Inside Spencer: the KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Rainy Day Edition

May 28th, 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!

Photograph of students walking in rain in front of Wescoe Hall, 1975-1976

Students walking in the rain along Jayhawk Boulevard in front of Wescoe Hall, 1975-1976.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Rain 1975/1976 Prints:
Campus: Areas and Objects (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

All Creeping Things: A History of Herpetological Illustration

May 26th, 2015

All Creeping Things: A History of Herpetological Illustration, Spencer Library’s newest exhibit, opened on May 14, 2015. Guided by Special Collections Librarian Karen Cook, students Megan Sims, Sydney Goldstein, and Ryan Ridder created and installed the exhibit for an exhibit planning and design course (MUSE 703). Whitney Baker, Head of Conservation Services at KU Libraries, Special Collections Librarian Sally Haines, and Caitlin Donnelly, Head of Public Services at Spencer, also assisted the students with their project.

The exhibit was developed in conjunction with the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles conference being held at the University of Kansas in July and features herpetological illustrations from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century books in Spencer Library’s Special Collections. Spencer has put on a few iterations of a similar exhibit for previous conferences. Each student had a unique perspective on their experience creating the exhibit.

Ryan Ridder

“One of our goals was to be distinct from Slithy Toves [a previous exhibit, by Sally Haines] and to present images that viewers familiar with that exhibition, and associated book, might not see as often. We ended up repeating a few irresistible images – the giant salamander, Agassiz’s turtles, and the famous frontispiece to Rössel von Rosenhof’s frog volume – but everything else you see is different. We thought touching on embryological illustrations would give our exhibit another unique slant.”

Photograph of Megan and Ryan installing books

Megan Sims and Ryan Ridder installing books in the cases. Click image to enlarge.

Sydney Goldstein

“I found this class to be both an overwhelming and an incredibly eye-opening experience. Coming from a graphic design background I’ve never gone through the steps of curating an exhibition or working off the computer. It was fun to rummage through a variety of books to select illustrations, figuring out how they will fit in the cases, selecting wall graphics, and working in a group. The most rewarding part was applying our vinyl title graphic ourselves. Overall, a great experience!”

Photograph of the MUSE 703 group hanging vinyl

Megan, Sydney, and Ryan hanging the vinyl title graphic.

Megan Sims

“I have installed many exhibits according to specific designs from clients, but this was my first experience selecting objects, designing signs and labels, and fabricating book mounts and wall graphics for an exhibit. Both the physical process and communication were challenging at times, but seeing the finished product was very rewarding. I’m excited for the conference members and the Lawrence community to see this exhibit!”

Photograph of the MUSE 703 exhibit team in front of title

Ryan Ridder, Sydney Goldstein, Megan Sims, and curator Karen Cook. Click image to enlarge.

All Creeping Things is free and open to the public through August 2015.

Megan Sims
Museum Studies Graduate Student

Throwback Thursday: Memorial Day Edition

May 21st, 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!

Monday is Memorial Day, so this week we’re sharing selected pages from the 1919 Jayhawker yearbook. The volume, the first published after the end of World War I, was called The Peace Edition and dedicated to “the memory of the Men of the University of Kansas who willingly served their government in its great crisis, even to the supreme sacrifice of life itself.” The yearbook included tributes to twenty-seven of the approximately 130 KU students and alumni who died in World War I. (This number included two female students, Lucy McLinden and Fay Friedberg, who died from influenza.) KU’s stadium and student union memorialize these men and women.

Image of the Jayhawker yearbook title page, 1919

Image of Jayhawker yearbook foreword, 1919

Image of Jayhawker yearbook dedication, 1919

Image of Jayhawker yearbook, William T. Fitzsimmons tribute, 1919

Selected pages from the 1919 Jayhawker yearbook.
William T. Fitzsimons was also the first United States Army officer killed in World War I.
More information about him is also available at the KU History website.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1919. Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Happy Birthday, Carl Linnaeus!

May 18th, 2015

This week we celebrate the birthday of the great 18th century taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus, who was born on May 23rd, 1707. Spencer Library holds one of approximately thirty surviving copies of the first edition of Linnaeus’ epoch-making Systema Naturae. Spencer’s remarkably fine copy is housed in an ingenious binding (only half as wide as the paper, allowing the broadsheet book to be folded vertically for easy carrying). During his lifetime, Linnaeus published twelve editions of this monumental work. By 1766, when the twelfth edition was published, the taxonomic text had grown from the seven broadsheets of the first edition to 2,300 pages.

Pryce J2

Carl von Linné, Systema naturae, 1735. Special Collections. Call number Pryce J2. Note the half binding, allowing the item to be folded for use. Click image to enlarge.

The Spencer Library Linnaeus collection includes nearly all of his major works in many editions, of which a hundred or more are first editions. Particularly notable are the various editions of the Systema Naturae; a complete set of the Linnaean dissertations in their first editions; a splendid copy of the Hortus Cliffortianus (1737); the first edition, first and second issues, of the Species plantarum (1753), the work in which Linnaeus first applied binomial nomenclature to botany; and the scarce first edition of Pehr Kalm’s En Resa till Nona America (1753-1761). The collection also includes long runs of the journals published by the principal Linnaean societies, many biographical works, and early editions of works by Linnaeus’ disciples and contemporaries.

Pryce J2_detail

Detail from Carl von Linné, Systema naturae, 1735. Special Collections. Call number Pryce J2. Click image to enlarge.

Adapted From A Silver Anniversary: The First 25 Years of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Jim Helyar, editor (1994).

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Commencement Edition

May 14th, 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!

Congratulations to the Class of 2015! We wish each of you all the best in your future endeavors.

Photograph of KU graduates walking down the hill to Memorial Stadium, 1950s

Photograph of KU graduates walking down the hill to Memorial Stadium, 1950s

KU graduates walking down Mount Oread to Memorial Stadium, 1950s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/17 1950s Negatives:
University General: Commencement (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Author and former KU chemistry professor Robert Taft provides a wonderful description of the KU graduation tradition shown in these pictures in Across the Years on Mount Oread (1941):

For the graduate of recent years and for many spectators, no Commencement sight has been more impressive than the long line of graduates marching down over Mount Oread from Strong Hall to the Stadium in the glory of a June evening [or, now, a May afternoon] for the Baccalaureate and the Commencement exercises. This striking feature was initiated in the Commencement of 1924, and has – weather permitting – been carried out annually since that day. Many and bitter have been the tears of the girl graduates who have been denied this privilege by the vagaries of the weather, and even the prosaic and matter-of-fact males must have felt some twinge of regret, when the same favor was withheld (104).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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