Inside Spencer: the KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving Edition

November 27th, 2014

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 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure and check them out!

We would like to wish our friends, supporters, researchers, and visitors a very happy Thanksgiving! Please remember that Spencer Research Library will be closed today through Sunday, November 30, for the holiday.

Photograph of a scholarship hall student basting a turkey, 1958

Scholarship hall student basting a turkey, 1958. Call Number: RG 56/0 1958-1959
Prints: Housing (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

Manuscript Monday: Four from the 1400s

November 24th, 2014

Earlier this month Mitch Fraas at the University of Pennsylvania wrote a fascinating blog post in which he mapped data from Melissa Conway and Lisa Fagin Davis’s Directory of Institutions in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings (2014). Though, as Fraas notes, that the highest institutional concentrations of medieval and early modern manuscripts are found on the East and West Coasts, KU is responsible for one of the largest dots on the map in the middle of the country. In fact, the Kenneth Spencer Research Library ranks among the top fifteen institutions for holdings of pre-1600 manuscript codices (volumes), with its approximately 220 manuscript books, and fares even better when our over 2100 pre-1600 manuscript leaves, documents, and rolls are taken into account.

In light of these numbers, this week we’re highlighting four fifteenth-century manuscripts, each from a different country. Medievalists and early modern scholars take note; it’s worth making a stop in Lawrence, KS!

1. Vosper Book of Hours

Detail from the miniature of David in prayer (f. 83r) from the Vosper Book of Hours, France, ca. 1470.

Detail from the miniature of David in prayer (f. 83r) from the Vosper Book of Hours, France, ca. 1470.
Call #: MS Pryce C1. Click image to view full page.

Spencer’s most ornately decorated manuscript is a late-fifteenth-century book of hours from Eastern France. Named in honor of Robert Vosper (1913-1994), a former director of KU Libraries, this devotional volume includes seventeen large miniatures (or paintings), as well as stunning foliate borders, featuring birds and insects. In the image above, the darkish, opaque wings of the dragonfly are actually silver which has tarnished with time.

2. Minden Codex

Historiated initial detail (St. George and the dragon) from the Minden Codex.

Detail from: Gallus’s Malogranatum (folio 2r), one of several texts in the Minden Codex. Germany, mid-to-late 15th century.
Call #: MS C164. Click Image to view full page.

The Minden Codex received its name from our catalogers because it once belonged to a Benedictine monastery in Minden, a city in the Westphalia region of Germany. It is a collection of more than fifteen religious texts that appear to have been copied out by different scribes in the mid-to-late 1400s and then bound together alongside a fragment of printed text. The codex begins with a portion of the first book of the Malogranatum, a dialogue intended as guidance for monks striving toward the perfection of their souls. This text is sometimes attributed to Gallus, an abbot of Königssaal (near Prague). The historiated initial in the detail above depicts Saint George slaying the dragon. Look closely and you’ll see that their entwined bodies form the letter “S” of the Latin word Sancta.

 

3. A Collection of Italian lyric poetry; primarily Petrarch’s Canzoniere

Opening of Petrarch's Canzoniere, featuring an illuminated initial containing white vine on a blue background, from A manuscript collection of Italian lyric poetry; primarily Petrarch’s Canzoniere. Italy, 15th century.

Opening of Petrarch’s Canzoniere in a collection of Italian lyric poetry. Italy, 15th century.
Call Number: MS C24. Click image to enlarge.

Though many of Spencer’s pre-1600 codices are religious in nature, the library also holds a wide range of secular texts, including classical and scientific works, legal and estate records, histories, and works of literature. The main text in this 15th century miscellany of Italian verse is Petrarch’s Canzoniere (Songbook), a sequence of poems that tells the story of the poet’s love for “Laura.” The text begins with Petrarch’s famous sonnet, “Voi ch’ascoltate in rime sparse il sono […],”  whose initial “V” is here illuminated and decorated with a white vine design.  Subsequent poems in the Canzoniere receive a simpler treatment: their smaller initials appear in alternating blue and red.  The manuscript book also includes poems by Jacopo Sanguinacci, Giusto de’ Conti, and others, as well as Latin sayings with Italian translations.

 

4. English Medicinal Recipe

Medicinal Recipe in Middle English, England, ca. 1400s

Medicinal Recipe. England, ca. 1400s. (Phillipps 40717). Call #: MS P541  Click image to enlarge.

Feeling under the weather now that the temperature has dropped? This medicinal recipe dating form the 1400s provides directions for distilling a mixture of spices, herbs, and wine to treat a variety of illnesses and wounds. This single leaf, with its top three lines partly torn away, is notable in that it is one of the library’s comparatively few pre-1500 manuscripts in English (or Middle English, as the case may be). Though Spencer holds several thousand English estate documents (circa 1200-1900), including papers from the prominent North and Kaye families, those that date from before 1500 tend to be in Latin.  This recipe or “receipt” stands as an instructive example of unornamented, vernacular writing.  However, despite being in English, its script presents a challenge for modern eyes.  Try to read a line or two and you may soon find yourself yearning for the more familiar humanist letterforms of the Canzoniere above (MS C24). Finally, this modest leaf also boasts an interesting provenance: it was once a part of the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872), an obsessive nineteenth-century collector who built one of the largest private collections of manuscripts.

For those who may have caught a little of Phillipps’s manuscript-mania, Spencer has plenty more to explore. You will find records (and images) for many of our medieval and early modern manuscripts in the Digital Scriptorium, an online database with holdings from a variety of institutions. To browse Spencer’s contributions, simply click on “Advanced Search,” select Lawrence, University of Kansas, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Special Collection from the “Current Location” field and hit “Search.” Or, for a another short narrative tour, take a peek at Lisa Fagin Davis’s great post on Kansas in her Manuscript Road Trip Blog.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

 

Throwback Thursday: Hobo Day Edition

November 20th, 2014

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 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure and check them out!

This week we’re highlighting an old and disbanded fall tradition at KU: Hobo Day.

Photograph of Hobo Day, 1930-1931

Students dressed up for Hobo Day, 1930-1931.
Call Number: RG 71/9 1930-1931 Prints: Student Activities: Hobo Day (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Kevin Armitage from KU’s Department of History describes the event in “No More Hobohemia” on the KU History website:

Enterprising students soon developed the idea of combining the [then-annual] beer bust [in Kansas City] with a special event that featured old clothes, and Hobo Day was born. Prohibition briefly derailed the celebration, but in 1923 students reinvented the tradition as a massive pep rally held before the annual Kansas-Missouri football game.

The rehabilitated event featured students dressed in outlandish Hobo costumes, pep rallies, dances, bonfires and, at times, property damage and fisticuffs between students and professors. An article in the Kansan described the required outfit: “Old clothes, the older the better, plenty of paint, burnt cork, and…a corn-cob pipe are the main essential of makeup of a good ‘hobo.’” A red bandana carrying one’s worldly possession was recommended, but not considered absolutely essential.

Hobo Day was inadvertently discontinued in November 1939 so students could attend the national cornhusking championship near Lawrence.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

KU and UK: A Shared Basketball Legacy

November 17th, 2014

Tensions are high this week as two of college basketball’s winningest and most storied teams, the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of Kentucky Wildcats, face off tomorrow in Indianapolis. During March Madness these schools are rivals, but younger generations may not realize that they share a history through the sixth winningest Division I coach of all time, the “Baron of the Bluegrass” Adolph Rupp.

Lexington, Kentucky, my hometown and home of the UK Wildcats, boasts Rupp Arena, named after legendary coach Adolph Rupp. It is the largest indoor arena ever built expressly for basketball, as well as the largest indoor sports arena in the country and sixth largest in the world. Its sheer size pays homage to Rupp’s tremendous and immutable impact on UK and college basketball, but he would not have reached this level of success without his beginnings at KU.

Adolph Rupp was born in Halstead, Kansas, in 1901. By the time he attended Halstead High School, James Naismith had moved to Kansas and introduced his newly invented game of basketball to the area. Rupp attended KU and, under direction from Naismith and head coach Forrest C. “Phog” Allen, played as a reserve from 1919 to 1923, including the 1922-1923 team that went undefeated in conference play and was voted national champions.

Photograph of KU men's basketball team with Adolph Rupp, Phog Allen, and James Naismith, 1922-1923

KU national champions basketball team, 1922-1923. Top left: Adolph Rupp.
Middle row, second and third from left: Phog Allen and James Naismith.
Call number: RG 66/13 1922-1923 Team Prints: Athletic Department: Basketball (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

After college, Rupp spent several years coaching at high schools in Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois before taking a coaching job at UK in 1930. He remained head coach at Kentucky until being forced into retirement at age seventy due to university policy. Throughout his time at UK, his teams faced the Jayhawks many times, but Rupp remained cordial with his former coach and alma mater.

Photograph of Phog Allen and Adolph Rupp

Phog Allen (left) and Adolph Rupp (right), undated. Call number: 66/13 Rupp, Adolph (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Rupp died from cancer on December 10, 1977 in Lexington, Kentucky. Ironically, his former Wildcats played the Jayhawks that night in Allen Fieldhouse and reigned victorious. Rupp is most often associated with UK and commemorated by Kentuckians, but UK would not be on top of the basketball world without Rupp’s outstanding leadership fostered by his Kansas upbringing. His legacy is not lost on Kansans either; his high school hosts the Annual Halstead Adolph Rupp Basketball Tournament, now approaching its 45th year. Rupp’s family remained in the Lawrence area after he moved away and have provided insight into Rupp’s early life and basketball career. For more information about his home life in Halstead, see the article “His Hometown” in the Rupp section of the Courier-Journal, Monday, December 12, 1977 (call number: PP 221).

So in celebration of this week’s showdown, come to Spencer Research Library to read more about Adolph Rupp’s Kansas origins and subsequent time at rival UK (both the glory and controversies) in our collection of his personal papers (PP 221).

Megan Sims
Public Services and Processing Student Assistant
KU Museum Studies Graduate Student

Throwback Thursday: Phog Allen Edition

November 13th, 2014

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 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure and check them out!

The Kansas men’s basketball team begins its regular season schedule tomorrow night, and next Tuesday (November 18th) marks Forrest C. “Phog” Allen‘s 129th birthday. In celebration of these two events, this week we’re sharing some photographs of the legendary KU basketball coach. Allen was the Jayhawks’ head coach for thirty-nine years (1907-1909, 1920-1956), compiling a record of 590-219.

Phototraph of Phog Allen and the Amazing Allen Brothers, 1904

As kids/teenagers, Forrest and his brothers formed a family basketball team
known as the Amazing Allen Brothers. They’re shown here in 1904, around the time
Forrest (A4) became a student at KU. His nephew Homer Jr. was the team’s mascot and
went by the nickname Little Ham. Call Number: RG 66/22 Forrest C. Allen Family 1904 Prints:
Athletic Department: Coaches and Staff (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Phog Allen, 1928

Coach Allen, 1928. Call Number: RG 66/22 Forrest C. Allen 1928 Prints:
Athletic Department: Coaches and Staff (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Phog Allen at desk, 1950

Coach Allen, 1950. Call Number: RG 66/22 Forrest C. Allen 1950 Prints:
Athletic Department: Coaches and Staff (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant