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Political Guru Larry Sabato Speaking in Louisville

Political science professor and author Larry Sabato will be in Louisville on Tuesday as part of a lecture sponsored by the Filson Historical Society.

Sabato is director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and is considered a leading analyst and guru of American politics. In July 2008, he correctly predicted that Barack Obama would win the presidency within one vote of the Electoral College.

Judy Miller is deputy director of the Filson Historical Society. She says Sabato has a following in Louisville, but the group wants to get more people involved in the process.

“We offer this as an opportunity for the public schools and private schools trying to get young people interested and to reach out to a broad base. And hearing a man such as Dr. Sabato would be certainly an opportunity that’s pretty unique,” she says.

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Louisville Exhibits Mark Civil War Sesquicentennial

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The commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is now in full swing across the country and two exhibits in Louisville explore Kentucky’s unique position as a Civil War border state.     

At the Filson Historical Society, there’s a new exhibit called “United We Stand – Divided We Fall.”

It contains letters, photographs, weapons, clothing and other artifacts from the Filson’s extensive Civil War collection.

Kentucky began the war as officially neutral. It eventually became a Union state, but family loyalities and opinions on issues such as slavery could be deeply divided, resulting in the storied “brother vs. brother” scenarios.

Filson Curator of Special Collections Jim Holmberg says one of the more high profile divisions occurred within the family of Kentucky Governor John Crittenden.

Local News

Civil War Exhibit Opens At Filson Historical Society

Louisville’s Filson Historical Society has opened a new exhibit focusing on the Civil War as it played out in Kentucky and the Ohio Valley region.

It’s called “United We Stand—Divided We Fall.” Filson Curator of Special Collections Jim Holmberg says interest is running high as the country marks the Civil War’s 150th anniversary.

“You have history before the war, of course the war itself, and then you have the United States after war. So it’s a real watershed moment, and it deserves the study and the writing and attention that it’s getting,” he said.

The Filson has been collecting Civil War artifacts for more than a century. The new exhibit includes flags, weapons and clothing, plus photos and letters describing life during the era.

The Filson exhibit is free and open to the public. Another Civil War exhibit, “My Brother, My Enemy,” opened in October at the Frazier History Museum and continues through early April.

Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Home Movie Day Debuts in Louisville

Bloggers and vloggers — those who blog with video — have made their mark documenting history — most dramatically during the 2004 tsunami. Their forerunners where people who made home movies. And today, home movies are often a treasure trove for historians and film buffs. Since 2003, the Center for Home Movies has helped locate some notable ones. That’s when it began working with local organizations worldwide to screen these films for Home Movie Day. This weekend, two local organizations are hosting the event in Louisville for the first time. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports on what some local historians and film buffs hope to find.

Our Day 03Martha Kelly now lives in Brooklyn, New York. But she grew up in Lebanon, Kentucky, where her father, Wallace Kelly, worked as an artist and writer. She remembers during her early childhood her father also made amateur films of the family.

“That was the cast and the crew,” Kelly says. “Everybody was involved.”

Our Day 02In 2007, she heard about Home Movie Day being held in New York.

“I knew I had this wonderful collection of family films and I thought it would be fun to take one in,” she says.

Kelly brought in a silent 12-minute film called Our Day (link to film) that her father had made in 1938. It showed a day in the life at his family home and used creative filmmaking techniques on par with those used by Hollywood professionals. The images also contradicted stereotypes about life in a small Southern town during the Great Depression. It showed people reading, playing the piano and playing croquet. These qualities caught the eyes of film archivists who named it to the National Film Registry that same year.

While Kelly’s father was making home movies, so was Louisvillian Shirley Hemp. Today, the Filson Historical Society has several of his films dating to the 1920s.

The Filson’s executive director, Mark Wetherington, shows me one film that gives a glimpse of city’s growing east end.

“This is the Boulevard Napoleon. This is a surfacing project,” Wetherington says. “And one of the stories you get here is an idea of public works; city expansion, suburban expansion.”

Other films by Hemp show Charles Lindbergh’s visit to the city and ferries crossing the Ohio during the building of the George Rogers Clark Bridge.

Home Movie DayNow, the Filson is partnering with the Louisville Film Society to host Home Movie Day here. The two will accept home movies in all formats starting Friday and show films at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Wetherington says he suspects there could be a lot of typical holiday scenes, but he’s open to surprises.

“It’s going to be a discovery for us,” he says, “just wondering what people are going to find in attics and garages.”

He says some images could prove useful to a range of historians — from those researching architecture to other subjects.

“Somebody interested in technology might try to see whether or not a lot of the houses have TV antennas on them — you just don’t know,” he says.

Through Home Movie Day, historical groups worldwide have found information that gives new context to history. Two years ago, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies found home movies showing new scenes from the 1950s desegregation at Little Rock high schools.

This was one of the ideas that gave birth to the event, says Home Movie Day co-founder Dwight Swanson.

“There are a lot of events and places only covered by home movies,” Swanson says. “And they let you see things in a different way and sometimes a much more revealing way than other types of historical documents.”

Louisville Film Society co-founder Ryan Daly agrees. Through his Home Movie Day Ryan Daly 004passion for home movies, he’s collected ones from own his family — and others.

“We got Roller Skating, 1980,” Daly says. “We got Jim’s Birthday in ’78.”

“Who’s Jim?” I ask.

“You know,” Daly says, “this whole canister of films I purchased at a yard sale.”

Daly says these and dozens of others he has contain clues to Louisville’s yesteryear. And he tells me the stories they contain also give us a valuable culture perspective.

“We might still make the same mistakes over and over, but at least we know we weren’t alone in history in making them.”

Arts and Humanities Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

U of L Launches Arts and Culture Initiative

The University of Louisville has announced its new Arts and Culture Partnerships Initiative. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The initiative took root two years ago when the university began to develop formal agreements with local arts and cultural groups that could benefit nonprofits while giving students learning opportunities and faculty prospects to advise these groups. So far, the university has partnerships with 13 organizations. (See list below.)

Blaine Hudson is the dean of the college of arts and sciences and helped spearhead the project.

“This could be a network that certainly would be regionally unique,” Hudson says. “If we elaborate it fully, it could be nationally unique; if we really explore all the possibilities in it.”

Hudson says the university has spent about $100,000 on the initiative and has applied for grants to further fund it.

Former Speed Art Museum director Peter Morrin also has been working on this project . He says interaction between U of L and these groups can create a learning community.

“It’s how we can really make these resources part of the intellectual and academic fabric of the university and how the university, in turn, can bring its intellectual resources to bear for the university,” Morrin says.

Hudson says he wants these formal partnerships to makes the university a stronger part of the region and help vital organizations.

“It’s easy to say “be involved in the community,” he says, “but that usually doesn’t result in much of anything beyond just random activity. So, we wanted to create some structure, some programs, some formal relationships that would be mutually beneficial.”

Arts and Culture Partnerships Initiative
Crane House, the Asia Institute, Inc.
Farmington Historic Plantation

Filson Historical Society
Frazier International History Museum
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
Locust Grove
Louisville Visual Art Association
Muhammad Ali Center

Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
Portland Museum
Speed Art Museum
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing
University of Louisville