Skip to main content

The Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana Fund and the Legacy of Dr. Alberta Server: About the Fund

A guide to the Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana Fund housed in the University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collection Research Center.

Lou Emma Wilson, 1877-1963

At the age of twenty, Lou Emma Wilson set out from Kentucky with her husband, a railroad engineer, for a very primitive and revolution-torn land, Mexico in the early twentieth century. Mrs. Wilson was a courageous woman, for she knew not a word of Spanish and had an infant daughter, Alberta, to care for. Their first home was a one room casita de adobe in a railroad company camp. There was running water – a single faucet in the corner – but no other plumbing, of course, and no stove; cooking had to be done over a charcoal brazier. But Lou Emma Wilson rose to the challenge. After living in carious towns – Porfirio Diaz, Tampico, Jalapa, Puebla, and Mexico City – the Wilsons settled in Puebla. They bought a small hotel, “The American House,” and a store that sold overalls, work gloves, and other supplies for railroad men.  From "Lou Emma Wilson and Alberta Wilson Server" by Dr. John E. Keller. 

Read entire text of the Keller introduction.

Lou Emma Wilson Mexicana Fund Endowment: A Lasting Legacy

 

On April 23, 1963, Dr. Alberta Wilson Server establish an endowment with University of Kentucky Libraries to honor her mother, Lou Emma Wilson.  The objection of the endowment was:

"...to make the University of Kentucky Library a major center for the study of all aspects of Mexican culture, through the purchase of current and retrospective books, manuscripts, and microfilm that are within the scope of the available funds."  Letter from Alberta Wilson Server to Dr. Lawrence Thompson, April 23, 1963. 

Over the past 50 years, UK Libraries have been honoring this request and adding unique resources (some of them rare) on Mexico.  This guide provides access to this collection and is a testament to what a small amount of endowed money can do to build a library collection.  Dr. Server established the endowment over 50 years ago established a legacy that continues to build the UK Libraries collection.

Dr. Server's Dedication to Students

Dr. Server taught Spanish at all levels during her 45 year tenure at the University of Kentucky. Even after her retirement in 1967, she maintained ties with the department by lecturing occasionally and by helping some students financially.  According to Dr. John E. Keller, one of her students, she was "hard but just a taskmaster who insisted upon good study habits and academic accomplishments."  In addition to the L.E. Wilson Endowment, she left a legacy of accomplished students.

Dr. Alberta Wilson Server

Dr. Alberta Wilson Server

 

Dr. Alberta Wilson Server

1897-1986

 

Dr. John E. Keller