Inside Spencer: the KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Student Election Edition

April 16th, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 5,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Spring General Elections for KU’s Student Senate are currently under way, characterized by computers and electronic ballots instead of paper forms and ballot boxes.

 

Photograph of a KU student election, early 1950s

KU student election in Strong Hall, early 1950s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 3/11 1950s Prints:
Student Government (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Student Senate voting in Strong Hall, 1986-1987

Student Senate voting in Strong Hall, 1986-1987.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 3/11 1986-1987:
Student Government (Photos). Click image to enlarge
(redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

 

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Hidden Treasure Found in the Stacks

April 15th, 2015

Working at Spencer for the past two years, I’ve discovered many amazing manuscripts and old novels that I never dreamed of getting the chance to actually work with. An even more far-fetched idea, however, was finding books that I read when I was a kid and had completely forgotten about.

Yet I did.

It started off as any other day: reshelving books within the stacks. I pushed my book cart, complete with its squeaky wheels, down the rows as I returned the books back to their homes on the shelves. Walking around the perimeter of the stacks, I found a section of books that I hadn’t noticed before. They stood out amongst the old, leather bound covers of books published before the 1700s. Instead, these spines were cloth and colorful, rich in design and detail.

And they looked eerily familiar.

Image of the cover of In the Reign of Terror by G. A. Henty, 1888

The cover of In the Reign of Terror by G. A. Henty.
Illustrated by J. Schönberb. London: Blackie, 1888.
Call Number: O’Hegarty B805. Click image to enlarge.

Leaving my book cart behind me, I walked up to take a closer look, disbelief forming in the back of my mind. No, these couldn’t be the same books I read in middle school, I thought. There was no chance. Upon closer inspection, my gut was proven to be right: I had discovered a treasure trove of books by British author George Alfred (G. A.) Henty. Shelves upon shelves were lined by his masterpieces, a series of adventure books that I’d barely scratched the surface of, reading them in my youth.

Instantly, I was transported back home, as an eleven-year-old, acne-riddled, glasses wearing middle-schooler, standing in my public library. I discovered a book by accident: it had a simple red cover that was torn on the sides. The title read In the Reign of Terror: The Adventures of a Westminster Boy by G. A. Henty. I have never heard of him before, but I decided to take the book home with me and give it a try.

I finished it within the week.

Henty was a mastermind of writing stories threaded within historical events. In the Reign of Terror was about a boy named Harry Sandwith, who was sent to live with the Marquis de St. Caux during the French Revolution, in a time when political stresses tore the country apart during the reign of King Louis XVI. Even though his novels were written in the late nineteenth century and intended for a young male audience (he always started off his tales with a letter to his audience, addressed to his “Dear Lads…”), I still found them to be enlightening, enjoyable and one heck of a political and historical ride.

And I had completely forgotten about Henty and his tales.

Image of the cover of St. Bartholomew's Eve, G. A. Henty, 1894

The cover of St. Bartholomew’s Eve by G. A. Henty.
Illustrated by H. J. Draper. London: Blackie, 1894.
Call Number: O’Hegarty B818. Click image to enlarge.

Since being reunited, I have been reminded of the books that I raided when I was a kid. After reading Reign, I quickly went through our library’s collection back home, which consisted of six titles. My favorite I’ve read is St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which is a tale of the Huguenot Wars.

Illustration in St. Bartholomew's Eve, G. A. Henty, 1894

An illustration in St. Bartholomew’s Eve by G. A. Henty.
Illustrated by H. J. Draper. London: Blackie, 1894.
Call Number: O’Hegarty B818. Click image to enlarge.

Image of preface in St. Bartholomew's Eve, G. A. Henty, 1894 Image of preface in St. Bartholomew's Eve, G. A. Henty, 1894

The preface of St. Bartholomew’s Eve by G. A. Henty, addressed to “my dead lads.” Illustrated by H. J. Draper.
London: Blackie, 1894. Call Number: O’Hegarty B818. Click image to enlarge.

Now that I have rediscovered Henty, I’ve been looking into him again and trying to decide which book to read next in order to get back into reading him. Yet I also realized that there are plenty of controversies surrounding the author I’d accidentally discovered. While these stories are advertised as stories of adventures for young boys, they were also criticized – both during the time of publication and especially since then – as being xenophobic towards anything that wasn’t part of British culture and nationalism. His books were also labeled as strong propaganda towards British imperialism, raising the question of if there was another purpose behind Henty’s agenda for writing these novels.

None of this political scandal was noticed by me as a young reader, but recognizing it now, I think it would be interesting to go back and reread some of his stories, or pick up a brand new one. Rediscovering one of my favorite childhood authors was something I definitely didn’t expect to happen while working within the stacks. It was an experience that made me feel like I went back in time, while at the same time, opened a door to learning more about this controversial, yet very popular, late-nineteenth-century author.

It just goes to show that no matter what you’re doing in a library – working, researching or just simply browsing – the treasures waiting to be discovered are endless.

Nicole Evans
Public Services Student Assistant

Throwback Thursday: Library Research Edition

April 9th, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 5,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Next week (April 12-18) is National Library Week! First sponsored in 1958, this national observance is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. As noted on the ALA website, “it is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.”

In honor of this event, we’re getting a glimpse of how past generations of users, working in the pre-Internet age of the not-too-distant past, conducted research and found materials at KU Libraries.

KU Libraries, researcher using a microfiche reader, 1970s

A researcher using a microform reader, 1970s. You can still visit the
Spencer Reading Room to get some firsthand experience using a more modern version
of this tool. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 32/0 1970s Prints:
University of Kansas Libraries (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of patrons using the card catalog at Watson, 1981

Patrons using the card catalog at Watson Library, 1981. Be sure to
take a peek at the Spencer card catalog the next time you visit our Reading Room.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 32/0 1981 Prints:
University of Kansas Libraries (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of an early KU Libraries electronic public catalog, 1987-1988

A view of an early version of the KU Libraries electronic public catalog, 1987-1988.
Converting the old paper cards into this format was a big deal for staff and patrons,
but by today’s standards the catalog was still quite cumbersome: it could only be accessed
at designated terminals at the library, search and indexing capabilities were limited,
and graphical user interface did not exist. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 32/0 1987/1988 Prints: University of Kansas Libraries (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Boxed in

April 6th, 2015

Conservation Services students and staff have housed a wide variety of objects from the University Archives in the past few years. Each object presents its own challenges, but we try to keep a few things in mind: 1) It must be easy for a patron to remove the object safely from the box, 2) any paperwork that accompanies the object should be stored in a pocket in the box lid, and 3) a color image of the item should be affixed to the outside of the box to aid staff in locating the correct item without having to open every box.

Please enjoy a few of our favorite recent housings.

 

Broken metal Jayhawk statue   Jayhawk whiskey bottle

Left: Metal Jayhawk broken at neck, housed in original orientation with support for the broken area.
Right: Ceramic Jayhawk whiskey bottle. Call numbers: 0/25. University Archives. Click images to enlarge.

Chancellor Snow's pocket watch with key  L.L. Dyche compass and measuring tape

Left: Chancellor Snow’s pocket watch with winding key. Call number: 2/6/6.
Right: Professor L.L. Dyche’s compass and measuring tape. Call number: 41/0. University Archives. Click images to enlarge.

   Seal of the University of Kansas, University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Seal of the University of Kansas. Call number: 0/30. University Archives. Click image to enlarge.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Bunny Rabbit Edition

April 2nd, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 3,900 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We selected this week’s picture because, in addition to Easter being this Sunday, the Kansas Relays will be taking place in Lawrence in a couple of weeks.

 Photograph of the Kansas Relays parade, float with people dressed as rabbits, 1953

People dressed as rabbits on a float in the Kansas Relays parade, 1953.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/2 1953: Student Activities:
Kansas Relays (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants