Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

President Eisenhower: Abilene’s Greatest Son

February 20th, 2017

Abilene, Kansas is a small city of under 7,000 people, but it managed to produce one of the most influential U.S. presidents. The only president to come from Kansas, Dwight D. Eisenhower served 8 years in the office from 1953-1961. Here he worked ceaselessly to deescalate the cold war and poured his energies into working towards world peace. But before he became the 34th President of the United States, Eisenhower served as the commanding general of the U.S. troops in Europe during World War II. After Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945, then General Eisenhower returned to his hometown of Abilene. Here at the Spencer Research Library, as a part of our Kansas Collection, we have General Eisenhower’s Homecoming train brochure signed by the man himself and the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle issue reporting on his historic return. If you’re interested in learning more about our nation’s only president from Kansas, check out this great entry in the Kansas Historical Soceity’s Kansapedia, book a trip to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, or come visit us here at Spencer Research Library!

Eisenhower homecoming train brochure and menu front cover, signed by Dwight D. Eishehower. Kansas Collection, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35.
Eisenhower homecoming train brochure and menu front cover, signed by Dwight D. Eisehower.
Papers of Harry Darby, Kansas Collection, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35. Click image to enlarge.

General Eisenhower homecoming train seating chart and menu, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35.
General Eisenhower homecoming train seating chart and menu, Papers of Harry Darby, Kansas Collection,
call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35. Click image to enlarge.

"Abilene's Greatest Son Comes Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page, June 22, 1945, Spencer Research Library.

“Abilene’s Greatest Son Comes Home”, Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page
from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click image to enlarge.

"Ike is at Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.   Continuation of "Ike is at Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle page 6 from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.
Article discussing General Eisenhower’s arrival by train titled “Ike is at Home”,
Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page and page 6 from June 22, 1945.
Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click images to enlarge.

"Eisenhower Calls Friends to Realize Responsibility in United Effort for Peace", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.

Article describing the speech given by General Eisenhower to Abilene residents titled “Eisenhower Calls Friends to Realize Responsibility in United Effort for Peace”, Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945.
Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click image to enlarge.

Mindy Babarskis
Reference Specialist
Public Services

Langston Hughes in Lawrence, Kansas

January 30th, 2017

In honor of Langston Hughes’s birthday on February 1, we remember his time in Lawrence:

Langston Hughes spent his early boyhood in Lawrence, Kansas. In a presentation at the University of Kansas in 1965 he recalled: “The first place I remember is Lawrence, right here. And the specific street is Alabama Street. And then we moved north, we moved to New York Street shortly thereafter. The first church I remember is the A.M.E. Church on the corner of Ninth, I guess it is, and New York. That is where I went to Sunday School, where I almost became converted, which I tell about in The Big Sea, my autobiography.”


Title page of The Big Sea, by Langston Hughes (first edition, 1940).
Hughes signed this copy for the University of Kansas. Call number RH C7422.
Click image to enlarge.

Hughes lived with his maternal grandmother, Mary Sampson Patterson Leary Langston, at 732 Alabama Street. The house does not exist today. His grandmother was the widow of one of the men killed with John Brown at Harpers Ferry (Lewis Sheridan Leary), and later married Hughes’s grandfather, the ardent abolitionist Charles Howard Langston.

Langston’s years in Lawrence with his grandmother were lonely and frugal. In 1909 he entered the second grade at Pinckney School, having started school in Topeka, KS, while living briefly with his mother. He was placed with other African American children in a separate room for his education. At various times between 1909 and 1915 Langston and his grandmother lived with friends James W. and Mary Reed at 731 New York Street. Hughes also attended New York School, and Central School, where he was reportedly a good student. Langston lived with the Reeds after his grandmother’s death in March 1915, and left Lawrence to join his mother in Illinois later in the year.

Photograph of Langston Hughes. Call number RH PH P2790.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

As he writes in The Big Sea:

“The ideas for my first novel had been in my head for a long time. I wanted to write about a typical Negro family in the Middle West, about people like those I had known in Kansas. But mine was not a typical Negro family. My grandmother never took in washing or worked in service or went much to church. She had lived in Oberlin and spoke perfect English, without a trace of dialect. She looked like an Indian. My mother was a newspaper woman and a stenographer then. My father lived in Mexico City. My granduncle had been a congressman. And there were heroic memories of John Brown’s raid and the underground railroad in the family storehouse. But I thought maybe I had been a typical Negro boy. I grew up with the other Negro children of Lawrence, sons and daughters of family friends. I had an uncle of sorts who ran a barber shop in Kansas City. And later I had a stepfather who was a wanderer. We were poor – but different. For purposes of the novel, however, I created around myself what seemed to me a family more typical of Negro life in Kansas than my own had been. I gave myself aunts that I didn’t have, modeled after other children’s aunts whom I had known. But I put in a real cyclone that had blown my grandmother’s front porch away.”

Sheryl Williams
Curator, Kansas Collection

Adapted from the Spencer Research Library exhibit, Langston Hughes: A Voice for All People.

Collection Feature: Presidential Inauguration

January 16th, 2017

To mark this week’s United States presidential inauguration, we feature some inaugural items in Spencer Library’s collections.

Below are two tickets for the inauguration of Benjamin Harrison, who was sworn in as the 22nd U.S. President on March 4, 1889. The tickets are from the collection of John J. Ingalls, who represented Kansas in the United States Senate for 18 years (1873-1891), and served as President pro tempore of the Senate during three congressional sessions.

Inauguration tickets from the John J. Ingalls Collection.
Call number RH MS 43, Box 1 Folder 20.

Ingalls was also invited to a joint session of Congress to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration, on December 11, 1889. President Harrison was also in attendance for this event.

Ticket for the commemoration celebration of Washington’s inauguration.
John J. Ingalls Collection. Call number RH MS 43, Box 1 Folder 20.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Labor Issues in the Josephson Collection

September 5th, 2016

The Josephson Collection contains booklets and pamphlets having to do with the labor union movement in the United States. The items were collected by Leon Josephson and later acquired by KU Libraries. The materials are not only from the United States, but also from Europe and Russia.

Leon Josephson, and his more famous brother Barney, were avowed Communists. Leon was an attorney and accused of aiding the Communist Party of the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. He was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947.

The Josephson Collection also includes material on Communism and Socialism, but in honor of Labor Day weekend, here are some images of several of the U.S. labor-related items it contains.

Title pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

Title pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 5396, Josephson 4172,
Josephson 5608, and Josephson 4164. Click image to enlarge.

TItle pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

A selection of materials from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 1455, Josephson 4749,
Josephson 3472, and Josephson 3487. Click image to enlarge.

TItle pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

A selection of materials from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 2904, Josephson 3883,
Josephson 3974, and Josephson 3489. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of an issue of Labor Unity, February 1928

Cover of an issue of Labor Unity, February 1928.
Call Number: Josephson 4200. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of May Day vs. Labor Day, 1936

Cover of May Day vs. Labor Day: A Comparison of the
Social Significance of the Two Days of Labor Celebration
by Olive M. Johnson, 1936.
Call Number: Josephson 5757. Click image to enlarge.

 

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Not the End of the Track

August 29th, 2016

Summer is a time for both large and small projects for the students and staff in Conservation Services. Summer 2016 was certainly no exception, as our crew tackled a somewhat daunting and very dirty re-housing venture. This was an amazing group effort, with lots of help and good advice coming from many corners of the KU Libraries.

In the early nineties, the Spencer Research Library took possession of a massive set of technical drawings of the Kansas City Terminal Railway track system. The drawings date from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth  century, and are reproduced in a number of media including cyanotypes (aka blueprints), Photostat copies, and hand-drawn images. They range in size from smaller than a piece of notebook paper to rolls over thirty feet in length. There are just under five hundred sets of drawings varying in amount from one to more than twenty-five drawings per set.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

A sample drawer from the metal cabinets. Click image to enlarge.

The drawings arrived at Spencer Research in their original storage cabinets. The cabinets were metal, painted dark green, and came in four different depths, the largest of which could not be accommodated in the building. The drawers of the largest cabinet were thus removed and stored with boards separating each layer. Some of the drawers containing the drawings were lined with kraft paper, while others were not. Many of the drawings had been tightly rolled and secured with rubber bands. The rubber bands had become brittle with age and had also adhered themselves to the drawings. Because the cabinets had been stored in the train station, there was a great accumulation of grime and dust on cabinetry and drawings alike.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Previous storage of the track drawings. Click image to enlarge.

Six student employees and I began the project by talking through various options for staging and cleaning the drawings, setting up the new storage area, and housing the drawing sets. Meetings were also held with Sherry Williams (Curator of the Kansas Collection), Meredith Huff (Operations Manager for Spencer Research Library), and Whitney Baker (Head of Conservation Services) to discuss the logistics of the project.

It was quite the puzzle to work out where and how to stage the drawings, since the incoming storage unit needed to be assembled where the old cabinetry had stood. The drawing sets in their drawers were eventually staged in four separate locations and the old cabinets were removed.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Moving the cabinets required a lifting device. Click image to enlarge.

Using existing shelving hardware, the team put together a framework of upright brackets and placed shelves at strategic locations to give strength and support to the soon-to-be-constructed honeycomb of tubes. A total of five-hundred and thirty mailing tubes were assembled to house the drawings. Each tube was lined with a heavy-weight, acid-free piece of cardstock, and then placed into the shelving unit.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Modified shelving units empty (left) and with cardstock-lined tubes inserted (right). Click images to enlarge.

At the same time, the student staff began removing the desiccated rubber bands from the drawings and gently cleaning each roll with a soft brush. It was a grungy task that took more than two months to complete. As throughout, the students handled this portion of the project with a great deal of aplomb and good-natured ribbing, and only a couple of grossed-out moments involving truly disgusting rubber bands.

Special Collections Conservator Angela Andres was instrumental in helping solve the issue of how to corral the drawing sets in the tubes, making retrieval and return go smoothly. Through her research, she found a medical supply company that was able to provide us with a continuous virgin Tyvek sheath that could be cut to the correct length for each set.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Tyvek sheath securing a set of drawings together inside the cardboard tube. Click image to enlarge.

After cleaning, the drawings were slipped into the Tyvek sheath, secured with cotton tying tape, and loaded into the honeycomb.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Honeycomb structure. Click image to enlarge.

As each bay was filled, labels were created that correspond with the set numbers and adhered to lids, and the tubes were capped.

Housing railway drawings at Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Caps and labels attached to the tubes. The final product! Click image to enlarge.

This project was a tremendous group effort, involving the cooperation and assistance of many library staff, including those mentioned above and also the Annex team, Michelle Curttright, Doug Hatton, and Ryan Swartz, and the Libraries procurement officer, Kristin Vickers. Most importantly though, was Conservation Services student staff: Brecken Liebl, Valery Herman, Sara Neel, Rebecca Younker, Monica Funk, and Jocelyn Wilkinson. Their hard work was graciously recognized by others in the KU Libraries, as the team won the Jayhawks of the Quarter award for the third quarter of the year.

Roberta Woodrick
General Collections Conservator