The Jonesville History Project was started by a small team of WKU students as their group project for a class (Honors 251: Citizen and Self) in Fall 2014. The current team includes Dr. Alexander Olson as faculty director, Denis Mujic as technology specialist, Ms. Angela Townsend as a liaison with former residents, and three WKU students: Catherine Rice, Chelsea Murray, and Emily Peck. We are grateful to all the campus and community partners who have helped us get started, including The Mahurin Honors College at WKU for providing domain space and start-up funding. We have received valuable guidance from faculty in History and African American Studies and look forward to building additional partnerships as the project develops.
What is Jonesville?
Jonesville was a predominantly African American community in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the expansion of the WKU campus. This incident echoed a pattern across the country where the power of eminent domain was utilized to seize property from minority communities for large public works projects under the guise of urban revitalization. Although this history is well-documented in places such as Detroit and New York City—where I-75 and the Cross Bronx Expressway tore through historically black neighborhoods—the consequences for smaller cities such as Bowling Green were no less severe.
Where is Jonesville?
"Jonesville was a small African American community in Bowling Green, founded by free slaves shortly after the Civil War. The earliest land deed dates back to 1881. The community was named after "Grandma" Jones who presumably owned a large amount of property. Jonesville itself was about thirty acres in size. These thirty acres were bordered by Big Red Way, Russellville Road, Dogwood Drive, and the railroad tracks." Wright, Ali, "UA1B2/1 The Jonesville Controversy" (2004). Student/Alumni Personal Papers. Paper 70. http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/stu_alum_papers/70
On campus today, this area would include Diddle Arena, Houchens Industries L.T. Smith Stadium, Downing Student Union, and Bates Runner Hall.
This is the landing page for the Jonesville History Project that was constructed in the Fall of 2020.
View a documentary on the history of Jonesville created by Aimee Briley, a WKU student in Ethnographic Film in 2009.
Ms. Angela Townsend, a resident of Jonesville, conducted a video with MHC scholars in 2014.