Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Homecoming History Edition

September 20th, 2018

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 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of an early KU Homecoming football game, 1910s

An early KU homecoming football game at McCook Field, 1910s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/1 Prints: Student Activities: Homecoming (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

For over a century, the tradition of homecoming has been observed across KU and the city of Lawrence. Originating as an opportunity for alumni to revisit campus, the first homecoming game was played against the University of Missouri in November 1912, with KU winning 12-3. Over the next decade, the popular event spun off into many traditions. Some – like homecoming parades – have endured to this day, while others – like the annual tiger bonfire and a day dedicated to dressing like hobos – have disappeared.

Photograph of KU students dressed up for Hobo Day, 1931

Students dressed up for Hobo Day, 1931. The raucous event became an
integral part of homecoming festivities at KU. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/9 1931 Prints: Student Activities: Hobo Day (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Homecoming mostly continued on in this fashion for nearly six decades – a week of parties, rallies, and promotional activities leading up to the big football game. It wasn’t until 1970 that the next major development in the history of KU homecoming took place. In 1969, senior student Janet Merrick was crowned KU’s final homecoming queen. The selection of the homecoming queen had been part of the celebration since 1925. Protests surrounding the war in Vietnam and a growing sense of student-establishment tension deemed the tradition to be clashing with modern sensibilities. Additionally, frustrated with a process that had never resulted in a black homecoming queen, KU’s Black Student Union first chose its own queen in 1969. The following year was the first homecoming celebration without a queen, and the tradition remains shelved. The Black Student Union continues to crown a homecoming queen each year.

Photograph of KU Homecoming Queen Jan Merrick, 1969

Homecoming Queen Janet Merrick, 1969. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/1 1969 Prints: Student Activities: Homecoming (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The following year, KU introduced a second Jayhawk mascot. During halftime of the 1971 homecoming game against Kansas State University, Baby Jay was unveiled to the student body after hatching from a giant blue egg. Big Jay and Baby Jay have been staples of the university spirit team ever since.

Photograph of the Baby Jay egg, 1971

Baby Jay egg, 1971. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/25 1971
Negatives: University General: Jayhawk mascot, dolls, etc (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of KU Chancellor Chalmers with new Baby Jay at Homecoming, 1971

Chancellor Chalmers with new Baby Jay at Homecoming, 1971.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 2/13 1971 Prints:
Chancellors: E. Laurence Chalmers (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

In 1993 there may have been some consideration in reviving the homecoming court; however, a new tradition began instead. An award was given to students that exhibited academic excellence, leadership, and a strong sense of service to the Lawrence community. This became the KU Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards, or the KU Ex.C.E.L. Awards. This honor has been given to two students, every homecoming, for the past twenty-eight years.

Homecoming in more recent years has seen the emergence of new traditions. For example, at Chalk ‘n’ Rock, student groups and organizations create elaborate chalk murals along Wescoe Beach. The Jayhawk Jingles continue as a new version of the Jayhawk Follies; students compete in a contest of musical performances.

Photograph of the Jayhawk Follies, 1954

Four women dancing on stage dressed as dolls in the Jayhawk Follies, 1954.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/1 1954 Prints: Student Activities:
Homecoming (Photos). Click on image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

This year, KU faces off against Oklahoma State in the 106th homecoming football game. The theme this year is “Home on the Hill,” a call for alumni to return home to their University as they always have and for current students to further solidify their own homes on the hill.

Mallory Harrell
KU Museum Studies graduate student and University Archives intern

Throwback Thursday: Tailgate Edition, Part II

September 13th, 2018

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 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of football fans tailgating outside Memorial Stadium, 1975-1976

Football fans tailgating outside Memorial Stadium, 1975-1976.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/66/14 1975/1976 Prints:
Student Activities: Sports: Football (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Celebrating the New Conservation Lab

September 11th, 2018

Earlier this summer, the Conservation Services Department completed a move from its former location in the basement of Watson Library to a new facility on the second floor of Spencer Research Library. After years of wishing and hoping, months of dreaming and planning, and some intense weeks of packing, hauling, unpacking, and arranging, we opened our doors to the new space in late July.

Working in this space has been everything we hoped it would be, and more. Here we are better situated to care for Spencer collections, while still providing service to all other campus libraries. Shortly after we opened, we held an open house for our Libraries colleagues. We were delighted that more than 50 people came to view the new space and share in our excitement. We three conservators – Whitney, Roberta, and myself – took turns offering tours of the lab to visitors. For those who were unable to attend, here is a quick look at some of what we love about this new lab.

Our new height-adjustable, wheeled workbenches and tables offer more flexibility to accommodate many types of treatments and projects – and even meetings, tours, and other activities. Each staff member can also configure their benches to the height and arrangement that is most comfortable for them.

Height-adjustable, wheeled workbenches and tables in the new lab space.

Adjustable workbenches and tables on casters in the new conservation lab (with windows!). Click image to enlarge.

We have a quarantine room for isolating and treating items affected by mold or pests. In addition to ample shelf space and our existing sub-zero freezer, this room houses a new biosafety cabinet which will allow us to mitigate the risks of handling and cleaning these vulnerable collection materials.

Quarantine room for isolating and treating items with mold or pests.

Inside the quarantine room: biosafety cabinet at left, shelving at right. Click image to enlarge.

The new wet lab will soon be equipped with a large sink in which we can treat oversize items, or do the messy work of preparing repair materials – such as lining cloth or paper – in a space that is easily cleaned up.

Wet lab within the new conservation lab for paper treatments and preparation of repair materials.

Wet treatment lab, for wet or messy work. Click image to enlarge.

We also have a dedicated area for photodocumentation just a few steps from our benches. This makes it so easy to quickly snap photographs of items before and after treatment.

Section of the new lab designated for photography of materials before and after treatments.

Photodocumentation area, with two different setups and a handy blackout curtain. Click image to enlarge.

A centrally located student work area is well placed to access all of the equipment and supplies. Like the staff workbenches, the students’ tables and chairs are on casters and are height-adjustable.

Student work spaces in the new lab.

Two groups of four student work tables occupy the center of the lab. Click image to enlarge.

We couldn’t be more pleased to be continuing our work caring for KU Libraries collections in this beautiful new conservation lab.

Throwback Thursday: Reading Edition

September 6th, 2018

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 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

It’s National Read a Book Day, and a visit to Spencer Research Library is a great way to celebrate! Our collections have something for everyone: books in various genres covering a wide range of topics, places, and time periods. Or, bring your own book to the library and find a quiet spot to read. You might enjoy the coziness of the antique furnishings in the Spencer lounge or, like the student in this week’s photo, you might prefer the grandeur of the North Gallery, with its glass-enclosed book stacks and spectacular campus views.

Photograph of a library student assistant reading a book in the North Gallery at Spencer Research Library, 1970s

A library student assistant reading a book in Spencer’s North Gallery, 1970s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 32/37 1970s Slides: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital Collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Genealogy Hunts in Processing

September 4th, 2018

Manuscripts processing staff try to provide contextual information when creating finding aids to help researchers discover what we have in our collections. Some of the most important contextual information we can provide concerns biographical information for individuals (e.g. when a person was born, what s/he did during his/her life, and whether s/he had children) or administrative information for organizations, businesses, and government agencies (e.g. when an organization was created, what its function was, and what happened to it – did it merge with another organization or fade into obscurity, or is it still going strong). Without that kind of information, it can be difficult for a researcher to evaluate a collection and determine whether or not it is of interest to their research.

When we’re lucky, we’re provided this information in the collection itself or in material provided by the donor when the curator picks up the collection. Sometimes, though, the donor doesn’t necessarily have information about a collection—maybe its something they found in their house or something a family member gave them years ago and for which they never got the story.

In these situations, processing can be a detective game of following clues and performing dogged research.

Take, for example, the Hungate family papers. We had very little information in the accession file about this collection; the accession itself was called “Housemother in Kansas.” (Accessioning in the cultural heritage domain is the act of transferring ownership from one owner to another—i.e. from a donor to the cultural institution, such as Spencer Research Library.)

Upon review, it was found that this collection is a mix of textual and photographic material, the photographs dating back to what I suspect are the 1860s up to 1958, and the textual materials mostly dating from 1945 to 1947.

Photograph of the Hungate family letters while being processed

Hungate family letters during processing.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

It was immediately obvious why the collection was initially called “Housemother in Kansas”: on top of the stacked material in the box was a scrapbook for Ida B. Patterson’s retirement as a house mother at Goffe House at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearby was a marriage certificate (shown below) for Ida B. Devaney to Frank P. Patterson in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri.

Photograph of the Hungate family papers guestbook

Photograph of a Hungate family marriage certificate

The inside first page to the guest book (cover shown, top) states it was for
“Mother, when she left Art Institute as house mother 1950,” with some items inside
addressed to Mrs. Patterson. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

However, the bulk of the collection was Hungate family material, much of which were photographs that were remarkably well identified, including late 19th century cabinet cards.

Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate

The front (left) and back (right) of a photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife Essie Smith Hungate,
one of several identified family photos in the collection. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection was to Dr. Carroll Paul Hungate, a medical doctor serving in the Naval Reserves in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1945, or to his daughter Mary Agnes Hungate from Brazilian penpals. By quickly skimming some of the letters and reading the backs of some of the identified photographs, I was able to start piecing together family connections.

Photograph of Carroll Paul Hungate

Caroll Paul Hungate.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

Both Mary Agnes Hungate (writing to her husband “my darling Carroll”) and her daughters Mary Agnes and Annabel (writing to their father “Daddy”) several times mentioned going to the lake with the Pattersons. In one letter, Mary Agnes Sr. mentioned that Donald Patterson called, telling her “Aunt Maude” had died of cancer.

Image of a letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, October 5, 1945

A letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, writing
about the children going to the movies with the Pattersons, October 5, 1945.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

The clues in the collection itself led to online researches on genealogical websites. HeritageQuest (available for free through KU Libraries), Find a Grave, and other websites all aided in tracking down Hungate and Patterson family members. I finally discovered the connection between these two families: Ida B. Patterson was Mary Agnes (Patterson) Hungate’s mother. Ida’s husband Frank died in 1908, after they had been married for just ten years. According to the 1910 U.S. census, the widowed Ida was left to care for her two children, Howard and his younger sister Mary Agnes.

Screenshot of the 1910 United States federal census record for Ida B. Patterson

A screenshot of the transcribed entry for Ida B. Patterson in the
1910 United States federal census. From Ancestry.com. Click image to enlarge.

Sometimes, processing detective work pays off.

Pro Tip

If you reside in Kansas and want to look up information in Kansas newspapers prior to 1923—even later for some content—including birth announcements and obituaries, you can go to the Kansas Historical Society’s website, provide your name, date of birth, and Kansas driver’s license number, and have free access to thousands of images of digitized Kansas newspapers on Newspapers.com. Very helpful when confirming birth dates found in other sources!

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator