Special Collections Research Center

Learning Lab

2021-2022 Learning Lab Projects

2021-2022 Learning Lab Projects

The UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is proud to announce the following collections available for research in the Learning Lab during the academic year 2021-2022. Please look through the list and apply for an internship to work with any of these collections. If you have questions or want to be a Learning Lab intern but are interested in a type of collection you don't see on the list, please contact the program coordinator Carol Street at carolstreet@uky.edu

Please note that the suggested subjects are meant to inspire your ideas about research, and are not meant to be an exhaustive list. You are encouraged to be creative in your research.

Photograph of seed catalogs

Seed catalogs, 1890-1970 (subjects: agriculture, biology, landscape architecture, botany) 1997ms346

The collection of seed catalogs represents nearly one hundred years of popular varieties of flower and vegetable seeds available for purchase by the home gardener.

Image of Self-Denial Savings Club ledger

Self-Denial Saving Club minute book, 1925-1927 (subjects: African-American history, finance, women's studies) 2019ms033

Documentation of a group of southern African-American women denying themselves small niceties through the year for the opportunity of splurging during the December holidays. Derived from the African-American "sou-sou" tradition and the mutual benefit movement, this club apparently differed in that it operated more like a traditional individual Christmas club, with the members paying in what they could at each meeting. 

Old Taylor and Old Overholt Whiskey collection, 1900-1940s (subjects: bourbon industry; marketing; corporate papers; Prohibition) 2021ms009

A unique opportunity to drink in (not literally!) Kentucky's historic bourbon industry through pamphlets, postcards, photographs, typescripts, and promotional materials related to the Old Taylor and Old Overholt brands of whiskey from the first half ofthe  20th century. Old Taylor was produced E.H. Taylor & Sons of Frankfort, Kentucky, and Old Overholt was produced by A. Overholt & Company of Pittsburth, Pennsylvania. Both brands were later bought by the National Distillers Products Corporation. Both Old Taylor and Old Overholt are still being produced today.

Victor Howard Collection on Civil Rights and Church-State, 1907-1989 (subjects: civil rights, sociology, religion, politics, human rights) 2009ms014

Victor Howard was a professor at Morehead State University who collected materials on the struggle for Civil Rights in America. His entire collection contains speeches, newspapers, ephemera (that means flyers or other materials that were of an ephemeral nature), and legislation for Civil Rights efforts in numerous states. For the Learning Lab project, you will focus on the section of the collection that pertains to Civil Rights in Kentucky from 1956 to 1976.

Flonnia Chambers Taylor Papers, 1900-1950 (subjects: social work, sociology, child welfare, psychiatry, education, special education) 1997ms218

Fonnia Chambers Taylor was Kentucky’s first professional social worker who began working with the Infant Child Welfare Division in 1936. She worked as a psychiatric social worker after WWII, led the United Cerebral Palsy of the Blue Grass and the Child Development Center in Lexington. She was an early advocate for schools to educate special needs children, which is now standard practice.

William Morrow family papers, 1900s-1940s (subjects: Appalachia; African American history; military; coal industry; social organizations) 2021ms011

William Morrow of eastern Kentucky served in World War II and worked as a coal miner for 40 years. The collection contains photographs, yearbooks, and other documents related to his life. Also in the collection are records related to the Eastern Kentucky Social Club, a social organization founded by Appalachian African Americans. 

Collection of Manuela Cerezo imprints from the Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana Collection (subjects: works in translation, colonial Mexico, indigenous studies, gender and labor issues; printing; rare books)

These 18th century Mexican imprints were produced at a women-owned print shop in Puebla and show the breadth of printing in Mexico during that time period. Ability to read Spanish a must for this project. 


Hiram Graham papers, 1915-1950 (subjects: engineering, dam construction, coal mining, military, environmentalism, geography, infrastructure) 000UA094

Hiram Graham was a UK professor and dean of the College of Engineering. He served as a Captain of Engineers with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during WWI. He was also a consultant on engineering projects related to damming rivers, mining coal, and railway construction.



Hywel Davies papers, 1894-1908 (subjects: coal mining, labor, business, marketing) 0000UA065

Davies worked as a business agent at the University of Kentucky, but he worked in the coal industry before he came to UK in 1913. This collection contains papers related to his work with the Kentucky Coal Operators Association and the Main Jellico Mountain Coal Company in Whitley County, Kentucky, and offers a glimpse into the world of coal mining and marketing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Photo of hemp brochure and photographs

North American Industrial Hemp Council records, 1990s (subjects: agriculture, business, engineering, industry) 2019ms008

At one point Kentucky was the largest producer of hemp in the country. This collection contains records from the Kentucky Hemp and Fiber Related Task Force, which was established in 1993-1994 by Governor Brereton C. Jones, as well as the North American Industrial Hemp Council. Numerous samples and artifacts demonstrate the wide range of applications for hemp in industry.

Photo of Olive T. Gargan papers

Olive T. Dargan papers, 1929-1966 (subjects: literary, poetry, correspondence, women writers) 2012ms120

Olive T. Dargan was a writer and poet born in Kentucky in 1869. Her work reflects her interests in nature, as well as feminism and social activism. The collection largely contains correspondence and a scrapbook.

Liam O'Flaherty manuscripts, circa 1925 (subjects: literary, Gaelic, Irish authors) 2019ms019

Two handwritten manuscripts written in Gaelic by Liam O'Flaherty. The first one is "Darkness, A Tragedy in Three Acts" and the second is titled "A Story in Gaelic". An ability to read Gaelic or to be able to translate into English is important for this project.

Photograph of Don Pratt newspaper clippings

Don Pratt papers, 1970s-2000s (subjects: social justice, civil rights, environment, peace, Vietnam War, incarceration) 2018MS064

Pratt is a longtime social activist from Lexington, Kentucky, who has been involved in campaigns for peace, social justice, civil rights, and environmental issues. He was imprisoned for refusing the draft during the Vietnam War, worked to integrate University of Kentucky athletics, marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and helped save the Red River Gorge from being dammed. This collection contains letters to and from Pratt while imprisoned during the Vietnam War.

AMD&ART Park records, 1995-2018 (subjects: environment, mining, art, science, landscape architecture, conservation, Appalachia, environmental activism, parks, recreation, land reclamation, site-specific art, water conservation) 2019ms045

The AMD & ART Park in Vintondale, Pennsylvania, is at the site of an abandoned mine operation in Appalachia that left the environment severly damaged, particularly due to pre-regulatory mining. Acid mine drainage (AMD) causes significant water and soil quality problems for regions long after the industry abandons a site. This project began in 1994 with the intent of honoring the past of the land while healing the landscape through a multidisciplinary approach that combines history, art,  landscape architecture, and science. These records contain project files, slides, video, publications, and other media related to this project. Learn more about the project at https://www.amdandart.info/ 

Abby Marlatt papers, 1945-2007 (subjects human rights, civil rights, social justice, housing, activism) 2012us050

Marlatt (1916-2010) was a professor of home economics at UK and a human rights and social justice activist in Lexington. She founded the Lexington chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which pioneered the use of nonviolent civil disobedience in the fight for American civil rights. CORE is well known for its work supporting the Montgomery Bus Boycott and working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Working with this collection will provide you with a chance to study how CORE operated in Lexington during the same time period. 

Photo of farriers at work, 1950s

Oral History project: Farriers in the Bluegrass (subjects: equine industry, equine health, business, metalsmithing)

Oral histories are incredible sources of information for future generations and this gives students an opportunity to create oral histories that will be preserved and accessible to other researchers. This project will coduct oral histories with farriers (blacksmiths who shoe horses) working in the equine industry in and around Lexington, Kentucky. 

Photograph of Bourbon County, Kentucky land records

Bourbon County, Kentucky land records, 1786-1820 (subjects: environment, law, agriculture, early Kentucky history, land, wealth) 46M94

Early land records from Bourbon County that date to the formation of the Commonwealth.

Photograph of Thomas D. Redd papers

Thomas D. Redd papers, 1891-1941 (subjects: labor, race, unions, transportation, business, social justice, women's studies, sex work)

Thomas Redd was an African American railroad worker who served in his unit's union, known as the Colored Brakeman of the Kentucky Division of the Road, during the early 20th century. The collection contains official union correspondence, receipts, and treasurer reports related to his service. A Learning Lab intern has already explored Thomas Redd's union work in the collection, however, the collection contains personal correspondence from women who were likely prostitutes. They mention living conditions, incarceration, health, and finances. 

Photograph of Davis notebook

John C. Davis notebook and photograph album, 1944 (subjects: military history, WWII) 2013MS0362

A WWII notebook and photograph album kept by Corporal John C. Davis, an African American soldier from Louisville, Kentucky, during his service in Okinawa, Japan.

Agnes S. Harralson correspondence, 1951-1952 (subjects: correspondence, military history, Korean War, Muhlenburg County) 2021ms001

Harralson (1896-1983) was a historian from Muhlenburg County who corresponded with service members during four wars. These letters represent letters from soldiers, most of them from Muhlenburg County or surrounding areas, during the Korean War. She received letters from men at military bases all over the United States, on ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and serving overseas.

Louis Pardue Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies (ORINS) papers, 1945-1958 (subjects: nuclear science, atomic age, agriculture, medicine, engineering, education) 0000UA155

ORINS promoted education, research, and development programs for nuclear science and atomic energy in the fields of agriculture, medicine, and engineering. The University of Kentucky participated as a member institution and was represented by UK physics professor Louis Pardue. Collection contains annual reports, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, and publications regarding the program.

Photo of Barnstable Colony legal papers

Barnstable Colony legal papers, 1734-1741 (subjects: law, early American history) 69M95

The Barnstable Colony formed in 1650 as part of Plymouth Colony, in what is now known as Massachusetts. The documents in the collection concern legal matters that took place in the colony from 1734 to 1741.

Photograph of manumission record of an enslaved person named Hannibal, 1828

Manumission records, 1828-1839 (subjects: slavery, law, American history, race) 2019ms048; 2019ms049; 2019ms062

Before the end of slavery in America, enslaved people could be emancipated from slavery through the legal process called manumission. Multiple collections contain records regarding manumission in Kentucky prior to the Civil War.

Photo of Jewish Notebook

Jewish notebook, circa 1810 (religious studies, education, early Kentucky history) 53M74

This handwritten notebook written by an unknown author contains lessons and commentary on the Jewish faith. Little is known about the manuscript, but it provides an opportunity to research Jewish religious education in Kentucky in the early 1800s.

Lexington Cemetery Company Records, 1849-1985, 1860-1930 (bulk dates) (subjects: landscape architecture, business, death and dying, sociology) 1M87M10

Contains records pertaining to time books, financial, payroll, and lot diagrams for the historical Lexington Cemetery.

Photograph of Quilling family copybook

Quilling family copybook, 1800s (subjects: calligraphy, education) 2018ms0395

The Quilling family from Kentucky left behind a beautiful copybook where they practiced writing and letters. Research could possibly investigate early education in Kentucky, calligraphy, or cursive writing in today's modern curriculum.

Photograph of Janet gilding kit

Michel Janet gilding kit, 1760s-1780s (subjects: metals, art, architecture, French history, printmaking) 2019ms028

A rare, 18th century gilding kit from Michel Janet, papetier du roi, could lead to research regarding gilding traditions and history, French history, or investigation into how modern artists apply this technique in current work.


Tuska Studio records, 1978-2017 (subjects: art, sculpture, arts administration) 2018ms027

Collection contains studio and arts administration records of former University of Kentucky ceramics teacher John Tuska. He is known for his work that illustrates the physicality of the human form. His work can be seen on the UK campus in the Fine Arts building and Library. 

Two rare books of Spanish poetry and literature: Works of eloquence and poetry awarded by the Royal University of Mexico in the Literary Contest held on December 28, 1790, On the occasion of the exaltation to the throne of our Catholic monarch, Mr. Carlos IIII, King of Spain and the Indies, 1791; Colección de las obras de eloqüencia y de poésia premiadas por la Real Academia Española, 1799  (subjects: poetry, Spanish language, writers, literature, Mexico)

These two published works of poetry and literature from the late 18th century provide the basis for an exploration of the written word. Ability to read Spanish is a must for this project.


100th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment Records, 1864-1865 (subjects: military, Civil War) 2006ms054

Collection contains muster and descriptive rolls of soldiers in the 100th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, which was organized in Kentucky between May 3 and June 1, 1864.. The soldiers appear to have been formerly enslaved in Kentucky prior to joining the military. The unit protected the Nashville and Northwestern Railway in December 1864, and saw action at Johnsonville (November 4-5), Battle of Nashville (December 15-16), Overton Hill (December 16), and in pursuit of John Bell Hood's command to the Tennessee River (December 17-28).

Illuminated manuscriptleaf

Illuminated manuscript leaf, undated (subjects: Medieval studies, Latin, religion) 2020ms044

Collection contains parchment sheet from an unidentified manuscript that has been newly donated to the collection. Research could uncover greater understanding about this page.

Oatcakes recipe

19th Century recipe and homemaker's book, circa 1880s-1890s (subjects: food science, cooking, sociology)

Handwritten recipe book has 54 pages of recipes recoded in a reused account book. Contains recipes for pecan cake, pecan pudding, homemade wine, corn fritters, jambalaya, waffles, and several pickle variations. Also contains recipes for disinfectant, which indicates a growing understanding of germs and diseases. Offers opportunities to research tastes and homemaking practices of the  latter 19th century.


Ward Family Papers, 1845-1930 (subjects: horse industry, standardbreds, trotting and saddle horses, Kentucky State Fair, horse shows, judging, horse breeding, farming) 1997ms242

The Ward Family of Bourbon County, Kentucky, bred standardbred horses, Berkshire hogs, and Jersey cattle. James Clay Ward was a well known horse show judge at Kentucky State Fairs and even officiated at the Madison Square Garden Show in New York. Records in this collection contain stud books, stock books, and photographs related to the family farm in Bourbon County.

Photo of Leavell photograph album

Ullin Leavell photographs, 1922-1946 (subjects: art, Japan, medicine, sociology, photography) 2014av008

A doctor in post WWII Japan, Leavell was also an amateur photographer who took images of life around him in Tokyo. Images include scenes of the hospital and nearby moat and geisha houses, ruins of buildings, transportation, children playing, and a resort on Mount Fuji. This extensive series of photographs documents the rebuilding efforts that took place in Japan after WWII.

Picture of Winfield Scott photograph album page

Winfield Scott photograph album from the Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana Collection, circa 1900 (subjects: Mexico, travel tourism, agriculture, labor, photography, ethnology, visual anthropolgy, colonialism, transportation, architecture) 2020av003 

Photograph album contains photographs taken by the American professional photographer Winfield Scott (1863-1942) showing Mexican cities and sites, stations and tracks of the Mexican Central and Connecting railways, and portrayals of Mexican people and American travellers. The images are similar to ones taken of Native Americans by photographer Edward Curtis during the same time period.

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