High School Essay Writing Contest! Win $1,000!

The Filson is conducting its first ever essay writing contest, exclusively for regional high school students. The contest is open to all high school students in public, private, alternative, parochial, and home-study programs located in the Louisville Metro area, including Southern Indiana. The topic for this contest is to demonstrate and explain the thought that the history of Kentucky and […]

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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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CALL FOR PAPERS for The Filson Institute Public Conference

“Secessions: From the American Revolution to Civil War” October 22-23, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky Conference Conveners: Manisha Sinha (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Departments of Afro-American Studies and History) Kevin Barksdale (Marshall University, Department of History) The Filson Institute for the Advanced Study of the Ohio Valley and the Upper South proposes a two-day academic conference to examine calls for secession or […]

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Four Roses Bus Tour – October 31, 2009

The Filson Historical Society took a bus trip to the Four Roses Distillery on Saturday, October 31st. Yes, Halloween day.  A rainy Halloween morning, but as the day progressed the sky cleared some it turned to a typical brisk fall morning in Kentucky. The bus left the Filson just a few minutes after 9:00 for the hour drive to the […]

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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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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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Home Movie Day a Huge Success!

Home Movie Day was a huge success! On October 17th, The Filson Historical Society along with the Louisville Film Society hosted the area’s first observance of Home Movie Day.  This annual international event celebrates amateur film making and aims to educate the public about film preservation.  The event presented a unique, and mutually beneficial, opportunity to view and preserve our […]

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Filson Favorites: Chester Harding’s Portrait of Bland W. Ballard

Major Bland W. Ballard (1759 or 1761-1853) was an early pioneer in Kentucky and quite possibly the toughest looking man of his era. The Filson’s portrait of Ballard by Chester Harding depicts a man hardened by the violence of the Ohio Valley frontier. In 1788, a party of Delaware Indians killed Ballard’s father, stepmother, two brothers and half-sister, while Ballard […]

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History Mystery

The first mystery item – our portrait of James Wilkinson by John Wesley Jarvis – was easy. That was a warm up. Now they get tougher. The item pictured here was commonly found in households well into the 20th century – and some are most likely still used today. This item is 11.5″ long and 5″ wide (tappering to 1.5″). It […]

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