James T. Graham describes the neighborhood from the resident’s perspective. Interview conducted by James E. Wallace, May 21, 1991, Kentucky Oral History Commission, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY.
1865-1870: Several African Americans settle in North Frankfort, known by most as the “lower part of the city.”
1870-1880: Between 1870 and 1880, the black population rose from 2,335 to 3,199.
1877-1880: The name “Crawfish Bottom” begins to emerge as references in newspapers. Later shortened to “Craw.”
1880: Flood threatens residents of Craw.
1883: Flood devastates neighborhood
1891: Dr. Underwood establishes medical practice in the neighborhood
1909: Riot in Craw between Soldiers and residents.
1912: Prostitution in Craw captures attention of Federal Government.
1913: Prostitutes are relegated to Gas House Alley forming an unofficial red-light district.
1920: 19th Amendment ratified (Prohibition)
1928: Mayo Underwood School built
1929: John Fallis, “King of Craw” is shot and killed.
1937: Flood devastates neighborhood
1955: League of Women Voters conducts study provoking slum clearance efforts.
1956: The 1956 “Structure and Family Survey” conducted by Scruggs and Hammond, a Lexington city planning firm
1958: City commences purchasing and clearing of properties making up the North Frankfort Urban Renewal Area.
Mid 1960s: Mayo Underwood School, American Legion Building, homes and churches are torn down. Residents are scattered throughout the city. Housing promised to residents falls far short of slum clearance promises.
Most news stories about the neighborhood between 1870 and 1930 tended to be about either crime, poverty, or the call for neighborhood reform. Rarely did the newspapers of Frankfort cover the close community that lived in the neighborhood. As the book examines, the newspapers and early historians had a great deal to do with the development of the neighborhood’s bad reputation. Here are a few of those headlines:
Most of the images for this book are housed in Special Collections at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort. Many images of the homes destroyed by Urban Renewal have been digitized and are online as part of the North Frankfort Urban Renewal Appraisal Collection.
Recent Events, News, Reviews and Appearances:
“Crawfish Bottom is a fascinating story well told. By combining narrative skills with sound theory and original methodology in his use of oral and archival sources, Boyd revives the memory and narrative of a community that was wiped out in the name of progress.”
—Alessandro Portelli, author of They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History
“Urban planners seldom listened to the communities they bulldozed, but oral history can recapture the historical memory of what has been lost. Crawfish Bottom provides a vivid and layered history of the colorful community that once existed on the banks of the Kentucky River, in the words of its inhabitants and in a critical analysis of their interviews.”
—Donald A. Ritchie, author of Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide
“This captivating book conveys a portrait of a community physically lost to urban renewal. As important, Crawfish Bottom contributes to our understanding of the nature of popular memory. Boyd goes beyond generalizations and uses the skills of the historian and folklorist to document the process by which community identity and self-understanding are created, challenged and reshaped in both past and present, and most interestingly by the very intervention of the oral historian. This book will be of great interest to all those interested in the nature and study of community.”
–Tracy K’Meyer, author of Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980
Doug Boyd Ph.D. serves as the Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries and is a recognized national leader regarding oral history, archives and digital technologies. His recent publications include the article Horses and Hoops: New Approaches to Oral History in a Digital Environment, as well as “Achieving the Promise of Oral History in a Digital Age,” a chapter in The Oxford Handbook to Oral History (Oxford University Press), and he is the author of the book Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community which will be published in August 2011 by the University Press of Kentucky.
Doug Boyd is the author of the Saving Stories blog on Kentucky Oral History, the Nunn Center, and digital technologies and co-hosts the Saving Stories radio program and podcast on Lexington’s NPR station WUKY featuring Kentucky oral history and various Nunn Center initiatives. Boyd also regularly writes, lectures, and consults on oral history and digital technologies, archives, and digital preservation having recently consulted for the University of Colorado, the University of Alabama, and the Navajo Nation. He regularly teaches archives and oral history courses for the University of Kentucky’s School of Library and Information Science.
He is currently managing the IMLS grant project Oral History in the Digital Age establishing current best practices for collecting, curating and disseminating oral histories. The grant is directed by MATRIX at Michigan State University and partners the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Oral History Association, and the American Folklore Society.
Previously, Doug Boyd established and administered Digital Programs for the University of Alabama Libraries, served as the Director of the KentuckyOral History Commission and prior to that worked as the Senior Archivist for the oral history collection at the Kentucky Historical Society. Boyd was elected in 2008 to the Oral History Steering Committee for the Society of American Archivists and to the Executive Council of the Oral History Association in 2010. Doug Boyd received his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Folklore from Indiana University and his B.A. degree in History from Denison University in Granville, Ohio.
Just posted the appearance on C-Span’s BookTV on YouTube!