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Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series

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Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series

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Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky

Stories of Accommodation and Audacity

Nora Rose Moosnick

Outwardly it would appear that Arab and Jewish immigrants comprise two distinct groups with differing cultural backgrounds and an adversarial relationship. Yet, as immigrants who have settled in communities at a distance from metropolitan areas, both must negotiate complex identities. Growing up in Kentucky as the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Nora Rose Moosnick observed this traditionally mismatched pairing firsthand, finding that, Arab and Jewish immigrants have been brought together by their shared otherness and shared fears. Even more intriguing to Moosnick was the key role played by immigrant women of both cultures in family businesses -- a similarity which brings the two groups close together as they try to balance the demands of integration into American society.

In Arab and Jewish Women in Kentucky: Stories of Audacity and Accomodation, Moosnick reveals how Jewish and Arab women have navigated the intersection of tradition, assimilation, and Kentucky's cultural landscape. The stories of ten women's experiences as immigrants or the children of immigrants join around common themes of public service to their communities, intergenerational relationships, running small businesses, and the difficulties of juggling family and work. Together, their compelling narratives challenge misconceptions and overcome the invisibility of Arabs and Jews in out of the way places in America.

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Barry Bingham

A Man of His Word

Barry Bingham

Barry Bingham, Sr., was one of this country's most influential journalists. Under his half-century of leadership, the Louisville Courier-Journal became one of America's leading newspapers, as attested by six Pulitzer Prizes. In this illuminating oral history, Samuel Thomas weaves together excerpts from more than a dozen interviews with Bingham, along with selections from his writings and comments by his wife, Mary Caperton Bingham.

Barry Bingham's influence was voiced principally through newspaper journalism, but, besides owning the Courier-Journal and its evening companion, the Louisville Times, the family enterprises included WHAS radio and television and Standard Gravure Corporation, which also produced Sunday supplements for dozens of newspapers. Bingham's enterprises laid on the doorsteps of Kentuckians, and brought to them over the airwaves, insightful reporting and examination of state and local matters as well as in-depth coverage of national and world events.

Bingham espoused many causes, including mental health, military preparedness, press freedom, and liberal politics. He championed civil rights, the performing arts, better education, historic preservation, and land conservation.

By training and predilection, Bingham was first and foremost a writer, but he was equally articulate as a conversationalist and public speaker. His recorded interviews, excerpted here, are clear and concise, expressive and informative. From these selections emerges a portrait of a man of extraordinary vision who used his wealth and power for the good of his community, his state, and his nation.

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Bert Combs The Politician

An Oral History

edited by George W. Robinson

This is the story of Combs' political life as remembered by him and by some sixty others who shared with him that experience. Robinson shows how Combs emerged from an Eastern Kentucky background to become an outstanding jurist and progressive political force. See other books in the series Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series.

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Burley

Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century

Ann K. Ferrell

Once iconic American symbols, tobacco farms are gradually disappearing. It is difficult for many people to lament the loss of a crop that has come to symbolize addiction, disease, and corporate deception; yet, in Kentucky, the plant has played an important role in economic development and prosperity. Burley tobacco -- a light, air-cured variety used in cigarette production -- has long been the Commonwealth's largest cash crop and an important aspect of regional identity, along with bourbon, bluegrass music, and Thoroughbred horses.

In Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century, Ann K. Ferrell investigates the rapidly transforming process of raising and selling tobacco by chronicling her conversations with the farmers who know the crop best. She demonstrates that although the 2004 "buyout" ending the federal tobacco program is commonly perceived to be the most significant change that growers have had to negotiate, it is, in reality, only one new factor among many. Burley reveals the tangible and intangible challenges tobacco farmers face today, from the logistics of cultivation to the growing stigma against the crop.

Ferrell uses ethnography, archival research, and rhetorical analysis to tell the complex story of burley tobacco production in twenty-first-century Kentucky. Not only does she give a voice to the farmers who persevere in this embattled industry, but she also sheds light on their futures, contesting the widely held assumption that they can easily replace the crop by diversifying their opera-tions with alternative crops. As tobacco fades from both the physical and economic landscapes, this nuanced volume documents and explores the culture and practices of burley production today.

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Conversations with Kentucky Writers

edited by Linda Elisabeth Beattie. foreword by Wade Hall and Susan Lippman

Kentucky and Kentuckians are full of stories, which may be why so many present-day writers have Kentucky roots. Whether they left and returned, like Wendell Berry and Bobbie Ann Mason, or adopted Kentucky as home, like James Still and Jim Wayne Miller, or grew up and left for good, like Michael Dorris and Barbara Kingsolver, they have one connection: Kentucky has influenced their writing and their lives. L. Elisabeth Beattie explores this influence in twenty intimate interviews.

Conversations with Kentucky Writers was more than three years in the making, as Beattie traveled across the state and beyond to capture oral histories on tape. Her exhaustive knowledge of these authors helped her draw out personal revelations about their work, their lives, and the nature of writing. When Still concludes his interview with "I believe I've told you more than anybody," he could be speaking for any of Beattie's subjects.

Aspiring writers will learn that Mason submitted twenty stories to the New Yorker before one was accepted, and that Still wrote articles for Sunday school magazines. There's plenty of advice: Dorris tells budding authors to get real jobs, keep journals, and read everything, even cereal boxes, and Marsha Norman reminds playwrights that "it is not the business of the theater to provide writers with a living." Kingsolver advises, "Read good stuff and write bad stuff until eventually what you're writing begins to approximate what you're reading."

Beattie's collection includes striking self-portraits of such writers as Sue Grafton, Leon Driskell, James Baker Hall, Fenton Johnson, George Ella Lyon, Taylor McCafferty, Ed McClanahan, Sena Naslund, Chris Offutt, Lee Pennington, and Betty Layman Receveur.What most distinguishes these moving conversations from other author interviews is their focus on creativity, on the teaching of writing, and on the authors' strong sense of place.As Wade Hall writes in his foreword, all twenty writers recognize that their works have been significantly influenced by their "Kentucky experience." This collection offers insights into Kentucky's rich and flowering literary heritage.

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Conversations with Kentucky Writers II

edited by Linda Elisabeth Beattie

In this sequel to Conversations with Kentucky Writers, L. Elisabeth Beattie brings together in-depth interviews with sixteen of the state's premiere wordsmiths.

This new volume offers the perspectives of poets, journalists, and scholars as they discuss their views on creativity, the teaching of writing, and the importance of Kentucky in their work. They talk frankly about how and why they do what they do. The writers speak for themselves, and their thoughts come alive on the page. Beattie's interviews reveal the allegiances and alliances among Kentucky writers that have shaped literary trends by bringing together people with shared interests, values, subjects, and styles.

The interviewees include authors who are captivated in other writers and in what they have to say about the process and craft of writing; educators who are interested in Kentucky writers and what their work reveals about the nature of creativity; and historians who are concerned with Kentucky's literary and cultural heritage. The interviews reveal patterns in Kentucky literature from mid-century to the millennium, as authors talk about how their sense of place has changed over the decades and reveal the ways in which the roots of Kentucky writing have produced a literary flowering at the century's end.

Includes: Sallie Bingham, Joy Bale Boone, Thomas D. Clark, John Egerton, Sarah Gorham, Lynwood Montell, Maureen Morehead, John Ed Pearce, Ameilia Blossom Pegram, Karen Robards, Jeffrey Skinner, Frederick Smock, Frank Steele, Martha Bennett Stiles, Richard Taylor, and Michael Williams.

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Crawfish Bottom

Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community

Douglas A. Boyd. foreword by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

A small neighborhood in northern Frankfort, Kentucky, Crawfish Bottom was located on fifty acres of swampy land along the Kentucky River. “Craw’s” reputation for vice, violence, moral corruption, and unsanitary conditions made it a target for urban renewal projects that replaced the neighborhood with the city’s Capital Plaza in the mid-1960s. Douglas A. Boyd’s Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community traces the evolution of the controversial community that ultimately saw four-hundred families displaced. Using oral histories and firsthand memories, Boyd not only provides a record of a vanished neighborhood and its culture but also demonstrates how this type of study enhances the historical record. A former Frankfort police officer describes Craw’s residents as a “rough class of people, who didn’t mind killing or being killed.” In Crawfish Bottom, the former residents of Craw acknowledge the popular misconceptions about their community but offer a richer and more balanced view of the past.

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Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950

John van Willigen and Anne van Willigen

The foods Kentuckians love to eat today -- biscuits and gravy, country ham and eggs, soup beans and cornbread, fried chicken and shucky beans, and fried apple pie and boiled custard -- all were staples on the Kentucky family farms in the early twentieth century. Each of these dishes has evolved as part of the farming lifestyle of a particular time and place, utilizing available ingredients and complementing busy daily schedules. Though the way of life associated with these farms in the first half of the twentieth century has mostly disappeared, the foodways have become a key part of Kentucky's cultural identity. In Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920--1950, John van Willigen and Anne van Willigen examine the foodways -- the practices, knowledge, and traditions found in a community regarding the planting, preparation, consumption, and preservation -- of Kentucky family farms in the first half of the last century. This was an era marked by significant changes in the farming industry and un rural communities, including the introduction of the New Deal market quota system, the creation of the University of Kentucky Agricultural Extension Service, the expansion of basic infrastructures into rural areas, the increased availability of new technologies, and the massive migration from rural to urban areas. The result was a revolutionary change from family-based subsistence farming to market-based agricultural production, which altered not only farmers' relationships to food in Kentucky but the social relations within the state's rural communities. Based on interviews conducted by the University of Kentucky's Family Farm Project and supplemented by archival research, photographs, and recipes, Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920--1950 recalls a vanishing way of life in rural Kentucky. By documenting the lives and experiences of Kentucky farmers, the book ensures that traditional folk and foodways in Kentucky's most important industry will be remembered.

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Freedom on the Border

An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky

Catherine Fosl and Tracy E. K'Meyer. preface by Terry Birdwhistell, Doug Boyd, and James C. Klotter

Memories fade, witnesses pass away, and the stories of how social change took place are often lost. Many of those stories, however, have been preserved thanks to the dozens of civil rights activists across Kentucky who shared their memories in the wide-ranging oral history project from which this volume arose. Through their collective memories and the efforts of a new generation of historians, the stories behind the marches, vigils, court cases, and other struggles to overcome racial discrimination are finally being brought to light. In Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, Catherine Fosl and Tracy E. K’Meyer gather the voices of more than one hundred courageous crusaders for civil rights, many of whom have never before spoken publicly about their experiences. These activists hail from all over Kentucky, offering a wide representation of the state’s geography and culture while explaining the civil rights movement in their respective communities and in their own words. Grounded in oral history, this book offers new insights into the diverse experiences and ground-level perspectives of the activists. This approach often highlights the contradictions between the experiences of individual activists and commonly held beliefs about the larger movement. Interspersed among the chapters are in-depth profiles of activists such as Kentucky general assemblyman Jesse Crenshaw and Helen Fisher Frye, past president of the Danville NAACP. These activists describe the many challenges that Kentuckians faced during the civil rights movement, such as inequality in public accommodations, education, housing, and politics. By placing the narratives in the social context of state, regional, and national trends, Fosl and K’Meyer demonstrate how contemporary race relations in Kentucky are marked by many of the same barriers that African Americans faced before and during the civil rights movement. From city streets to mountain communities, in areas with black populations large and small, Kentucky’s civil rights movement was much more than a series of mass demonstrations, campaigns, and elite-level policy decisions. It was also the sum of countless individual struggles, including the mother who sent her child to an all-white school, the veteran who refused to give up when denied a job, and the volunteer election worker who decided to run for office herself. In vivid detail, Freedom on the Border brings this mosaic of experiences to life and presents a new, compelling picture of a vital and little-understood era in the history of Kentucky and the nation.

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This is Home Now

Kentucky's Holocaust Survivors Speak

Arwen Donahue. foreword by Rebecca Gayle Howell, Joan Ringelheim, Doug Boyd, James C. Klotter, and Terry Birdwhistell

The term “Holocaust survivors” is often associated with Jewish communities in New York City or along Florida’s Gold Coast. Traditionally, tales of America’s Holocaust survivors, in both individual and cultural histories, have focused on places where people fleeing from Nazi atrocities congregated in large numbers for comfort and community following World War II. Yet not all Jewish refugees chose to settle in heavily populated areas of the United States. In This Is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak, oral historian Arwen Donahue and photographer Rebecca Gayle Howell focus on overlooked stories that unfold in the aftermath of the Holocaust. They present the accounts of Jewish survivors who resettled not in major metropolitan areas but in southern, often rural, communities. Many of the survivors in these smaller communities did not even seek out the few fellow Jewish residents already there. Donahue transcribes the accounts as she heard them, keeping true to the voices of those she interviewed. One of the survivors who shares her tale, Sylvia Green, describes the pain and desolation of her experiences in the Nazi death camps with a voice that reveals both her German-Polish heritage and her subsequent small-town life in Winchester, Kentucky. The Hungarian-born Paul Schlisser has an equally complex voice, a mix of phrases learned in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and regional speech patterns acquired in his adopted home near Fort Knox. Donahue’s collection of voices, accompanied by Howell’s poignant photographs, identifies each storyteller as an American—and as a Kentuckian. Like many others of diverse backgrounds before them, Holocaust survivors joined the “melting pot” as a haven from the suffering in their native lands, but they eventually came to regard America as home. Although they speak of atrocities, most often experienced when they were children and unable to fully comprehend the situation, they also emphasize the comfort of acceptance—not just by Jewish communities but also by a state that has long equated “religion” with Christianity alone. Kentucky is not known for its cultural and religious diversity, yet these stories reveal one of the many ways that the state has become home to a wide spectrum of immigrants—people who once were strangers but now are its own.

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