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Lunch and Learn Series

Book discussion program to begin
at Oldham County History Center

Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (February 2005) – If a picture can tell a thousand words, then Dr. Bruce Tyler has just written volumes. Tyler is the author of a pictorial history book titled, “Images of African American Life in Louisville.”

Bruce Tyler

Bruce Tyler

This photographic publication is a 230-picture, 128-page book published by Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, S.C. One or two sentence commentaries accompany each photo, and it is divided into 11 chapters with a variety of themes.
Tyler will preview his book for Oldham County audiences at noon Friday, Feb. 11, at the Irish Rover, Too on Main Street in La Grange. This lecture and slide presentation about Tyler’s book is the first in a new program offered by the Oldham County History Center’s “Lunch & Learn Series.”
This special book discussion program is offered through the center and funded by a grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council. “The main purpose is to offer book discussion programs on Kentucky’s history,” said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center.
Charles Thompson, assistant director for publications for the Kentucky Humanities Council, said sponsors are asked to choose books from a list provided by the Humanities Council. Included on the list are Kentucky authors or books about Kentucky arranged by category, said Thompson. Sponsors can choose up to four books and make substitutions if they feel a certain book not on the list has special local appeal.
Grant money pays for honoraria and travel expenses for book discussion leaders, who conduct the programs. Sponsors can request a grant for the maxim amount of $1,000. “Unlike other grants, these are non-competitive grants,” said Thompson.
Theiss said, “We set the series up as a lunch series at the Irish Rover, Too because it is a convenient location to our history center and allows people to enjoy our local businesses as well as appreciate our history.”

Lunch and Learn Series

• Friday, Feb. 11: “Images of African American Life in Louisville,” by Dr. Bruce Tyler.
• Saturday, March 5: “Famous People I Have Known,” by Ed McClanahan.
• Wednesday, April 13: “How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay,” written by Stephen Aaron; Presented by Diane Coon.
• Wednesday, May 11: “A Taste of the Sweet Apple,” PeeWee Watson.

Theiss said Tyler was chosen as the first book discussion leader because “it seemed fitting to start the series with an emphasis on black history month.” Tyler, 56, is originally from Los Angeles but moved to Kentucky in 1985 to teach U.S. and African American History at the University of Louisville.
The book includes photographs on many aspects of Louisville’s history such as communities, families, churches, high schools, African American fire-fighters, businesses, benevolent groups and soldiers. In essence, it describes, “Black people who lived honorable lives,” said Tyler.
Many photographs portray soldiers who served their country while facing many limitations to their citizenship rights but bravely defended the United States, no matter what the cost. To stress this point, Tyler has included a photograph of Gen. George Patton pining a Silver Star on an African American soldier.
Tyler has devoted an entire chapter that indirectly relates to Louisville on the Lincoln Institute. Originally, the Lincoln Institute was located in Louisville but was moved to Shelby County, where Tyler now lives. Through photographs he has chronicled the institute’s history, as well as that of Central Colored High School.
Judging from the uniqueness of the accumulated photos, one would think Tyler had spent half a lifetime collecting them. Actually, he said it did not take long to put this book together, as he already had many photographs pertaining to various articles he had written in the past for scholarly journals.
Tyler credits the idea to a former U of L colleague, history department professor Leonard Curry. Curry met Arcadia Publishing representatives at a conference and passed along Tyler’s name as an author they might want to consider. Representatives kept in touch with Tyler until he conceded to create the book.
Tyler said a book like this one that is well thought out and produced in a professional manner can instill in a community a sense of pride. This pictorial documentary is one of the best “ways of preserving history,” he said. Tyler is also the author of “From Harlem to Hollywood.”
All book discussion programs begin at noon and will be held at the Irish Rover, Too, 117 E. Main St, La Grange. Cost is $10 for Historical Society members and $12 for non-members. Advanced registration is required. Call (502) 222-0826.

• For more information contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.

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