Telling Kentucky's Story

Speakers Roster


Constance Alexander Constance Alexander
Kentucky Writer & Columnist
Murray, KY

Work Phone: 270.753.9279

History & Writing

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

On December 7, 1941, the USA 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.

Betsy McCall, June Cleaver & Brenda Starr, Reporter

Constance Alexander has been writing an award-winning newspaper column called Main Street since 1989. Her work addresses a range of topics, from the light-hearted to the life-changing, each one part of a unique autobiography that reflects experience and insights associated with growing up in a small New Jersey town in the 1950s and '60s and moving to Kentucky in 1988. The presentation includes excerpts from her memoir Who Needs June Cleaver? and also invites discussion of the changing role of women and media in rural America.

Equipment needs: Microphone and podium

Morgan Atkinson Morgan C. Atkinson
Documentary Writer & Producer
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.637.7840
Home Phone: 502.553.5098

Kentucky History & Culture

Wonder: The Lives of Anna and Harlan Hubbard

This presentation includes the viewing of Atkinson's documentary about Anna and Harlan Hubbard, an examination of the lives of these two remarkable Kentuckians who lived for 40 years on the banks of the Ohio. The Hubbards lived life as few people in modern times have and in doing so accomplished at least two things that are very rare: contentment and freedom. In a house they built by hand, sustained by food they raised or caught, aided by no electricity or modern "convenience," the Hubbards met the world on their own terms and found deep meaning. Wonder considers the Hubbard's astonishing life of freedom and what it says to Americans today. The documentary has appeared on KET.

Equipment needs: Video projector

Thomas Merton: A Kentuckian Claimed by the World

Atkinson has developed two documentaries on Thomas Merton. These documentaries bring to life the inspiring thought of the Trappist monk who was considered one of the 20th century's most important spiritual writers. This presentation features highlights of the two documentaries and illustrates Merton's growth as a spiritual thinker. Among the featured interviews is one with the Dalai Lama, who was a personal friend of Merton's.

Michael Austin Michael Austin
Profesor of Philosophy, Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY

Work Phone: 859.622.1022
Home Phone: 859.979.1355 (cell)


Social Media and the Pursuit of Happiness

A central part of a happy life is having deep relationships with others. One reason for the success of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is that they provide new avenues of communication with others in our own community and around the world. In many ways, the value of these technologies depends on us. We can choose how to use them to foster deep relationships. However, they can also undermine our ability to connect with others. In this talk, Austin will discuss the pros and cons of social media, from a moral and psychological point of view. Austin will also offer some practical advice for using social media in a way that supports, rather than undermines, our pursuit of happiness.

Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint is preferred, but not required

Becoming Good

In recent years, there has been a renewal of interest concerning character. Character matters. Companies and colleges are not just concerned with the credentials of prospective employees and students, but with their character. For all of the concern about character, we focus less on how to develop it. In this presentation, Professor Austin will share what psychology, philosophy, and many of the world's great wisdom traditions have to say about building character.

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

Work Phone: 270.350.8816 (cell)
Home Phone: 270.522.6996


Revolutionary War in a Trunk

This hands-on, interactive program is fun for all ages! Mr. Baggett brings an old wooden trunk full of daily necessities and military items from the Revolutionary War period. These items include camp tools and equipment, clothing, and other everyday necessities. This trunk full of 18th century "treasures" helps bring to life the reality of living on the Virginia and Kentucky frontier in the 1770s. 

Equipment needs: Table for books

The Revolution in Western Kentucky

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 and table for books

Wes Berry Wes Berry
Kentucky Writer
Bowling Green, KY

Home Phone: 270.202.0228 (cell)

Cuisine & Culture

Adventures in Kentucky Barbecue

"If you can kill it, I can cook it," barbecue man Red Seavers of Southern Red's Bar-B-Que boasted when Berry ate at the southwest Kentucky barbecue joint—one of more than 200 he's visited. In that one sentence, Red summed up Kentucky's overall liberal approach to cooking critters with heat from wood and coals. In this presentation, the "Hungry Professor" surveys Kentucky's wildly variable regional barbecue traditions with a slide show and tales of the people, places, and plates he's encountered all over the state while researching The Kentucky Barbecue Book. 

Equipment needs: Projector with computer attachment is preferred, but not required

Adventures in Homesteading: Blunders, Wonders, & Abundant Cucumbers

When country-raised Kentuckian Wes marries animal-loving Elisa (a town-raised Floridian), the fun begins. Like when Elisa digs a bathing pool for new piglets who turn it into a toilet; or their rescue of a homeless donkey and the frustrating months following as donkey Clyde molests the sheep; or several cases of animal death that oddly occur when friends visit. Inspired by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry, these Berrys attempt to raise much of their own meat and vegetables. The learning process has brought successes and a series of humorous and unfortunate events. In this presentation, Wes and Elisa share their philosophy of eating animals raised in healthy conditions and slaughtered at home as humanely as possible, along with a slide show of their homesteading (mis)adventures. 

 Equipment needs: Projector with computer attachment is preferred, but not required


David J. Bettez David J. Bettez
Kentucky Writer
Georgetown, KY

Work Phone: 859.227.8136 (cell)
Home Phone: 502.868.0099


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

Based on Bettez's book, Kentucky and the Great War, this presentation looks at the domestic side of World War I: how Kentuckians rallied to support the war effort. Bettez covers initial reactions to the war, especially as they affected the many Kentuckians of German heritage, and describes how the Kentucky Council of Defense and local county councils created and led Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns, and food and conservation efforts. Other topics include resistance to the war, the draft, and the impact of the new Camp Zachary Taylor south of Louisville. Everyone was expected to support the war. Bettez discusses the support roles of women, children, African Americans, religions, and educational institutions. He also talks about some of the Kentucky men and women who served during the war.

Equipment needs: Computer, projector and screen for PowerPoint presentation

Kentucky Marine: Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC

This discussion is based on Bettez’s book, Kentucky Marine: Major General Logan Feland and the Making of the Modern USMC. In the early 20th century, Logan Feland was a nationally-known hero and leader in the Marine Corps. A Hopkinsville native, Feland was an MIT graduate in architecture who served in the Kentucky State Guard, then entered the United States Marine Corps. Bettez traces Feland's contributions to the Marine Corps and his career development on Marine Corps expeditions. The talk covers Feland's service during World War I, when he earned the nation's second highest military award — the Distinguished Service Cross — for his bravery under fire during the Battle of Belleau Wood.

Equipment needs: Computer, projector and screen for PowerPoint presentation

Bobbie Smith Bryant Bobbie Smith Bryant
Kentucky Writer
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.494.7076 (cell)
Home Phone: 502.244.6250

Kentucky History & Culture

200 Years of Life in the Black Patch

An educational overview of the past 200 years of farm life, this presentation features the social and cultural aspects of a 10-generation, western Kentucky farm family. Learn about the elements of daily living on the farm that shaped traditions and families, from early settlement to modern times.

Cooking the Kentucky Way

Dining customs and tasty food have a long history in Kentucky. Learn about the traditions of living off the land and making do with resources at hand. Experience the traditions of cooking and serving as an expression of love for your family through personal gifts and talents.

Dark-Fired Tobacco: A Kentucky Tradition

This informative presentation gives a brief overview of tobacco's history from prehistoric times through the Black Patch Wars of the early 20th century. The audience will learn the process of tobacco cultivation, specifically the dark-fired production process, found only is this area of western Kentucky and Tennessee.

Quilting: A Legacy of Love

Learn how the simple act of making something beautiful from scraps gave women a voice in the days when they had little or none. This presentation pays tribute to the great quilters we have in Kentucky. Participants will get an overview of quilting as craft and learn about the impact of quilting on women in America.

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

Work Phone: 502.272.7480
Home Phone: 502.299.7156 (cell)


Mattie Griffith Browne: Kentucky Abolitionist & Suffragist

Mattie Griffith Browne was a driven, self-motivated woman from Kentucky. Born into 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. Yet she freed the slaves she inherited. Browne is best known for her book, Autobiography of a Female Slave, followed by Madge Vertner, published in serial form in the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Browne gives us an insight into the thoughts and fears of the slave, Ann, in her book. She took a great risk in writing a book that would provide sympathy for the enslaved Africans throughout the South. She took an even greater risk in freeing her slaves. Though largely unknown, Browne was an important figure who provided a voice for the abolitionist movement in Kentucky and the nation.

Women of the Settlement Schools in Eastern Kentucky

Late in the 19th century, women from central Kentucky and New England were instrumental in creating centers of learning in southeastern Kentucky called settlement schools. Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan started Caney Creek Community Center, which eventually became Alice Lloyd College, a private work-study college in Pippa Passes. Katherine Pettit and May Stone started the Hindman Settlement School in 1902. Other settlement schools include Pine Mountain Settlement School, Lotts Creek Community School, Henderson Settlement School, Redbird Mission School, Stuart Robinson School and Kingdom Come School. Many of these schools are still in existence, though some have a new mission. These women often spent the rest of their lives in these small, rural communities in Appalachia, dedicated to the education of the people in the mountains of Kentucky. This presentation will share their story and their legacies.

Diane Calhoun-French Diane Calhoun-French
Professor & Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jefferson Community & Technical College
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.213.2621
Home Phone: 502.500.2176 (cell)

Kentucky History & Culture

Mysterious Women

Women writers have always excelled in popular mystery fiction—from the "golden age" of Agatha Christie to modern-day heroines created by authors like Kentuckian Sue Grafton. Come explore with Calhoun-French why this genre has always been dominated by women writers and who some of the best of them—both old and new—are. Be prepared to discuss favorites of your own.

Equipment needs: Video projector/screen

Margaret Mitchell's Tara: Myth and Reality

Perhaps no home in popular American literature is more famous than Margaret Mitchell's Tara, the home of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. This presentation will examine Mitchell's Tara, David O. Selznick's interpretation of Tara in the 1939 film, and Tara as an icon that continues to wield its power even today.

Equipment needs: Video projector/screen

Gary Cieradkowski Gary Cieradkowski
Kentucky Writer, Publisher/Editor
Fort Thomas, KY

Home Phone: 714.872.0289

Sports & Culture

Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes

This presentation mixes the illustrations from Cieradkowski's book The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes with a discussion about the game's interesting characters: from Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax, of whom Cieradkowski tells the story of what they did before they were famous, to little known characters like Kitty Burke, a Kentucky night club singer who is the only female to have batted in a major league game. As the author and illustrator of a future book on Kentucky baseball history, Gary will also include stories about players with regional connections.

Equipment needs: Screen, projector and computer for PowerPoint

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

Work Phone: 859.620.8846 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.431.1341

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.

Equipment needs: Microphone and a small table

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.

Equipment needs: Microphone and a small table

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 and a small table

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

Work Phone: 270.992.2727 (cell)
Home Phone: 270.247.8960


War of Words

Before Kentuckians marched off to the Civil War, newspaper editors throughout the state waged a war of words. Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, and other towns had competing unionist and secessionist papers. In 1861, Kentucky had about 60 newspapers; close to half were pro-Confederate, which helped make the secessionist cause look stronger than it ever was. Loyalties were divided in Kentucky, but the rebel press was unable to overcome the state's deep devotion to the Union. The hottest verbal battling was in Louisville between George D. Prentice, editor of the Louisville Journal, the state's most important Union paper, and Walter N. Halderman, who ran the Louisville Courier, the state's main secessionist journal.

Equipment needs: Podium

Death Diary of a Doughboy

Penciled inside the front cover of Pvt. Robert McCune's World War I diary is a request: "Notice—If I am shot will the person who finds this book please send it to the address on the next page. Thank you." The handwriting is hard to read. The message is punctured; a faded brown stain covers most of the words. The stain is the soldier's blood. The German bullet that killed him made the hole. McCune, a 22-year-old Paducah Doughboy, fell near Soissons, France, on July 18, 1918. The diary was returned to his grandmother in Paducah. Buried in a military cemetery in France, McCune was reinterred in Paducah's Oak Grove Cemetery in 1921. It was American Legion Post 31's first military service.

Equipment needs: Podium

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

Work Phone: 859.257.6983
Home Phone: 859.594.6428 (cell)


Speaking Our Piece: Language Variation in Kentucky

Kentucky is located at a particularly interesting crossroads in the linguistic landscape of the United States. This talk 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.

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

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

Jerry Deaton Jerry Deaton
Kentucky Writer & Filmmaker
Frankfort, KY

Home Phone: 502.229.1249

Kentucky History

Appalachian America of Yesterday and Today

This program includes story telling techniques that are used to describe the cultural and historical aspects of life in the Appalachian America of yesterday and today. The discussion includes readings from Deaton's books on eastern Kentucky, Appalachian Ghost Stories and Kentucky Boy, as well as clips from his two films on the area, The Feuds of Bloody Breathitt and Harry Caudill, A Man of Courage. The program concludes with a Q & A on Appalachian culture and the telling of an old time mountain ghost story.

Equipment needs: DVD player, microphone if room is large.

Tales from Bloody Breathitt: Ghosts of Appalachia

The author reads ghost stories from his book Tales of Bloody Breathitt and discusses the mountain culture he grew up in that valued and thrived on story telling. 

Terry Foody Terry Foody
Kentucky Writer
Lexngton, KY

Work Phone: 859.539.6325 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.277.5291

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. This program traces the lives of each: 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 from Jackson to Lincoln, in Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma. Foody illuminates their accomplishments and escapades through articles, letters and interviews.

Equipment needs: Projector and screen for PowerPoint

Heroes in Disaster: The 1833 Lexington Cholera Epidemic in Lexington, Kentucky, with Lessons for Today

During the 19th century, cholera raged through the United States several times, and Kentucky had very high fatality rates. In 1833, cholera killed one-tenth of Lexington's population in just a few weeks. Foody examines the devastation in Lexington from many angles—environmental, commercial, social, and medical. She will discuss early altruistic efforts, the black woman behind the white hero, founding of orphan asylum, and societal trends revealed in death reports. Despite great medical advances, cholera is still a worldwide killer. Foody explains why and compares it to other threatening global diseases, such as SARS, Ebola and pandemic flu.

Equipment needs: Microphone, screen

Mary Hamilton Mary Hamilton
Kentucky Writer
Franfort, KY

Work Phone: 502.223.4523


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

Daryl Harris Daryl L. Harris
Associate Professor Dept. of Theatre & Dance
Northern Kentucky University
Newport, KY

Work Phone: 859.572.1472
Home Phone: 859.250.1153 (cell)

African American History

Wanted Freedom--Dead or Alive!

This talk explores and honors the lives and legacies of Kentucky travelers on the Underground Railroad. Rare newspaper "wanted notices for runaways" that provide detailed insight into these courageous individuals inspired this talk. These and other archival newspaper clippings along with texts from "Slave Narratives," poems, and Negro spirituals give further texture to the lives, personalities, and plights of those who sought freedom by any means necessary, some via the Underground Railroad, others via the "Train to Glory."

Lift Evr'y Voice and Sing!

For African Americans throughout the country, spirituals were the soundtracks upon which the Underground Railroad movement rolled. Freedom songs helped pave the way toward true liberation. Because of its geographical and political positioning, Kentucky gave birth to its own unique musical expressions. Not all African Americans in Kentucky were enslaved; therefore the reservoir of folk culture from which they drew their characteristic forms of expression was rich and deep—often without fixed boundaries between the sacred and the secular. In this talk, Harris takes the audience on a musical history tour through hurt, healing, and happiness. 

Free at Last! Free at Last!

This presentation surveys the history of African Americans from Africa to today through the dramatic reading of poetry, archival slave narratives, news clippings, political speeches, and archival "runaway slave ads," interspersed with "Negro Spirituals" and other traditional songs. While the format of this talk is nontraditional, the content is both informative and engaging.

Doug Henry Doug Henry
8th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Shepherdsville, KY

Home Phone: 219.793.5022

Kentucky History

Battle of Perryville: High Tide of the Confederacy in Kentucky

The Battle of Perryville is often missed as the pivotal battle whose outcome could have changed the outcome of the war in Kentucky, and maybe even the Civil War itself. Although there had been skirmishes and raids in Kentucky previously, the Battle of Perryville marked the first time that both the Union and the Confederacy massed significant troops and resources to achieve a decisive end. The irony of the battlefield, however, is that the unique acoustics and terrain of the battlefield prevented both Union and Confederate commanders from massing their forces and weapons in the typical war fighting techniques of the time. This talk provides a study of commanders and their leadership philosophies for both Union and Confederate forces, a study of Civil War tactics involving the employment of muskets, rifles, cannon, and cavalry, a study of the atypical terrain of Perryville, and the effect the battle had on both Kentucky and the rest of the nation immediately following the battle.

Brother against Brother: The Fight for the Soul of Kentucky during the Civil War

More than any other state, the unique social and geographic position of Kentucky created unparalleled familial and societal schisms. Beginning with President Lincoln, and running all the way to the lowest social rungs, families were torn apart. President Lincoln's own brothers-in-law from Kentucky fought against him. Other Kentucky families lost property, relocated, and reestablished themselves in other parts of Kentucky or even outside the state to avoid the conflict. Kentucky's vital role as a resource for both the North and the South created an incomparable tension that reverberated economically, politically, and, most importantly, societally. This talk provides anecdotal stories of the Kentucky families torn apart by the war and examines both the effect on Kentucky and the rest of the nation.

Equipment needs: Project and screen, microphone if venue is large

George Herring George Herring
Professor Emeritus
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859.492.0332 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.373.9001


An Ordinary Soldier in an Extraordinary War

The years 2017-2018 mark the centennial of America's involvement in the Great War. This talk tells the story of an ordinary soldier in that war, a young doughboy drafted out of college in 1918. After training in Texas, he was sent to Europe. As a runner, one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army, he took part in the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne, the latter the most costly action of any American foreign war. Following the armistice, he served in the occupation army in Germany for six months, a challenge in its own way as difficult as combat. This young man was Herring's father. His story is based on letters he wrote home and a pocket diary he kept while in Europe. It provides a fascinating soldier's eye look at the "war to end all wars."

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen for PowerPoint

America's War in Vietnam: A 50 Year Retrospective

On the 50th anniversary of America's war in Vietnam, it seems appropriate to seek the perspective that time and distance can give. In this talk, Herring explores how we got into Vietnam, what we sought to do there, and why, ultimately, we failed. Herring focuses especially on why this war was so traumatic for our nation and why still 50 years later it continues to haunt us and shape our response to world events. 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen for PowerPoint

Steven Hoffman Steven A. Hoffman
Executive Director Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts
Danville, KY

Home Phone: 859.583.1390

Culture & Communications

Community Resources + Cultural Programs = A Deepened Community Dialogue

Every community is unique in its resources. While there may be deficiencies in one area, there are abundances in others. Artists and cultural programs have been used in towns large and small to positively change community dialogue and build relationships through relevancy. Hoffman provides examples of how one small rural community has made a difference in bringing people together and has deepened, broadened and diversified its community engagement audiences through strategic cultural programming for schools, targeted service organizations and groups, and the overall community.

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen

Celebrating Each Other's Cultures

In 2014, the Norton Center for the Arts presented a Japan Festival that featured a delegation of over one dozen community members from Yamaguchi, Japan, including the first appearance in the USA in over 100 years by their cherished, traditional Sagi-ryu Kyogen Theatre company. In 2016, a reciprocal cultural exchange was organized in Yamaguchi that featured a Kentucky bluegrass band and other Kentucky cultural treasures. This presentation provides insights as to how the activities were organized, the breadth and diversity of programming for each excursion, why these exchanges were relevant and significant, and the benefits from these cultural exchanges. 

Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen 

Gaye Holman Gaye D Holman
Kentucky Writer
Louisville, KY



Decades Behind Bars: A 20-Year Conversation with Men in America's Prisons

Beginning in 1994, Holman—a college sociology professor—recorded the personal stories of 50 men incarcerated in Kentucky prisons. She finished her work in 2014 with the 17 men remaining incarcerated for over two decades. The conversations are balanced with input from correctional officers, prison administrators, chaplains, and parole board members. In this presentation, Holman helps the audience look at the policy of long-term incarceration and discusses the circumstances that save some inmates and destroy others. She presents insights for possible improvements in the criminal justice system, changes which she believes begin with the everyday citizen.

James  Hood James Larry Hood
Adjunct History Professor
Midway University
Nicholasville, KY

Work Phone: 859.351.1030 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.223.9825

Kentucky Culture & Politics

What is a Kentuckian?

This is a humorous and informative look at the enduring images Kentuckians and others have of the state and its people - from that of barefoot, warring hillbillies to southern aristocrats. The presentation will touch on Kentucky's core values of family and home, individualism and community, basketball and horse racing, snake handlers and mega churches, tobacco and whiskey and wine, yellow dog Democrats and dastardly Republicans. Kentucky will be presented as the nation's true borderland and heart.

Equipment Needed: Podium

Kentucky in American Politics: the Building of a Nation

This presentation recounts Kentucky's participation in the wars that forged the American nation: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. It notes the Kentuckians who have led the national legislature and describes how Kentuckians' votes in national elections have been reflective of country-wide trends.

Dr. Pearlie  Johnson Dr. Pearlie M. Johnson
Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies and Art History
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.852.0145
Home Phone: 502.298.9234 (cell)

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 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 and overhead projector

Becky Kelley Becky Kelley
Kentucky Writer
Shepherdsville, KY

Work Phone: 502.428.9390 (cell)
Home Phone: 502.955.8143

Kentucky Culture

The History of the Wine Industry in Kentucky

When people think of a state connected with wine, California is often the first thought. Many people do not know that the first commercial vineyard and winery started in Kentucky in 1798. This talk takes the audience through that era up to Prohibition and touches on the re-emergence of grapes as a cash crop in Kentucky. 

Equipment needs: Projector

The Wine Industry in Kentucky

This talk focuses on the present day wine industry in Kentucky. The talk includes a quick summation of the wine industry up to Prohibition. Kelley wil also look at things put in place that provided for the re-emergence of grapes and wine in Kentucky. Interviews with winery owners and people connected to the wine industry are included.

Equipment needs: Projector

James Klotter James C. Klotter
State Historian of Kentucky, Professor of History
Georgetown College
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 502.863.8076
Home Phone: 859.277.4572

Kentucky History

Kentucky's Settlement and Statehood

In 1792 Kentucky became a state. But much had occurred before statehood. Who were those who immigrated here? Why did they come? What problems did they face? How did statehood evolve? Did Kentuckians consider other options? Answers to those questions tell us much about not only the better-known Boones and Kentons but also about the little-known men, women, and children, both black and white, whose stories are just as crucial. They are all part of the Kentucky story of the past; they are all part of our own story, now.

Equipment needs: Podium, PowerPoint is optional

None Born Wise: Why History Matters

A person wrote in the 24th century BC, "Teach him what was said in the past, for there is none born wise." Now, thousands of years later, that remains true, and we ignore such lessons at our peril. As more and more call out for support of the sciences and math, attention is drawn away from the need for history in our schools and in our everyday life. Yet what is more crucial to our people than a knowledge of history? In this talk, the State Historian of Kentucky discusses why we need history and how it is important to us as a people and as a democracy.

Equipment needs: Podium

Stephanie Knipper Stephanie Knipper
Kentucky Writer
Independence, KY

Work Phone: 859.801.5344 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.282.0764

Writing & Humanities

Truth Telling Through Fiction

Author Stephanie Knipper based much of her debut novel, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin, on her experiences raising a severely disabled child. Through fiction, Knipper gives readers a glimpse of the difficulties and joys of raising a special needs child. Knipper and her husband adopted their daughter, Grace, from China in 2005, unaware of her disabilities. Following an excerpt from her book, Knipper discusses the inspiration behind her novel and her transformation from someone who didn't believe she could parent a disabled child to someone who adopted five special needs children from China.

Equipment needs: Microphone

The Importance of the Humanities in a STEM World

In a world that's become increasingly focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) it may seem as though there's no room for the humanities. Knipper, author of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin, argues that the contrary is true. In our current climate of political turmoil and scientific growth, we need the humanities more than ever. Knipper discusses what has happened in societies that suppress—or worse, attempt to abolish—the humanities.

Equipment needs: Microphone

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

Home Phone: 859.935.5153


From Barbed Wire to 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 shape Holocaust education for all Kentucky students. This interactive presentation concludes with the lighting of six yellow candles, a tradition of some Holocaust remembrance ceremonies.

The Speed of Art

Hattie Speed married late in life and when her husband died, she poured her heart into creating a lasting memorial to him, which became Kentucky's leading art museum. Today, The Speed in Louisville has internationally recognized collections. Speed also financially supported the education of the first African-American nursing students in the state. Sprinkle in a family kidnapping and you have a unique story of love, intrigue, and art. This presentation includes photos from the Speed collection.

Kentucky Women Who Stood Up—and One Who "Lay Down”

Kentucky women have used words in stories, speeches, and verse to bring beauty, vision, and change to the Commonwealth. Some wrote poetic verse, like Effie Waller Smith, an African-American poet. Some wrote musical verse like Florence Reece. Some did great behind-the-scenes work, like Anne Caudill whose husband, Harry, penned Night Comes to the Cumberlands. This presentation includes interactive readings from the Kentucky women, and the surprise ending of one Kentucky woman who literally laid down in front of a bulldozer only to later stand up at the White House.

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

Work Phone: 502.564.1792
Home Phone: 270.839.1691 (cell)

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.

Equipment needs: Computer and projector

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 and projector

Nora Moosnick Nora Moosnick
Kentucky Writer
Lexington, KY

Home Phone: 859.338.4065 (cell)

Culture, Religion & Identity

Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky

Based on her book, Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity, this talk focuses on Arab and Jewish families, some of whom peddle their way through Kentucky communities to establish themselves in the new world. Unlike previously told stories of the southern Jewish peddler, this talk centers on women and their role in family businesses. It also highlights parallels between the lives of Jews and Arabs in Kentucky, a place where their presence is often overlooked. Moosnick uses oral histories to tell the stories of 10 Arab and Jewish women whose families currently or at one time had stores in Kentucky. She shares the stories of Jews and Christian Arabs who are long-time residents and compares them with those of Muslim women relatively new to the state.

Equipment needs: PowerPoint projector and screen

Confronting Stereotypes of Arabs and Jews

Strong images come to mind when thinking about Arabs and Jews and their religions, ethnicities, and lands. Arabs are in the public eye and thought to be "foreign" and Muslim, an attitude that neglects the many Arabs who may be Christian or secular and not foreign at all. A similar homogenization might apply to Jews as well insofar as Americans understand them in relation to the Holocaust or Israel. This talk is based on the book Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Accommodation and Audacity and discusses the stereotypes confronting Arabs and Jews in the U.S. more broadly and specifically those in Kentucky.

Equipment needs: PowerPoint projector and screen

William Mulligan William Mulligan
Professor of History
Murray State University
Murray, KY

Work Phone: 270.809.6571
Home Phone: 270.519.0038


George Washington, Businessman

We know George Washington as our first president and as the leader of the Army during the Revolution. He is a heroic figure, almost a demi-god. But he was also a younger son of a middling planter who did not receive much education or inheritance. Yet, by 1775 Washington was one of the wealthiest men in the colonies, if not the wealthiest. As a businessman, he was innovative and willing to make changes and take calculated risks. It also led him to wrestle with the morality of slavery. Mulligan looks at how Washington's character as a businessman prepared him for his role as the successful leader of the United States' revolution for independence from the most powerful nation on earth and to be founder of a democratic nation. 

Kentucky and the War of 1812

Nearly all U.S. history textbooks heavily stress the impressment of American sailors on the high seas and other maritime violations of U.S. sovereignty as the cause of the War of 1812. In this talk, Mulligan suggests, and demonstrates from contemporary evidence, that the real cause was western unhappiness over British-supported Indian raids on the frontier that devastated settlements. Nowhere was this sentiment stronger than in Kentucky. The senators and congressmen from "western" states voted overwhelmingly for war; those from the states most involved in maritime trade and commerce largely opposed war. Two of every three American casualties were Kentuckians. The case is clear. Plus, the overall success  of the Americans in the west, largely the work of Kentucky troops, guaranteed a successful outcome in the peace talks. 

Equipment needs: PowerPoint projector and screen

Duane Murner Duane Murner
Retired Judge Executive
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.292.2701

Kentucky History

John Cabell Breckinridge

John Cabell Breckinridge was born to a prominent Kentucky family at Cabell's Dale, a 2,000-acre farm north of Lexington. He was the youngest Vice President in the nation's history, elected at age 35. He subsequently became a U.S. Senator for Kentucky, and then joined the Confederacy to serve in the Civil War. He became a Mayor General and was promoted to Secretary of War for the Confederacy. After the War he and his family were exiled to Canada because he had sworn allegiance to the Union and then to the Confederacy. He finally returned to his beloved Kentucky where he died at age 54. 

Equipment needs: Projector and screen for PowerPoint presentation

Cassius Marcellus Clay

Cassius Clay was born in 1810 into what was at the time the richest family in Kentucky. Much of the family's wealth came from slaves and Cassius went against his family to become a brilliant and passionate writer and speaker on behalf of Emancipation. President Lincoln sent him from Washington to Kentucky to prepare the Kentucky Legislature for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Cassius killed several men during his life in defense of himself or his views on Emancipation. He became Ambassador to Russia which broke up his family. He later divorced his wife and, at age 84, married his 15-year-old maid. Near the end of his life Cassius was formally declared a lunatic by his county's Fiscal Court. 

Equipment needs: Projector and screen for PowerPoint presentation

Carol Peachee Carol Peachee
Kentucky Writer & Photographer
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859.338.5757
Home Phone: 859.559.2453

Kentucky Culture

A Photographic Tour of the Bourbon Industry's Heritage

Photographer Carol Peachee has spent the last seven years exploring the cultural and industrial heritage of bourbon making. For The Birth of Bourbon she photographed early distilleries, abandoned or currently operating National Historic Landmark sites. In Straight Bourbon she went behind the scenes to explore the rich craft heritage of bourbon's supporting industries that operate today using methods and techniques little-changed from the early 1900s. In this talk, Peachee shares her experiences photographing the early distilleries and the crafts of copper still makers, cooperages, warehouse builds, and historic mills.

Equipment needs: Projector and laptop

Barns of Kentucky

For her third photography book, photographer Carol Peachee traveled Kentucky photographing historic barns of all types, ethnic cultures, building materials, and architectural designs. Join her as she shares her images of these iconic symbols of Kentucky's agricultural heritage (to be published in 2019). 

Equipment needs: Projector and laptop

Christopher Phillips Christopher Phillips
Professor of History
University of Cincinnati
Glendale, OH

Work Phone: 513.556.2146
Home Phone: 513.509.1774 (cell)

Kentucky History

Southern Cross, North Star: How Post-Civil War Politics Made the Ohio River a Border After the Fact

Most Americans imagine the Civil War in terms of clear and defined boundaries of freedom and slavery: a straightforward division between the slave states of Kentucky and Missouri and the free states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas. However, residents of these western border states, Abraham Lincoln's home region, had far more ambiguous identities—and contested political loyalties—than we commonly assume. Phillips explains how, far from forming a fixed and static boundary between the North and South, these border states experienced fierce internal conflicts over their political and social loyalties.

Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint

Kentucky's Private Civil War: The Politics of Allegiance in an Occupied State

In many parts of the nation, communities went to war. In Kentucky, the war came to communities. This talk focuses on the aspects of the Civil War in Kentucky that are less well known, in which loyalty politics deeply affected the state during the war and for many years after. In the mesh of conflicting stances and allegiances across the middle border, the war hastened their realignments into newly fashioned "communities of allegiance," aligned according to their war loyalties and comprised of discrete networks that competed for local legitimacy as the lines of military and governmental authority developed around them.

Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint

Travel: Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Tammy Horn Potter Tammy Horn Potter
Kentucky State Apiarist, President Emeritus of Eastern Apiculture Society
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 502.229.2950
Home Phone: 859.200.2207

Environment & History

Angels of Agriculture: Apiculture in 21st Century Kentucky

In response to federal initiatives, Kentucky's new Pollinator Protection Plan outlines multi-stakeholder efforts to increase habitat, promote communication with landowners, beekeepers and applicators, and provide educational opportunities to all citizens. Although this presentation focuses on honey bees, it will also include other pollinators such as monarch butterflies and other types of bees. Apiculture is agriculture, and Kentucky's shift to provide more habitat for pollinators of the Commonwealth is multi-faceted and involves everyone. 

Equipment needs: Computer, projector and microphone

Women and Bees

The demographics on apiculture have always shifted with political winds of fortune, and more recently, women beekeepers have changed the U.S. industry in research, migratory beekeeping, and extension both domestic and international. This presentation focuses on the historical importance of women beekeepers as well as current and future trends such as the organic movement that make beekeeping more feasible and less arduous for all people because of the influx of women beekeepers. 

Equipment needs: Computer, projector and microphone

Robert Powell Robert A. Powell
Kentucky Writer
Danville, KY

Home Phone: 859.319.9426 (cell)

Kentucky History

It Happened in Kentucky

This program is based on material included in Powell's book, It Happened Today! In Kentucky History. Powell displays an array of pen & ink drawings of Kentucky landmarks, as well as books about Kentucky. The book includes trivia about events, places and people connected with Kentucky from 1750-2016, and Powell gives an overview of information and anecdotes tailored to the specific area where the presentation takes place. The talk includes fascinating tidbits of data from Kentucky's rich and colorful history. The book presents trivia in a daily journal format, for every day of the year and something from every county in Kentucky. 

Equipment needs: Tables to display artwork

Kentucky Governors

This presentation includes basic information, vital statistics, and interesting trivia about some of the interesting personalities who have served as Kentucky chief executive. Based on Powell's book, Kentucky Governors, the presentation will include portraits by Powell, as well as biographical sketches, birth and death dates, political activities and affiliation, along with brief genealogical notes and some interesting career highlights. 

Equipment needs: Tables to display artwork

Eddie Price Eddie Price
Kentucky Writer, Educator
Hawesville, KY

Work Phone: 270.922.1326 (cell)
Home Phone: 270.927.0471

Kentucky History & Writing

Homemaking on the Kentucky Frontier

Think you have it hard? Imagine life without electricity, running water, gas heat, or air conditioning; a world without refrigeration, modern medicine, TV, motion pictures, automobiles, and computers. Using historic home utensils, furnishings and tools, Eddie Price takes you back to the Kentucky frontier to explain how pioneers made and maintained their homes. A slideshow illustrates just how hard pioneers had to work to do the simple, everyday things in life. 

Equipment needs: Laptop and projector, table for tools and home implements

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."

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." 

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 and projector with screen requested

Nancy Richey Nancy Richey
Associate Professor, Reading Room Coordinator/Visual Resources Librarian
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY

Work Phone: 270.745.6092
Home Phone: 270.784.1443 (cell)

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 Ranger. A Muhlenberg County, Kentucky native, Rager's tune, "Walkin' the Strings" said much about his ability. Known for developing a unique thumb-picking style, Merle 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 and microphone

Anne Shelby Anne Shelby
Kentucky Author
Oneida, KY

Home Phone: 606.847.4792

History & Storytelling

Henry Faulkner: Kentucky Artist

During his lifetime, Kentucky artist Henry Faulkner exhibited and sold his work in galleries around the country. Known for his colorful paintings, eccentric behaviors, and famous friends, the artist and poet was born in Simpson County, grew up in an orphanage in Louisville and a foster home in Eastern Kentucky, and lived more than 20 years in Lexington. This talk about Faulkner's life and work includes images of the artist and his paintings, and footage from a documentary-in-progress, Understanding Henry. 

Equipment needs: Screen and projection system for Windows Live Moviemaker, PowerPoint, and DVD

Hearing Kentucky's Voices

Anne Shelby is the author of 10 published books, including poems (Appalachian Studies), stories (The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales), newspaper columns (Can A Democrat Get into Heaven? Politics, Religion and Other Things You Ain't Supposed to Talk About), as well as award-winning books for children (Homeplace, The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree). She is also a playwright and storyteller. In all genres, Shelby's work grows out of Kentucky's rich soil for writers. Her reading features works based on the voices of Kentuckians with something to say and their own unique way of saying it. 

Equipment needs: Podium, table for displaying books

Frederick Smock Frederick Smock
Kentucky Poet Laureate
2001 Newburg Road
Louisville, KY

Work Phone: 502.727.4715


The Nature of Poetry

In original poetry and prose, Kentucky Poet Laureate Frederick Smock explores how poetry works—our capacity to learn and be astonished; what allows us to feel as we do; and how do our feelings and knowing grow. Poetry is often mysterious and ambiguous—but pleasantly so; in this, it mirrors life. 

Equipment needs: Microphone

Ronald Spriggs Ronald Spriggs
Executive Director
Ron Spriggs Exhibit of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Lexington, KY

Home Phone: 859.576.3636


The History of the Tuskegee Airmen

As an oral historian, Mr. Spriggs has traveled throughout United States, England, and to Mexico bringing the history about the Tuskegee Airmen. During his 14 years as an exhibitor and speaker Spriggs has garnered a good collection of stories and experiences shared with him by those who are designated, "Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen."

This presentation is available as a 40-minute talk or a 75-minute lecture and workshop.

Equipment needs: Podium, microphone, stool

Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6

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

Work Phone: 270.745.6260


Faces & Places in Kentucky Quilts & Textiles

Quilts and other textiles frequently use faces and places that are tied to memory and provide a sense of identity, family, or place. In some, these images were based on real life individuals such as President George Washington and Kentuckians Henry Clay, George Rogers Clark, and Robert Penn Warren, while in others they were inspired by fictional characters such as Don Quixote or children, real and or imagined. Examples of "places" found in textiles include state quilts, governmental buildings, churches, and honeymoon cottages.

Equipment needs: Podium, microphone, screen and computer for PowerPoint
Georgia Green Stamper Georgia Green Stamper
Kentucky Writer, NPR Local Commentator
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859.619.5700 (cell)
Home Phone: 859.264.0465


"You Might as Well Laugh," Mother Always Said

"Laughter," Stamper wrote," was my mother's tonic and psychiatrist—and her gift to me." Sometimes called a Kentucky version of Bailey White, Georgia's stories are every man’s—told with a Bluegrass slant. In this entertaining presentation culled from her most popular public radio commentaries and newspaper columns, she discusses the unique role humor has played in shaping Kentuckians' culture and philosophy. The rural folk expression "you might as well laugh" became an intrinsic defense weapon in their battle to survive.

Butter in the Morning: Extraordinary Ordinary Kentuckians

The author of two books (Butter in the Morning and You Can Go Anywhere), Georgia Green Stamper grew up in Wendell Berry country on her family's tobacco farm. In this presentation her understanding and appreciation of the region's character is on display, celebrating the ordinary Kentuckians who called her rural crossroads home. From farmers in bathrobes who taught her the true meaning of the Christmas story, to the Widow Rogers who freed her slaves and gave them both her blessing and wherewithal to immigrate to Liberia, Stamper's people are extraordinary.

Our Stories: Yours and Mine

"Kentuckians are great storytellers," Stamper says. "It may even be an inherited trait." Every family, every community, seems to have a stash of unique and treasured memories passed from one generation to the next. However, in a technology driven society that does not stop to sleep, much less to linger on the front porch telling stories, she worries that our oral heritage will soon be lost. With humor and reflection, she shares tales of her place and kin, encouraging listeners to remember and preserve their own.

Ernest M. Tucker Ernest M. Tucker
Retired Professor, Department of History
Ashland Community College
Ashland, KY

Home Phone: 606.923.8359

Kentucky Folklore

The Frontier Tucker Tragedies

A chance discovery in the papers of Professor Tucker's mother led to an extended search for the stories of two frontier Kentucky Methodist preachers, both named Tucker, who were killed by Native Americans in the early 1790s. It was a violent, brutal time as cultures collided. Tucker speaks of the times, the two families involved, and his quest for information in our electronic age.

Equipment needs: Podium and microphone

The Kitchen: The Warmest Room in the House

From Tucker's extensive collections come these household devices that were supposed to lighten the loads of the average housewife. Used by our grandmothers and our great-grandmothers circa 1900-1940s, they seem quaint by today's standards and not as efficient as we once thought them to be. Electric appliances have replaced almost all of these devices, but they continue to fascinate people who are interested in the past.

Equipment needs: Three tables for display purposes, a wheeled dolly

Margaret Verble Margaret Verble
Kentucky Writer
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859.254.0883
Home Phone: 859.619.1073 (cell)

Writing & Literature

Maud's Line, Writing a Pulitzer Finalist First Novel

Verble's first novel, Maud's Line, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction—an anomaly when you consider that writers spend years publishing before receiving such recognition. Verble talks about writing her first novel, the impact of the Pulitzer decision, and her new novel, to be published in 2018.

The Moral Universe of Maud's Line

The characters of Maud's Line are non-Christian, yet have strong moral orientations. The differences between their morality and the dominant culture's morality is a focal point of interest for most readers.

Eric Weber Eric Thomas Weber
Visiting Associate Professor
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859.257.1849
Home Phone: 662.202.6301 (cell)


What All the States Can Learn from Mississippi

William Faulkner often said that to understand the world, you must understand a place like Mississippi. This talk examines Mississippi's moral and political challenges to consider the ways forward for progress not only in Mississippi, but in any state that struggles with challenges of disunity, racial conflict, and poverty.

Ethics & Leadership

Weber offers distinctions to consider regarding the meaning of the term "leadership," and discusses the central concept that scholars, citizens, and politicians use to classify moral issues and to address them. This presentation serves as an introduction for discussions on a wide variety of matters requiring moral leadership.

Juanita L. White Juanita L. White
Script Writer & Researcher
Louisville, KY

Home Phone: 502.327.7885

African American History

Edith Goodall Wilson: Blues/Jazz Singer and 18-Year Quaker Oats' Aunt Jemima

Edith's professional career began at age 13. Later, she recorded with Columbia Records and performed in Europe both solo and with other notable African Americans (Harlem Renaissance era). She acted in a Bogart/Bacall movie and on radio on the Amos and Andy shows. Quaker Oats had her making television commercials and public appearances for 18 years until they terminated her job during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Gloria Moorman will sing Edith's signature song, "He May Be Your Man But He Comes to See Me Sometimes."

Notorious Slave Dealer Matthew Garrison's Two African American Families

At the corner of 2nd and Main Streets in Louisville stands a Kentucky Historical marker at the site of a slave pen owned by Matthew Garrison, a ruthless businessman. At death, Garrison, a bachelor with no white children, left nothing to his living relatives. He willed his vast estate to two of "his negro women" and their mulatto children. This presentation traces the lines of Mary, a daughter of Garrison, with photographs and a discussion with one of Mary's descendants

Travel: Regions 2, 3, 4, 6
Jeff Worley Jeff Worley
Lexington, KY

Home Phone: 859.277.0257


Voices from Home: A Reading of Kentucky Poets

In this presentation, Worley will read poems by 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, Jeffrey Skinner, 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.

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

A Poetry Presentation by Jeff Worley

Worley will read from his books and chapbooks, which have won national, regional, and state prizes, and some of the more Kentucky-based poems have merited three Al Smith Fellowships. 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? 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 group.

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