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Aunt Molly Jackson: Pistol Packin’ Woman

Join us next month on March 3 for a presentation of Kentucky Chautauqua’s Aunt Molly Jackson: Pistol Packin’ Woman! This event is FREE!

Born in Clay County in 1880 as Mary Magdalene Garland, Aunt Molly Jackson, as she became known in later life, spent most of the first 50 years of her life in coal camps in southeastern Kentucky as a midwife, union organizer and as the daughter, sister and wife of coal miners.

She became known for her strong pro-union stance and her conviction to create positive change in the coal-mining region. Jackson composed several original songs describing the plight of the miners. Jackson was determined to do whatever she could to help improve the lives of the miners and their families.

In late 1931, author Theodore Dreiser visited Bell and Harlan counties in southeastern Kentucky with a committee of other writers to gather information on conditions in the coalfields. Jackson sang them her original song “Hungry Ragged Blues” and told them about the poor conditions in coal camps. Impressed with her eloquence and her knowledge of the lives of miners and their families, Dreiser arranged for Jackson to come to New York to help raise funds for striking miners. Jackson spent much of the rest of the decade performing around the country as part of a group of political singer-songwriters and became well known among New York City newspaper reporters, folklorists, musicologists, radicals and intellectuals.

Aunt Molly Jackson is portrayed by Anne Shelby. Shelby is the author of 10 books, including poetry, folk tales and children’s books, among other writings. She has taught at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, the Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman Settlement School and at Lexington’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Shelby, a native of southeastern Kentucky, lives on Teges Creek in Clay County only a few miles from the birthplace of Aunt Molly Jackson.

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This presentation of Aunt Molly Jackson: Pistol Packin’ Woman is sponsored by the Kentucky Chautauqua program. Kentucky Chautauqua is a presentation of the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc., a non-profit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities and a partner of Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. It is funded with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from business partners including: Christina Lee Brown, the Brown-Forman Corporation, the Carson-Myre Charitable Foundation, the Cralle Foundation, Eastern Kentucky University, the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation, Lindsey Wilson College, Morehead State University, Murray State Kentucky, Paducah Bank, PNC and Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Where I’m From

Join us in the Where I’m From project! This is a great opportunity to participate in a statewide project. All ages can participate in this program!
This project was inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From,” which can be read on her website here.where i'm from

Winter Weather

Muhlenberg County Public Libraries will be closed tomorrow, January 22, due to impending severe winter weather. Stay safe and warm! We will reopen as soon as the weather allows.

New program – Spoiler Alert!

Join us Jan. 12 for this fun new program! We’ll have themed snacks and discuss the new Star Wars movie. Warning: there will be spoilers!star wars

Gift Wrapping Class

Join us Thursday for tips on gift wrapping and bow making! Space is limited — call today (270-338-4760) to sign up!


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