Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Academics for the War Effort: KU Faculty and Their Service

March 20th, 2017

Members of the University of Kansas’s faculty involved themselves in the World War I war effort in a multitude of ways, including military and government service. By 1918, thirty-one members of the faculty were actively engaged in some type of war work. Here are some highlights of their efforts from the University Archives.

School of Engineering

Dean Perley F. Walker left his position and joined the Army when the United States entered the war. He entered the service as Major, but shortly thereafter was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Photograph of Perley Walker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Perley Walker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Department of Physical Education

Several members of the Physical Education staff joined the Armed Forces during WWI, including coaches George Clark, Leon McCarty, and Herman Olcott. In addition to those faculty members who enlisted, the Department of Physical Education also saw Dr. James Naismith leave to work with the Y.M.C.A. in France.

Photograph of Herman Olcott in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Herman Olcott in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of James Naismith in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

James Naismith in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Military service was not the only thing that pulled faculty away from the University of Kansas. Dean Olin Templin took a temporary leave to organize and supervise the War League of American Colleges – an idea originated by Dean Templin. The goal of the organization was to educate college students across the country about the significance of the war and to prepare them for the future changes that would impact them as a result of the conflict.

Photograph of Olin Templin in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Olin Templin in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

For additional information regarding the University of Kansas during World War I, please visit Spencer Research Library and explore our University Archives collections – including items such as issues of the Graduate Magazine, Jayhawker yearbooks, and ROTC records!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services

A Good Mannequin is Hard to Find

March 13th, 2017

Actually, there are many quality mannequins readily available through a variety of sources – but a good, affordable mannequin that is appropriately sized for a nineteenth-century male of small stature is, in fact, quite hard to find. We were in need of such a mannequin to display a Civil-War-era vest worn by John Fraser, who served as the second Chancellor of the University of Kansas from 1868-1874. Later this year the vest will be part of Spencer Research Library’s new North Gallery exhibit, which will transform that iconic space into a showcase for Spencer’s rich collections.

Chancellor Fraser’s cream-colored wool vest will be featured alongside his sword and scabbard in the University Archives section of the exhibit. A professional mount maker will fabricate the supports for the sword and scabbard, but we in Conservation Services were charged with finding or making an exhibit support for the vest. Our search for a ready-made mannequin of the right shape, size, and price for our needs proved unsuccessful, so we decided to make our own. It’s one of those “other duties as assigned” that presented a fun challenge!

In preparation for building the mannequin, I viewed a webinar about mannequin-making for conservators, and found a handful of blog posts and articles by non-textile conservators like myself who’d built mannequins. It was great to see what others in similar situations had done; their work helped me to form an idea of how to approach this project. I decided to carve the basic mannequin shape out of archival foam, then add more detailed shaping with layers of cotton batting, and finally cover the form with stretchy stockinette fabric.

Prior to starting, I measured the original vest and sewed a simple dummy version of it to use for test fittings along the way. I also printed out some images of torso mannequins from the web to serve as a point of reference for the basic shape. I found a T-shaped jewelry stand, originally meant for retail display, on Amazon to serve as the armature for the mannequin. It has a sturdy weighted base and adjustable height, and the price was right. I began building the mannequin by using hot-melt glue to affix three planks of archival polyethylene foam to the armature and sketching out a basic torso shape on the foam, then set to work carving with a foam knife.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

The mannequin before and after the first round of carving. Click image to enlarge.

At this point the mannequin needed more bulk in the chest, so I glued on more foam pieces and shaped them with the knife, then put the dummy vest on the form to see how the fit was progressing. You can see in the image below (right) that the vest doesn’t look quite right on the form at this stage.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left to right: Adding more foam; the mannequin with bulkier chest; testing the fit with the dummy vest.

After yet another round of adding foam and shaping it down with the knife, this time bulking up the chest, abdomen, and upper back, the form began to take on a more natural shape and the dummy vest fit much better.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left to right: More foam added to the mannequin; the front and back of the increasingly shapely torso; a better fit.

As the mannequin’s surfaces became more curved, attaching stiff foam planks became more difficult, so in order to do the last bits of shaping I applied built-up layers of cotton batting, again using hot-melt glue.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Shaping the back and shoulders with batting.

Now the mannequin was almost complete, but I wanted to be sure that the original vest, and not just its stand-in, would fit just right, so I brought the form and some supplies over to the University Archives, where the vest resides, to do the final fitting. I also brought along my colleague, collections conservator Roberta Woodrick, who has a background in textiles, to lend her eye and advice to this stage. We placed the vest on the form and identified a couple of places that needed a little more trimming with the foam knife. With the last adjustments made, it was time to cover the mannequin in stretchy stockinette fabric.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left: Testing the fit of the original garment on the mannequin. Right: Covering the form with black stockinette fabric.

After trimming and pinning the stockinette at the neck and base of the mannequin, it was finally ready! I placed the vest on one more time to be really sure of a good fit.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

John Fraser’s vest on its new form for display in Spencer Library’s North Gallery.

The vest fits the form, but there is one feature of the mannequin that remains unfinished. The shiny base of the mannequin stand might be too shiny – it may be too reflective under the exhibit lighting – but we won’t know that until the gallery renovation is completed and we place the form in its new home. If it’s too reflective, we plan to cover it with remnants of the same fabric that will be used to line the display “niche” in which the vest will be exhibited. However, if the consensus opinion is that the shininess is acceptable, we’ll simply polish away the fingerprints and the mannequin will be ready to go!

Angela Andres
Special Collections Conservator
Conservation Services

Women and World War I: Contributions at the University of Kansas

December 12th, 2016

Women at the University of Kansas contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways during World War I. Here’s a look at just some of the ways that KU women found to support the war effort, as illustrated by the collections in University Archives!

The physical education and English departments made their mark on the war effort through several organized projects. Students in various knitting and sewing classes made sheets and bed socks for hospitals and sweaters for the troops. Knitting classes were later disbanded temporarily to allow time and space for female students to make surgical dressings for military hospitals.

In addition, many women on campus also became involved with the Red Cross during the war via courses in home nursing and Red Cross organization and home relief.

Photograph of a surgical dressing class at KU, 1918

A surgical dressing class at KU, Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of surgical dressing and Red Cross pamphlet in the Florence Harkrader scrapbook, 1916-1919

Surgical dressing and Red Cross pamphlet in the Florence Harkrader scrapbook, 1916-1919.
University Archives. Call Number: SB 71/99. Click image to enlarge.

Food use and conservation was of utmost importance to the war effort. As Herbert Hoover, Director of the U.S. Food Administration during World War I, said: “if food fails, everything fails.” The need to educate the public on food conservation prompted the Food Administration to begin offering lectures and courses about food use and conservation at universities around the country, including KU. All female students at the University attended these lectures, entitled “Food and the War.”

With so many men enlisted in the Armed Forces, it fell to women and younger men to fill vacant positions in the work force here in the United States. Several female students enrolled in stenography, typewriting, and telegraphy courses through the University and the Lawrence Business College.

Advertisement for the Lawrence Business College, 1918

Advertisement for the Lawrence Business College,
Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

For additional information regarding the University of Kansas during World War I, please visit the Spencer Research Library and explore our University Archives collections – including items such as issues of The Graduate Magazine and Jayhawker yearbooks!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services

Conserving Scrapbooks: A Unique Conservation Challenge

August 1st, 2016

I have spent this summer as the second Ringle Summer Intern in the Stannard Conservation Lab at the University of Kansas. My internship focused on a collection of 41 scrapbooks held by the University Archives. The project involved developing a survey tool, surveying the collection, identifying items for treatment, treating some items, and rehousing/housing modification all of the scrapbooks. Most of the books dated from the early 1900’s. They showcase student life leading up to and in the early stages of World War One. This insight into student life at a very interesting and volatile time, especially as we come to the 100 year anniversary of the United States entering the war, is why the Archives uses these materials as teaching tools with undergraduate students. The scrapbooks also include very interesting objects, like firecrackers with the line written next to them, “We shot up the house.” I was unable to discover which house they were talking about but I have no doubt they would have been in serious trouble for doing that today! From a conservation perspective these firecrackers required some consolidation and I discovered one of the fuses is still in place!

 Piece of hardtack from 71/99 McIntire scrapbook. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Firecrackers in a scrapbook compiled by Emery McIntire, after treatment. Call number 71/99 McIntire. Click image to enlarge.

 

For more information about the project please see the story published in the Lawrence Journal-World in July: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2016/jul/04/century-old-ku-student-scrapbooks-pose-preservatio/

And for some video footage of the treatments please see the coverage from 41 Action News: http://www.kshb.com/news/region-kansas/ku-working-to-preserve-former-students-scrapbooks

I came into the project most excited about the problem-solving aspects of working with scrapbooks and I was not disappointed. Many conservators greatly enjoy the problem-solving we get to do every day to determine the correct treatment for objects. For conservation purposes scrapbooks are exceedingly complex and complicated objects. Usually they are made of cheap materials and contain a variety of attachment methods. This means that once they make it to a conservator’s bench they are normally quite fragile. The binding may be failing, the support paper is usually brittle, and the various types of attachment—glue, tape, staples, pins—may have partially or completely failed. Given all of this, determining the most appropriate treatment is not always an easy task.

For the scrapbooks I treated I came across two main problems: What is the most efficient way to mend the innumerable tears to the support pages? What is the best way to conserve objects found in the scrapbooks? Some of these objects include firecrackers, a Red Cross bandage, and a 100 year old piece of hardtack.

 71/99 Harkrader, Florence scrapbook. University Archives, Spencer Research Library. 71/99 Harkrader, Florence scrapbook. University Archives, Spencer Research Library.

Red Cross bandage in a scrapbook compiled by Florence Harkrader, before and after treatment. Call number 71/99 Harkrader. Click images to enlarge.

 

I found that the most efficient way to repair all the tears—averaging around 10 tears per page—was to use a remoistenable repair paper. I made this using a 10gsm tengujo Japanese paper and a 50/50 mix of wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose. Once this was dry I was able to score it into many different sized strips to fit the various sized tears I was repairing.

Of the two objects mentioned the bandage was the easier to conserve. It is pinned to the support page and can swivel a bit on the pin allowing it to extend beyond the edge of the book. This means that there are some creases and frayed areas that have developed over time. To conserve it I repositioned it to sit inside the edges of the book and flattened out the creases.

The hardtack required creative problem-solving. It had a number of problems. It was coming unstuck from the support paper, had a number of cracks, and has writing on it. The ink means that any organic solvent-based consolidant could not be used. Additionally, it was desirable to keep the hardtack on the page, rather than removing it and storing it separately. In the end it was decided to remove the page from the scrapbook (the book was already disbound and is not being rebound) and to store it in its own enclosure within the same box as the scrapbook. The hardtack was re-secured to the page using a very dry wheat starch paste. The page was put in a float mount and support pieces were made with cutouts for the hardtack on one side and a dance book on the other. All of this was then sandwiched between pieces of corrugated board with ties attached. This created a housing that will both protect the page and aid in flipping the page from one side to the other.

Piece of hardtack from 71/99 McIntire scrapbook. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library Piece of hardtack from 71/99 McIntire scrapbook. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Page from Emery McIntire’s scrapbook, featuring a piece of hardtack, before and after treatment. Call number 71/99 McIntire. Click images to enlarge.

 

Piece of hardtack from 71/99 McIntire scrapbook. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Detail of the hardtack. Call number 71/99 McIntire. Click image to enlarge.

This project allowed me to hone my skills in many areas of conservation. My project will allow for these scrapbooks to be accessed and stored more safely going forward. I highly recommend stopping by Spencer Research Library, calling one or two to the reading room, and losing yourself in KU’s past!

Noah Smutz
2016 Ringle Conservation Intern

Meet the KSRL Staff: Letha Johnson

July 11th, 2016

This is the eighth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Letha Johnson is the Assistant Archivist for Spencer Research Library’s University Archives.

Letha Johnson, Assistant Archivist for the University Archives

Letha Johnson in front of Jayhawker Yearbooks which are part of the University Archives
reference collection found in the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room at Spencer Research Library.

Where are you from?

Salina, KS.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I am responsible for overseeing the appraisal, processing, management, and accessibility of records in the University archives regardless of physical format.  I work towards expanding the archives responsibility of the University’s electronic records and provide records management, reference, and outreach services across campus and beyond. I also ensure space is allocated for proper storage and order of collections in all formats and that knowledge of locations is maintained. By utilizing recognized standards and methodologies in managing digital collections and electronic records and media, I work towards expanding the availability of digital collections on the library website.

How did you come to work in archives? 

I wanted to do something in the history field besides teaching in secondary education.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

KU’s first account ledger from 1864 to 1867.  It has the names of prominent figures in KU, Lawrence, and Kansas history.

What part of your job do you like best?

There’s a great deal of variety in my job, so it’s always interesting. I learn something new almost every day.

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?

Reading and hanging out with my family and friends.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to ask questions in general.  The staff is here to help.

Letha Johnson
Assistant Archivist
University Archives