Civil War Governors of Kentucky Editor Hosts Webinar for Kentucky’s Librarians and Archivists

Civil War Governors of Kentucky (CWGK) assistant editor Tony Curtis hosted a webinar on October 14, 2016 entitled “Researching the Civil War Governors of Kentucky” for Kentucky’s librarians and archivists as a part of the Continuing Education program offered through the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA). The webinar focused on the launch of “Early Access“–the first stage of accessibility–in June 2016, allowing users to browse and keyword search over 10,000 documents. The next step–“Annotation Beta”–is to deliver approximately 1,500 documents, annotated and set within dense social and geographic networks. The presentation demonstrated how CWGK will shape the ways researchers, students, and teachers will explore the past in the future.

Click HERE to listen to the webinar.

Voices of the Filson Interview on WXOX 97.1FM (Louisville, Ky.)

Listen to Civil War Governors of Kentucky assistant editor Tony Curtis as he returns to the Filson Historical Society archives to discuss the project on an episode of the Voices of the Filson on WXOX 97.1 FM with the Filson’s own associate curator of collections Aaron Rosenblum.


Audio provided by Voices of the Filson on WXOX 97.1FM and the Filson Historical Society.

A Facet of Early Access: How do I search?

by Tony Curtis

This might seem like an obvious topic, but there are several ways to search the Early Access website. As a matter of fact, there are three ways: (1) Use the “Browse” function; (2) Use the “Search Collection” function; or (3) Use the “Advanced Search” function. It depends on the objective of your search, as to which function best suits your particular needs.

The “Browse” function is an appropriate choice for individuals who would like to search a particular repository and/or a particular collection. For example, say you are interested in researching the first Confederate provisional governor of Kentucky—George W. Johnson—and you know that the Kentucky Historical Society houses a collection of personal papers for George W. Johnson. You would click the “Browse” button on the main menu in the top right quadrant of the website. Then scroll down until you see the “Kentucky Historical Society” repository button. CLICK. Then scroll until you find the “George W. Johnson Papers” button. CLICK. And commence your browsing of the collection at the item level.

Browse

browse_2

browse_3

browse_4

If you would like to use the quickest search function, then you are in luck. The “Search Collection” function appears on the main screen—and every screen thereafter—for ease of user access. Just plug in your term or terms and commence your search of the entire collection. You can also narrow your search by using simple or Boolean search operators. For example, a search for Benjamin F. Buckner (no quotation marks) returns 180 search results, while “Benjamin F. Buckner” (with quotation marks) returns one search result. Searching Benjamin AND Buckner (with Boolean operators) returns sixteen search results. So try different combinations of words and operators when using the “Search Collection” function.

The most complex and most effective search function to use is the “Advanced Search” function. This is a faceted search, meaning that is allows the researcher to narrow search results by using many different criteria that have been built into the metadata by project editors. To use this search function, click the “Advanced Search” option underneath the “Search Collection” search box on any page. You will arrive at a page that allows you to target your search by using three specific keyword search fields. You can select from a list of eleven fields to narrow your search: Accession Number, Collection, Date of Creation, Dates Mentioned, Document Genre, Document Title, Editorial Note, Item Location, Place of Creation, Repository, and Transcription. Any combination of these fields will help you narrow your search. For example, say I wanted to find all documents sent to Thomas E. Bramlette from Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky, in 1865. I would conduct the following faceted search to Thomas E. Bramlette (Field: Document Title); 1865 (Field: Date of Creation); and Covington, Kenton County (Field: Place of Creation).

faceted-search

faceted-search_2

faceted-search_5

faceted-search_3

faceted-search_4

This faceted search returns twenty-eight search results, while a Boolean search conducted using the “Search Collection” returns fifty-six results. A simple search with all these terms and no operators returns 8,910 documents. Thus we see the benefit of the faceted search function. I would suggest experimenting with all the search functions and see which one fits your research objectives the best and it may change from search to search. Early Access currently contains just over 10,000 documents and this number is only going to continue to grow over time.

So what do you say, how about a few searches? Bet you can’t search just once.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Welcome to Early Access—Join us for a tour!

By Tony Curtis

The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWG-K) has launched Early Access, the first stage of accessibility, allowing users to browse and keyword search over 10,000 documents. The diversity of texts and the wide array of historical themes contained in Early Access documents places CWG-K alongside the most forward-looking documentary editing projects. There are several bells and whistles, so join us for a quick tour of the new website!

Home Page

The first stop is the Early Access homepage. No, that is not Santa Claus, it is Kentucky’s first Union Civil War Governor—Beriah Magoffin—a member of the Democratic Party and a supporter of Southern Rights. And there are more unidentified individuals at the top of the page showing you what to expect from these documents—a diverse collection of historical actors from Civil War-era Kentucky.

You can start to engage documents through the “Search Collection” and “Advanced Search” functions or by using the “Explore” function moving down the right side of the page. But more on the search capabilities in an upcoming blog post, as that will require more attention. Stay tuned!

Moving through the website, you can engage the documents and additional content through the “Featured Collection”, “Featured Exhibit”, or “News” icons at the bottom of the page:

Home Page_2

You can engage additional content through four drop down menus located in the top right quadrant of the website—“About”, “Reference”, “Browse”, and “Exhibits”. Let’s take a look at each of the drop down menus individually.

Clicking on the “About” menu will further introduce you to the project and the Early Access team. But there is more! The drop down menu also includes information about the document selection process, editorial processes, and what is beyond Early Access for the CWG-K team. Take some time to look through this information, as much of it documents the foundations of the CWG-K project—what it is and what it is not.

About

Moving along to the “Reference” menu, one can gain further intellectual access and historical understanding of Civil War-era Kentucky through rich governors’ biographies, detailed congressional & judicial district data, and a bibliography for further reading. The congressional & judicial data is particularly exciting! This data is the result of our original research project to map all civilian and military structures from Civil War Kentucky—the beautiful mind project drawn on large Post-it notes on our office walls. There is so much more data to share moving forward so keep visiting for future updates!

Reference

The next menu is the “Browse” function. Instead of conducting a keyword search, researchers may decide to browse our collection by repository and collection name. Click the name of the repository to start browsing our collections from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs Records and Research Branch, Kentucky Historical Society, Mary Todd Lincoln House, and Maker’s Mark Distillery.

Browse

And, finally, the “Exhibits” menu, which currently includes The Caroline Chronicles. Caroline’s is just one of the personally compelling and historically instructive stories that the Civil War Governors of Kentucky will help researchers and teachers tell. Hers is a story of race, slavery, emancipation; domestic service, motherhood, and gender; true crime, the law, and justice.

Exhibits

So where do we go from here? Early Access is the beginning of accessibility but not the end. The ultimate goal of CWG-K is to create a digital research environment within which a user can encounter the past multi-dimensionally through the documents and the powerful annotation network that links the documents together.

The next step is to deliver approximately 1,500 documents annotated and set within dense social and geographic networks. These documents, the first of a projected 40,000, will demonstrate how Civil War Governors will shape the ways researchers, students, and teachers will explore the past in the future.

To this end, Civil War Governors was awarded $62,400 in the May 2016 cycle of National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) funding. This grant will run from October 2016 to September 2017, and will support that next phase of work: publishing an annotation interface of 1,500 fully edited and linked documents.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

A Caroline Chronicles Update: A Research Journey Through the Louisville Daily Journal

By Tony Curtis

Just when you think that you have gathered all of the available information on the Caroline Chronicles (read all the documents on Early Access) you stumble across a digitized collection of the Louisville Daily Journal on archive.org. I am particularly interested in how news of the Blanche Levi murder was revealed to the public and how the ensuing case was covered by a prominent Louisville newspaper. And what did a deep dive into this collection uncover about the Caroline Chronicles? I invite you—our readers—to join me on this research trip!

The Levi family appears at various points in the newspaper from August 1862 until September 1863. Willis Levi—a steamboat engineer—first appears listed as a survivor of the Steamer Acacia disaster on August 30, 1862:

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

And again with his brother Elias Levi in an auctioneer advertisement on January 30, 1863:

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

The Levi’s are being mentioned regularly with this advertisement for their auctioning services, and Elias is even covered anonymously through a printed Jefferson County Sheriff’s advertisement for the sale of John West(ly)—Caroline’s husband. We see the original in the Jefferson County Court books in previously discovered documents. Elias Levi bought John West(ly), aged 25, on April 27, 1863 for $245:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

But what about the death of Blanche Levi—daughter of Willis and Anne Levi? The first mention of the death of Blanche occurs in the April 22, 1863 obituaries, her death occurring one day earlier. The obituary is brief, giving her age, when the funeral will occur, and a brief bible verse:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

The newspaper then falls silent for ten days. Not one mention of Blanche, the Levis, or Caroline—until May 2, 1863, when the newspaper prints, “For two weeks past we have withheld giving publicity to one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city, in order to give the officers ample time to ferret out the guilty parties.” They announce “the wretch”—Caroline—was arrested and faced arraignment that same morning. Showing the inherent racial bias of society, the newspaper supposes that Caroline could not have committed without accomplice, stating, “It was believed that the girl had been instigated to this deed by some fiend in human shape, but diligent investigation has been made, and no accessory has as yet been discovered. There is something very mysterious about the crime, from the fact that no cause whatever had been given to the girl to prompt her to wreak her vengeance in this horrible crime. If she has an accomplice we sincerely trust that the wretch will be brought to justice.”

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

This article also references Caroline’s status, they define her as “a contraband negro, from Tennessee, in the employ of Mr. Willis Levy.” Much like the previously discovered documents, Caroline’s status is constantly in flux. On May 2, 1863, the “Police Proceedings” section—the Civil War-era police blotter—announced “Caroline, a slave of James Deman, charged with poisoning a child of Willis Levi. The slave being too sick to be brought into court, the witnesses were recognized to go before the grand jury of the Circuit Court.” This gives us more insight into Caroline’s status, but it is also contradictory information. What was Caroline’s status—self-emancipated woman, contraband, slave, or a free woman of color (f.w.c.)? I am afraid newspaper coverage does not clarify Caroline’s status and as we concluded in prior research, her status remains inconclusive. It is unknown as to what the newspaper means by “too sick”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

On May 6, 1863, the grand jury of the Jefferson Circuit Court returned an indictment against “Caroline (a slave)”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

The June 10, 1863 Louisville Daily Journal announces the “Commonwealth vs Caroline (a slave)” case for trial as a part of the June 1863 docket of the Jefferson Circuit Court—the trial to be held on Wednesday, June 17, 1863.

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Further mention of Caroline’s case does not appear until June 19, 1863, when a guilty verdict is announced: “The negro woman who poisoned the family of Mr. Levi, of this city, some months since, from the effects of which one of his children, a sweet little girl, died, was yesterday convicted of murder in the first degree in the court now in session here. She will doubtless be hung.”

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

The next mention of Caroline is not until August 14, 1863—almost two months later—announcing when she is to be hanged “at the corner of Eighteenth and Broadway streets” in Louisville. And again on September 8, 1863, following a month long respite.

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

On September 11, 1863, Caroline is granted a second respite “for a few days” by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette “on account of some newly discovered testimony which may have some bearing on her case.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

And the new evidence convinced Governor Bramlette in favor of executive clemency, as the final mention of Caroline occurs on September 25, 1863, under the headline “Pardoned.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

So what have we learned from the Louisville Daily Journal coverage? The Levis were active members in the Louisville business community. We have more concrete dates on the death of Blanche Levi and the chronology of Caroline’s case. We know that the newspaper purposefully withheld any coverage of the case to allow for time to investigate the facts of the case and to arrest any suspects. The newspaper coverage further complicates Caroline’s status for us—Caroline inhabited many different worlds depending on time and place. We also learn that there is no additional coverage of “one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city”—no editorials, no letters to the editor . . . Nothing. So once again, a set of research questions has led us to more research questions—some of the questions remain, others have been developed. The search continues and we will update you as new evidence is uncovered.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

“Acquainted with the Value of Slaves”: The Commonwealth Invests in an Institution

By Tony Curtis

On April 8, 1863, the Hickman Circuit Court empanelled a grand jury to review an arson case against three enslaved, runaway men—John, Elijah, and James. The jury indicted the three men for, “maliciously willfully and feloniously, set fire to and burn the dwelling house of Wm Poore, the Said Slaves having conspired to-gether. . .with one [gap] Wheeler (a white man).” All pled not guilty to the charges with court appointed attorneys by their side, but the jury found all three “guilty as charged and Say by reason thereof they shall Suffer death, but we recommend that the Governor modify the Same to punishment in the penitentiary for life.”

Not all Hickman County citizens agreed. In a letter to Governor James F. Robinson, twenty-five citizens of the county maintained that “the crime of these negroes was committed with every circumstance of atrocity possible, and simple justice demands their execution under the law.” The petitioners claimed that the three defendants had been seen with the 21st Regiment of Missouri Volunteers while at Clinton (whose commanding officer appeared on their behalf at the trial) and that they are “a scourge and terror to the whole County. They obtain arms—United States muskets—whenever they choose and make nightly excursions into the country, bursting open the houses of citizens, robbing them, putting upon them and their wives & families every kind of indignity and insult short of actual murder and violation.”

Voicing the frustration of Kentucky slave owners in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation, they stated that the military had taken no action to stop the alleged robberies and that the “citizens of this county have no hope except in the civil laws. If these afford them no protection and that immediately society here will be broken up and the negro become supreme.” They wanted a “stern but just” sentence to intimidate their “fellow marauders,” where “imprisonment would strike little terror to the negro.” Governor Robinson agreed, and the Court ordered all three men to be hanged on May 15, 1863.

As interesting as the politics of the case, historians should also pay attention to the procedures demanded by law when slaves were to be executed. The Revised Statutes of Kentucky (1852) specified that slaveowners be compensated for the execution of their slaves convicted of crimes. From Chapter 93, Article 7, Section 24:

§ 24. When the court shall sentence to death a slave, the value of such slave shall be fixed by the court, and entered on record. If the slave be executed, or die in jail, after conviction, before the day of execution, the value, so fixed, shall be paid out of the public treasury to the master or owner, upon a presentation of a copy of the record, and certificate of the sheriff of the fact of the death or execution of such slave. If a slave, imported into this state contrary to law, or passing through this state, by land or water, to any other state, territory, or country, be executed for crime, or die before execution, he shall not be paid for as above.

To obtain a value on each of the slaves, the Hickman Circuit Court reached out to individuals “acquainted with the Value of Slaves”—in this case two physicians (H. O. Earle & C. T. Seay) and a farmer (George B. Moss). Seay and Moss owned slaves, though the record is unclear as to whether Earle owned any slaves. However, it is interesting to note that they consulted two physicians and a farmer—assessing value in terms of both physical ability and skill sets. Was this a standard makeup of court appointed valuators of slaves? Was there a particular set of qualifications to fulfill this requirement? Was there a standard form used to evaluate each enslaved person? Whatever the answers are to these questions, they valued each man as follows, “John (the slave of C S Parrott) at One thousand & Sixty Dollars. James (the Slave of Quirus Beckwith) at One thousand one hundred & forty Dollars and Elijah (the slave of Quirus Beckwith) at Eight hundred dollars.”

The Annual Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts…for fiscal year ending October 10, 1863, confirms the payment of the aforementioned amounts to Beckwith and Parrott:

Excerpt from the Annual Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts…for fiscal year ending October 10, 1863

As the Caroline Chronicles reminds us, money flowed out of the state coffers and in some cases into the state coffers as a direct result of slaves being caught up in the Kentucky legal system. In this case, public funds were used to compensate slaveowners for their loss of human property.

Another twist on the state’s criminal laws and slavery documented in CWG-K collections occurred in 1862, when two enslaved men—Jordan of Scott County, Kentucky, and Abner of Graves County, Kentucky—were convicted of Manslaughter and sentenced to life in the Kentucky State Penitentiary. In these cases legislative action was sought to remove these men from the penitentiary and sell them back into slavery. The men agreed to this pardon and to the stipulation to be returned to slavery—with no say as to who and where they would be sold at public auction. Chapter 93, Article 7, Section 25 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes needed amended in order to give the Governor the power to sell Abner and Jordan back into slavery. This section already granted the governor the power to commute the sentence of a slave, but it did not give him the power to sell said enslaved men into slavery to the financial benefit of the state. The act only stipulated that the slaveowner “shall be paid for him as though he were executed, or take the proceeds of his labor in the penitentiary.” An act passed on March 17, 1862, entitled “An ACT to amend section 25, chapter 93, if Revised Statutes”, amended this section:

An ACT to amend section 25, chapter 93, of Revised Statutes

An advertisement for the sale was placed in the Frankfort newspapers , and Jordan and Abner were returned “to their original condition of servitude” by the governor and the state treasurer by public auction held at the Franklin County Courthouse doors on July 21, 1862. The proceeds were “paid into the public treasury, and the slaves delivered to their purchasers.”

These two documents offer insight into another way in which Kentucky was complicit in the perpetuation of the institution of slavery—by codifying and enforcing slave laws, collecting taxes on enslaved property, just to name a few ways—and in the instance of these two documents, by compensating slaveowners when the enslaved were executed and by collecting payment for enslaved persons sold at public auction from the Kentucky State Penitentiary. This is yet another example of how the entire white population of Kentucky—slaveowner or non-slaveowner, rich and poor—participated in and benefited from the fully integrated slave economy.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor with the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. John a Slave of C. S. Parrott Elijah & James Slaves of Q Beckwith, Indictment, April 11, 1863, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (hereafter KDLA); Thomas G. Poore et al. to James F. Robinson, Correspondence, April 11, 1863, KDLA; For more on the policy of the military and runaway slaves, see Diane Mutti Burke On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small-Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865 (2010), 284-287; Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 627-648; 1860 Federal Slave Schedule, Ancestry.com; Annual Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts…for fiscal year ending October 10, 1863, 18; Tri-Weekly Commonwealth (Frankfort, Ky.), July 4, 1862; Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 243; See also Tim Talbott, “Negroes for Sale,” Random Thoughts on History (blog), June 19, 2013, http://randomthoughtsonhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/negroes-for-sale.html; and Abner and Jordan, Affidavit, July 21, 1862, KDLA.

Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition Summer 2016 Graduate Internship (Paid)

***POSITION CLOSED AS OF MARCH 31, 2016***

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) seeks one graduate intern to work closely with editors and other staff of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWG-K).

Through this competitive internship opportunity, a successful candidate will be responsible for researching and writing short annotation entries on named persons, places, organizations, and geographical features. This work will be completed and submitted on a weekly basis to the Project Director and Intern Supervisor for evaluation, with all annotations submitted on July 29, 2016, for final review. All research for the entries must be based in primary or secondary sources, and the intern is expected to keep a research file with notes and digital images of documents related to each entry. The intern will also have the opportunity to learn, acquire and exercise additional skills associated with documentary editing including document identification, metadata control, transcription, and XML encoding.

The overall goal of the internship is to provide a high-quality, supervised professional practicum that introduces the intern to the field of documentary editing in order to enhance their education and future employability. This internship will be filled by an American history graduate student in at least the second year of a M.A. program.

To apply, submit a narrative statement—focused on the questions below—of professional ability in the form of a cover letter, a CV, and two letters of recommendation.

Research Experience: Describe your familiarity with research in 19th century U.S. history. Describe some projects you have undertaken. What sources have you used? Have you been published? Have you interpreted historical research in forms other than a scholarly peer-reviewed publication? How does the proposed research project differ from those you have undertaken in the past? Describe your familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of online research databases such as Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, ProQuest, and Google Books.

Project Experience: Describe any work you have done in the editing of historical documents. Discuss how a project such as CWG-K maintains balance between thorough research and production schedules. Have you worked on other collaborative projects in the field of history or otherwise? Describe your ability to meet deadlines and regulate workflow. Describe your understanding of and/or experience with the “Digital Humanities.” From what you understand of the CWG-K project, how does it fit with current trends in the field? What do you hope to gain from working on the CWG-K project?

This paid internship will consist of 250 hours over the course of 10 weeks—starting on June 1, 2016.

This is a temporary position—with a $2,500 stipend—based in Frankfort, Ky. Employee benefits are not available. Housing is not provided.

To apply, e-mail cover letter, internship application and resume to khs.hr@ky.gov. No phone calls please. Application deadline is March 31, 2016. Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D.

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) is a state agency and membership organization that is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums. We educate and engage the public through Kentucky’s history in order to confront the challenges of the future.

Governor _____?_____ of Kentucky: “Please fill in the name of the person who is governor…”

Image

By Tony Curtis

In November 1862, William A. M. Van Bokkelen requested a commission as Commissioner of Deeds for Kentucky in the Nevada Territory. A series of letters discovered by the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWG-K) shows his attempt to obtain a commission through politically connected Kentuckians, and a lack of response on the part of the governor. Continue reading

The “Ladies of Frankfort” Assert Their Right to Petition

Image

By Tony Curtis

March is Women’s History Month and the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) theme for 2015 is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” An appropriately themed document recently appeared in the form of an undated Franklin County, Kentucky, petition signed by the “Ladies of Frankfort.” Continue reading