockett, black frontiersmen played key roles in shaping America’s destiny. Edward Rose of Louisville and Jim Beckwourth of Virginia both went west to become Mountain Men and became Indian chieftains. In Kentucky, a Black Shawnee mediator named Pompey fought for his people, while Monk Estill made gunpowder for settlers and became the state’s first freedman for his valor under battle fire. This presentation shows an overlooked side of frontier life and brings a much needed balance to our state’s history. 

 

Frontier Partisans & the Hunters of Kentucky

This talk is about largely forgotten border men—Simon Girty, Capt. Samuel Brady, and Lewis “Death Wind” Wetzel—and frontierswomen often lost to history—“Mad Ann” Bailey, Mary Ingles, and Eunice Williams—who to some degree adopted native culture or dress, survival skills and tactics, paving the way for the opening of America’s First Far West and altering American literature.        

 

Equipment needs: Podium, computer with projector for PowerPoint, display table, easel  

Travel: Regions 1 & 2

Available as virtual programs: No

Charles Bogart
Charles Bogart
Frankfort Parks & Historical Sites
Frankfort, KY

Phone: Home-(502) 227-2436, Cell-(502) 682-9491
Email: frankfortrail@gmail.com

Railroad

Louisville Cincinnati & Lexington Railroad — A Pawn in the Great Game

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad battled over control of the LC&L. The L&N won the battle and changed the economic structure of Central Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky from C&O control to L&N control. 

 

Chesapeake Ohio & Southwestern Railroad — C. P. Huntington's Missing Link

In the 1880s, Collis P. Huntington endeavored to put together a railroad that extended from Newport News, Virginia, to Los Angeles, California. The CO&SW, which ran from Louisville to Paducah and on to Memphis, Tennessee, was the missing link in the organization of this transcontinental railroad. 

 

Equipment needs: PowerPoint projector, screen

Available as virtual program: Yes

Laurie Brock
Laurie Brock
Kentucky Writer
Lexington, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 494-7679 or Work-(859) 277-7511
Email: lmbrock@me.com

Faith & Horses

Travel as an Act of Faith

Life is a journey. Religious people call it a pilgrimage. Whether in another country or simply walking around the neighborhood, we encounter God. This talk shares inspired moments, humbling memories, and startling realizations taken from experiences of recognizing that, yes, God is in these places.

 

Horses Speak to Our Souls

Kentucky is horse country. Horses have fueled our economy, our identity, and our passion. They have been the source of spiritual wisdom for human souls for eons. They are the most-drawn images among cave art, and their presence in our state continues to inspire us. They even heal us of deep wounds in our souls — returning veterans often find healing from PTSD through horse therapy. This presentation touches on the history of the horse in Kentucky, our long-time love affair with the horse, and the wisdom horses have for us as humans relating to each other and to these magnificent creatures. An equestrian and Episcopal Priest, Laurie Brock will share these insights horses have for us in ways that speak broadly to the human spiritual experience.

 

Equipment needs: Projector

Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Kathy Bullock
Kathy Bullock
Adjunct Professor, University of Kentucky
Berea, KY

Phone: (859) 979-1976
Email: bullockka@gmail.com

Women's & African American History

I Got A Right to the Tree of Life: Women’s Suffrage and African American Women’s Voices

Through songs and stories this presentation will share the journey and the contributions of African American women in the struggle for the Right to Vote in the U.S. As part of the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, this program will highlight stories and struggles of African American women leaders, from the late 1870s up to the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and beyond.

 

Singing in the Spirit: The African American Sacred Music Tradition

Spirituals and gospel music are much more than pleasing songs to listen to—they are powerful representations of the triumphant spirit and faith that have defined African-American music and people. Bullock takes the audi­ence on a musical journey from West Africa, through the middle passage, to the North American shores where the African-American culture was forged. Through songs, stories, and performance, this participatory program lets the audience experience the beauty, joy, and power of this music and culture. 

Equipment needs: Piano

 

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Megan Burnett
Megan Burnett
Associate Professor of Theatre Bellarmine University
Louisville, KY

Phone: Work-(502) 272-7480 or Cell-(502) 299-7156
Email: mburnett@bellarmine.edu

Women's History

Mattie Griffith Browne: Kentucky Abolitionist & Suffragist

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States. Mattie Griffith Browne was a Kentucky Abolitionist and Suffragist who fought to make women’s voting rights possible, but whose name has largely been forgotten. Mattie Griffith Browne is not on the list of famous suffragettes or abolitionists, but she was both and made quite a stir in her time. Born to a family of wealth and privilege in the early 19th century in Louisville and raised in Owensboro, she received a formal education, became a prolific writer and was raised with slaves serving her family. In 1857, she wrote a novel, Autobiography of a Female Slave, to raise funds to free the slaves she inherited. For some time, people thought the book was an actual autobiography. When it became known that a white woman and not a former slave wrote the book, there was a scandal. She took a great risk in writing a book that would provide sympathy for enslaved Africans throughout the South. She took an even greater risk in freeing her slaves. Mattie’s life is a glimpse into her passion for freedom, citizenship, and voting rights for all Americans—black and white, male and female—at a time when these ideas were very controversial.

 

Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint, screen

James C. Claypool
James C. Claypool
Professor Emeritus of History Northern Kentucky University
Park Hills, KY

Phone: (859) 620-8846
Email: jimclaypool38@gmail.com

Kentucky History & Culture

The Kentucky Derby: A Celebration of Kentucky and its Heritage

Claypool traces the origins and development of the Kentucky Derby, the world’s most famous horse race and a powerful influence on Kentucky society and culture. He will use memorabilia collected during his 40-year passion for the race.

 

Rascals, Heroes, and Just Plain Uncommon Folks from Kentucky

In this talk, Claypool will profile a choice selection of the many colorful Kentuckians, male and female, noted and notorious, whose stories make our history so interesting and entertaining. The format of the program contains an exciting and stimulating surprise for the audience to wield its power even today.

 

Song’s of Kentucky's Civil War

This program offers a lively presentation with recordings of some of the most popular songs from the North and South during the American Civil War. Claypool discusses the origins, importance, and placement in historical context of each song.

 

Equipment needs: Microphone, small table

Berry Craig
Berry Craig
Professor Emeritus of History West Kentucky Community & Technical College
Mayfield, KY

Phone: Cell-(270) 992-2727 or (270) 804-1017
Email: bcraig8960@gmail.com

History

"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" has a Murray Connection

2021 marks the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese surprise attack that plunged the U.S. into World War II forced Navy Chaplain Howell Forgy to cancel his Sunday sermon aboard the cruiser New Orleans. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!" he famously urged sailors who were hefting heavy shells up to anti-aircraft gunners on deck. Forgy's remark became one of the most famous phrases from the war and turned into the title of one of the best known American war songs. Though he was born in Philadelphia, Forgy joined the Navy from Murray, where he was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. He married a member of the choir, a Murray State student from Princeton. In his autobiography, he says he was thinking of Murray when the air raid started. The book contains one of the most gripping accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack in print.  

 

A True Tale of Two Kentucky Sailors Who Survived the "Day of Infamy

2021 marks the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. When the attack started, Seaman Second Class John Hamlet was reading the funny papers. Lt. Commander Thomas T. Beatty was enjoying breakfast. Neither got to finish. The two Kentuckians, shipmates on the USS West Virginia, scrambled to their battle stations to help meet the surprise Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hamlet, from Ohio County, was erroneously reported killed in action. The big battlewagon's gunnery officer, Beatty, from Louisville, was nearly killed by the bomb blast that fatally wounded Captain Mervin S. Bennion. Hamlet and Beatty provided harrowing accounts of the "Day of Infamy"—Hamlet in a long Owensboro newspaper story and Beattie in his official Navy report.  

Jennifer Cramer
Jennifer Cramer
Associate Professor of Linguistics University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Phone: Work-(859) 257-6983 or Cell-(502) 594-6428
Email: jennifer.cramer@uky.edu

Language

Speaking Our Piece: Language Variation in Kentucky

Kentucky is located at a particularly interesting crossroads in the linguistic landscape of the United States. This presentation introduces the specific linguistic situation in Kentucky by examining several linguistic, sociolinguistic, and educational aspects of language in the many diverse regions of the Commonwealth. We will explore not only how language is variously produced but also how people’s impressions of the language of their fellow Kentuckians changes from place to place.

 

The Myths and Realities of Appalachian Englishes

Have you ever heard someone say that people from the Appalachian Mountains sound like Shakespeare? Or maybe you’ve been told that the language spoken there is frozen in time. These and other misconceptions about the linguistic varieties employed by Appalachians have hidden the vibrant and dynamic nature of their language and helped to perpetuate the idea that speakers of these dialects are old-fashioned and backwards. This presentation examines the myths and realities surrounding Appalachian Englishes by providing evidence that these varieties, like all others, are constantly changing.

 

Equipment needs: Projector (with connection) and ability to play sound preferred

Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Kevin Lane Dearinger
Kevin Lane Dearinger
Kentucky Writer


Phone: (347) 920-7930
Email: kdearinger@aol.com

Literature & Culture

Shakespeare in Kentucky

A lively, humorous lecture with photos and other images on PowerPoint tracing the aspirations, successes, and frustrations of Shakespearean actors and actresses, brilliant and struggling, who began arriving in Kentucky in 1810 and continued to tour through the state into the early decades of the 20th century. This talk is adapted from Kevin Lane Dearinger's book, The Bard in the Bluegrass and Marie Prescott: A Star of Some Distinction. Dearinger is a retired professional actor with Broadway and national touring credits and a retired teacher. Dearinger is also the author of Clyde Fitch and the American Theatre and a memoir, Bad Sex in Kentucky

Equipment needs: PowerPoint screen, Mac-friendly projector, lectern, microphone

 

Selected Readings from Bad Sex in Kentucky

Kevin Lane Dearinger's memoir, Bad Sex in Kentucky is not about anatomical awkwarness and it is certainly not graphic. It is about growing up a bullied child in the Bluegrass in the mid-20th century. The style is both humorous and lyrical and constructed to be read aloud with some theatrical generosity. Dearinger is a retired actor and not above a bit of ham. The memoir is frank about growing up gay in a time and place when being a young gay man was not safe. The stories are frank, but, neither bitter nor vulgar. Good for any audience that is not prejudiced and maybe for some who are. 

Equipment needs: Lectern, microphone, but the talk can be adapted for small groups in more casual settings

 

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Jerry Deaton
Jerry Deaton
Kentucky Writer & Filmmaker
Frankfort, KY

Phone: (502) 229-1249
Email: jdeaton@me.com

Kentucky History & Culture

Appalachian Culture, Yesterday and Today

Appalachian culture and history continue to be popular topics across America. In this presentation, eastern Kentucky author and filmmaker, Jerry Deaton, gives his perspectives on current and past issues facing the people and land of his region. The presentation can be geared toward the political and socio-economic issues facing the region, utilizing his experience as a lobbyist in Frankfort and through the making of his film, Harry Caudill, A Man of Courage. The presentation can also focus on cultural issues such as the region’s rich history, folklore, and interesting way of life as evidenced in Jerry’s book Appalachian Ghost Stories, his memoir Kentucky Boy, and his film The Feuds of Bloody Breathitt. 

 

Harry Caudill, Man of Courage

Deaton’s interest in the issues facing eastern Kentucky moved him to write and produce a film on the author and activist Harry Caudill of Whitesburg, Kentucky. This presentation focuses on Mr. Caudill’s life and on his provocative best selling book Night Comes to the Cumberlands. Deaton offers his perspectives on the social and environmental messages Mr. Caudill presented more than 50 years ago, messages perhaps as relevant today as then.

 

Mountain Ghost Stories

Deaton grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky hearing old-time ghost stories as told by his father and grandmother. In this presentation, he reads from his book, Appalachian Ghost Stories, and talks about the odd and often eerie folk traditions that he experienced and often heard about as he grew up in Breathitt County.

 

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Carolyn Dupont
Carolyn Dupont
Professor of History Eastern Kentucky University
Nicholasville, KY

Phone: Work-(859) 622-1374 or Cell-(859) 229-7196
Email: carolyn.dupont@eku.edu

History & Politics

Choosing a President: Understanding the Electoral College

The 2016 election has reinvigorated talk of abolishing the Electoral College, an institution that has evoked controversy since its origins at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Any useful discussion of the Electoral College must take into account both its origins and the way its operations have changed over time, but myths about this history abound. This presentation will identify and challenge the most prevalent of these myths, but will offer no recommendations about the future of the Electoral College.

 

Five Myths about the Civil Rights Movement

In spite of Americans’ almost universal willingness to embrace the idea of black equality and to retroactively applaud African Americans’ mid-20th century struggles to achieve it, popular depictions of the civil rights movement often reflect a shallow and even misguided understanding. This presentation will explore the misconceptions that shape our understanding of the civil rights movement, demonstrate how these faulty beliefs limit discussions of equality in the present, and offer evidence-based correctives to these myths.

 

Equipment needs: Projector

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Gerald Dyson
Gerald Dyson
Asst. Professor of History, Kentucky Christian University
Grayson, KY

Phone: Cell-(606) 316-4506, Work-(606) 474-3178
Email: gpdyson@kcu.edu

Literature & History

The World of Beowulf

Beowulf is the Marvel superhero movie of medieval literature. In addition to heroes, monsters, and swords, it is packed with historical, cultural, and linguistic elements that have fascinated generations of readers and scholars, including none other than J. R. R. Tolkien. Millions have been entranced by the alliterative beauty of the Old English and the otherworldliness of the story; this stimulating talk offers audiences the opportunity to explore life and culture in the Middle Ages and hear the sounds of English a thousand years ago.

 

Veep: The Life and Career of Alben Barkley

Alben Barkley was arguably the most influential Kentucky politician since the days of Abraham Lincoln and Henry Clay. Rising from humble beginnings in western Kentucky, Barkley went on to become Senate Majority leader and Vice President under Truman. Though less remembered than many famous Kentuckians of the 19th century, Barkley's legacy lives on in the legislative efforts of the New Deal, the postwar diplomatic environment he helped create, and the massive public works in western Kentucky named in his honor. This talk will also address Barkley's private life, known from memories and writings of Barkley's relatives, preserved in the family and presented by the speaker, Barkley's great-grand-nephew.

 

Equipment needs: Projector preferred, but not required

Travel: Regions 5, 6, 7, 8

Tom Eblen
Tom Eblen
Journalist, Editor, Writer, & Photographer
Lexington, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 272-6688 or Cell-(859) 333-6276
Email: tomeblen@gmail.com

History & Journalism

The Future of News

Columnist, editor, writer and photographer Tom Eblen, a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, talks about the economic, technological, and societal forces reshaping American journalism. Newsprint is going away. Cable TV and commercial radio are declining. Digital delivery has become king, but social media has created a sphere of propaganda, misinformation, and “fake” news. While there has never been greater need for fact-based journalism, the local/regional news industry hasn’t developed a new business model to replace traditional advertising. As the ranks of professional journalists dwindle, what are the implications for government and corporate accountability—if not American democracy?

 

Athens of the West

Journalist Tom Eblen, one of the authors of the 2012 University Press of Kentucky book Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852, tells how Lexington, in the early 1800s, was the most important city in what was then western America. He gives an entertaining presentation and slideshow about this brief golden age in Central Kentucky and some of the amazing characters it produced: great statesmen, doctors, lawyers, architects, civil rights leaders, artists, craftsmen, and business tycoons. What can we learn from this era, and how has it affected the nearly two centuries of Kentucky history since?

 

Equipment needs: Projector, screen

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Steve Flairty
Steve Flairty
Retired Teacher
Versailles, KY

Phone: (859) 494-0667
Email: sflairty2001@yahoo.com

Culture

Shining Light on Kentucky's Everyday Heroes

Steve Flairty has traveled the state and collected stories of what it means to be a Kentuckian with a heart and soul—ordinary people who have made a positive difference, living unselfish lives and overcoming obstacles.. In his talk, Flairty shares many of these inspirational profiles, often selecting individuals from audience members' communities who have been featured in his Kentucky's Everyday Heroes book series. He can adapt his presentation to either adult or children's audiences.

 

Shining Light on Kentucky's Everyday Women Heroes

Steve Flairty has traveled the state and collected stories of what it means to be a Kentuckian with a heart and soul—ordinary people who have made a positive difference, living unselfish lives and overcoming obstacles. In his talk, Flairty focuses on Kentucky's women and shares many of these inspirational profiles, often selecting individuals from audience members' communities who have been featured in his Kentucky's Everyday Heroes book series. 

 

Equipment needs: Stationary microphone

Terry Foody
Terry Foody
Kentucky Writer
Lexington, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 277-5291 or Cell-(859) 539-6325
Email: terryfoody@juno.com

Kentucky History

The Gist Boys: Sequoyah & Gratz

Here is the true story of Sequoyah (George Gist), inventor of the Cherokee written language and his half-nephew, Henry Howard Gratz, editor of the Kentucky Gazette. Based on Foody’s book, The Cherokee and the Newsman: Kinsmen in Words, this program traces the lives of each: their famous relatives, literary achievements, political proclivities and common characteristics. Spanning three centuries and four wars, the Gist Boys were on the forefront of American history with Washington, Jackson, and Lincoln, in Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma. From articles, letters, and interviews, Foody illuminates Sequoyah and Gratz’s connection to relevant topics of the times: a free press, slavery, indigenous rights, and race relations.   

 

Heroes in Disaster: The 1833 Cholera Epidemic in Lexington, Kentucky

Before there was Covid, there was Cholera! During the 19th century, cholera raged through the United States several times with high fatality rates. Drawing from her book, The Pie Seller, the Drunk and the Lady: Heroes of the 1833 Cholera Epidemic in Lexington, Kentucky, Foody poignantly describes this civic devastation and the crucial deeds of the freed Black woman, the homeless workman and the founder of the Orphan Asylum during a summer with 500 deaths. Despite great medical advances, cholera is still a worldwide killer. A former Public Health Nurse, Foody explains why by tracing repetitive patterns of epidemics from disease spread to national response, from Cholera to Covid-19, with lessons for our global health today. 

 

Equipment needs: Laptop with projector

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Dr. Melanie Goan
Dr. Melanie Goan
Associate Professor of History, University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 271-9455 Cell-(814) 490-1136
Email: melanie.goan@uky.edu

Women's History

A Simple Justice: Kentucky Women Fight for the Vote

You have probably heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but what do you really know about the long fight for woman suffrage? This presentation will address misconceptions and will document Kentucky's contributions to the Nineteenth Amendment. You will learn about the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, its leaders, as well as the thousands of men and women, white and black, from all parts of the state who worked to secure "a simple justice."

 

The Bitter End: Kentucky Suffragists and the Nineteenth Amendment

Laura Clay fought for over three decades to see women enfranchised, but in the suffrage movement's final days she resigned from the Kentucky Equal Rights Association and worked to defeat the Nineteenth Amendment.  Hear how the Kentucky suffrage movement came to an unexpected conclusion and what it reveals about women's fight for equality.

 

Equipment needs: Laptop, internet signal, projector

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Nancy Grant
Nancy Grant
Field Naturalist and Kentucky Writer
Fisherville, KY

Phone: (502) 641-9614
Email: nsgrant@bellsouth.net

Nature

Where the Birds Are: Exploring Kentucky's Varied Habitats

Sure you know the robin, hummingbird, and owl. But did you know that Kentucky's bird life includes more than 300 other species? Who are they? Where are they? And why do they choose our state to nest and raise young during summer, visit during their long migration journeys, or spend a few winter months with us? If you're a bird, what's so great about Kentucky's habitats?

Field naturalist and author (Binge Birding: Twenty Days with Binoculars) Nancy Grant provides fascinating insights into the lives of Kentucky's birds. While sharing her experiences about searching for birds in all seasons, she provides practical tips for more fun outdoors in this program suitable for explorers of all levels of experience. Come along for an adventure!

 

How Do We Know That? Studying Nature in Kentucky, Then and Now

The study of natural history, understanding the lives of plants and animals, is not separate from human history. They are woven together. What we know about birds and butterflies, wildflowers and trees, is based on the work of people with muddy boots and sweaty faces and intense curiosity.

Field naturalist and author (Binge Birding: Twenty Days with Binoculars) Nancy Grant begins this presentation with stories of the lives and discoveries of internationally known naturalists working in Kentucky. She offers insights into the pioneering work done by John James Audubon, then 20th century scientists Robert M. Mengel, Mary Wharton, Roger Barbour, and Charles Covell, and brings us up-to-date on what today's researchers and dedicated amateur citizen scientists are studying here in Kentucky.

In this presentation you'll feel like you're out in the field with them, watching, listening, making notes and sketches and maps, taking photos, and making new discoveries. What do you want to know?

 

Equipment needs: The usual for PowerPoint presentations (laptop computer, projector, screen, clicker) and wireless microphone; no-tech version of this presentation also available

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Warren Greer
Warren Greer
Director of the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail
Louisville, KY

Phone: Home-(502) 262-9790
Email: warren.greer@kentuckylincolntrail.org

History

Kentucky's Abraham Lincoln

This presentation explores Lincoln's broad and complex relationship with Kentucky including his family, antebellum perspective, the Civil War, post-war memory in Kentucky, and modern efforts to preserve his legacy.

 

Equipment needs:  Screen or other display for projector, PA system

Jacqueline Hamilton
Jacqueline Hamilton
Professor of English, Eastern Kentucky University
Winchester, KY

Phone: (859) 935-5153
Email: aliceontheroad1955@gmail.com

Religion & History

Kentucky Faith—Pass the Plate of Unforgettable People

Shaker Village. The Ark Encounter. Snake handlers. "I Wonder As I Wander."  Bad Girls of the Bible Sister Spalding. Abbey of Gethsemani. Revivals at Asbury.  America’s first camp meeting. Race Track Chaplains. Mordecai Ham, spiritual daddy of Billy Graham. World’s largest handmade stained glass window. Shaped-note hymnals. “The Kentucky Holy Land.” Amish neighbors. Kentucky Holocaust survivors. A fascinating visual and hands-on presentation for all ages of highlights in Kentucky’s rich religious history.

Equipment needs: Projector, screen, table

 

How A Former Slave Became Mary Todd's Best Friend

Fashion and friendship bridged the divide of race and class. Former slave Elizabeth Keckly was a civil activist and author in Washington, D.C.—but first the confidante and dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary gave Elizabeth numerous articles after the assassination of Lincoln, including his blood-splattered cloak from that fateful night. Keckly’s dressmaking business was famous—and included wives of other famous politicians such as Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Ann Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee. Her autobiography, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, was both a slave narrative and a controversial look at Kentucky’s most famous first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln.

 

From Barbed Wire to the Bluegrass: Holocaust Survivors in Kentucky 

Some Holocaust survivors made their homes in Kentucky. Their stories before moving here—and their stories after living and working here—have forever changed many of our Bluegrass communities. Learn how Kentucky eighth graders worked with a Holocaust survivor to challenge Frankfort, and shaped Holocaust education for all Kentucky students—making Kentucky one of the top 10 states in the nation.  This interactive presentation concludes with the lighting of six yellow candles, a tradition of Holocaust remembrance ceremonies. Our 116th Congress (2019-2020) also passed the Never Again Education Act.

 

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Mary Hamilton
Mary Hamilton
Kentucky Writer & Professional Storyteller
Frankfort, KY

Phone: (502) 223-4523
Email: marystory@earthlink.net

Storytelling

The Storytelling Art

Explore the heart of the art of storytelling with award-winning storyteller and writer Mary Hamilton, author of Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies. Using examples from her oral and written repertoire, Hamilton shines light on what storytelling is and how it functions both as a performing art and as an essential element of everyday life.

 

Liar, Liar, Storyteller

Kentuckians have long entertained each other by stretching the truth to impossibility. Using selections from her oral repertoire and her book, Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies, Hamilton examines the traditional and evolving contemporary uses of tall tale telling. 

 

Feeding Nightmares

Dread, deception, death, and dismemberment — such are the ingredients of Kentucky tales that have fed nightmares for generations. In this talk, Hamilton shares sample stories and reveals who told them, who collected them, and how she came to add them to her repertoire and publish them in her book, Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies.

 

Equipment needs: Microphone on a pole stand

Available as virtual programs: No

Dr. Nicholas Hartlep
Dr. Nicholas Hartlep
Robert Charles Billings Chair in Education, Berea College
Berea, KY

Phone: (414) 807-0545
Email: hartlepn@berea.edu

Race & Diversity

What's the "Lock?" The "Keys" Needed for Unlocking the Model Minority Stereotype of Asian Americans

In this presentation, Dr. Hartlep, a leading authority on the model minority stereotype of Asian Americans, aims to untangle the model minority stereotype of Asian/Americans in a way that will illuminate three racist elements of the model minority myth's sophistry and discursive nature, and its reliance on dog whistle politics. This talk will draw from three of his previous books: The Model Minority Stereotype: Demystifying Asian American Success, The Model Minority Stereotype Reader: Critical and Challenging Readings for the 21st Century, and Killing the Model Minority Stereotype: Asian American Counterstories and Complicity.

 

The Assault on Communities of Color: Race-Based Violence in the Era of the New Jim Crow

In this talk, critical race theorist Nicholas Hartlep will discuss his current work on the realities of race-based violence. This presentation will provide a critical look at issues such as racism, community segregation, whiteness, and other hegemonies and how they reproduce injustice and violence. Dr. Hartlep will also explore how space, place, and institutionalism produce and maintain white dominance and violence.

 

The Identity and Politics of Transracial Adoption

In this presentation, Dr. Hartlep, a leading authority on race and education will discuss his experiences as a transracial adoptee. This talk will draw from his research on identity formation of transracial adoptees who are Asian/American.

 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen for PowerPoint

Available as virtual programs: Yes

George Herring
George Herring
Professor Emeritus University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Phone: (859) 373-9001
Email: george.herring@uky.edu

History

Vietnam: A 50 Year Retrospective

The war in Vietnam tore our nation apart like few other events in its history. It divided neighbors, colleagues, and churches. It divided fathers and sons, even among top U.S. policymakers. It helped trigger cultural wars that have lasted to the present. It still haunts us more than 50 years later. This presentation will seek to explain why this war was so traumatic and divisive and will examine the way we as a nation have attempted to deal with these divisions in its aftermath. It will take a special look at the impact of the war on Kentucky and Kentuckians. 

 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen for PowerPoint

Available as virtual program: Yes

Blair Thomas Hess
Blair Thomas Hess
Kentucky Writer
Frankfort, KY

Phone: (859) 229-2551
Email: blair.t.hess@gmail.com

Kentucky Culture

Exploring Kentucky: Historical Destinations and Natural Wonders

A drive straight across the Bluegrass State takes around eight hours. But that beeline would bypass all the worthwhile distractions between Paw Paw in Pike County and the Kentucky Bend of the Mississippi River in Fulton County. Treasures such as Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home that rests inside a Greek-style temple and the buffalo that roam the modern-day prairies of Land Between the Lakes. From rip-roaring barn dances in Rabbit Hash to the silent reverence of the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Commonwealth is chock-full of timeless landmarks. Kentucky native Blair Thomas Hess is the author of four travel books about Kentucky's history, its people, and its natural wonders. This presentation will highlight fun and educational destinations to help Kentuckians of all ages explore the amazing and irreplaceable things that make the state one of a kind. 

 

Around My Kentucky Table: The History and Tradition of the Most Famous Kentucky Flavors

Some of the most prominent memories for many of us were made around a table gathered for meals and drinks with family and friends. Kentucky has a rich tradition of good eatin', with famous classics like fried chicken and bourbon balls as well as lesser known Bluegrass mainstays like spoonbread, burgoo, and Derby pie. It is also a state where the number of aging bourbon barrels outnumber its residents. This presentation will dish out the rich culinary traditions of Kentucky and discuss how the culture and history of the state are woven through its food and its libations. Blair Thomas Hess is the author of four travel guides about Kentucky's history, culture, bourbon, and food, and she will highlight the best local foods, drinks, festivals, and where you can travel to see where it all started. This presentation can focus on the food and cooking traditions, including its culinary claims to fame—the dishes and the masterminds behind them—or offer an overview of the state's history of bourbon and how Kentucky's culture was shaped by the industry.

 

Equipment needs: Projector, screen

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
Kentucky Writer & Creative Writing Professor, Northern Kentucky University
Newport, KY

Email: jessica.hindman@gmail.com

Writing

Writing Your Memoir

Do you have a true story from your life that you have been wanting to write down? What is a memoir, and how does one get started writing one? In this workshop we will read and discuss some short excerpts of memoirs and begin writing a piece of our own. 

 

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir

This presentation includes a creative reading of Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman’s book, Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

 

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Tommy Hines
Tommy Hines
Executive Director South Union Shaker Village
Morgantown, KY

Phone: (270) 542-4167 (Work) or (270) 791-4261 (Cell)
Email: director@southunionshakervillage.com

History & Culture

The Southern Culture in Kentucky’s Shaker Villages

Kentucky’s Shaker villages, South Union and Pleasant Hill, drew converts from the South. Those converts brought their own well-established manners, customs, and cultural biases into environments and systems that had been designed by Shakers rooted in the Northeast. South Union, in particular, had a difficult time adapting and, consequently, created a material culture and maintained a folklife that was unique among Shaker villages. From the food they ate to the furniture they produced  ...  from the way they spoke to the methods in which they constructed buildings ... the Kentucky Shakers were set apart from their northern counterparts. Their story is colorful, humorous, heart-breaking, and fascinating.

 

Rural Kentucky Through the Lens of George H. Dabbs

George H. Dabbs was a Morgantown, Kentucky, photographer who worked from 1904 until 1934. Not only was he successful as a portrait photographer, but he was also a preservationist, capturing a quickly fading past. He left behind an incredible array of images that documented homes and workplaces, community events, disasters, and celebrations. His masterful work also included photographs of the last days of the colorful steamboat era on the Green River. Insightful, creative, and nostalgic, Dabbs’ art is a priceless look into the distant past of a typical small town in Kentucky. 

Equipment needs: Screen, electricity, table for projector

Fred Johnson
Fred Johnson
Kentucky Writer
Louisville, KY

Phone: (803) 741-4540
Email: fredwjohnsonjr74@gmail.com

Military & Culture

Five Wars: A Soldiers Journey to Peace

Fred Johnson served in the Army for 29 years and deployed to war four times: twice to Iraq and once each to Afghanistan and Bosnia. However, his most dangerous war, and the one that nearly killed him, was his fifth war, the one at home. In this talk, Johnson will speak to his state of mind struggling with PTSD and contemplation of suicide. Johnson discusses the events and experiences that brought him to the point of self destruction and how he was healed with the help of mental health professionals, friends, the arts, and a renewed sense of purpose through community service. Johnson concludes the talk with how he will stay healthy and pass his lessons learned on to others.

 

Once More Unto the Breach: Shakespeare with Veterans

No one in the English language speaks more directly to the warrior's heart and spirit than William Shakespeare. Shakespeare with Veterans was founded in partnership with Kentucky Shakespeare with the intent of bringing former armed service members to gather as band of brothers and sisters to share their experiences and connect them with Shakespeare's words and plays. Fred Johnson's presentation discusses how the program was formed and how veterans whose service span from the Vietnam War to present-day conflicts have benefited from the process. Johnson concludes with the importance of art and how it heals internal wounds in a most profound way.

 

Equipment needs: If audio visual is available there is a PowerPoint presentation, but it is not mandatory

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Dr. Pearlie M. Johnson
Dr. Pearlie M. Johnson
Independent Scholar
Louisville, KY

Phone: (502) 298-9234
Email: johnsonpearlie18@yahoo.com

African American Culture

Quilt Art: Examining the Narrative in Kentucky Quilts

Based on historical records, secondary sources, and oral history interviews with quilters across Kentucky, Johnson discusses 19th century quilts made by black women living and working on slave plantations, traditional quilts made by African American women of the 20th century, as well as contemporary art quilts made by women of all cultural groups of the 21st century. Her work explores women’s history, storytelling, identity politics, social activism, and empowerment. Her study of quilts in Kentucky is aimed at examining cross-cultural parallels in technique and assemblage, as well as revealing unique designs.

 

Roots and Branches: West African Aesthetics in African American Quilts

Knowledge is power! This presentation is designed to enrich, encourage, and engage elementary through high school students. It includes either a PowerPoint presentation or an exhibition booth. 

The PowerPoint presentation includes photographs and links to video footage of African cultural groups making textiles. These are part of Dr. Johnson’s ethnographic fieldwork while studying in Ghana. This information is then compared with Johnson’s footage of African Americans making quilts. An interpretation of signs and symbols and their meanings are discussed. The exhibition booth includes one-on-one talks and display boards featuring photographs of African textile production and African American quiltmaking, along with handouts and sample textiles for students to see and touch. 

 

Equipment needs: Screen, projector

John Kachuba
John Kachuba
Kentucky Writer
Cincinnati, OH

Phone: (513) 706-7821
Email: jkachuba@fuse.net

Culture

The Ghostly World

As the author of five nonfiction books about ghosts and hauntings, John Kachuba investigated well over 100 haunted locations all across the U.S. and internationally. In this presentation Kachuba shares his experiences at some of the more creepy and interesting locations. Kachuba will also talk about the various theories that attempt to explain ghosts. With enough advance notice, this talk can be tailored to include regional, state, national, or international locations and hauntings. The presentation will be illustrated with photos from Kachuba's books.

 

Shapeshifters: A History

This talk is based on John Kachuba's new book, Shapeshifters: A History. The nonfiction book explores the shapeshifter character and answers how and why it has appeared in cultures all around the world, from Neolithic times to the present day. It examines shapeshifters from many perspectives: historical, mythological, theological, psychological, and even pop culture. The presentation will be illustrated with photos from Kachuba's books.

 

Equipment needs: Projector, screen, table

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Teresa Kindred
Teresa Kindred
Kentucky Writer
Summer Shade, KY

Phone: Home-(270) 590-0525, Cell-(270) 590-0525
Email: tbellkindred@scrtc.com

Culture

Grandparent Power

Kentucky is one of the top five states in the nation when it comes to grandparents raising grandchildren. This is largely due to the Opioid Crisis. Now more than ever, grandparents play a vital role in our communities by shaping the next generation. Through her blog, NanaHood.com, Teresa Kindred is connected with grandparents from all over the world. Kindred is the author of a new grandparenting book, The Faith-Filled Grandmother. It helps to know you aren't alone and this talk is about finding our strengths, community, and resources. Grandparents will enjoy being uplifted, encouraged, and reminded of how very crucial they are in today's society.

 

Remember When?

Grandparents and parents take a walk down memory lane through phrases that today's generation would not understand. "Lick your calf over," "every tub sits on it's own bottom," "Pretty is as pretty does,"  and more! Teresa Kindred's grandmother passed on wisdom via these cliches. What phrases will the next generation remember?  Our words are our legacy and we can share wisdom just by sharing them with our children and grandchildren. This talk is fun, informative, and reminds listeners of the power of words!

 

Equipment needs: PowerPoint

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Patrick A. Lewis
Patrick A. Lewis
Director, Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition
Lexington, KY

Phone: (270) 839-1691
Email: pat.a.lewis@gmail.com

Kentucky History

Ben and Helen Buckner: A Kentucky House Divided

Clark County sweethearts Ben Buckner and Helen Martin fought to keep their relationship together while supporting opposite sides during the Civil War. While Buckner led troops in the Union army, Martin hosted rebels in her parlor. Abraham Lincoln spoke of the United States as a "house divided," but this Kentucky couple managed to stand united. The fascinating personal history of Ben and Helen's courtship and marriage helps us explore broader histories that ask new questions about slavery, secession, loyalty, family, and forgiveness in Civil War Kentucky. Together, Ben and Helen teach us what values and ideals Unionists and Confederates shared in Civil War Kentucky as well as those that pushed them apart.

 

Refugees: Searching for an Untold Civil War Kentucky

A southern belle on a diplomatic adventure to combat rebel spies in Europe; a woman fleeing slavery and falsely convicted of murder in Louisville; a war widow whose cow was shot by enemy soldiers as she was milking it; a man who insists on his right to vote and calls into question the meaning of United States citizenship. These stories remind us that Civil War battles did not just happen on rolling hillsides under flying flags. All Kentuckians lived the Civil War in their everyday struggles to survive, overcome, and understand this most critical time in United States history. In a global age of conflict and civil war, what new insights can these individuals provide us about America's most studied historical event?

 

Equipment needs: Computer, PowerPoint, projector

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Sylvia Lovely
Sylvia Lovely
Kentucky Writer
Lexington, KY

Phone: (859) 229-9044
Email: sylvia@sylvialovely.com

Storytelling & Reading

Think Small and Make a Difference in Your Life and Others—Notes from a Story Collector

Everyday, stories unfold in every life—stories that instruct, inspire, and give us hope for tomorrow. We often think those stories must be by published authors or celebrities or about big marquee events and circumstances. This presentation is about the importance of unleashing the power within all of us to discover and share our own, often ordinary, stories and appreciate those of others. The power of stories lies in making us aware that all we do, large and small, builds one story on another to inform us that all we do matters. Whether writing about a moment of personal triumph or sadness; or just sharing everyday discoveries that bring wisdom, our stories are illuminating. Even the tiniest moments, if given the oxygen of exposure, can shed light and clarity on basic human needs and obligations—making the world a better place by making sound decisions and ultimately by living well and mentoring others through their sharing. 

 

More Than a Book Club—Wisdom Wrapped up in a Story

Despite naysayers, book clubs are booming. Many of us belong to more than one. We come together either in person or virtually to discuss the selection of the month. We await with anticipation Oprah's latest choice for her own book club that will incidentally catapult the author to multi-million-dollar sales. But, what of books that fill in the gaps for the skills we all need whether to work in teams in the workplace or in persuading your teenage son to make better choices. This presentation is about the importance of reading fiction for essential skills so lacking in a world besieged by the overwhelming bewilderment of a world of information/mis-information overload, disengagement, and rapid change. In developing empathy for the viewpoints of others or learning decision making skills from characters who play out their fictional lives in the complicated situations that mirror real life, this presentation is about an overlooked yet easily accessible tool—your bookshelf. 

 

Equipment needs: Microphone and podium though podium not likely needed; internet for possible showing of a short video, capability of a short PowerPoint

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Sarah McCartt-Jackson
Sarah McCartt-Jackson
Kentucky Writer
Louisville, KY

Email: sarah.mccartt.jackson@gmail.com

Poetry & Kentucky Folklore

My Old Kentucky Poem: Creating Our Myth through Folklore and Poetry

Much of Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s poetry draws inspiration from Kentucky folklore, using poetry to explore the stories, beliefs, and people of our pasts that live with us and haunt us in our present. In this presentation, McCartt-Jackson reads from her award-winning books and chapbooks, discussing her professional background as folklorist and poet, and how she weaves folk narratives, beliefs, and oral history of Kentucky and Appalachia into her poems. McCartt-Jackson also discusses how others can use their own family history in their creative expression.  

 

Write Where You Are: Poetry and Place

We often teach writers of all abilities to “write what you know.” In Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s case, she writes of the places she knows. In this presentation, she reads from her newest books, highlighting how she uses poetry and place to explore deeper truths about people, history, wilderness, home, and cultural and physical landscapes in her poetry. McCartt-Jackson encourages audiences to experience place through sensory-based approaches, and discusses how to incorporate a rooted awareness of place into creative expression.  

 

Equipment needs: Microphone

Available as virtual programs: Yes

William McHugh
William McHugh

Lawrenceburg, KY

Phone: (270) 498-1966
Email: wmchugh0001@kctcs.edu

Kentucky History

Kentucky: A Tale of Two Different States

Kentucky's early reputation was nothing short of phenomenal. Unfortunately, the Civil War inflicted devastating havoc on Kentucky's economic, political, and social standing in the United States. For example, before the Civil War Kentucky was in the top 10 states for per capita income. Since the end of the Civil War it's been in the bottom 10. This presentation will focus on Kentucky's national standing before the Civil War that earned a very positive reputation. Many out-of-state visitors before the Civil War referred to Lexington for example as the Athens of the West, a reference to Athens, Greece. From a state that overwhelmingly supported the Union at the beginning of the Civil War to abject rebellion afterwards. Kentucky's reputation has never been the same. The New York Times spoke of post-Civil War Kentucky as enjoying anarchy and mobocracy, and concluded that "there is no state in which lawlessness and bloodshed prevail to such an outrageous extent as in Kentucky." The history of Kentucky is, a tale of two very different states.   

 

Equipment needs: Projector and screen

Sean J. McLaughlin
Sean J. McLaughlin
Special Collections & Exhibit Director, Murray State University
Murray, KY

Phone: Work-(270) 809-4295 or Cell-(270) 226-5493
Email: smclaughlin1@murraystate.edu

History

“Ignoring Nosey Charlie”: JFK, de Gaulle, and America’s Drift to War in Vietnam

In his book, JFK and de Gaulle: How America and France Failed in Vietnam, 1961-1963, Sean McLaughlin presents a new explanation for the great American tragedy in Vietnam. The central argument of his book is that JFK held long-running francophobic prejudices that blinded him to the merits of French peace initiatives that could’ve led to a negotiated settlement in Vietnam before the United States had formally entered the war. In this presentation, McLaughlin will discuss his position, present his research, and discuss how America ended up entering the war.

 

Kennedy Comes to Kentucky

Despite all of his advantages, John F. Kennedy had to fight an underdog campaign to win the presidency in 1960 against the sitting Vice President, Richard Nixon. This was an election in which every vote in every state mattered. Kennedy understood that as a wealthy, Catholic New Englander he couldn’t take voters in heavily Baptist Appalachian states for granted even if they had reliably voted for Democratic presidents in the past. As a result, Kennedy spent three crucial October days in Kentucky, with stops in Louisville, Bowling Green, and Paducah, but in the end Kentucky’s electoral votes went to Nixon. This presentation explores how Kentuckians responded when their faith and political allegiance seemed to be pulling them in opposite directions.

 

 Equipment needs: Computer, projector

L. Scott Miller
L. Scott Miller
Adjunct Faculty, Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, Morehead State University
Catlettsburg, KY

Phone: Home-(606) 739-5095, Cell-(615) 516-2922
Email: pinewoodmusic@hotmail.com

Folk Music

Jean Thomas "The Traipsin' Woman"

Jean Thomas, 1882-1982, was one of traditional folk music's first "song catchers" or field recorders. Raised in Ashland, Kentucky, she defied social norms by attending business school, learning stenography, and becoming a court reporter. Her travels to courts throughout the mountains of eastern Kentucky earned her the title, "The Traipsin' Woman." During these years and subsequent visits she photographed the musicians and mountain people with whom she came in contact and used her portable typewriter to document lyrics and tunes to ballads. Jean helped preserve a legacy of traditional mountain music, crafts and customs in her books, photographs, audio recordings and her American Folk Song Festival which began in 1931 and continued until 1972.

This presentation follows the life of this adventurous and entrepreneurial woman from her court reporting days in the mountains, to New York City, places in between, and back to Kentucky.

 

Fiddling from the Hills

From the pre-colonial period to the present day the fiddle has played a prominent role in American music. The question most often asked is, "what is the difference between the violin and the fiddle?" One old timer told me, "The difference is you don't spill beer on a violin." In reality there is no difference in the instrument. We associate the term violin with classical music and fiddle with common or folk music. It is in this common community that the fiddle has played an important role in American life. The fiddle was played at dances, social gatherings and contests. It is hard for us today to imagine how popular fiddle music was in the early twentieth century and the dawn of recorded music when some fiddle records sold a million copies. 

Fiddle music in America is as varied as its people. Every geographical area had tunes and styles that were unique to them, oftentimes based on those locales' immigrant influences. The same is true of Kentucky fiddling. There are many traditional styles throughout the state. This presentation will focus on the unique and diverse fiddle styles of eastern Kentucky and some of its most noted old-time fiddlers. Miller will play tunes from different regions and demonstrate their unique character and influences and some of the stories that go along with the characters who played them. 

 

Equipment needs: Table, projector for PowerPoint, 2 microphones on stands

Travel: Regions 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Dr. Isabel Mukonyora
Dr. Isabel Mukonyora
Professor of Religious Studies, Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY

Phone: Work-(270) 745-5754, Cell-(270) 320-8382
Email: bella.mukonyora@wku.edu

Global Christianity

Global Christianity and Climate Change: An African Perspective

 

This presentation will draw attention to the close relationship between the era of the Globalization Christianity and Climate Change during the 19th century Industrial Revolution. Not many Christians talking about stewardship today think about the social histories of victims of colonial conquest. Using the case study of Zimbabwe, Dr. Mukonyora will explain the social construction of reality behind the embrace of Christianity and dependence on industrial economies intended to extract wealth from nature with fellow human beings providing the cheap labor, and how western Christianity used to create the discourse of morality centered on the commodification of societies throughout the global south.

 

Equipment needs: Computer, projector, screen

John David Myles
John David Myles
Kentucky Writer
Simpsonville, KY

Phone: Home-(502) 722-0819, Cell-(502) 381-0791
Email: jdm@johndavidmyles.com

History & Architecture

Walter H. Kiser's Neighborhood Sketches Revisited

Discussion of the history and architecture of the 25 most unusual buildings among the 404 historic buildings in Kentucky and southern Indiana drawn by Walter H. Kiser and published in The Louisville Times between 1934 and 1942. All of the drawings, along with photographs of existing structures, are featured in John David Myles' book by the same name which was published in 2019. The histories of the buildings have also been updated since Kiser's brief articles which accompanied the drawings were published. This talk is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of Kiser's drawings of each building as well as various other images related to them.

 

Pope and Latrobe

This talk will look at the lives and careers of Kentucky Senator John Pope and architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, with special attention to the Pope Villa in Lexington, one of Latrobe's three surviving domestic commissions. The presentation is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation with many images of the people and buildings discussed.

 

Equipment needs: Projector, screen

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Wayne Onkst
Wayne Onkst
Kentucky Writer & Retired State Librarian
Erlanger, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 727-6460 or Cell-(859) 757-5671
Email: wayneonkst@fuse.net

Kentucky History

When the President Visited Kentucky

Presidents of the United States have visited Kentucky about 120 times while serving as president. This presentation begins with details about the first visit by President James Monroe in 1819 since that visit was so different from today’s presidential visits. Information follows on historically significant visits in addition to visits by presidents to the area where the presentation takes place. Details of the visits include the reason for the visit, where he went, who he met, and who came to see him. There are many interesting stories. Of course, the political history of the time is described. Many photos were collected as part of the research, so photos will be provided in a PowerPoint presentation.

 

History of Bookmobile Service in Kentucky

Bookmobiles have been an important part of library service in Kentucky since World War II. In fact, Kentucky has had more bookmobiles than any other state for many years. This presentation covers the development of outreach services, from the pack horse librarians to the book wagons and the earliest bookmobiles. The presentation focuses on the bookmobile drive in 1954, when a statewide campaign raised funds for the purchase of 100 bookmobiles, books for the bookmobiles, and maintenance. This campaign was unique and gave Kentucky the nation’s largest fleet of bookmobiles.

 

Equipment needs: Computer, projector for PowerPoint

Available as virtual programs: No

Ron Pen
Ron Pen
Director Emeritus of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music
Lexington, KY

Phone: (859) 825-8780
Email: ron.pen@uky.edu

Music & Culture

Echoes of the Hills: Kentucky’s Traditional Music

Kentucky has been justly celebrated for its contributions to country and bluegrass styles, but a diverse and vibrant range of earlier musical traditions made the hills and hollers echo with song and dance long before these popular styles came into being following World War II. Ron Pen will explore Kentucky’s musical past through a talk illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation. A live musical performance of ballads, old time fiddle and banjo dance tunes, dulcimer songs, and shape note hymnody will animate the history and context.

 

Sweet Strains of the Dulcimer

In 2001, the Kentucky Legislature recognized the Dulcimer as our Commonwealth’s state instrument. The dulcimer’s roots are firmly planted in the soil of east Kentucky with the earliest instruments crafted in 1838 by Ely Boggs and “Uncle” Ed Thomas in 1870. Dulcimers created by McKinley Craft, Will Singleton, and Jethro Amburgey spread throughout the country from Hindman. Performers including Jean Ritchie and John Jacob Niles popularized the instrument during the folk revival. This history will come alive through a talk illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation, enhanced with a live performance.

 

Equipment needs: Chair without arms, projector and speaker setup capable of PowerPoint projection with a laptop

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Eddie Price
Eddie Price
Kentucky Writer & Educator
Hawesville, KY

Phone: Work-(270) 927-0471 or Cell-(270) 922-1326
Email: eddieprice.1954@att.net

Kentucky History

The Battle of Blue Licks

By 1782, the American Revolution was drawing to a close. Lord Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown and negotiators were hammering out the Peace of Paris. But war still raged for frontier settlers, American Indians, and Canadian rangers. On August 19, 1782, Kentuckians would suffer one of the worst military defeats of the war. Learn about the events leading up to the battle that some historians call "The Last Battle of the American Revolution." 

 

The Cane Ridge Revival: The Great Revival that Transformed Kentucky

When people talk about the "Bible Belt" they might be interested to learn that its roots began in the great Cane Ridge Revival, held in today's Bourbon County. No one can deny that it changed lives and shaped Kentucky's (and the Deep South's) social and cultural development. Take a journey back to 1801. Find out what drew 25,000 people to Cane Ridge. Sing one of the old hymns that some folks claimed to "make the flesh tremble."


1812: Remember the Raisin!

Kentucky’s contribution in the War of 1812 was vital to the American War effort. This presentation shows how deeply Kentuckians were involved. The massacre at River Raisin gave rise to the battle cry of the war: “Remember the Raisin!” Governor Isaac Shelby left Frankfort to lead troops along the northern frontier and commanded victorious soldiers at the Battle of the Thames. Kentuckians answered the call once more to defend New Orleans. The epic battle on the sugarcane plantations below the city provided redemption for the young American nation.

 

Equipment needs: Computer, projector, screen

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Cynthia Williams Resor
Cynthia Williams Resor
Foundation Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, College of Education, Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY

Phone: Home-(859) 792-1443, Work-(859) 622-2165, Cell-(859) 494-2041
Email: cynthia.resor@eku.edu

Kentucky History & Culture

Cooking in Kentucky Before the Civil War

Cooking before the modern conveniences of electric appliances, pre-packaged foods, and modern recipes was hard work! In this presentation, Cynthia Williams Resor explores the lives of average women in Kentucky, free and enslaved, as they prepare recipes from early 19th century cookbooks such as Lettice Bryan's The Kentucky Housewife. Look over the shoulder of a Kentucky woman as she produces, preserves, and prepares food in a typical pre-industrial kitchen. What kitchen tools did she use? What foods were plain, everyday fare and what was prepared for special occasions? How did she juggle cooking and the other daily chores? The answers to these questions and more will make you appreciate a microwave!

 

Mourning in Kentucky in the 1800s

Mourning the dead was an important part of life in the 19th century. Cynthia Williams Resor will begin her time-travel tour of this culture of mourning in Kentucky cemeteries by examining the symbols on tombstones and their meanings. Explore customs and beliefs associated with death through the eyes of 19th-century writers and artifacts of mourning such as hair mourning jewelry, stationery, clothing. Finally, we'll visit the new funeral parlors of the late 1800s and memorial park cemeteries of the early 1900s to discover why mourning customs changed.

 

Equipment needs: PowerPoint projector, screen

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Nancy Richey
Nancy Richey
Associate Professor & Reading Room Coordinator/Visual Resources Librarian
Bowling Green, KY

Phone: Work-(270) 745-6092 or Cell-(270) 784-1443
Email: nancy.richey@wku.edu

Kentucky Music

Mose Rager: Kentucky’s Shy Guitar Master

There are many country guitar legends — Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and Eddie Pennington, to name a few — who trace the root of their music to Mose Rager. A Muhlenberg County, Kentucky native, he was known for developing a unique thumb-picking style. Mose worked as a barber and a coal miner when he wasn’t playing gigs with Grandpa Jones, Curly Fox and Texas Ruby. Although Mose died on May 14, 1986, his sound lives on when modern-day pickers try to play “That Muhlenberg Sound.”  

 

Equipment needs: Projector, microphone

Available as virtual program: Yes

Don Ray Smith
Don Ray Smith
Kentucky Writer & Performing Storyteller
Louisville, KY

Phone: Home-(502) 499-5664, Cell-(502) 297-7929
Email: donthewriter@mac.com

Communication & Storytelling

Perspectives

Through a number of short 5 to 10-minute humorous sketches, Don Ray Smith reveals the wildly different ways people can see and react to the same topics and each other. In "Tar Far," Kentucky accents create a confusing stand-off before lending  insight; "Next Time Bring the Dog" reveals a compelling truism in a nursing home; "Flagpole" describes Smith's friends' expectations of the great Kentucky Derby, and the surprise that sent them packing; false assumptions abound in the sketch, "The Power of Church Clothes." Another sketch, "Bilingual Garbage Can,"  reveals how communicating with another ethnic group can be astoundingly simple, if you find a "common" language. "Interracial Couples" asks why such people are singled out for their being "different," although all couples—when you think about it—are inter-something (inter-intelligent, inter-weighted, inter-religious, etc.).

Equipment needs: An armless chair and microphone stand. Also a sound tech to cue in sound effects and music provided by the flash drive I provide.

Available as virtual program: Yes

 

Wilson Avenue and The Land of No Return

Don Ray Smith tells his true one-man story of growing up in a highly segregated area of Louisville in the late 1950's. Smith plays more than one dozen characters in 10 short sketches to reveal how he overcame prejudice created by family and friends to overcome stereotypes to see truth in real relationships. It is humorous, poignant and revealing, and highly-relatable for its audiences. "Wilson Avenue" is also non-confrontational, as Don Ray offers his story for examination.

Equipment needs: An armless chair and microphone stand. Also a sound tech to cue in sound effects and music provided by the flash drive I provide.

Available as virtual program: No

Sandy Staebell
Sandy Staebell
Kentucky Museum Registrar/Collections Curator at the Kentucky Museum
Bowling Green, KY

Phone: (270) 745-6260
Email: sandy.staebell@wku.edu

Culture

Even Coverlets Get the Blues

Kentuckians have practiced the art of hand weaving for more than 200 years. The techniques weavers used ranged from overshot, double weave, and tied Beiderwand to latch hook rug making and weaving on a hand loom. Often anonymous, these weavers included individuals who wove for domestic use, professionals who earned their livelihoods by weaving, and skilled enthusiasts who strove to keep craft traditions alive in the 20th and 21st centuries. This presentation will touch upon the general revival of interest in the craft of weaving in the early 20th century, the role individuals such as Lou Tate of the Little Loom House in Louisville and author Eliza Calvert Hall of Bowling Green played in preserving and promoting these traditions, and the importance that institutions and businesses such as Berea College’s Fireside Industries and Churchill Weavers had on weaving in America. Although weaving was often done for utilitarian purposes, historic and modern weaving alike illustrates aesthetic decisions regarding design and color choices that were and are part of the weaving process. Today’s weavers and fiber artists value the craft as much, if not more, for its artistic possibilities than for its utilitarian purposes. The weaving examples and illustrations used to illustrate this presentation are drawn primarily from museums and special collections libraries around Kentucky.

 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen, podium, microphone

Available as virtual program: Yes

Bob Thompson
Bob Thompson
Kentucky Writer & Professional Storyteller
Crestwood, KY

Phone: (502) 553-3406
Email: colbob2@gmail.com

Storytelling

Preserving Personal History

Years after you're gone, a grandchild might have a scrapbook or a box of photos with names written on the back of a few, but will any of those tell your story? Will anyone know your thoughts, the lessons you've learned, what was important to you or what you were proud of? Bob Thompson has had a long career writing and telling personal stories for his long-running (20 year) NPR radio show, Kentucky Homefront, in his books, Hitchhiker: Stories from the Kentucky Homefront and Stitched Together: Stories of a Kentucky Life, and on stage as a professional storyteller. Using examples from hundreds of his personal narratives Thompson will entertain audiences as he details how anyone can use their memories, diaries, photos and family artifacts to preserve personal experiences for future generations.

 

Storytelling in Business

This presentation will address the long-standing business problem that content specialists often do not have the narrative skills necessary to effectively convey their knowledge to cross-disciplinary teams or management. Bob Thompson had a 30 year career as a technical storyteller, bridging the gap between left- and right-brained business personnel. This presentation will provide examples and detail specific methods for transforming any subject or product into an attention-holding narrative that will both entertain and inform.

 

Equipment needs: Microphone

Alicestyne Turley
Alicestyne Turley
Freedom Story Project Director for the International Storytelling Center
Clay City, KY

Phone: (606) 312-5360
Email: aturley3@att.net

African American History

Underground Railroad and American Memory

This presentation will provide a review of the Underground Railroad as the product of the work of black and white southerners committed to an evangelical cause of freedom.

 

African Americans in the Civil War

In this presentation, Dr. Turley offers a focus on the role of black Kentuckians in the war of emancipation and freedom that changed the social direction of American society.

 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen for PowerPoint

Dr. Tammy L. Turner
Dr. Tammy L. Turner
Adjunct Music Instructor, Murray State University
Paducah, KY

Phone: Home-(270) 575-3409, Cell-(270) 519-2573
Email: tltg@bellsouth.net

Blues History & African American History

Dick Waterman:  A Life In Blues

Growing up in an affluent Jewish family in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dick Waterman (b. 1935) was a shy, stuttering boy living a world away from the Mississippi Delta. Though he never heard blues music at home, he became one of the most influential figures in blues of the 20th century. During his career, Waterman befriended and worked with numerous musicians, including such luminaries as Bob Dylan,  B. B. King, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton. During the early years of his career, he documented the work of scores of musicians through his photography and has gained fame as a blues photographer and writer. Dr. Tammy L. Turner's authorized biography of his life, Dick Waterman: A Life in Blues is the climax of years of original research as well as extensive interviews conducted with Waterman and those who knew and worked with him including musicians such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton. Although biographical, the book details significant cultural, historical, and musical events such as the folk/blues revival of the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement through the lens of Waterman's life and career. The presentation will include some readings/stories from the book, rare photographs from Waterman's personal archives, and recordings by some of the artists with whom he worked.  

 

Finding Son House: An Improbable and Remarkable Journey

In the summer of 1964, three young Jewish men—Dick Waterman, Nick Perls, and Phil Spiro embarked on a rather unlikely journey. They were on a quest to find Son House, a blues musician who, at the time, was little known outside an exceedingly small audience with an interest in early blues. House had recorded some songs in Grafton, Wisconsin, in the early 1930s but faded into obscurity and had been gone from the blues world for over two decades. Through forged alliances, relentless perseverance, and a wholly unpredictable, unusual, and amazing series of events, they finally located the elusive Son House. Ultimately, through Waterman's efforts, House was brought out of retirement and back to the performance stage. Dick managed to secure a recording contract with the prestigious Columbia Records, book House on tours in both the United States and Europe, and House enjoyed a late career that spanned a decade. Working with House, he soon realized there were many older blues artists, some recently rediscovered, that there was not a single agency or manager in the United States dedicated to working with black blues artists. Many of the artists were illiterate and lived in rural areas, so scheduling tours was a virtual impossibility for them without assistance. This led Dick to found Avalon Productions, the first agency dedicated to booking for black blues artists through which he also worked tirelessly to secure royalties due the artists. This talk will include material gleaned from research for Dr. Turner's book and includes rare photographs of Son House from Waterman's personal archives and recorded music by Son House from his post-rediscovery period.  

 

Equipment needs: A digital projector, computer, and sound system (means of amplification) are needed in order to include the photographs and music. I am flexible, so I can adapt this program to be simply a presentation without the photos or music if needed.

Available as virtual programs: Yes

Michael Turney
Michael Turney
Professor Emeritus of Communication, Northern Kentucky University
Park Hills, KY

Phone: (859) 261-6307
Email: mturney@fuse.net

History

World War II was on the Air

Did you know World War II was the first time Americans could hear news reports from the battlefields while the battles were still being fought? Radio made it possible. World War II was the first major war to occur after radio was developed. And, because World War II news was “on the air,” it reached audiences around the world faster and more dramatically than news of any previous war. It changed how news was reported, influenced how war was waged, and laid the foundation for today’s 24/7 news coverage. This presentation will include audio clips of World War II news reports by legendary broadcasters such as Edward R. Murrow, Harry Reasoner, Charles Collingwood, George Hicks, and others. 

Equipment needs: Sound system that will accept audio input from a laptop, audio cassette player, or CD player

 

Music and Musicians in the American Civil War

This presentation is interspersed with Civil War era tunes performed by a small ensemble of musicians playing lap dulcimers, banjos, and other instruments. It focuses on the assertion of some music historians that the Civil War was “America’s most musical war” and perhaps “the most musical war ever, anywhere.” More than 2,000 new musical compositions were published in the first year of the war. Some 80,000 men served as musicians in the Union and Confederate armies. And, many of the Civil War’s favorite tunes are still popular today. 

Equipment needs: Sound system with multiple microphones is helpful but not required

 

Available as virtual programs: No

Dr. Kathryn West
Dr. Kathryn West
Professor of English, Bellarmine University
Louisville, KY

Phone: (502) 744-9123
Email: kwest@bellarmine.edu

Women's History

The Journey to Women's Suffrage

Women's Suffrage in the United States was achieved through the convergence of many varied and winding paths.  Before the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, many women could vote, but by 1807 that right had been abolished in all states. In those early years of the 1800s, it was not considered appropriate for women to speak in public, and married women could not own property nor did they have rights to their wages if they worked, yet women were also believed to be the moral center of family life. This position led them to advocate for Abolition, Temperance, Dress Reform, Prison Reform, Property Rights, Free Love and Free Thinking, and Spiritualism, among others. Even the 1890s Bicycle Craze played a role! From Seneca Falls to the adoption of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, just 100 years ago, this presentation highlights how women came to voice, learned to organize, and eventually achieved Women's Suffrage (they called it Woman Suffrage) through decades of work and many, many intersecting movements, organizations, and events.  Featured are a number of women who "rocked the vote" even before they could vote, such as, of course, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul, but also Victoria Woodhull, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Stone, and Kentucky's own Laura Clay.

 

Equipment needs: Projector, screen

Jeff Worley
Jeff Worley
Kentucky Poet Laureate
Lexington, KY

Phone: (859) 277-0257
Email: jworley@uky.edu

Poetry

Voices from Home: A Reading of Kentucky Poets

In this presentation Worley will read poems from modern and contemporary poets from the state and will provide historical and personal background on those writers. The starting point for the reading will be the anthology What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. Among the poets included are Wendell Berry, Kathleen Driskell, Jane Gentry, James Baker Hall, George Ella Lyon, Maurice Manning, Richard Taylor, and Frank X Walker. These poets have had an active literary presence in the state for decades; several have served as Kentucky Poet Laureate. Worley will also feature the work of younger Kentucky poets who have gained recognition and acclaim for their work. 

 

A Poetry Presentation by Jeff Worley

Worley will read from his books, which have won national, regional, and state prizes. Part of this presentation includes a discussion of how poems get written, the poetic process—a discussion focused not only on Worley’s own poems but also the work of other poets. Where do poems come from? How is a writer inspired to write his or her poems? What literary influences come into play in the writing of poems? How real is “writer’s block?” What techniques can overcome it? This part of the program will be interactive, involving the writing experiences of those attending the reading.

 

Equipment needs: Microphone (unless it is a small group)

Available as virtual programs: No