Thursday, October 5, 2017

Freadom to Read: The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club was challenged at a high school because it had “explicit” and “inappropriate material.”

The book was made into a movie in 1993, and here is an image of the movie poster.

Source:  R. Doyle. Books Challenged or Banned in 2004-2005. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Freadom to Read: The Giver

The book, The Giver, written by Lois Lowry, won the Newbery Medal in 1994, but it has been banned and challenged because of references to various forms of death.

A movie based on The Giver came to theaters in 2014, and featured Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, and Katie Holmes.

Official movie poster

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Freadom to Read: Freakonomics

In 2006, a school board member in Illinois challenged several titles, including Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan, because these books clashed with her beliefs.

The Sullivan University library has both of these titles at the library. Stop by and talk with one of the librarians if you want to borrow one of these books, and stay tuned to the library's blog the next two weeks for more information about banned and challenged books.

Source: Doyle, R. Books Challenged or Banned in 2006-2007. Retrieved from:


Monday, September 25, 2017

Banned Books Week 2017-Celebrate the Right to Read

Image copyright by Roger Roth, 2006
Each year the Sullivan University Library joins the American Library Association in observing Banned Books Week. This annual celebration of our right to access books and materials without censorship commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society—the freedom to read freely. To help celebrate the freedom to read, the Sullivan University librarians invite everyone to come and see the Banned Books Week display in the library, participate in the Banned Books Week scavenger hunt, and to read some banned or challenged books.


Monday, August 21, 2017

All American Eclipse


Today is the day for the "All-American" eclipse. For the first time since 1918, the entirety of the eclipse will be and American coast-to-coast event. The eclipse here in Lexington will begin roughly at 1:00 p.m. and end around 4:00 p.m. The maximum occlusion of the sun will occur at 2:30. Click here for more information:

Be sure to use ISO certified glasses to view the eclipse directly. There are alternatives as well: pinhole devices, watching a live stream, using your smartphone's camera--watch the screen, not the sun!

Local live stream, provided by WKYT:

For other eclipse resources check here:


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Manners and Raspberries

Today, July 19, 2017, is National Stick Out Your Tongue today.

Instead of sticking out your tongue, trying having a different kind of fun with the day. Stop by the library to read the (seriously hilarious) book titled  Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior, which is edited by Tedd Arnold. The book is found in the juvenile fiction section with the call # JF A. One of the librarians will gladly help you find the book if you want to borrow it from the library.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

News Literacy Results are In!

The Sullivan University Library celebrated National Library Week with the theme of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: News Literacy. One part of the news literacy theme involved two quizzes, which tested participants’ knowledge and evaluation skills of news stories. Questions on the quizzes were about subjects as varied as the Pope’s comments on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election to whether or not a major retailer was selling a rock in its stores.

The results are in, and they show that about 20 people took at least one of the quizzes. With average scores on tests A and B at 69% and 40% respectively, these quizzes reflect how tough it can be to determine what is real and what is fiction.

The images below provide a snapshot of each test’s statistics.
Test A

Test B

Monday, April 24, 2017

NLW: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-Get Real

Today's post has links to not one but two sites to enable you to become more news literate.
  1. BuzzFeed has a checklist people can use to determine if what they are reading is legitimate or not. One of the Sullivan University instructors, Brielle White, recommended the checklist to the library staff.
  2. The Center for News Literacy has a glossary of terms, like bias and indirect evidence, related to news literacy. Check out the site to see how well you know the lingo. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Selling the News

As the song, "Selling the News" by the band Switchfoot says, “Opinions are easier to swallow than facts, the greys instead of the whites and the blacks.”

The University of West Georgia’s Ingram Library developed a website to raise awareness of what resources are available to help students evaluate the information they see.  .

After visiting the fact-checking site, let the Sullivan librarians know whether or not the site was helpful.

Source: Foreman, J. (2011). Selling the News. [Recorded by Switchfoot]. On Vice Verses. [CD]. New York: Atlantic Records.

Image from Flickr: 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NLW: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: 60 Minutes Reports

In this 60 Minutes segment that aired on March 26, 2017, CBS reporter Scott Pelley discusses the how easy it can be to generate false news.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NLW-The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Real or Altered?

Photo Fact-Checking in a Digital Age

Frog takes a trip during a NASA launch. Real? Or Altered?
  1. First, ask some questions about the image? Where did you see it? Is it associated with a news story? Is there an image credit listed? If the image was of a famous person, can you find that specific image on the person’s verified social media accounts?
  2. Next, dig deeper and do a reverse image search on the specific image using Google Images or To do so, right click on the image and copy the image’s url by selecting either the option to Copy (Bing) or Copy Link Address (Chrome).
  3. Go to Google’s image search,, click on the camera icon that is inside the search box and paste the image’s url into the search box. A list of links where the image appears online will come on the screen.
  4. On the website TinEye,, paste the image url in the search box to see links to where the specific image appears online.
  5. If the image you searched for looks different from the images that appear in the links found by Google or TinEye, be suspicious of the content of the image you have.
Also, check out this informative video by the News Literacy Project’s Chicago program manager. The program manager walks viewers step-by-step through the process of determining the legitimacy of a photograph.

By the way, the NASA picture at the top of this page is real (Haskell, 2013).
  • Haskell, J. (2013, September 12). Flying Frog Caught on Camera at NASA Moon Rocket Launch. Retrieved from:
  • Owen, M. (2014, June 10). Photo fact-checking in the digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NLW*: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly-News Literacy


Hoaxy is a beta website, still in the testing phase, created by the Indiana University Network Science Institute and the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. Per the creators of the Hoaxy website it is designed to help users of the web to, “visualize the spread of claims and related fact checking online” (Hoaxy, 2017).

The site also says:
-The claims may be a fake news article, hoax, rumor, conspiracy theory, satire, or even an accurate report. Hoaxy, “does not decide what claims are true or not.” Users are encouraged to select the links to fact-checking websites like Snopes or to determine the validity of a claim (Hoaxy, 2017). 

Anyone can use Hoaxy to explore how claims spread across social media. Users can select any matching fact-checking articles to observe how those spread as well.

*NLW = National Library Week
  • Shao, C., Ciampaglia, G.L., Flammini, A., and Menczer, F. (2016). Hoaxy: A Platform for Tracking Online Misinformation. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference Companion on World Wide Web (WWW '16 Companion). Pages 745-750. DOI:

Monday, April 10, 2017

National Library Week: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly-News Literacy


The library staff found many resources about news literacy. While we were not able to display all of our tips for you, DO come into the Library and Learning Resource Center to check out our display.

Each class day this month we will share a video, a website, or a written checklist that can help you be more informed and news literate. Today's site of interest is AllSides. 

Allsides is a website that, “unlike regular news services, exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.”

Visitors to this website can see a news story about the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act from a variety of sources from the political right, the political left, and the middle.

In addition to seeing news stories from different political perspectives, the site has a glossary of controversial terms with commentary from multiple viewpoints and a list of different media outlets (NBC, CBS, Fox, Buzzfeed) and their typical biases.

See how news literate you are by taking one of our news literacy quizzes:
News literacy test A

News literacy test B
Source: Allsides. (2017). All about Allsides. Retrieved from: 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Women’s History Month: A Different Kind of Supper Club

The Astronaut Wives Club, 1959. Back row, Jo Schirra and Louise Shepard; middle row, Annie Glenn, Rene Carpenter and Marjorie Slayton; bottom row, Trudy Cooper and Betty Grissom
(Life Magazine, cover photo, September 21, 1959)
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel; 629.45 K83a
The wives of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts joined together to support and encourage one another through the historic flights, the national publicity campaigns, and even heartbreaking loss. In this engaging book, Lily Koppel tells about the lives of Louise Shepard, Annie Glenn, Jo Schirra, Betty Grissom, and the other wives of the astronauts. Per the publisher this is, “the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.”

Did you know that women trained to be astronauts at the same time that John Glenn and Alan Shepherd were training? Check out this blog post to learn about Wally Funk and the other women known as the Mercury 13.

7 members of the Mercury 13, pictured in 1995
(NASA, public domain)
Want even more?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Women’s History Month: She Works Hard for the Money

The book, Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World; (650.1082 L929e), contains stories from women in the business world who broke the glass ceiling barrier. Joann Lublin, the author and a glass-ceiling breaker herself, talks with and shares insights from fifty women who became leaders, and she presents her own story along with those she interviews.

Visit this blog post to find out about Lilly Ledbetter, another woman who broke barriers in the business world.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Women's History Month: Genetics Pioneer

Nettie Stevens

Upon her death, Dr. Nettie Stevens received notoriety in two publications, the journal, Science, and the newspaper, The New York Times. What prompted the national coverage of her death? Stevens, who had degrees from Stanford and Bryn Mawr and had studied genetics in Germany, determined how the male of a species determines the sex of the offspring (Gelling, 2016). Sadly, Dr. Stevens was not able to see all the results of her studies because she died of breast cancer when she was just 50 years old (Gelling, 2016). To learn more about Dr. Stevens and her work, visit one of these sites:
Gelling, C. (2016, March 31). Nettie Stevens: Sex Chromosomes and Sexism [Web log post]. Genes to Genomes Blog. Retrieved from:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Women's History Month: Cooking from the Hip and the Heart

Cat Cora

Cat Cora, a Food Network and Iron Chef star, has cooking in her roots, so to speak, because her grandfather and uncle had restaurants in Mississippi. Chef Cora’s training at the Culinary Institute of America and under chefs in the United States and France, including Roger Vergé and Georges Blanc, prepared her well. She was able to cook for and impress Chef Jacques Pépin, and she also became the first female Iron Chef on the Food Network show, Iron Chef America. (Hamilton, pp. 87-93)

The library has materials by or about Chef Cat Cora, and they are listed below for you. You may borrow any of the following from the Sullivan Lexington Library:
Cora, C. (2015). Cooking as Fast as I Can. New York: Scribner.

Hamilton, D. and Kuh, P., eds. (2007). Chef’s Story: 27 Chefs Talk about What Got Them into the Kitchen. New York: Harper Perennial. Pp. 87-95

Check out this blog post about a book that features other female chefs.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Women's History Month: Distinct and Dignified

Coretta Scott King-

Ms. King with her husband's portrait
The widow of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. supported her husband and left a legacy of her own. She marched with him, attended meetings in his absence, helped coordinate meetings, cared for their four children, and managed their home (Vivian, p. 45).

Mrs. King has a children’s book award named in her honor, The Coretta Scott King Book Award. This award is given annually by the American Library Association’s Ethnic Materials Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT), and it was founded in 1969 by Mabel McKissack and Glyndon Greer (ALA, 2017). The 2017 winner of the Coretta Scott King author award was the book March Book: Three by Congressman John Lewis and author Andrew Aydin. (ALA, Coretta, 2017)

The Lexington Library and Learning Resource Center has a book about Ms. King, available for borrowing: Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King by Octavia Vivian; call number: 323.092 V858c
American Library Association. (2017). The Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Retrieved from:

American Library Association. (2017). The History of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Retrieved from:

The King Center. (2014). About Mrs. King: Coretta Scott King. Retrieved from:

Vivian, O. (2006). Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Women's History Month: Sisters Holding Court

Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan

Left to right: Justices O'Conner, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan
The four women who have served as justices for the nation’s highest court were nominated by three different presidents. Three of the justices graduated from Ivy League schools (Harvard, Yale, and Cornell), and the fourth from Stanford, yet their formative years were not necessarily as privileged as their higher education institutions suggest.

To learn more about these historic women, stop by the library and borrow some of the books we have about them, visit this blog post, or go to the Supreme Court’s website.

Books at the Sullivan Lexington Library

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice by Joan Biskupic; 343.7326 B622b

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O’Connor; 347.7326 O18o

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Linda Bayer; 347.73 B357r

Sandra Day O’Connor; DVD 347.7324 S219

Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream by Antonia Felix; 347.73 F316s

Supreme Court of the United States. (24 February, 2017). Biographies of Current Justices of the Supreme Court. Retrieved from:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Black History Month: Hidden Figure on the West Coast

Janez Lawson

Janez Lawson, front row center

With a degree in chemical engineering, Janez Lawson, joined the team of computers (women mathematicians and scientists) at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. She became the first African-American woman to be a part of the team, and Ms. Lawson was one of two women who received advance training from IBM about how to use their computers. Ms. Lawson learned how to program the IBM 701 computer. After working for the Jet Propulsion Lab, Ms. Lawson worked as a chemical engineer for the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, an aeronautical company (Holt, 127).
Holland, B. (2016). Human Computers: The Women of NASA. Retrieved from:

Holt, N. (2016). Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Black History Month: No Longer Hidden

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson

Left to right: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson at a NASA award ceremony
The real-life women portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures were instrumental in the success of the United States space program.

Mary Jackson worked for NASA from 1951 until 1985. She did important scientific and mathematical work, like Katherine Johnson, yet she also made her mark as a human resources manager tasked with EEOC responsibilities (Shetterly, 257-260). This is a quote from Mary’s obituary, written by Mary’s protégé and successor, Gloria Champine, “She was a role model of the highest character, and through her quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts managed to help many minorities and women reach their highest potential through promotions and movement into supervisory positions.” (Shetterly, 260).

Educated in mathematics, Katherine Johnson was responsible for calculations related to Mercury missions and the Apollo 11 and 13 missions. Ms. Johnson worked at NASA from 1953 until 1986, and she is still living today (Boyd, 2016). She received the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Obama, in 2015.

Dorothy Vaughan, a math whiz, and the third woman portrayed in the Hidden Figures movie, worked as a research mathematician and the section head of the group of women computers known as West Computing. Per a quote from the book Hidden Figures, “History would prove them all right: there was no one better qualified for the job [Head of the West Area Computers unit] than Dorothy Vaughan.” (Shetterly, p.92)

Additional links of interest for Hidden Figures women/women at NASA:
Women at Jet Propulsion Lab link:
Women at NASA link:
Link to the movie production company’s website:
Boyd, H. (2016, September 15-21). ‘Hidden Figures’ No More—Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson of NASA. New York Amsterdam News. 107:38. pp. 28-31.

Shetterly, M. L. (2016). Hidden Figures. New York: William Morrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Black History Month-Pioneers in Space

History Maker-Dr. Guion Bluford, Jr.

(Photo by NASA)
The first African American to go into space was Dr. Guion Bluford, Jr. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. Dr. Bluford then entered the United States Air Force, and served as a pilot in Vietnam. He went on to earn a Master’s and a Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering. “Dr. Bluford became an astronaut in 1979. . . and in 1983, Bluford became the first African American to go into space aboard the STS-8” (Asante, 61). Bluford, was among four men who became the first African American astronauts; the other three are: Dr. Ronald McNair, Major General Charles Bolden, Jr., and Frederick Gregory. Dr. Bluford attended the reinternment ceremony of explorer Matthew Henson, and he was among the NASA astronauts who attended the funeral of Dr. Ronald McNair.

For more information go to, NASA’s educational, All About Astronauts site

A Bold Move-Major General Charles Bolden, Jr.

(Photo by NASA)

A native of Columbia, S.C., Mr. Bolden became the first African American in charge of NASA’s space program. Before becoming the lead administrator at NASA, Mr. Bolden graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, served in Vietnam, Kuwait, and Japan, earned a Master’s degree in systems management, and was a NASA astronaut for 14 years. In 1990, during his fourteen year term at NASA, Major General Bolden piloted the Space Shuttle Discovery. On this mission he and his team launched the Hubble Space Telescope. Major General Bolden became NASA’s 12th administrator, the first African American to hold this position, in 2009.

Here is a video about Major General Bolden, presented by actor Levar Burton. 

Go to the link below to see Major General Bolden's flight suit. 

One of the Few, the Four-Frederick Gregory

(Photo by NASA)

Astronaut Frederick Gregory was born in the United States in Washington, D. C. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in science, and he went on to earn a master's degree in information systems (NASA, n.d.). Mr. Gregory became an astronaut in 1978 and worked for NASA until 2005 (NASA, n.d). Along with Dr. Bluford, Major General Bolden, and Dr. McNair, Mr. Gregory was one of the first four African-American astronauts.

A Brilliant Physicist-Dr. Ronald McNair

(Photo by NASA)
The accomplished Dr. McNair, one of the 7 astronauts who perished during the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, was the second African American to go into space and the first to die in space. Dr. McNair had a Ph.D. in Physics from MIT, and he excelled early on in life becoming valedictorian of his high school class (Cheers, 84). According to Ebony magazine, Dr. McNair was, “recognized nationally for his work in the field of laser physics” (Cheers, 84). In addition to his scientific pursuits, Dr. McNair played the saxophone and was a sixth degree black belt in karate. In a tribute to Dr. McNair in Ebony magazine, it was said that he, “walked humbly and never boasted about his achievements” (Cheers, 90). The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was a friend of Dr. McNair’s, spoke at his funeral.

Go here to see an interview on CBS News with Dr. McNair’s widow.

Asante, M.K. (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Prometheus Books. pp.61.

Cheers, D.M. (1986, May). Requiem for a Hero: ‘Touching the Face of God.’ Ebony. 41(7). pp. 82-94.

Joiner, L. (2009, Fall). Bold Moves. The Crisis. 116(4). pp. 22-27

Leavy, W. (1983). Lt. Co. Guion S. Bluford Jr. takes…A Historic Step Into Outer Space. Ebony, 39(1), pp. 162-168.
Myers, A. (2005). Bluford, Guion Stewart (Guy). In Appiah, K.A. & Gates, H.L., (eds).  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 558.

NASA. (n.d.). NASA’s African-American Astronauts. Retrieved from:

United States Marine Corps. (2005, October 7). Official Biography for Charles Bolden, Jr. Retrieved from: (1 of 2)10/7/2005 11:12:09 AM 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black History Month: Pioneering Explorer

Estevan Dorantes

Mr. Dorantes is the first known African man to serve as a tour guide in what is now the United States of America. Mr. Dorantes was born in the African country of Morocco, and, according to the Africana encyclopedia, he was also known as Estevanico, Esteban, Estevanico the Moor, Black Stephen, and Esteban de Dorantes. In the late 1520s, Mr. Dorantes guided a group of Spaniards across the southern and western parts of the country, well before the lands that he and the others crossed were part of the United States.
Obregón, L. (2005). Estebanico. In Appiah, K.A. and Gates, H.L., (Eds).  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 555.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Black History Month: North Pole Navigator

North Pole Navigator: Matthew Henson
Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson, an indispensable team member on the expedition to reach the North Pole, served as an interpreter (he spoke the Eskimo language), navigator, and fellow guide to Commander Robert Peary. Mr. Henson’s relationship with Admiral Peary began in 1887, when he and Peary went to Nicaragua to do canal work. Even though Peary is credited with being the first person to discover the North Pole, Mr. Henson actually reached the pole 45 minutes before Peary did (p. 155).
Mr. Henson wrote the book A Black Explorer at the North Pole in 1912, and in it he detailed his experiences of going to the North Pole. Though not given the honor he was due during his lifetime or at the time of his death in 1955, Mr. Henson was reburied at Arlington National Cemetery in 1988 (p. 156).
Asante, M.K. (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 155-156.

A Final Resting Place for Matthew Henson. (1988, July). Ebony. 43(9).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Black History Month: Intrepid Explorer


Statue of York in Louisville, KY
A largely uncredited member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Captain William Clark’s slave, York, participated in the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. He even voted with the group in 1805 when there was a decision to be made about camping for the winter. Even though, York, “seems to have performed the same duties as the other expedition privates,” he did not receive compensation for his efforts (Lauderdale, 2004). He was still a slave to Captain Clark when the expedition ended, but York was freed by Clark about five years later.

Lauderdale, B. (2004, April). Westerners. Wild West. 16(6). pp.10-11.

Sellman, J. (2005). Military, Blacks in the American. In Appiah, K.A. and Gates, H.L., (Eds).  Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 13.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black History Month: Star Gazer

Benjamin Banneker 

Benjamin Banneker, a self-taught astronomer with an aptitude for mathematics, also made a clock, worked as a farmer, wrote almanacs, and worked closely with Pierre L’Enfant and George Ellicott on the layout of Washington, D.C. Mr. Banneker came into the world as a free man in 1731, in the state of Maryland (Asante, 48). After his work in Washington D.C., Mr. Banneker produced almanacs that he sold in the United States and abroad (Asante, 49). Mr. Banneker died in 1806 (Asante, 48).

Source: Asante, M.K. (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 48-49. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Black History Month: First in (Space) Flight for an African American Woman

Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison, a physician and a NASA astronaut, graduated from high school and enrolled in college when she was sixteen-years-old. With undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and African American Studies, and a medical degree from Cornell University, Dr. Jemison began her professional career doing non-profit medical work. She served in a refugee camp in Asia and as a medical officer in the countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia (Asante, 172). In 1992, she completed her astronaut training with NASA.  Then, in the same year, Dr. Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space on the Spacelab-J mission (Asante, 173).
For more information about Dr. Jemison, including her Twitter account, see the links and references included here :
Dr. Mae Jemison’s Twitter handle: @maejemison
Asante, M.K. (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Prometheus Books. pp.172-173.
Marshall, M. (1989, August). Child of the 60s Set to Become First Black Woman in Space. Ebony. 44(10). pp. 50-55.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Black History Month: Glass Ceiling Breaker

 Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields

Rear Admiral Fields, broke both the glass ceiling and racial barriers when she became, “the first woman officer from any of the U.S. uniformed services to command a commissioned U.S. ship.” (First Woman, 88). Fields grew up in Norfolk, VA, and graduated with a degree in mathematics from Norfolk State University. She became an officer 1973, and, in 1999, she became the first woman and first African American to command the Office of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Corps Operations and NOAA Commissioned Corps (Kouhestani, 1999).
Press release about Rear Admiral Evelyn Fields:
First Woman Ship Captain: Pioneer in U.S. Uniformed Services Finds Smooth Sailing. (1990, June). Ebony. pp. 88-90.
Kouhestani, J. (1999, July 27). Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields Formally Assumes Command of Office of NOAA Corps Operations and NOAA Commissioned Corps. NOAA Public Affairs. Retrieved from:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Black History Month: Super Inventor

--> Super Inventor
Lonnie Johnson with a Super Soaker
Lonnie Johnson-The man who invented the Super Soaker® also worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and served in the United States Air Force. The idea for the Super Soaker® came to Johnson while testing an idea for a different type of cooling system for refrigerators (Tucker, 2003). As of 2002, Mr. Johnson held 60 patents, and had formed his own company, Johnson Research and Development (Modern, 2002). In addition to Mr. Johnson’s inventions, he also worked on the NASA Galileo and Cassini missions (Johnson, 2004).

For more information about Mr. Johnson, check out the articles below or visit his website, (

To see all of the current Super Soaker® products, go to Hasbro’s website.   
Johnson Research & Development. (2004). Lonnie G. Johnson Profile. Retrieved from:

Modern Black Inventors. (2002, February 2). Jet. 107:7. P. 16.

Tucker, L. (2003, September 22). Ready, Set, Squirt! Science World. 60:2. pp. 18-20.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Black History Month: Stephen Bishop

A Mammoth Task: Stephen Bishop and the Bransford family

Illustration from Guide Book to the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky: Historical, Scientific, and Descriptive by Horace Carter Hovey (published R. Clarke and Company in 1882) [Unknown illustrator] - Library of Congress, Public Domain,
African-Americans were among the first explorers and tour guides of the world’s longest cave system, Mammoth Cave. In fact, guide Stephen Bishop bravely navigated the caverns of the cave’s passages for years, and he documented the cave with a map he created, from memory, in 1842. Mr. Bishop also discovered the following Mammoth Cave features: Mammoth Dome, River Styx, Dismal Hollow, and Bandits’ Hall. Not only did Mr. Bishop make strides in exploration, he served as a Mammoth Cave tour guide. Mr. Bishop achieved these efforts while he was enslaved, using lanterns and ropes.

Mat Bransford
The Bransford family worked as explorers and guides of Mammoth Cave too, as contemporaries of Mr. Stephen Bishop. Several generations of the Bransford family worked supporting the cave economy including: patriarch Masterson (Mat) Bransford, Henry Bransford, Will Bransford and his wife Zemmie, and Jerry Bransford. Will and Zemmie Bransford became entrepreneurs, opening the Bransford Resort, which allowed African-Americans a place to eat and sleep near the cave.

To learn more about the Bransford family or Stephen Bishop come to the library to see The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia (R 920 K37), or visit the National Park Site dedicated to Mammoth Cave’s African-American explorers and guides ( 
Black History at Mammoth Cave (n.d.). Mammoth Cave National Park. Retrieved from:

Hudson, J. B. (2015). Bishop, Stephen. In Smith, G.L., McDaniel, K.C., & Hardin, J.A. (Eds.), The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia (pp. 47-48). Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.

Smith, G.L. (2015). Bransford Family. In Smith, G.L., McDaniel, K.C., & Hardin, J.A. (Eds.), The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia (p. 63). Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Black History Month: Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy: The "Real McCoy"

Elijah McCoy was born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada on May 2, 1844. His parents were George and Emillia McCoy, former slaves from Kentucky who escaped through the Underground Railroad. 

At an early age, Elijah showed a mechanical interest, often taking items apart and putting them back together again. Recognizing his keen abilities, his parents arranged for him to travel to Scotland at the age of 15 for an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering.  After finishing his studies as a “master mechanic and engineer” he returned to the United States.

Elijah moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan but was unable to find work as an engineer due to racial barriers. Skilled professional positions were not available for African Americans at the time, regardless of their training or background. He was thus forced to take on a position as a fireman-oilman on the Michigan Central Railroad. As a fireman-oilman, McCoy was responsible for shoveling coal onto fires which would help to produce steam that powered the locomotive and ensuring that the train was well lubricated. Every few miles, the train would be forced to stop and he would have to walk alongside the train applying oil to the axles and bearings.

1st page of Elijah's patent application
McCoy set out to create a method of automating the task to improve efficiency and eliminate the frequent stopping necessary for lubrication of the train. In 1872 he developed a “lubricating cup” that could automatically drip oil onto the friction bearing components. He received a patent for the device later that year. McCoy continued to refine his devices, receiving nearly 60 patents over the course of his life. While the majority of his inventions related to lubrication systems, he also developed other designs. Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he typically assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. In 1920, toward the end of his life, McCoy formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to produce lubricators bearing his name.

The “lubricating cup” was quite successful, and orders for it came in from railroad companies all over the country. Other inventors sold their own versions of the device–often inferior knock-offs, but most companies wanted Elijah's device, asking for “the Real McCoy.”*
* Evidence suggest that the attribution of the "real McCoy" to Elijah's invention may be apocryphal. See: and

Other Sources:
Brodie, James Michael, Created Equal: the Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators. William Morrow and Company, LTD, New York, 1993. (p. 61-63)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Black History Month: Pierre Whiting

Pierre Whiting: Local Black History Folk Hero

Pierre Whiting (Retrieved from:, February 7, 2017.)
Pierre Whiting (1861-1949) wasn't an innovator or an explorer, but his story is so compelling that we had to share it. Born in 1861 in Woodford County, Pierre was hired by the University of Kentucky in 1888 as a janitor. He was UK's first black employee, and he holds the record for length of employment at the university–57 years! He retired in 1945. He lived in Adamstown, a black community, in then-segregated Lexington, KY. Adamstown no longer exists. It was purchased incrementally by UK, starting in the 1920s, and UK finished its purchases in the 1940s. Memorial Coliseum, which opened in 1950, sits on the site of Adamstown. According to local records, Pierre's house was purchased by UK in 1943 for $1,800 ($25,715 in today's money).

During his 57-year career at the University of Kentucky, Pierre became a beloved figure on campus. He acquired the moniker of "Dean Whiting." He became a treasure trove of information about UK's history. In fact, editors of the Kentucky Kernel, UK's student newspaper, would regularly interview him for his memories of working at UK. Most of his janitorial work took place at White Hall, a dormitory then, and the Main Building, one of the four original buildings on campus and the only survivor of the four.

He retired in 1945, and died on April 7, 1949. He lived long enough to witness the enrollment of UK's first black student, Lyman T. Johnson.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Black History Month

Hidden Figures: African-American Explorers and Innovators

The recent movie “Hidden Figures,” showcases the lives of African-American women employed by NASA whose efforts enabled the United States to enter and excel in the space race. These women, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, among others, are by no means the only African-American women who have contributed to the United States space program, however. African-American men and women have contributed significantly in exploring space and other frontiers, like oceans and caves, laying the groundwork for exploration, and innovating to make our world a safer, more enjoyable place. Each day the library will feature one of these men or women so that they are no longer hidden figures. 

We have a display in the Library and Learning Resource Center to celebrate these "hidden figures." Come in and take a look, Here's some pictures to whet your appetite: