Kentucky Museum to host community heritage day

Matt Stahl

The Kentucky Folklife Program and WKU Library Special Collections will hold a Community Heritage Day on Saturday in the Kentucky Museum.

The event, which is sponsored by a National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage grant, will allow participants to bring significant items to the Kentucky Museum to be digitized. The first 150 participants will receive a free flash drive to store the digitized versions of items, and the digital versions will also be stored in the Kentucky Museum archives with the participant’s approval.

Three digitization stations will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. During the hour in between, Sarah M. Schmitt, from the Kentucky Oral History Commission, and Maria Lewis, from WKU Library Special Collections, will host a workshop on researching and documenting family oral history.


From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. another station will open, where participants will be able to ask archivists questions.

“Whether your family has been here for two weeks or 200 years, we’re all part of this fabric of Kentucky,” Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Museum, said. “Objects, things that are important to you, documents, family letters that are personal and intimate, we would love to be able to have some of those things, so this is a really interesting way to meet new people.”

Bjorkman also said he expected many groups of people in the area to participate, and the event’s grant was written with Bowling Green’s large Bosnian community in mind.

“We wrote this grant thinking about the Bosnians,” Bjorkman said. “We want to include people who have what you might think of as old-time Kentucky stuff, but we’re also open to more newly-arrived Kentuckians, including Bosnians and including the Hispanic and Mexican communities. We are trying to show the fact that we are all one large group as Kentuckians.”

Virginia Siegel, a folklife specialist in WKU’s folklife program, said the event will tie in perfectly with the folklife program’s goals.

“We are a state folklife organization,” Siegel said. “We document, present and conserve the diverse traditions and culture of the Commonwealth. That’s educational programming, events like this, that give hands on experience and training to students in the program here, but also scholars across the state. That’s also growing the Folklife archives here at WKU Library Special Collection.”

Siegel said she thought the event was important for community members.

“Not only will it grow our archive here at WKU, which we want people to see as a repository for the community, a place that is trusted to help tell our community story, but also, events like this are important because I think they empower community members to think about how they themselves can better store and protect their family stories,” Siegel said.

Siegel said she thought the data and archives gathered at the event would be useful for people in the future.

“The people bringing in the items are the experts,” Siegel said. “We want them to tell us why this item is important to them, so we make sure we capture that in the metadata along with the digital file, so that way someone who stumbles upon this 10 years from now in our archive won’t just find a random image, but they’ll find an image with notes about why the person who brought it in thought it was important and the story behind it.”

Reporter Matt Stahl can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].