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Alexander sworn in as new president of Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board

Constance Alexander, a writer and business consultant from Murray, was recently sworn in as president of the governing board of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). After she took the oath of office, as administered by Judge Phillip J. Shepherd, at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort, she outlined her goals for the coming year emphasizing the connections between poetry and history.

A New Jersey native, Alexander moved to Kentucky in 1988. Her interest in Kentucky history was inspired by learning about Land Between The Lakes and the families and communities that were displaced by the construction of dams, bridges, roads, and finally a National Recreation Area.

Constance Alexander

Through a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council, Constance served as community artist in residence at LBL in the 1990s. Another grant from the Kentucky Oral History Commission funded a project with former LBL residents. From those oral histories, working in collaboration with WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray, she produced a 12-part radio documentary, “Connecting People & Place,” to tell stories of the people who once called those communities home.

In remarks after her swearing in, Alexander quoted author Simon Schama: “History without poetry is just information.” She explained the relationship between storytelling and history, ending her talk with the poem, “A Genesis of a Sort,” by Kentucky Poet Laureate, Frederick Smock.

The poem refers to “the vastness of this green garden, Kentucky,” and claims that the first poem west of the Appalachians was by Daniel Boone, who carved his words about killing a bear onto a tree in 1760.

Alexander is an award-winning poet, playwright, columnist, and civic journalist, author of several poetry books, a memoir, and many plays. The first person from western Kentucky to be president of the KHS governing board, she has also served the boards of Murray’s Playhouse in the Park, Paducah’s Luther F. Carson Center, and the alumni board of Leadership Kentucky. She is on the national advisory council of University of Kentucky’s Institute on Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and was first appointed to the Kentucky Oral History Commission board by Governor Paul Patton. She has been part of the KHS governing board for six years.

“One thing I learned very early in my residency in Kentucky,” she said, “is that some people think Bowling Green is western Kentucky. Those of us who drive to meetings in Louisville, Lexington, Somerset, and other locales around the state, have a special appreciation for the great expanse that is Kentucky, and I am committed to making sure that voices from our region are included in statewide organizations and activities.”

The Kentucky Historical Society was formed in 1836 to preserve the history of the Commonwealth. A membership organization, KHS is part of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The mission is to educate and engage the public through Kentucky’s history in order to confront the challenges of the future. More information is available online at history.ky.gov.

From Kentucky Historical Society

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