John J. Crittenden and Narciso López’s 1851 Expedition to Cuba

I have had a long-standing interest in American filibustering expeditions to the Caribbean and Latin America during the 1850s, and to my delight, I recently stumbled across a letter from Kentucky governor, U.S. Senator and Representative, and cabinet member John J. Crittenden, then serving as U.S. Attorney General, discussing the aftermath of Narciso López’s failed 1851 expedition to Cuba.  In August 1851, […]

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Pish posh

“Pish posh said Hieronymus Bosch.” – Nancy Willard I recently stumbled upon an arresting print in The Filson’s Special Collections. This brilliantly tinted picture is something of a mystery, since the signature of the artist is too faint to read. There is also German writing on the back of the print. However, written in English are the words “Herman Gunter […]

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Bloomers and Bicycles

Everyone has heard the old adage “sex sells”.  The use of risque  advertising was already well established by the 19th century.  This amusing turn-of-the century handbill advertising the Meyer Cycle Co., a bicycle sales and repair shop, employs the image of an attractive woman and her ‘revealing’ clothing to catch the customers’ eye.  The folded advertising card has the company information on […]

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Loretta Lux at 21c Museum and the Surreal Luster of the Past

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the 21c Museum on West Main Street for the first time. The Museum has modern written all over it, from the high white walls to the steel accents to the high-gloss wood floors. Loving contemporary art as I do, I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the plethora of images in which to bask in […]

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Health Care in the 1950s

Sometimes while cataloging, one will find items that relate directly to current events.  That was the case last week when I discovered a 1962 letter discussing the British health care system.  In 1958, Thomas E. and Quinlan H. Quisenberry, an Illinois couple with Kentucky roots, traveled to Great Britain.  In the “International Airport,” now Heathrow, Quinlan suffered a heart attack […]

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Reading Between the Lines…

A few days ago, I stumbled across a group of letters in the Marshall Family Papers written to and from John H. Marshall, a Kentuckian involved in William Walker’s brief rule of Nicaragua in 1856-1857.  Marshall’s letter home from Nicaragua, rich in detail about Walker’s government and conditions in Latin America, inspired an article that will appear in the next […]

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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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