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Louise Weiller papers

 Collection
Identifier: 1981_084-UA
These are the papers of Louise Weiller, radio personality, author, and a founder of the Louisville Ballet. The collection dates from 1897 to 1994. During her lifetime Weiller hosted two radio programs, wrote numerous newspaper and newsletter columns, and was a frequent speaker to various organizations. This collection of 17.5 linear feet documents Weiller's life, hobbies and other pursuits.

Louise Weiller, a well-known Louisville radio personality of the 1950s, donated her papers to the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center in June 1991 through friend Jo Spencer and lawyer/friend Karen Conrad.

The gift included correspondence, literary productions, photographs, financial and legal documents as well as memorabilia. Weiller also donated many of her daughter Connie's materials, such as poetry, class works and manuscripts. Connie was an unpublished poet and writer.

Diaries are abundant in the personal series. There are only three from the 1920s but many date from the 1950s and beyond. Entries are sporadic immediately following Connie's death but increase after Louise's interests in Sufism begins.

The largest series is correspondence and includes letters to and from Connie when Louise's daughter was a student at Barnard College in New York. Many letters were written after Connie's death to a diverse group of correspondents. Manuscripts and other literary productions, photographs, printed materials and memorabilia are also included in this collection. There are few financial and legal records. The bulk of the collection dates after 1956.

Large items from the various series, both Connie's and Louise's, were placed in oversized flat boxes for preservation. The only restriction on any materials in the collection is a prohibition against the publication of Connie's poetry.

Dates

  • 1897-1997

Creator

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville; please consult a reference archivist for more information.

Extent

17.5 linear feet (4 records center boxes, 7 manuscript boxes, 4 half-manuscript boxes, 2 audiotape boxes, 2 flats, 1 package and 2 oversized photographs)

Biographical / Historical

Radio personality and writer Margaret Louise Pennington Weiller was born September 22, 1904, in New Albany, Indiana. Her parents were Chester A. and Eva Hudgins Pennington. Weiller's father worked at the Louisville and Jeffersonville Bridge and Railway Company until 1949 when he suffered an apparent heart attack and fell from the Big Four bridge into the Ohio River. Her mother Eva, a housewife, was struck by further tragedy when her two younger children died of scarlet fever in 1912 within six weeks of each other. According to correspondence, she later told her surviving daughter Louise not to love because love only brought sorrow.

Weiller spent her childhood in New Albany until her family later moved to Louisville. The June 16, 1920 Courier-Journal reported that Louise was the youngest candidate to graduate from Louisville Girls' High School. Weiller received a Bachelor of Science degree from theUniversity of Louisville (U of L) in 1924. During her time at the university, Louise held every office in her class and she was the first editor of U of L's yearbook, The Thoroughbred.

In 1924 Weiller went on a European tour led by Neville S. Bullitt. According to correspondence she sent her mother, she enjoyed the trip immensely. By 1925 she held an Indiana teacher's certificate and she taught French, English and chemistry in the public schools for one year.

On June 21, 1926, Louise married Charles Robert (Bob) Weiller in her mother's home. The ceremony was performed by Dr. Charles H. Prather, minister of Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church. Louise and Bob subsequently moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where their only child, Constance Pennington Weiller, was born on April 1, 1929. Connie attended schools in Evanston, Illinois, and in Kentucky, and was Phi Beta Kappa at Barnard College in New York. In 1955 Connie was diagnosed with leukemia. A trip to the religious shrine in Lourdes, France, was scheduled for early 1956 but Connie died on February 5. During her years at Barnard, Connie and her mother corresponded extensively.

Louise occupied herself after the death of her only child by returning to college and continuing work in radio. Louise had begun a radio broadcasting career in 1945 as a temporary employee with WINN. By 1950 she had become a permanent employee and her program became known as "Lady Lookout." Many times Connie substituted on the radio for her mother so Louise could stay home and catch up on household chores. By 1956 Weiller began doing "A Woman's Way" for WAVE.

Other endeavors included reviewing books, writing a column "Here's How" for The Voice, a St. Matthews weekly newspaper, a help column titled "Practical Suggestions for Busy Homemakers" for the Louisville Gas and Electric Company's newsletter and a column for a publication called The Almanac. She also volunteered her time to aphasic patients at Veterans Hospital.

During their married life, Bob Weiller roamed the United States and the world. He apparently made few if any return visits to Louisville in later years. No materials in the collection document whether the Weillers later divorced. Bob Weiller died in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1982.

Corresponding with an extensive list of people such as friends, relatives and even a few prisoners, took up much of Louise's time. She acted in many plays both during college as well as later in life.

Weiller had many interests. They included different religions, unidentified flying objects, World War II, the flier Charles A. Lindbergh and his accomplishments, the John F. Kennedy assassination, space, gardening and animals.

Weiller also followed the Sufism movement, rooted in Mohammedan mysticism, and yoga. Her library of French, Arabic, and German dictionaries displayed her interests, which corresponded with some of her college courses. Her reading also included writings on vegetarian cooking, uses of herbs, and which included I Ching and theosophy.

Failing health prompted Weiller's move to the Sacred Heart Home in 1991. She later moved to St. Matthews Manor nursing home, where she resided until her death in 1996.

Creator

Title
Louise Weiller Papers
Status
completed
Author
Colleen D. Schiavone; machine readable finding aid modified by Michele Lai-Fook
Language of description
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752
502 852-6673 (Fax)