Strange Creatures of The Filson Museum

Halloween may have just passed, but in an archive, it can be Halloween every day!  Two of the more curious items in The Filson collection include a “Fiji Mermaid,” and the supposed mummies of a giantess and her child.  The Fiji Mermaid is the mummified body of a creature that was supposedly half mammal and half fish, a version of […]

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John Sneed: Centenarian and Revolutionary War Veteran.

On the third floor landing, just outside the door to the curator’s office, hangs a very unusual portrait: Mr. John Sneed. Nearly all of the Filson visitors who reach the third floor, without fail, pause to marvel at this unusual image of the elderly man. Perhaps it’s his no-nonsense expression that captures the imagination? Sneed was 100 years old when he […]

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An Arresting Portrait

One of my favorite paintings in the Ferguson Mansion hangs in the stairwell on the way to the basement level. It is a portrait of a certain Mrs. Denton Whipps, painted by a mysterious unknown artist, and generously donated by Mrs. Walter Osborne. This painting utilizes a severe palette of white, black and gray. Mrs. Whipps’ luminous skin vividly contrasts […]

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Images Celebrating Independence

The Filson wishes you a Happy Independence Day! S.A.R. Congress, Louisville, 1911. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner and Mr. Geo. L. Danforth Pres. Ky. Society, posing with a reproduction of the McHenry Flag in front of the Louisville Free Public Library. A July 4th Picnic at Richlawn Stock Farm, 1905, Ralph Barker Collection Sons of the American Revolution Fountain at Fort […]

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Joan Rapp – Volunteer Extraordinaire

The Filson is most fortunate to have a loyal core of volunteers. As related in a previous post on Larry Carr vounteering at The Filson, our volunteers bring a variety of experience and knowledge to the work they do here. Their talents and dedication help us to succeed in our mission of making collections available to researchers and telling the […]

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The Theatricals of Louisville Male High School

There is a long history of cross-dressing in theatrical productions.   Ancient Greek dramas, Japanese Kabuki theater, and Shakespeare’s plays all have a tradition of males performing female roles, as women were not allowed to appear on stage in these milieux.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, both men and women engaged in cross-dressing in vaudeville halls and the […]

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PSA: Easter Egg Hunts

Using your dog to win an Easter egg hunt is not allowed, kids! Easter Egg Hunt, Al Blunk, 4 April 1947, Louisville, KY Or perhaps she is simply auditioning for the role of the Cadbury Easter Bunny!

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Folk Artist Depicts County’s History of Violence

“The Feud Series” by David Lucas is based on historical events in Letcher County, Ky.  As a boy growing up, Lucas  accompanied his grandfather to the post office where he listened to old timers talk about local feuds and “bad men.”  After visiting the site of the violent Mullins Massacre several times, Lucas mind began to fill with images of […]

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Filson Favorites: Researcher Jennifer Armstrong, History Sleuth with Heart

The Filson has many wonderful and intelligent researchers, but every so often one comes in that really grabs your attention.  Such was the case with Jennifer Armstrong.   Over the past year, Armstrong has repeatedly visited The Filson archives, researching on behalf of the Home of The Innocents, a community institution dedicated to caring for abused, abandoned, and neglected children.  Between 1882 […]

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