Roses are red, violets are blue…

This post marks the beginning of a new, exciting series on our blog: “Courtship, Love, & Lust.” This series will explore items in The Filson’s collections concerning all matters of the heart.  Check back for future posts on romance, heartache, and the occasional perversion. Second only to Christmas, Valentines is the largest card sending day of the year. The custom […]

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The Christmas Cards of Carrie Douglas Dudley Ewen

Carrie Douglas Dudley Ewen, one of Kentucky’s most talented artists, was born on March 31, 1894 in Flemingsburg.  She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and lived in New York, Italy, and California before moving to Louisville in 1963 to be with her dying brother. Ewen painted stunning portraits and still lifes, but primarily supported herself as a commercial artist, illustrating […]

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Browsing in Our Archives: The Society for the Protection of Newsboys and Waifs

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, numerous middle class Americans participated in an array of reform movements, often emphasizing social and moral reform.  To facilitate those reforms, they founded numerous benevolent organizations.  The Filson has a sizable collection of records from those groups, including often used orphanage records.  However, many of the collections go unused as few people […]

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The Filson’s Theater Program Collection

The Filson Historical Society’s theater program collection offers a fascinating look at Louisville’s past via the footlights and curtain calls of the stage.  Such collections of ephemera are valuable records of the city’s lesser-known stories that can easily be lost in the annals of time.  The collection showcases Louisville’s theaters and thespians, and provides a glimpse of the city’s theatergoers […]

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Spiritualism in Louisville

Truth is often stranger than fiction, and historical societies such as The Filson house some unusual tales within the less explored recesses of their collections.  Spirits may feature prominently in today’s television programs, books and movies, but Louisville’s 19th century residents had a passion for the paranormal, as well, and participated in a trend that would change the face of […]

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Mr. Thruston Visits the National Parks

Many of us will be tuning in to PBS this week to watch Ken Burns’ film on America’s National Parks. The cinematography of Burns and his crew is often breath-taking in its beauty. Viewers also might be struck by the beauty and quality of the historical photographs. These images have frozen the parks in that moment in time when they were […]

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When Billiards Meant Trouble, 1866

Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City With a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” And that stands for “pool” -“Trouble,” The Music Man In the 1962 film version of Meredith Willson’s musical, The Music Man, con man Harold Hill convinces the townspeople of River City that a new pool hall is a scourge on their community […]

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Browsing in Our Archives: Kentucky Fee Book, 1787-1788

A large part of our work in Special Collections is helping researchers access manuscript materials.  Over the years, an archivist notices patterns in research topics, and it is interesting to observe which collections are frequently used and which are not.   Some collections are used by a variety of researchers working on any number of topics from the eighteenth century to […]

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Browsing the Collections — John Mason Brown, 1900-1969, Diary

John Mason Brown, a native of Louisville, was a prominent New York theater critic, who wrote for such newspapers as the New York Evening Post from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.  He was so respected, in fact, that he served on the Pulitzer Prize drama jury, from which he resigned in 1963 after the advisory board refused his […]

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Sacramento in 1854: State Capitals, Steamboat Explosions, and Chinese Burial Rituals

The collections at The Filson are known for their wealth of information on the history of Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley. The Filson’s holdings include a variety of materials from the residents of the Ohio Valley dating from the first settlement of Kentucky in the 1700s through the present day. However, those who settled in the Ohio Valley often […]

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