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Herps from Hell

April 11th, 2014

Herpetology is the field of science that entails the study of amphibians and reptiles. Pictured here is the Supreme “Herp” from Hell in a manuscript that could be Heaven on Earth to a student of Old Russian. St. John Chrysostom was the most famous of the Greek fathers of the Church. His works consist of discourses illustrating passages of scripture, commentaries on the Biblical books, etc.

Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople. [Extracts from the works, In Russian]. Manuscript from Russia, 16th-17th century. Call number MS C38. Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Above: Image from Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (died 407).
[Extracts from the works, In Russian]. Manuscript from Russia, 16th-17th century. Call Number: MS C38.

As we all know, Evil is in the eye of the beholder; indeed, the presence of a snake in a Russian peasant household was often considered an omen for Good, and brought wealth and good health. The snake, as one of the domovye, or house spritis, lived behind the stove or wherever fires were lighted. In White Russia the domovoi was called tsmok (snake). If the master of the house treated it badly or forgot to leave out some eggs for food at night, tsmok might burn the house down. In some Slavic households the snake was a bad egg, often the embodiment of a dead man’s soul, a rough and evil character like Baba Yaga.

The Spencer Library has books in Slavic languages scattered throughout the collections, and one of the best collections of rare Pollonica in the United States.

Sally Haines
Rare Books Cataloger
Adapted from her Spencer Research Library exhibit and catalog, Slithy Toves: Illustrated Classic Herpetological Books at the University of Kansas in Pictures and Conversations

Neither Fish Nor Fowl: A Printed Book of Hours

April 4th, 2014

The world of written information is changing.  We are in the midst of a major shift from print to digital culture (you are, after all, reading this online).  It seems timely, then, to look back at an artifact from another major revolution in the technology of writing — the shift from manuscript to print culture.  The first hundred years of printing offer many fascinating examples of  the overlap between the conventions of manuscript culture and the emergence of a new print culture.  One such example is this book of hours, Hore intemerate Virginis Marie secundu[m] vsum Romanum cum pluribus orationibus tam in Gallico [et] in Latino, produced in Paris circa 1505.

Image of a printed books of hours at an opening with two miniatures.

Image of an Opening featuring a miniature of the Adoration of the Magi in a Printed Book of Hours, ca. 1505.

Hore intemerate Virginis Marie secundu[m] vsum Romanum cum pluribus orationibus tam in Gallico
[et] in Latino
[Printed Book of Hours]. [Paris: G. Anabat, 1505.] Call Number: Summerfield C65

Squint and it looks like an illuminated manuscript (at least in the top image), but it is actually a printed volume, with hand-colored  illustrations and metalcut borders.   During the late medieval period, books of hours were among the most common manuscript volumes owned by laypeople (whether nobility or wealthy merchants).  Accordingly, it is not surprising that with the advent of moveable type, printers soon tried their inky hands at producing these devotional texts.  This particular volume draws upon several features of manuscript books of hours.  It is printed on vellum (treated calf skin) and contains hand-colored initials and miniatures (the latter literally painted on top of the metalcut illustrations).

Printed books of hours flourished roughly between the 1480s and 1530s, co-existing alongside their manuscript counterparts.  This volume from the Spencer Library’s collections was printed in Paris, a center for printed books of hours, by Guillaume Anabat for the bookseller Germain Hardouin and likely hand-colored in the Hardouin workshop (see the colophon pictured below).

Encountering a book like this makes one wonder which present-day artifacts will someday be seen as the products of a writing culture in transition.   In 500 years, will we look at early e-readers as strange hybrids: objects that apply the conventions of the “print world” to the digital environment?

See more….click thumbnails to enlarge.

Image of title page in printed book of hours with manuscript notations e of Almanac from a printed book of hours. Image of a printed book of hours featuring illustrations of Saint Christopher and Saint Sebastian. Image of colophon in printed book of hours

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

Resources About Slavery at Spencer Research Library

March 29th, 2014

The success of and critical acclaim for the recent film 12 Years a Slave has generated an increased public discourse about the history, significance, and lasting implications of slavery in the United States. Beyond Spencer’s African American Experience collections, a perhaps surprising number of sources in both the Kansas Collection and Special Collections highlight various components of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slavery from multiple points of view.

Image of "Seperation of Eliza and her Last Child," from Twelve Years a Slave
“I have seen mothers kissing for the last time the faces of their dead offspring,”
wrote Solomon Northup in Twelve Years a Slave, “I have seen them looking down
into the grave, as the earth fell with a dull sound upon their coffins,
hiding them from their eyes forever; but never have I seen
such an exhibition of intense, unmeasured, and unbounded grief, as when Eliza was parted
from her child.” Call Number: Howey B1584. Click image to enlarge.

When researching the past, it’s important to keep in mind that the written historical record – including published and unpublished sources – reflects various contexts within the broader society in which they were originally produced. In Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, historian Ira Berlin describes the relationship between masters and slaves as “profoundly asymmetrical,” writing that it was constantly being negotiated but “always informed by the master’s near monopoly of force.” However, Berlin also asserts that

Knowing that a person was a slave does not tell everything about him or her. Put another way, slaveholders severely circumscribed the lives of enslaved people, but they never fully defined them. Slaves were neither extensions of their owners’ will nor the products of the market’s demand. The slaves’ history – like all human history – was made not only by what was done to them but also what they did for themselves (2).

Given this context, it’s not surprising that a population of people denied the ability to read and write over the course of generations did not produce voluminous written documentation. However, as Berlin hints at, the written record is not completely bereft of accounts by free and formerly enslaved African Americans, describing their own experiences in their own voices.

Andrew Williams’ narrative is the sole unpublished, handwritten narrative by a formerly enslaved person in Spencer’s collections. Williams (d. 1913) was a slave near Springfield, Missouri, who served in the Civil War and survived Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence. Williams’ eleven-page narrative begins around the time he acquired his freedom and describes his experiences in the Civil War.

Image of page in Andrew Williams' narrative of a former slave
Andrew Williams, along with his mother and siblings,
was freed in September 1862 by the 6th Kansas Regiment,
described on this page of his narrative. During the raid on his owner’s farm,
the soldiers also killed livestock and confiscated guns and food.
Andrew Williams Collection. Call Number: RH MS P42. Click image to enlarge.

More numerous in Spencer’s holdings are published narratives by former slaves, including Olaudah Equiano, Juan Francisco Manzano, Sojourner Truth, Henry Box Brown, John Thompson, Thomas H. Jones, and Jermain Wesley Loguen. Also among Spencer’s holdings is an early printing of Solomon Northup’s narrative, Twelve Years a Slave.

Image of "The Staking Out and Flogging of the Girl Patsey," from Twelve Years a Slave
“It was the Sabbath of the Lord…peace and happiness seemed to reign everywhere,
save in the bosoms of Epps and his panting victim and
the silent witnesses around him.” Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave.
Call Number: Howey B1584. Click image to enlarge.

Image of Arrival Home, and First Meeting with His Wife and Children," from Twelve Years a Slave
“They embraced me, and with tears flowing down their cheeks,
hung upon my neck,” wrote Solomon Northup at the end of his narrative,
Twelve Years a Slave. “But I draw a veil over a scene
which can better be imagined than described.”
Call Number: Howey B1584. Click image to enlarge.

Supplementing these sources are unpublished documents and published accounts by slaveholders and others who vigorously defended the system and by whites who passionately opposed it. Several of these works are based on the author’s personal observations of the treatment of slaves.

For example, Spencer’s Kansas Collection contains the estate records for Jackson County, Missouri, resident John Bartleson. These documents relate to the Bartleson enslaved African Americans and their legal disposition as property in the settlement of the estate. Additionally, the Kansas Collection also includes bound volumes of records from Natchez, Mississippi, located on bluffs above the Mississippi River about 100 miles upriver from New Orleans. Home to wealthy planters’ city mansions, antebellum Natchez had the most millionaires per capita of any city in the United States. These materials don’t directly address the experiences of enslaved African Americans, whose work created that wealth. However, much can be derived from these meticulous records, which document the management required to operate a sizable plantation and the business transactions of other local enterprises like a medical practice, medical society, and general store.

Image of estate inventory from the John Bartleson Estate Collection
Pages from “a full inventory” of John Bartleson’s property showing
six slaves listed as part of his personal estate, 1848.
John Bartleson Estate Collection. Call Number: RH MS 867. Click image to enlarge.

John Barleson Estate Collection, auctioneer's report, 1853
Auctioneer’s report from 1853 listing individual and total prices for
Charles, Clara and child, Courtney, Thomas, Fanny, Mary, and William.
It is assumed that they were members of one family separated by this sale
“at the Court House door in the City of Independence [Missouri].”
John Bartleson Estate Collection. Call Number: RH MS 867. Click image to enlarge.

Finally, numerous printed volumes in Spencer’s holdings show slavery was a much-considered topic that was also hotly debated in government and in public. Especially strong are works examining slavery and the slave trade in Great Britain and the British Empire in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Other works, focusing on the United States, show how the dispute over Kansas and the expansion of slavery into new territories was waged in print and how Kansas became a political and physical battleground for pro- and antislavery forces.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Sewing a book

March 20th, 2014

When guests come on a tour of the conservation lab, they are sometimes surprised that book pages are usually held together with thread. (Since many modern paperbacks are glued, not sewn, younger guests are often less familiar with sewn bindings.) There are many sewing techniques, useful in different situations.

Traditionally books were sewn on a piece of equipment called a sewing frame. The frame holds the sewing supports taut so the binder can keep her hands free for the actual sewing. Sewing supports are usually either a broad, flat tape (made of cotton, linen, ramie, leather, or vellum), or a cord (usually linen), around which the sewing thread progresses. Cords make raised bands on the final, covered spine, whereas tapes can be flat to the spine.

Sewing a book

A sewing frame set up with three sewing supports of linen tape.

In this example, the book is being sewn with what is known as a supported link stitch, in which each row of stitching is linked to the one before. The center of each folded section of paper is pierced with a sewing needle at a sewing station. At the head and tail of the book are two more stations, called kettles. The kettle stitch is a half-knot or chain, and serves to cinch the newest section of paper to the previous ones.

Sewing a book Sewing a book

Left: Supported link stitch with curved needle.
Right: The finished sewing. Note the kettle stitches at each end of the book.

Once the book is sewn it is often rounded and backed, to create a rounded shape on the spine and shoulders for book boards to be set into. Rounding and backing is often done with a special bookbinding tool called a backing hammer in a cast iron contraption called a job backer.

Job backer with backing hammer. Job backer with backing hammer.

Left: The job backer and backing hammer.
Right: Detail of the rounded and backed book in the job backer.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Irish Ephemera for St. Patrick’s Day

March 14th, 2014

Some things are built to last, and others…well…are not. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (this upcoming Monday), we are sharing five examples of ephemera from Spencer’s Irish Collections.  “Ephemera” is the term applied to a variety of everyday documents originally intended for one-time or short-term use, including posters, playbills, political pamphlets, broadsides, advertisements, and newspapers (to name but a few).  Such materials form the background of everyday life and furnish researchers with important information about the material, political, and cultural conditions of the past. Since Spencer’s Irish Collections include ephemera in addition to major works by significant authors, they serve as particularly fertile ground for students and scholars.

1.  Color “Supplements” from United Ireland and The Irish Fireside, 1884-1885.

These colorful cartoons and illustrations are examples of loose supplements that sometimes accompanied late nineteenth-century Irish periodicals.  The first three cartoons are from United Ireland and reflect that weekly’s Parnellite politics.  Earl Spencer (John Poyntz Spencer), then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, is depicted with his distinctive red hair twisted into horns.  The third cartoon shows Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish nationalist leader, handing Earl Spencer his walking papers following the fall of William Gladstone’s administration in June of 1885.  The final two illustrations come from The Irish Fireside, a periodical whose subtitle spells out its mission: Fiction / Amusement / Instruction.  These illustrations celebrate Aideen and Emmeline Talbot as part of a series depicting heroines of Irish history.

Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring valentines to Erin (Ireland), February 16, 1884.
Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring "Erin" and Earl Spencer, March 28, 1885 Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring Parnell and Earl Spencer, June 20, 1885.

Above: Color Political Cartoons, “Supplement Gratis with ‘United Ireland.’” [Dublin]: [United Ireland], 1884-1885. Call Number: DK17, Folder 16.  Below: Heroines of Irish History–Aideen and Emmeline Talbot, “Supplement to The Irish Fireside.” Dublin, [The Irish Fireside], 1885. Call Number: DK17, Folder 5. Click images to enlarge.

Image of Color Supplement from The Irish Fireside, Heroines of Irish History: Aideen, July 8, 1885 Image of Color Supplement from The Irish Fireside, Heroines of Irish History: Emmeline Talbot, July 22, 1885


2. “Programme” for the Abbey Theatre, [1910]

The Abbey Theatre was a key site for the Irish Literary Revival at the beginning of the twentieth century.  W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and (as seen below) J. M. Synge were among the playwrights active there.  The Abbey Theatre’s printed programs record not only the dates of performances and the actors who played each role, but they also shed light on local businesses through the advertisements that appeared in their pages.  Moreover, if you examine the ads closely, you’ll discover little gems, such as this 1910 announcement for James Joyce’s Dubliners by publisher Maunsel & Co. (“Ready in September” it promises).  As Joyceans know, this “Dublin” first edition of Dubliners never did come to pass. Following long delays at the publisher over concerns about potentially objectionable content, the printed sheets for the edition of 1000 copies were destroyed (burned!) by the printer in September 1912, after Joyce tried to retrieve them.  Understandably bitter, the author left Ireland for good, and satirized the incident in his poem “Gas from a Burner.” Dubliners would not reach the shelves until 1914, when it was published by the London firm Grant Richards.

Cover of Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910 Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910, open to play credit lists.

Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910, open to Dubliners Ad (circled).

Abbey Theatre, “Programme.” Dublin, [1910]. Call Number: D134 vol. 194. Click images to enlarge.

3. Gaelic League Carnival Poster, 1912

The Gaelic League was founded in 1893 to revive the Irish language, which was falling increasingly out of use, especially in urban areas where English was dominant.  The majority of its members were middle- and working-class English-speakers, and by 1908 it boasted roughly 600 branches, primarily in cities.  One of the ways that the organization attracted new members was by offering opportunities for socializing and fun alongside Irish language study.  An tOireachtas, its annual national festival (advertised below) was launched in 1897.  As the poster notes, by 1912, there were even special excursion trains to carry visitors from Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast and other locales to the festivities in Dublin. After all, who can resist a hornpipe championship and £ 1,200 in prizes?

Poster for Gaelic League Carnival (Oireachtas)

Gaelic League Carnival: Jones’ road, Dublin, … [June 29 to July 5, 1912]. Poster. Dublin: O’Loughlin, Murphy & Boland, Ltd., [1912]. Call Number: O’Hegarty Q36. Click image to enlarge.

4. “Ticket of admission to public meeting [...] to form a Cork City Corps of the Irish Volunteers,” [1913]

Eoin MacNeill, a founder of the Gaelic League, was also a leader of the Irish Volunteers, a paramilitary organization. As this ticket shows, MacNeill was to be the headliner at a recruitment event in Cork, held just a month after the group’s formation in November 1913.  Spencer holds over 40 tickets for this event, several of which bear the stamp of the “Irish Transport and General Worker’s [sic] Union, Dublin” on the reverse.  Interestingly, though the tickets themselves clearly state that capacity of the venue hall is limited to 1500, there are tickets in the lot numbered almost as high as 3000 (see below, bottom right).

Image of a set of tickets to an Irish Volunteers public meeting, December 14 (1913), City Hall, Cork.

“Ticket of admission to public meeting: to be held at 8.30 o’clock in the City Hall, Cork, on Sunday night next, 14th December, to form a Cork City Corps of the Irish Volunteers / Professor Eoin Mac Neill, B.A., Dublin, and local speakers will address the meeting. …” [Cork : s.n., 1913]. Call Number: O’Hegarty AK7. Click image to enlarge.


5. A sheet of “slip songs” from the mid-to-late 1800s

Ballads were popular street literature in Ireland, as in England.  The earliest English printed broadside ballads can be traced back to sixteenth-century London; however the sheet pictured below was printed in Dublin during the second half of the nineteenth century.  A large sheet like this would be cut up into slips by the printer or bookseller and sold individually,  giving us the term “slip song.” Though often ornamented with woodcuts, these ballads and songs did not actually include music (only the occasional reference to a tune). Many of the songs on this particular sheet treat Irish themes, with the tone ranging from comic to satiric to elegiac to patriotic.  History, politics, and love were all popular subjects, as were drinking songs and accounts of contemporary events, including crimes (“murder ballads”).  Slip songs were meant to sell cheaply and quickly, so their paper tends to be thin and the printing rather shoddy.  The staff at Nugent’s General Printing Office in Dublin must have been having a particularly bad day when they printed the sheet below.  Skim through it and and you’ll find slanted text, uneven inking, inked “spaces,” and many, many typographical errors (we dare you to count the mistakes in “The Rakisk [sic] Bachelor”)!

Image of large uncut sheet of Irish slip songs, with woodcuts.

Can you spot the typos? (hint: zoom in on the “Rakisk [sic] Bachelor,” to start…): Uncut sheet of Irish slip songs.
Dublin: Nugent’s General Printing Office, after 1866. Call Number: R43, Item 6. Please click to enlarge.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

The Headless Horseman Rides Again

February 27th, 2014

Recently, this book came into the conservation lab with a detaching spine and separated boards. It is volume 2 of a version of The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale in Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. The gold-stamped cover caught my eye. It features this curious gentleman, minus head, but with boots and spurs.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.      The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: The Headless Horseman, before treatment. Right: A detail of the cover.
Call number C3400, Special Collections. Click images to enlarge.


To bring the book back to a usable condition, first I removed the previous paper spine lining with a softener called methylcellulose.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Application of methylcellulose to the spine lining to soften it. Click image to enlarge.

A layer of thick Japanese paper, applied with paste, served as a method for consolidating the spine and reattaching the boards, all at once. The Japanese paper extended onto the boards, under the lifted cloth.

Next I applied a lining that included a tube of paper (called a “hollow”), used to keep the fragile original spine pieces from bending inward when the book is opened. Finally, I dyed some red Moriki Japanese paper to match the cover cloth, and applied that over the tube and under the lifted cloth.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Applying the hollow over the Japanese paper lining. Right: Applying dyed paper over the hollow.
Call number C3400, Special Collections. Click images to enlarge.

The final step was to reattach the loose spine pieces. The spine is still fragile, so I added a polyester dustjacket as a final precaution.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Captain Mayne Reid. Call number C3400, Department of Special Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

The finished conservation treatment (before the dustjacket).
Call number C3400, Special Collections

The Headless Horseman is ready to ride again!

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Charles Scott and the Struggle for Civil Rights

February 21st, 2014

Charles Scott, a prominent attorney in Topeka, Kansas, was born in 1921. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and later graduated from Washburn Law School. He joined the law firm established by his father, Elisha Scott, Sr., a well-known trial lawyer in the region. During his early years in practice Charles Scott and his father were successful in securing racial integration of elementary schools in South Park, Johnson County, Kansas. With his brother John H. Scott, he represented plaintiffs in several cases that sought to establish the right of access to swimming pools, theaters, and restaurants in Topeka for African Americans.

In 1954 Charles Scott was one of several attorneys who filed and presented the initial case for the plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case Oliver Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka. He also appeared as counselor for the plaintiffs before the United States Supreme Court, whose ruling ended segregation in public schools.

The Scott Collection includes personal and professional papers that reflect Mr. Scott’s lifelong pursuit of civil rights issues.

Telegram from Thurgood Marshall to Charles Scott

Telegram to Charles Scott from Thurgood Marshall, April 6, 1955. Charles Scott Papers.
Call Number: RH MS 1145 Box 2, Folder 29. Click image to enlarge.

Among Scott’s papers is the above telegram from Thurgood Marshall. Marshall, then serving as Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, contacted Scott to receive confirmation of a timetable for desegregation of Topeka schools following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling ending school segregation.

This April, the University of Kansas will host a series of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education case.  These will include a KU Libraries exhibition opening (Lasting Impact: Brown vs the Board of Education) on the evening of April 11th and a daylong seminar on April 12th. Both events will consider the legacy of the case and its implications.  For additional information, please see the following news release.

Sheryl Williams
Curator of Collections and Kansas Collection Curator

Liberal Arts Education: The Key to a Happy Valentine’s Day?

February 15th, 2014

The value of a liberal arts education is – and has long been – a topic of substantial discussion. With Valentine’s Day upon us, we wanted to highlight a perhaps little-known benefit of liberal arts courses and majors: they can help you attract or catch a love interest. Such was the “tongue-in-cheek” argument of a pictorial feature that appeared in the April 1970 edition of Kansas Alumni. Seven photographs told a story that unfolded throughout the publication, accompanied by captions extolling the benefits of a liberal arts education that were taken from “none other than” the Catalog of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Prints of six of the images – the first six pictures below – are held within University Archives as part of its collection of Student Activities records and photographs (Record Group 71).

Photograph of a female KU student reading anthropology, 1970

The introduction to “Pictorial: The Liberal Arts” from Kansas Alumni, April 1970.
University Archives. Call Number: RG UA Ser 64/0/2. Click any image to enlarge.

Photograph of a female KU student reading book about voodoo, 1970

While the lower right corner was cropped out of the published picture, the
original print shows that KU Libraries can also help you catch the
object of your affection! University Archives. Call Number: RG 71/0/1969-1970
Prints: Student Activities (Photos). This citation applies to all images in this
post unless otherwise noted.

Photograph of a  female KU student reading about spells, potions, and enchantments, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student with an offering, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student mixing a love potion, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student using love potion, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student with the object of her affection behind a stack of books, 1970

The caption for the final image in the story – as it appeared in
Kansas Alumni
– doesn’t seem to bode well for the guy behind the books!
University Archives. Call Number: RG UA Ser 64/0/2.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Student Activities Photographs RG 71/0 1969/1970 Prints

William S. Burroughs’ last journals come to KU Libraries

February 7th, 2014

It’s been an exiting week or two in Lawrence for scholars and fans of William S. Burroughs.  Wednesday, February 5 was the centenary of the writer’s birth, and around town events and exhibitions have been exploring his writing, art, and deep ties to Lawrence.  Burroughs made Lawrence his home during the last fifteen years of his life, and now, thanks to a gift from James Grauerholz, executor of the Burroughs estate and a KU alumnus, the influential author’s last journals will join the collections of KU Libraries.

Burroughs helped revolutionize the post-WWII literary landscape with novels like Naked Lunch and Nova Express, the latter a part of his cut-up trilogy.  To celebrate the gift, five of the ten journals will be on display in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s lobby through February.  These notebooks, which span from November 1996 to Burroughs’ death in August of 1997, were the basis for Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, a volume edited by Grauerholz and published in 2000.  In their pages we see literature, politics, art, and philosophy collide with everyday life.  A reference to speaking with an ailing friend, poet Allen Ginsberg  (“His voice over the phone from Beth Israel Hospital in NYC sounded very weak”), appears alongside a reminder to buy disposable razors.  The final entry (see below) offers a meditation on conflict and love.  To the left Burroughs has written:  “Love? What is it? / Most natural pain / killer what there is. / L O V E.”

Image of William Burroughs' last entry in one of his final journals.

William S. Burroughs’ final journal. Image courtesy of Chuck France / KU Office of Public Affairs.  Click here for a larger version.


Image of display case containing five of Burroughs' last journals  Image of display case containing five of William S. Burroughs' last journals, as seen from above.

On display through February in Spencer Research Library’s lobby: five of the ten journals donated by the Burroughs estate.


In addition to the journals, the gift also includes typescripts and draft materials for the edition Grauerholz produced. Once cataloged, these “last words” of William S. Burroughs will be available for researchers and the public to consult at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Elspeth Healey,
Special Collections Librarian

Locating a Picture: Finding the Location of the 50th Anniversary Photo of the Quantrill Raid Survivors

January 31st, 2014

For my class project in GEOG 658, I attempted to find the backdrop of the 1913 photo of the Quantrill raid survivors using GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The only aspect of the photo that is known is that it was taken in Lawrence. Beyond that, the exact location of this photo is unspecified.

Survivors of Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913. Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.,

Photograph of survivors of Quantrill’s Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913.
Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.
Click image to enlarge and view.

The photo reveals important information about its location. Judging by the position of the people relative to the central building in the backdrop, the photo was taken at an intersection of two roads. The heights of the adjacent buildings are also visible. Identifying the stories of the adjacent buildings and their sequence from the corner building provides an identifiable skyline to locate using other sources, such as the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and Google Street View. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps show the relation of the buildings to one another and to the city streets, as well as tell the heights of the buildings. A trolley line is also visible to the left of the buildings.

Eldridge House from Sanborn map

Detail of Eldridge House plan from the Lawrence, KS Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1912.
Massachusetts Street is at the top of the image.
Call number RH Map Sanborn, Lawrence 1912, sheet 4. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Click image to enlarge.

I used GIS software to map the 1910 trolley line onto a modern map of downtown Lawrence and to mark the heights of buildings around each intersection. With this information combined into one map, I was able to narrow down the locations for the photograph.

From this investigation, the most likely location for the 1913 photograph is the Southwest corner of Massachusetts and 7th streets, where the Eldridge stands. This location is at an intersection, was historically located along the trolley tracks, and the building heights of the adjacent buildings appear to match the sequence observed in the historic photo. The 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows several businesses located on the first floor, including an Express Office, Telegraph Office, and Barbershop. A close look at the 1913 photo shows the advertisements for these businesses.

Detail of Survivors of Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913. Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   Detail of Survivors of Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913. Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.,

Detail of Survivors of Quantrill's Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913. Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Details from photograph of survivors of Quantrill’s Raid, Lawrence, KS, August 21, 1913.
Wells Fargo Express Office, Telegraph Office, and Hodges Bros. Hotel Barber Shop.
Call number RH PH 18 L.8.2ff. Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Jennie Ashton
Conservation Student Assistant
Graduate Student, Museum Studies