WKU Archives

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Photographs and negatives taken by Jim Burton documenting life in western Kentucky primarily between the years 1975 and 1980. Venues include Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Madisonville, Cumberland County and Scott County.

Band Formations - Burton was hired by WKU band director to photograph half time performances. It was a freelance job paying $250 per winter semester which allowed him to pay his car insurance.

Bobby Sandige - Bobby was from Burton's hometown of Madisonville and was married in college. Besides being a full-time student, he worked full-time at an underground coal mine. Burton did a feature story on Bobby and his wife which was published by the Courier-Journal.

Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church - This was a predominantly senior adult African American church within walking distance of WKU. While Burton was a student, Dr. William Lane a religion professor became the interim pastor and a host of students flocked there. Lane, now deceased, was a renowned theologian and author of several major commentaries.

Coil Wilkerson, the Hermit - Wilkerson lived in Hopkins County and was widely known as the Hermit. He lived alone and had little interaction with others. He became a photo project during Burton's first photography course taught by Roger Loewen.

Dant Family Farm - Burton did a long term project on the Dant family of Daviess County. Americans were realizing the fact of mobility as children were moving away from their nuclear families. But the Dants stayed together because of the land and the jobs created from farming. Father and son worked together every day. Female Little Leaguer - Burton did a story on Jenny Mason who was probably the first to try out for a Little League team in Owensboro.

God's Land - This was a commune in Allen County that Burton happened upon while driving around. There was never a story written and the photos were not published.

Gospel Assembly - This was a story from Daviess County of a small holiness church that purchased an abandoned school and built apartments for church members. In its own way, it was much like a commune too.

Horse Trainer - You will see images of a man who owned and trained horses to compete in harness racing in Henderson, Kentucky. He typically owned one horse at a time.

Leon Gregorian - Gregorian was the orchestra conductor at WKU and in Owensboro. He gave Burton full access, even during performances. Gregorian is now at Michigan State University. [2016]

Livestock Auction - You will see coverage from a livestock auction house outside Owensboro.

Main Street, Bowling Green - A senior photojournalism project.

Pea Ridge Poet - When able, Burton made trips to Pea Ridge in Cumberland County to photograph the people. One subject was Fair Coop Neathery, whom he labeled the Pea Ridge Poet in an AP story. She was virtually illiterate, yet composed some gut wrenching poems about her life. Her husband's name was Sam. Other subjects included a family of chair makers.

Ronald Reagan - The future president visited WKU to champion free enterprise. He was not officially a presidential candidate at the time of his visit.

Sister Annie - This was a long-term project on Sister Annie from Mount Saint Joseph in West Louisville, which is outside Owensboro. She was the servant who served those who had served. The story ran on Christmas Day 1979 in the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer.

Terry Leigh - This gentleman was a cerebral palsy patient at the Wendell Foster Home in Owensboro. Yet he was very independent and often see around Owensboro.

Trucker Strike - A nationwide trucker's strike resulted in a fight between union drivers and a non-union driver at a truck stop in Southern Indiana. Coverage was for the Owensboro Messenger Inquirer.


African American Studies | Communication | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Journalism Studies | Mass Communication | Photography | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Regional Sociology | Religion | Rural Sociology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology | Sports Studies