Inside Spencer: the KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Wescoe Beach Edition

April 28th, 2016

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 27,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

So far it’s been a cloudy, rainy week in Lawrence, but hopefully we’ll soon see the return of sunny, warm weather that’s perfect for studying outside.

Photograph of a student reading in the grass in front of Wescoe Hall, 1981

Student reading in the grass in front of Wescoe Hall, 1981. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Wescoe Beach 1981 Prints: Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Charlotte Brontë : Jane Eyre Revealing the Reality in Her Fiction

April 25th, 2016

Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816 in Thornton, England to the Reverend Patrick Brontë and Maria Branwell Brontë. Charlotte’s life was marked by tragedy, losing her mother when she was five, the aunt that raised her, and all five of her siblings. Yet despite these sorrows, she was able to use the experiences from her life to become one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era. Her passionate, honest, and rebellious stories continue to inspire authors and readers alike.

Front cover of the Thompson Brother’s Fireside Library edition of Jane Eyre: an Autobiography with an illustration of Charlotte Brontë, [Nov. 1891?].
Front cover of the Thompson Brother’s Fireside Library edition of Jane Eyre: an Autobiography
with an illustration of Charlotte Brontë, [Nov. 1891?]. Special Collections, Spencer Research Library.
Call Number: O’Hegarty C2307. Click Image to Enlarge.

Jane Eyre, her most popular work, has bewitched audiences for more than 150 years with its poignant tale of an orphan girl who became a governess and dared to overcome societal constraints by finding true love and gaining financial independence. Although the story in itself is exciting, one of the main reasons for Jane Eyre’s continued popularity is the perfect blend of romance with realism. By pulling from her own life, Charlotte Brontë infuses her novel with verisimilitude. When Jane grieves over the death of Helen Burns, rages against the stifling life of a governess, and despairs over the impossibility of her love, Charlotte is letting us into her personal thoughts, emotions, and experiences. The images I have selected from one of our editions of Jane Eyre highlight these fictionalized autobiographical moments.

Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre. This illustration depicts Jane Eyre at the puritanical Lowood School visiting her dying friend, Helen Burns.
Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre.
This illustration depicts Jane Eyre at the puritanical Lowood School visiting her dying friend, Helen Burns.
As a child Charlotte lost two sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, to pulmonary tuberculosis due to the terrible conditions
at the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge. Lowood was modeled off of the Clergy Daughters’ School
and the character of Helen Burns was inspired by her oldest sister, Maria, who had been like a mother to Charlotte.
Special Collections, Spencer Research Library. Call Number: G64. Click Image to Enlarge.

Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre. This illustration depicts Jane, as a governess, sitting ignored by her employer, Mr. Rochester, and his upper class visitors.
Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre.
This illustration depicts Jane, as a governess, sitting ignored by her employer, Mr. Rochester,
and his upper class visitors. Charlotte Brontë served as a governess for a school and for private families
and found it degrading, as she explains in this quote from her letters cited in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
“I see now more clearly than I have ever done before that a private governess has no existence,
is not considered as a living and rational being except as connected with the wearisome duties she has to fulfill.”
Special Collections, Spencer Research Library. Call Number: G64. Click Image to Enlarge.

Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre. This illustration depicts Jane weeping over her wedding dress after discovering that her groom, Mr. Rochester, was already married.
Lithograph by Ethel Gabain from Imprimerie Nationale’s 1923 edition of Jane Eyre.
This illustration depicts Jane weeping over her wedding dress after discovering that her groom, Mr. Rochester,
was already married. While teaching in Brussels, Charlotte fell in love with her French tutor, Constantin Heger,
a married man, but her love was not returned. She sent many letters to him with no response,
sending her into depression that would often manifest itself in headaches.
Special Collections, Spencer Research Library. Call Number: G64. Click Image to Enlarge.

If you’re interested in learning more about Charlotte Brontë or her other works, come visit us at Spencer Research library and check out these resources:

  • Brontë, Charlotte. Napoleon and the Spectre: a Ghost Story. London: C. Shorter, 1919. Call Number: D916
  • Brontë, Charlotte. The Professor: to Which are Added the Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, Now First Collected. London : Smith, Elder and Co., 1860. Call Number: Yeats Y290. [William Butler Yeats personal copy].
  • Brontë, Charlotte. Shirley: a Tale. London : Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill, 1849. Call Number: C217. [First Edition].
  • Brontë, Anne, Brontë, Charlotte, and Brontë, Emily. Poems. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1846 [i.e. 1848]. Call Number: B2118. [Fist Edition, Second Issue].
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn. The Life of Charlotte Brontë. London: Smith, Elder, 1857. Call Number: C4771.

Mindy Babarskis
Library Assistant
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Dandelion Days Edition

April 21st, 2016

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 27,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

If you’ve seen the recent proliferation of dandelions on Mount Oread, you might think KU needs to bring back a short-lived springtime event from the 1940s: Dandelion Days.

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions on lawn in front of Old Fraser Hall, 1940s

Several people pulling dandelions on the lawn in front of Old Fraser Hall, 1940s.
Seen in the photo are Dyche Hall and, beyond, the Union. Kansas Alumni photo.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Prints: Student Activities:
Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions in front of Strong Hall, 1940s

Pulling dandelions in front of Strong Hall, 1940s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives: Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions in grove of trees, 1940s

Pulling dandelions in a grove of trees, 1940s. Green Hall (now Lippincott) is
seen in the background. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives:
Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

An article in Kansas Alumni (1999, volume 97, number 3) describes what Dandelion Days were all about:

The University’s first Dandelion Day took place April 23, 1941, amid the hype of reporters and photographers, students and University dignitaries. The mission? Eradicating the pernicious yellow pests that littered the Hill and kept Buildings and Grounds workers fighting a losing battle for green grass. In all, 3,400 students and faculty, including Chancellor Deane Malott and his wife, Eleanor, turned out to battle the baneful blossoms, collecting 93,000 pounds of dandelion debris in a mere three hours. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that “it was a total war against the yellow flower with a hey-nonny-nonny and a rah-rah-rah.”

Despite the roaring success of the first Dandelion Day, which was sponsored by the Men’s Student Council and featured picking teams, carnival concessions and a street dance, the day’s durability was doomed. Within months, Pearl Harbor was attacked and World War II enveloped KU. In 1946, Dandelion Day was resurrected, complete with a Dandelion King and Queen and photographers from Life and Look magazines on hand to capture the merry moments of postwar college life. However, the return of the fight against the yellow flowers was short-lived. The next years were ruined by bad weather and, by 1949, the erstwhile diggers had so thoroughly eliminated the difficult dandelions that the day was declared defunct (60).

Check out more Dandelion Days photographs online.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Separated at Birth: The lives of three copies of the True Account of the Horrid Conspiracy

April 18th, 2016

A true account and declaration of the horrid conspiracy against the late king, His present Majesty, and the government: as it was order’d to be published by His late Majesty – Thomas Sprat’s official account of the failed 1683 Rye House Plot to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother (and successor) James, Duke of York – is no doubt a fascinating and dramatic tale of intrigue. As a conservator, however, I’m interested in the stories that Spencer Research Library’s three different first-edition copies of this title tell through their physical condition and bindings.

Two of the three copies recently crossed my bench in need of treatment, and when I looked up their catalog record I noticed that there was a third copy at Spencer, so I pulled that one from the stacks in order to examine them one next to the other. It was so much fun to compare the three volumes and to imagine how they’d begun their lives all together in the same place – Thomas Newcomb’s print shop – before being sold and going out into the world on their various journeys, only to arrive back together again in our stacks over three hundred years later, each bearing the distinct marks of its own life of use. I’ll refer to them as Copy 1 (E242), Copy 2 (E242a) and Copy 3 (E3324). Let’s do some wild comparatively tame speculation about the life stories of these books.

E242, E242a and E3324 pic 1

Spencer Research Library’s three copies of the True account of the horrid conspiracy: E242 (left), E242a (center), and E3324 (right). Click image to enlarge.

E242, E242a and E3324 pic 2

View of the spines of the three volumes: E242 (top), E242a (middle), and E3324 (bottom). Click image to enlarge.

According to the practice common at the time, it is likely that all three of these copies left the printer, and maybe even the bookseller, in an unbound or partially-bound state, or possibly in temporary bindings; the buyer would then take the book to a bindery to be properly bound in his preferred style. Of Spencer’s three copies, only Copy 2 is in a binding roughly contemporary to the time of the book’s printing, though it’s hard to say if it truly is its original binding. It is a full leather binding with minimal decoration – a single tooled line along the edges of the boards – and it has obviously been heavily used; there is a good deal of general wear and tear to the text block and leather, and the front board was detached, held in place with gummed cloth tape. On the inside, the absence of pastedowns allows us to see the irregular turn-ins, the texture of the board, and the laced-in cords that all indicate the binding’s age.

E242a pic 3
Front board and front inside cover of E242a after treatment. Click image to enlarge.

The historic repair on this volume is cringe-inducing, in the way that all tape is offensive to conservators, but I admit to finding it somewhat charming as well, with its hand-scrawled title and date. This volume also had gummed cloth tape along the inner hinge; that tape was removed because it was causing damage to the paper, but the tape across the spine was left in place primarily because of the character that this oddly appealing feature lends to the volume. In addition to removing the tape from the inside of the book, I reattached the front board, reinforced the back board, and surface cleaned the text block where it was needed.

E242a pic 4

Handwritten labels on gummed cloth tape on the spine of E242a. Click image to enlarge.

Copies 1 and 3, having been rebound, may lack some of the old-book charm displayed by their edition-mate, but their bindings still tell (or at least suggest) something about the lives they have lived. We can only guess as to exactly when these volumes were rebound; my guess would be that Copy 1’s current binding is from the late 19th or early 20th century, while Copy 3 was bound somewhere in the first half of the 20th century (and I welcome thoughts and comments to corroborate or refute these estimates!).

When Copy 1 arrived in the lab for treatment, its paper spine was torn in several places and the case, which had been attached to the text block by just the flyleaves along a narrow strip down each shoulder, was nearly detached. The title page was torn and the text block was quite dirty, showing a great deal more wear than its newer case. This binding provides some measure of protection for what was seemingly a much-used volume, but the binder didn’t take extra steps to clean or mend the text block; this is a very utilitarian case binding. As part of its treatment, I mended the case, reinforced the case attachment to the text block, surface cleaned the most soiled parts of the volume (text block edges and the first and last several pages), and mended the tears with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.

E242 pic5

Front cover and front inside cover of E242 after treatment. Click image to enlarge.

Copy 3, by contrast to the other two, is in very good condition; its text block is significantly cleaner and its binding is sound, probably the work of a commercial bindery or workshop. While any traces of a historic binding are lost, the information contained in the volume has been preserved, which some would argue is ultimately the most important thing. Still others might assert that its current binding can still tell us a lot about what readers, institutions, and book collectors value in the books they use/collect and how those values inform decisions such as how and whether to rebind a volume. Copy 3 does not appear to have been nearly as well-used as its mates, or perhaps it is just that it was not as ill-used – the good condition of its text block may be a sign that its owner(s) simply took very good care of it. Its modern library-style binding is not especially attractive, but it does its job well: it protects the text block and doesn’t cause it any harm.

E3324 pic 6

Front cover, dedication, and title page of E3324. Click image to enlarge.

I have focused so far primarily on the bindings of these volumes, but before I conclude I want to point out an interesting printing detail on the title pages. Here are the three title pages side by side:

E242, E242a and E3324 pic 7

Title pages of True account of the horrid conspiracy: E242 (left), E242a (center), and E3324 (right). Click image to enlarge.

If you look closely, you can see that there’s a printing error on the large comma following the word “KING,” except on the title page of Copy 2, in the middle. Here’s a closer look (click image to enlarge):

E242, E242a and E3324 pic 8

At some time in the past, Copy 2’s title page sustained a small loss at the fore-edge, including part of the comma and the double border lines, and someone had filled the loss by lining the entire page with a piece of plain paper. This person (or perhaps some other, later person?) then drew in the missing lines and filled out the comma with ink. Was this the same person who applied the tape and handwritten labels on the spine of Copy 2? We shall never know, but it certainly is fun to wonder.

Angela Andres
Special Collections Conservator
Conservation Services

Flashback Friday: Hinman Collator Edition

April 15th, 2016

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 26,900 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week we’re celebrating National Library Week! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Libraries Transform,” so today’s entry highlights a transformational piece of equipment that can be found in numerous libraries across the country, including Spencer. It’s a Hinman Collator, and it was invented by former KU English professor Charlton Hinman in the late 1940s. The machine was used to compare pairs of documents or books for differences in the text.

Photograph of woman using Hinman Collator, 1959

Woman using a Hinman Collator at Watson Library, 1959. The machine was moved to
Spencer Research Library sometime after it opened in 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 32/37 1959 Negatives: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Here’s how the Hinman Collator worked (as described on the blog of the Folger Shakespeare Library): The user placed a book in each of the two holders so that they were aligned when s/he looked through the eyepiece. The Collator then “used strobe lights to rapidly alternate between views of the two pages [i.e. superimposing them], and any differences would jump out at the viewer, seeming to lift off the page.”

One scholar has described the Hinman Collator as “one of the most important applications of technology to the study of literature ever made.” This was because, according the Folger blog, it “rapidly increased the rate at which two texts could be compared. The manual method that preceded Hinman’s mechanical collator consisted of placing one finger on each text and looking back and forth between them…[It] was not only slow, but potentially inaccurate.”

The Collator’s inventor, Charlton Hinman (1911-1977) attended the University of Colorado, Cornell, and Oxford before receiving his Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia in 1941. He held positions at the University of Missouri (1937-1939) and Johns Hopkins University (1946-1950) before arriving at the University of Kansas in 1960; he taught at KU until he retired in 1975. Hinman’s areas of specialization included Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama as well as analytical bibliography.

Photograph of Charlton Hinman working at his desk, circa 1960-1975

Charlton Hinman working at his desk, circa 1960-1975. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty and Staff: Hinman, Charlton (Photos).
Click image to enlarge; you can see this and other pictures of
Charlton Hinman and KU’s Collator at Spencer’s digital collections.

As Shakespeare Quarterly reported in a remembrance piece on Hinman, his “academic endeavors were twice interrupted by military service: he distinguished himself in naval intelligence and communications both during World War II and during Korean conflict.” Hinman got the idea for the Collator as a result of his wartime work comparing aerial reconnaissance photographs for evidence of bombing damage.

According to the Folger blog, “with his mechanical collator and the large collection of First Folios at the Folger, Hinman was able to compare each page–indeed, each impression of inked type–of fifty-five copies, leading to his monumental work exploring the process by which Shakespeare’s collected plays were printed, Printing and Proof-reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare (1963).” The effort took him almost a decade to complete, but Hinman once estimated that without the machine, it would have taken him more than forty years, if he had been able to complete the project at all.

Hinman Collators are generally not used today, but be sure to see the one at Spencer the next time you visit the library.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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