Building Filson Collections: The 20th Century Initiative

By Jennifer Cole
Special Collections Assistant

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Pamphlet from the 1912 Kentucky Child Welfare Exhibit. Frances Ingram Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection Some collections span several centuries but have a concentration of information in the 20th, such as the Bullitt Family Papers – Oxmoor Collection and the Bingham Family Papers. These two collections include business and personal papers of each family and utilize a combined total of over 200 cubic feet of space. Other collections, such as the Mona Strader Bismark Papers and the Ethel Biedermann du Pont Papers are strictly 20th century material, describing high society and fashion and the labor movement, respectively.

In order to fulfill our mission and to meet the needs of a new Ohio Valley history field of study, The Filson is in the midst of an initiative to aggressively collect and preserve business and personal papers of the 1900s. We hope by this undertaking to augment our already significant collection of 20th century material.

As a part of this project, Filson board members and staff are collaborating to identify important collections and themes that will assist in the documentation and preservation of the last 100 years. Several 20th century collections already acquired by The Filson are currently being cataloged.

Tom Wallace, right, in an unidentified image from the Tom Wallace Papers, date uknown. Filson Manuscipt CollectionNoah Huffman, The Filson’s University of Louisville History Department graduate intern, has been preprocessing an uncataloged collection of papers from Louisville Times editor Tom Wallace, spanning the 1920s through the 1950s. Wallace’s newspaper career as associate editor and editor of the Louisville Times, his dedication to environmental issues on a national scale and his work on the improvement of Latin-American relations are just a few of the important subjects found within this major collection of correspondence. The Wallace papers will be an important resource for scholars researching 20th century conservation and journalism in Louisville and in the region. Huffman will continue to catalogue the papers this summer.

Image from the 1912 Kentucky Child Welfare Exhibit Pamphlet showing a playground at the exhibit. This playground was set up by the Park Board as an example for future Louisville playgrounds. Frances Ingram Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection The Frances Ingram papers are another 20th century collection currently being cataloged. Ingram was an important early social worker in Louisville, beginning her career at Neighborhood House, a local settlement home, in 1905. Through this work, Ingram became involved in social causes throughout the city and state and was on many Louisville and Kentucky boards and commissions, such as the City-County Children’s Home board and the Kentucky Child Welfare Commission. Special Collection Assistant Jennifer Cole is cataloging this collection, which was originally arranged by Ingram herself into subject folders. The collection includes correspondence, reports, pamphlets and articles on local and national social work from the early 1900s through the mid 1950s. This collection is an important resource for those researching early Louisville social work, progressivism, women’s history and labor history.

Special Collections Assistant Michael Veach is beginning work on the Edwin Foote Collection, which contains important information on distilling during the late 20th century.  Edwin Foote created this collection while in his capacity as the master distiller with Stitzel-Weller Distillery and with Bernheim Distillery (then subsidiaries of United Distillers). Of particular interest are Foote’s personal logs kept daily from 1984 to 1992 during his employment at these two distilleries. The Foote collection is The Filson’s first major collection on distilling in Kentucky.

The preprocessing and cataloging of 20th century collections as well as the search for local and regional items of interest are just a few examples of ways The Filson Historical Society is attempting to preserve our region’s latest history, the 20th century. We hope that you will keep The Filson in mind when donating your personal and business papers from the last century.

Labor Agreement Pamphlet between United Distillers Manufacturing, Inc. and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union - AFL-CIO-CIC, on behalf of Local 28D, effective Jan. 1, 1997. Ed Foote Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection Labor Agreement Pamphlet between Stitzel-Weller Distillery and Independent Distillery Workers of Louisville, Kentucky, effective May 1968. Ed Foote Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection Labor Agreement Pamphlet between Stitzel-Weller Distillery and Distillery Workers Union local 36, July 1947. Ed Foote Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection

Tom Wallace in Guatemala, March 5, 1941. Tom Wallace Papers, Filson Manuscript Collection.We want to preserve your history!

 If you have business papers, personal papers, published material or images that you would like to contribute to The Filson, we want to hear from you. Please contact Special Collections Curator James J. Holmberg at (502) 635-5083 for more information on how to contribute to The Filson’s collections.

Volume 4, Number 3

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The Filson Historical Society
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