Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ralph Bowden letters

Abstract

The Ralph Bowden letters (dated 1910-1912; 0.38 cubic feet; 2 boxes) comprise letters from Ralph Bowden to his mother, Jennie S. Bowden, sister, Beulah M. Bowden, and brother, Bright R. Bowden that document his experience working for the YMCA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early twentieth century.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ralph Bowden letters
Creator
Bowden, Ralph T., 1892-1989
Extent
0.379 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Antisemitism -- United States
Correspondence.
Christian youth -- Religious life
Prohibition
Religion
Arrangement
Collection is arranged by recipient. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0163: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Ralph Bowden letters, 1910-1912, University of Kentucky Special Collections
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Ralph T. Bowden (1892-1989) was born in Brodhead, Wisconsin to Lewis Alfred Bowden (1856-1911) and Jennie Delia Sheldon (1857-1946), as the sixth of seven children. In 1910, Bowden left Brodhead for Milwaukee, to serve as an assistant secretary for the Milwaukee branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). He was also an aspiring evangelical minister for the Adventist Church. Bowden was a staunch prohibitionist, fighting saloons in Milwaukee, and represented the traditional segment of Progressives. In 1912, he left his position at the YMCA and later joined the Marine Corps, serving in China in 1928. In 1913, Bowden married Bertha Leonora Larry (1893-1956), with whom he had one son, Ralph S. Bowden (1914-2005). Sometime between 1915 and 1920, Ralph Bowden and his family moved to California, and after his military service, he found work as a mechanic in Oakland.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Ralph Bowden letters (dated 1910-1912; 0.38 cubic feet; 2 boxes) comprise letters from Ralph Bowden to his mother, Jennie S. Bowden, sister, Beulah M. Bowden, and brother, Bright R. Bowden that document his experience working for the YMCA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early twentieth century. The bulk of the letters are to Bowden's mother, however he wrote to his sister quite often as well. In the letters, Ralph discusses participation in religious activities, keeping physically fit, and his support of prohibition. Frequently, he would detail his dissatisfaction with his position at the YMCA along with a dislike for the non-denominational atmosphere of the organization. In a few letters, he mentions the impending coming of Christ and that due to the upheaval in Europe the end was near. Bowden also discusses his disgust with other religions and denominations, blaming Roman Catholicism for alcoholism, greed, and vice; and advocating his anti-Semitic views, pushing for the removal of a boy staying at the YMCA due to the boy being Jewish. There is only one letter to his brother, Bright, in 1911, where he talks about leaving the YMCA because the organization is not what he thinks it should be.
The Ralph Bowden letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Ralph Bowden letters to mother, Jennie S. Bowden, 1910

  • Box 249, folder 6
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Ralph Bowden letters to mother, Jennie S. Bowden, 1911

  • Box 249, folder 7-9
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Ralph Bowden letters to mother, Jennie S. Bowden, 1912

  • Box 250, folder 1-2
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Ralph Bowden letters to sister, Beulah M. Bowden, 1910

  • Box 250, folder 3
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Ralph Bowden letters to sister, Beulah M. Bowden, 1911

  • Box 250, folder 4
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Ralph Bowden letters to sister, Beulah M. Bowden, 1912

  • Box 250, folder 5-6
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Ralph Bowden letter to brother, Bright R. Bowden, 1911

  • Box 250, folder 7
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Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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