Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

¡Misterio resuelto! Funeral de Bernardo Soto Alfaro, ex presidente de Costa Rica (1885-1889) / Mystery Solved! The Funeral of Bernardo Soto Alfaro, Former President of Costa Rica (1885-1889)

September 17th, 2019

En esta ocasión es importante agradecer a las redes sociales que han sido de gran importancia para resolver el caso que se antepuso al equipo de la Biblioteca para la Investigación Kenneth Spencer. El blog, Facebook e Instagram hicieron posible que el álbum costarricense (MS K35) pueda quedarse y ser parte de la colección especial de la biblioteca. Como consecuencia, ahora los investigadores especializados en Latinoamérica, específicamente en Costa Rica, pueden acceder a la historia y/o al aspecto fotográfico del país.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro acompañado del cuerpo militar en un espacio privado / Casket accompanied by military officials in a private space

Como se indicó en este mismo blog de la biblioteca, el miércoles 3 de abril de este mismo año, a su llegada se creía que el álbum costarricense documentaba el funeral del ex presidente costarricense Federico Tinoco Granados. La información con la que en ese momento se contaba era un pequeño documento incluido en el álbum, el cual indica el lugar de compra y el supuesto contenido: “Bot in lit El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Tinoco 1919” (Comprado en la librería El Erial Oct 1980. Se dice que se trata del funeral de Tinoco 1919). Después de un análisis detallado en las fotografías, y de encontrar pistas suficientes para descartar la posibilidad de tal personaje político, buscamos más información sobre de quién podría tratarse. Varios eran los posibles candidatos, pero al publicarse el blog de la biblioteca se halló la respuesta. Hoy en día se tiene la certeza de que las 23 fotografías en blanco y negro, tomadas por el fotógrafo Manuel Gómez Miralles, documentan la despedida oficial que se le da a Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro en enero de 1931. A quien también se le conoce como General don Bernardo y quien fue presidente de Costa Rica durante dos mandatos (1885 & 1886-1890). Entre sus muchas actividades políticas, Soto Alfaro fue el fundador de la Cruz Roja Costarricense como parte de sus preparativos ante la campaña militar invasiva del Presidente guatemalteco Justo Rufino Barrios (1885).

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro fuera de la Catedral Metropolitana de San Jose / Casket outside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

Las imágenes en el álbum, que han sido colocadas en un orden aparentemente cronológico, pueden verse divididas en dos categorías. Por un lado, las hay en un espacio público, donde vemos la conglomeración del pueblo y por otro se tiene el privado en donde vemos el orden militar que no fue abolido hasta 1948. El cuerpo militar en las imágenes está siempre presente, pero en espacios más privados y enfatizando la oficialidad del evento y por lo tanto de las fotografías. Con seguridad, si se tiene el conocimiento requerido, por las tomas directas de la cámara, algunos personajes políticos o del cuerpo militar podrían reconocerse. En cuanto a contenido, hasta este momento de lo único que se tiene certeza es de quién y que se celebra, pero no cabe duda de que hay mucho más que decir.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Cortejo Fúnebre a las afuera de la Catedral Metropolitana de San José / Funeral cortège outside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

Debemos por lo tanto agradecer a Adrián Cortez Castro, quien, inmediatamente después de publicado el blog, nos proveyó el nombre de Soto Alfaro y la fecha de su fallecimiento. A la directora de la Biblioteca Nacional de Costa Rica Laura Rodríguez Amador, quien nos hizo el favor de confirmar por medio de la biblioteca digital la noticia publicada en Correo Nacional: diario de la mañana. A Rocío Fernández del Museo Nacional de Costa Rica y al especialista en la fotografía de Gómez Miralles, Gerardo Bolaños, quienes nos corroboraron la identidad del fallecido. Así mismo, nos proporcionaron la biografía de Gómez Miralles y del General don Bernardo. Gracias a la grata y amable cooperación de todos ellos el álbum MS K35 está formalmente disponible para todo aquel interesado de conocer más sobre la historia de Costa Rica.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Carruaje Fúnebre / Funeral cortège

We are happy to report that social media has been an important tool to help us solve the mystery of the Costa Rican album (MS K35). With the help of Facebook, Instagram, and the blog we have been able to share MS K35 housed in Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s special collections. Now, scholars dedicated to the study of Latin American, specifically Costa Rica, are able to access this contribution to the history and photographic material of the county.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Carruaje Fúnebre y público ciudadano / Funeral cortège with local citizens

As reported in our first blog entry (3 April 2019), tucked into the album was a note that read, “Bot in lib El Erial Oct 1980. Reported to be pictures of funeral of Federico Tinoco 1919.” However since Federico Tinoco, a former president of Costa Rica, died in exile in Paris in 1931, we knew this information couldn’t be correct. A detailed analysis of the album’s photos also suggested that it could not be the funeral of Tinoco’s brother, José, the Costa Rican Minister of War, who was murdered on August 10, 1919, so we continued a thorough search to find an accurate identity. There were many candidates to consider. Thankfully, a response to the previous blog entry provided us with the answer. We now know that the twenty-three black and white photographs taken by Manuel Gómez Miralles document the official memorial service of Ramón Bernardo Soto Alfaro in January 1931. Known as General Don Bernardo, this former two-term president of Costa Rica (1885 and 1886-1890) was also the founder of the Costa Rican Red Cross in 1885, as part of his preparations against a military invasion by Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios.

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Feretro dentro de la Catedral Metropolitana de San José / Casket inside the Catedral Metropolitana de San José

The album’s images, which appear to be arranged chronologically, are divided into two main categories. The first images depict a crowded public space and later ones depict the military, which was not abolished in Costa Rica until 1948. In these images the military is always present, emphasizing the official nature of the event and of the photographs themselves. If we closely examine the images, we might recognize certain politicians and military officials, as the photographer took direct shots, positioning the camera on the faces of the political officials and military groups. 

Image from photograph album depicting the funeral of Costa Rican president Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Call number MS K35, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries
Discurso por personaje diplomatico en conmemoración a Bernardo Soto Alfaro / Diplomatic figure making a speech in honor of Bernardo Soto Alfaro

We would like to publicly acknowledge the assistance of Adrián Cortez Castro for his identification of Soto Alfaro (who had been one of our potential candidates). In response to the blog post, he was able to provide the exact date of Soto Alfaro’s death and a key reference to newspaper coverage of the funeral. We also wish to express our gratitude to Laura Rodríguez Amador, director of the National Library of Costa Rica, who provided a digital issue of the Correo Nacional: diario de la mañana to confirm Soto Alfaro’s identity. Additionally, we extend thanks to Rocío Fernández from the National Museum of Costa Rica, and Gerardo Bolaños, an expert on the photography of Gómez Miralles, who corroborated the identity of the deceased and provided the biographies of Gómez Miralles and General Don Bernardo. Thanks to the power of social media and the welcome and collegial cooperation of these individuals, the mystery of MS K35 is now solved. The album is available for research to anyone interested in learning more about Costa Rica and its history.

Indira García Varela
Student Assistant
Spanish- and Portguese-Language Materials Preservation Project

Throwback Thursday: Campus Bus Edition

September 12th, 2019

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 KU students boarding a "campus only" bus, 1975
KU students boarding a bus on its way to campus, September 29, 1975. Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG LJW 0/55 1975 Prints: University General: Bus Service (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Rudolph Wendelin: From KU to Smokey Bear

September 10th, 2019

Smokey Bear recently celebrated his 75th birthday. Rudolph Wendelin, a KU student in the late 1920s and early 1930s, worked for the United States Forest Service and created Smokey Bear artwork over the length of his career.

According to the Forest History Society that houses his archives, Wendelin was born in Ludell, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas School of Architecture, as well as art schools in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. After serving in World War II, Wendelin “was given responsibility for the Smokey Bear project and proceeded to create hundreds of Smokey representations that highlighted natural resources conservation and forest fire prevention.”

In honor of Mr. Wendelin and Smokey Bear, we would like to highlight some of the examples of his artwork that are housed in KU’s University Archives. His artistic promise can clearly be seen in the samples featured here.

MacDowell Club detail 69_1 1931 Jayhawker
University of Kansas MacDowell Fraternity for students interested in the arts of painting, music, and literature, chosen by the faculty and an honorary committee. Rudolph Wendelin is in the second row, third from right. 1931 Jayhawker yearbook, call number 69/1/1931. University Archives

Rudolph Wendelin studied in the department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering. In a scrapbook from the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering that spans the years 1913 through the early 1930s, there are many examples of Wendelin’s caricatures.

Drawing of individuals in School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering in 1930-1931
“We Have With Us . . . 1930-1931.” Pencil drawing by Rudolph Wendelin featuring faculty and student leaders from the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering. Call number SB/18, University Archives

Wendelin captures student life, including the annual Architect’s Party. In 1932 the theme was “Depression.” The description in the scrapbook, most likely written by Wendelin, indicates that “costumes and decorations were in keeping with this feeling [of Depression] . . .” The event featured “singing and dancing by Bob Mann’s chorus, juggling of balls and jokes by Prof. Beal, and tap dancing by Ruth Pyle . . . Refreshments were served the hungry mob, and dancing followed–to depression music–the radio.”

Print: "Join the Breadline"
“Join the Breadline at the Architects Depression Party.” Print by Rudolph Wendelin, 1932? Call number SB/18, University Archives

Wendelin’s work was also included in the Humor section at the end of the 1930, 1931, and 1932 Jayhawker yearbooks. In 1931 he depicted the “Hill’s Hottest He,” which features Sennett Kirk as the most desirable bachelor on campus.

Page from 1931 Jayhawker yearbook
The “Hill’s Hottest He.” Reproduction of a Rudolph Wendelin mixed media piece, featured in the 1931 Jayhawker yearbook. Call number 69/1/1931, University Archives.

Rudolph Wendelin was also an accomplished sculptor. Early in his career, he used bars of Ivory soap to hone his craft. Rather amazingly, the Archives houses a collection of these tiny sculptures, dated 1929.

Soap sculptures by Rudolph Wendelin
Above: Photographs of Rudolph Wendelin’s soap sculptures in the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering scrapbook. Below: Three examples of surviving Ivory soap sculptures. The one in the center is most likely featured in the photographs above. Call numbers: SB/18 and 18/1 (artifacts), University Archives.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Students on Campus Edition

September 5th, 2019

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 students walking on campus, 1919
Students walking on campus, 1919. University Archives Photos. Old Fraser Hall – located approximately where modern Fraser Hall now stands – is on the left. Old Green (now Lippincott) Hall is on the right. Call Number: RG 0/24/P 1919 Prints: Campus: Panoramas (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

The Search for Women’s Suffrage: Re-Discovering Letters from Susan B. Anthony

September 3rd, 2019

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment (which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex), the Public Services staff at Kenneth Spencer Research Library are exploring the collections to create a list of materials in our holdings related to this historic event.

This summer, I served as a temporary Reference Specialist in Public Services. One of my primary projects in this role was to seek out women’s suffrage-related materials specifically within the University Archives division of the Library, which documents the history of the University of Kansas and its people.

This project required a good deal of patience and persistence, as it is not always clear whether a collection contains suffrage materials based solely on its title or even on its digital finding aid. As a result, often the best way to be certain of a potentially-promising collection’s contents was to go through them folder by folder, item by item.

My most exciting find came from the Kate Stephens Collection (PP 43). In Box 2, I came across seven letters written to Stephens by noted women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
A letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

Stephens, a Professor of Greek at KU in the late 1870s and 1880s, was the first woman to serve as the Chair of a department at the university. Stephens was asked to resign from her position in 1885, a decision she appears to have attributed to her gender, her lack of religious affiliation, or possibly the recent death of her father, a prominent lawyer and judge. However, Stephens went on to become a prolific writer, editor, and proponent of women’s equality in higher education.

Top: A portrait of Kate Stephens taken during her Greek professorship at KU, 1880s. Bottom: A portrait of Stephens, undated. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Stephens, Kate (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Box 2 of Stephens’ collection contains correspondence, though further details (such as dates or senders of this correspondence) were not previously provided in the collection’s finding aid. As such, I was surprised and thrilled to find the box contained letters from Susan B. Anthony.

Written on letterhead for the “National Woman Suffrage Association” and dated between 1884 and 1888, the letters build on an existing relationship between the two women that appears to have begun years earlier when Stephens served as a translator for Anthony’s lectures in Berlin, Germany. In some instances, Anthony’s writing is social, such discussions regarding shared acquaintances or regarding Anthony’s niece, who she hoped to persuade to attend KU.

In other instances, the contents of Anthony’s letters relate directly to the fight for women’s right to vote. For instance, Anthony asks Stephens to write a chapter in the forthcoming third volume of History of Woman Suffrage (a task Stephens attempted but was not able to complete) and to help organize a Women’s Suffrage Convention in Lawrence (which was held on November 1-2, 1886).

Anthony’s letters also demonstrate her interest in Stephens’ career, expressing congratulations when Stephens becomes a full professor and speculating on the motivations for Stephens later being asked to resign. As to this last event, Anthony wrote to Stephens on June 28, 1887:

The wonder is that a woman was ever appointed & that she remained in that honored & […] office so long as she did – not that when your noble & politically powerful father was gone the woman was dropped – I have no doubt – no matter how many other pretexts were devised – that at the bottom & most pottent of all influences – was the disabling facts – that the woman was not a voter and hence had no political power […]

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
A letter from Susan B. Antony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

As these letters from Anthony to Stephens were undocumented in the collection’s finding aid, there was previously no definitive way to learn of their existence. Their re-discovery has been noteworthy, not only for the commemoration of women’s suffrage, but also for prompting a revision of the collection’s cataloguing to help ensure future researchers can find and access them in years to come.

Sarah E. Polo
Reference Specialist
Public Services