The Mount Saint Joseph Museum is seen after the rehousing of its contents. COURTESY OF ARCHIVES
Archival growth brings in fascinating new additions to be explored in months to come
BY EDWARD WILSON, ARCHIVES
Each year, The Western Kentucky Catholic (WKC) takes a small two-month hiatus in June and July. I have been told this is the result of Mel Howard’s, the publication’s founding editor, preferred schedule to focus on his farm over the summertime. This schedule makes me feel as though the paper starts a new season following the break. There are several new additions to the archives that should make this next 10 months of articles quite interesting.
A great deal has happened in our country in the past two months. I would have liked to write this August article to celebrate the victory for life that was recently won. However, feeling that this day was soon to come, I wrote an article on our diocese’s battle on behalf of life for the January 2022 issue of the WKC. This being the case, I will, instead, begin this 10 month stretch of articles with an update of the numerous, large developments in the archives.
I divide my time as archivist between the McRaith Catholic Center (MCC) and Mount Saint Joseph (MSJ). There have been significant archival developments at both. Firstly, at the McRaith Catholic Center a new room has been made for the secondary stacks. The secondary stacks is where many of the larger artifacts are housed. These are the things that would be in a museum. They are interesting to look at and have fascinating stories. These are more appealing to most people than flat file documents. During this move a safe that was in the secondary stacks was to be moved. This safe has remained locked for probably over a decade and its contents were unknown by the previous two archivists. The safe will be rehoused where there is more need for it in the MCC, but the contents are all going to remain at home in the archives. I was the lucky archivist who got to welcome them back into the open world. The safe was filled with incredible artifacts, some having to do with priests, some having to do with bishops and some having to do with 19th-century steamboat captains. Yes, you read that right. The safe was a true treasure trove with numerous items fit for their own articles.
Adding even more to its collection was the MSJ archive. As was previously announced, the 1874 academy building at the Mount is to be demolished. Attached to this is a wing that was added in 1882; it contains the Mount’s old museum. It too is to be demolished. The contents of the museum are under the jurisdiction and protection of the archives. We have cleared out the museum and the contents are currently in transitional housing within the archive wing of the Lourdes building at the Mount.
So, that is what has been happening in the archives for the past two months. From a nearly 200-year-old mysterious lock of hair to a 150-year-old taxidermy parrot that belonged to a saintly, local priest; there are plenty of interesting artifacts to come. I am excited to bring you new stories to help grow your knowledge and love of our beloved diocese’s history.
Edward Wilson is the director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Archives and the Archives of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. Comments and questions may be sent to [email protected].
Originally printed in the August 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.