Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: November 20-26, 1917

November 20th, 2017

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

The first of this week’s letters is addressed to Forrest’s mother, and he reports that “I will have a four day pass so I can spend Thanksgiving Day in Beloit…It will be the only time I can ever come home – not even Christmas – until I am discharged.”

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 20, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 20, 1917

Tues. Nov. 20, 1917

Dear Mother,

I will have a four day pass so I can spend Thanksgiving Day [November 29, 1917] in Beloit. This all depends on getting the money from you. The O.D. pants and blouse will cost $30 & the fare $15 at the most. Can you send this much so it will reach me by Saturday morning? It will be the only time I can ever come home – not even Christmas – until I am discharged.

I was baptised in the Leavenworth City Baptist Church last Sunday eve.

With Love,
Forrest.

Remember I will be sending $15 a month home in the Summer.

Please send the money so it will get here by Sat. morning if you have to telegraph it.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 22, 1917

Thurs. Nov. 22, 1917

Dear Marie,

Your letter with the pictures came this noon. It seemed like old times to see you with the gun again. Sure was glad to get them.

I was baptised in the L. City Baptist Church last Sunday.

Well I don’t feel in the mood to write tonight so guess I’ll wait till later.

Yours,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: November 13-19, 1917

November 17th, 2017

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

In this week’s letter, Forrest mentions a parade in Leavenworth City, an event that was covered the next day (November 18th) by the Leavenworth Times. In reporting on the parade of 4,000 troops stationed at the fort, the newspaper noted that it “brought forcibly home the proximity of the war in which the United States is now engaged.” Even “residents of long-standing, to whom the military reservation has ceased practically to be a point of interest, were surprised at the number of men under the Fort Leavenworth command.”

Image of Leavenworth Times article, "Troops' Parade an Eye-Opener for This City," November 18, 1917

Image of Leavenworth Times article, "Troops' Parade an Eye-Opener for This City," November 18, 1917

Leavenworth Times article, November 18, 1917. Accessed via Newspapers.com.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 17, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 17, 1917

Sat. Nov. 17, 1917.

Dear Marie,

Well we moved into our new home last Thursday. It is pretty crowded but it won’t be so bad when we get settled down. We are at least a mile and a half from our stables now and that means six or seven miles kicking just for that. Here is a picture of Stock and I with the Wagon set. Some class to yours truly with a dress cap on. Stock borrowed it so I used it, too. The other picture is a case of three jugs of cider for the four of us. We sure had a gay time that Sunday.

This morning the Fort turned out for a parade in L. City. Believe me it was a parade & a half. Well I must quit and send some pictures to Blanche.

Yours,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Throwback Thursday: Phog Allen Edition, Part II

November 16th, 2017

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!

Happy birthday, Phog Allen! The legendary KU basketball coach was born on November 18, 1885.

Photograph of Phog Allen shooting a layup in Allen Fieldhouse, 1955

Phog Allen, at seventy years old, shooting a layup in the then
brand-new Allen Fieldhouse, 1955. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/22 Forrest C. Allen 1955 Negatives:
Athletic Department: Coaches and Staff (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Improving the Physical Environment in Spencer Library: A first visit from Image Permanence Institute

November 14th, 2017

KU Libraries was recently awarded a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, under the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program. The purpose of the grant is to work with an environmental consultant, Image Permanence Institute (IPI), to study the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in Spencer Research Library in order to better preserve our collections while also hopefully finding ways to save energy.

On October 23-25, 2017, we had our first visit from IPI consultants Christopher Cameron and Kelly Krish. The consultants met with the KU team, which consists of representation from Facilities Services, Campus Operations, Center for Sustainability, KU Libraries, Facilities Planning and Development, and the Department of English.

The first visit allowed the consultants to get a lay of the land: listening to participants’ concerns about the building’s environmental systems and collections issues, touring the spaces, and installing dataloggers to collect more information.

One of the first stops was the Spencer Library mechanical room. Facilities staff led the tour, pointing out how the system works, and, in particular, which parts have been most difficult to maintain.

In the mechanical room, Spencer Library, University of Kansas   In the mechanical room, Spencer Library, University of Kansas

Left: Entering Spencer Research Library’s mechanical room.
Right: Kelly Krish and Christopher Cameron in the supply air area, with filters to the left.

In the mechanical room, Spencer Library, University of Kansas

Facilities staff share energy data with IPI consultant Christopher Cameron.

The consultants also met separately with collections staff, walking the stacks and taking notes on anomalies in temperature and humidity, light, and other environmental issues. They asked many questions and took copious notes. They also used a handy infrared (IR) attachment to a smart phone in order to record hot and cold spots in the stacks. The IR images confirmed the ancedotal evidence that some of the vents aren’t functioning properly.

Consultants in stacks, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Kelly Krish and Christopher Cameron learn about environmental concerns in the stacks.

Consultant in stacks, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

IPI also used an infrared camera to locate hot and cold spots in the stacks areas.

After discussing problems with collections staff, Christopher, Kelly, and Head of Conservation, Whitney Baker, discussed where additional dataloggers should be placed in order to supplement five years of data from thirteen loggers already in Spencer Library. They added loggers into the air handling unit, vents, and in collections spaces not previously monitored in order to gain a better overall picture in the coming months of the climate in Spencer Library.

Man placing datalogger in vent, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Christopher Cameron placing a datalogger in the air stream.

Until they visit us again next spring, we will take monthly data readings for twenty-three loggers in the Spencer stacks, vents, and mechanical systems. We look forward to IPI’s return visit, when we examine the data from the first six months and discuss additional testing that may be undertaken at that time.

Whitney Baker, Head
Conservation Services

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Improving the Physical Environment in Spencer Research Library” has been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections.

 

Meet the KSRL Staff: Stacey Wiens

November 10th, 2017

This is the twelfth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Joining us in October 2017, Stacey Wiens is Spencer’s newest team member; she’s the Reference Specialist in Public Services.

Photograph of Stacey Wiens

Where are you from?

I moved to Kansas from California (the state where I was born), but I have also lived in Texas, Colorado, and Missouri.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

My job is about helping users of the library to access the materials and find the resources that best meet their needs. I am still in the training phase for my position, but I will eventually assist researchers in person at the Spencer Reading Room and also respond to off-site researchers through email and phone.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I am coming to the library field as a second career after having been a teacher for several years.

I graduated with my master’s in library science in May 2017. While I was in the MLS program, I found that I was drawn to the issues related to special collections and archives such as how to provide access but also protect these materials over time. I completed a graduate certificate in archival management along with my master’s degree.

While in graduate school, I was working as a librarian at a public library in California and lived in an area where opportunities to work in archival institutions are limited. When I had the chance to apply for the Reference Specialist position at Spencer Research Library, I saw it as opportunity to apply my past experience as a reference librarian and educator while being exposed to work in a special collections and archives setting.

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

Three recent interactions with materials stand out:

  1. The John Gould materials in the Ellis Ornithology Collection are a treat to view. Products from the entire lithography printing process can be examined, i.e., the beginning pencil sketches, inked and painted masters, rubbed transfer images, stone printing plates, and vibrantly-colored final prints. I highly recommend visiting the exhibit in the North Gallery of Spencer Research Library to learn more about John Gould, the artists who worked with him, and the lithography process. Also, check out a 2014 blog post by Special Collections Librarian Karen Cook.
  2. I saw drawings from the Kansas City Terminal Railway that are plans for building a train trestle (a supportive structure over a low place in the landscape). These drawings were from a time before calculations and schematics could be produced by computers. I was struck by the knowledge and skills that are represented by the intricately-detailed drawings with load-bearing information included for each support.
  3. While looking through some of the early KU yearbooks, I found them to be entertaining and revealing of perspectives from a particular point in time. For example, in 1884, the KU departmental classifications were listed as Science, Literature, and Art; Elementary Instruction; Law; Music; and Normal. In the 1903 yearbook, the member lists for a Bachelor’s Club and an Old Maid’s Club were included. Advertisements in yearbooks also offer insights into daily life of a particular time. In 1884, ads revealed that pianos, organs, and sewing machines were often sold in the same store. An ad from 1903 purported that purchasing granulated opium is the best choice for making tinctures.

What part of your job do you like best?

I enjoy helping researchers discover and use the tools they need to feel confident in their search processes. I like the problem-solving aspects of maintaining awareness of our resources and how best to match our resources to a research question. Watching classes of students interact with Spencer materials, especially when they can’t help but show their excitement, is another fun part of my job.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

Being out in beautiful natural settings, exploring places that are new to me, creating art, playing tennis, and watching sports with my husband are some of my favorite activities when not working.

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

Don’t be intimidated by the process at Spencer. Although it is a different research experience in that you don’t have access to browse the shelves of materials, the request process is fairly straightforward, and the staff is eager to assist you as needed. Allow yourself plenty of time to interact with Spencer’s rich and intriguing materials. Sometimes, using primary source documents, for example, can require some extra time to determine if the items contain what you need.

It’s a great idea to acquaint yourself with the Spencer Research Library website before visiting. The Aeon system for requesting materials, the KU Libraries catalog, and Spencer finding aids are available online. Feel free to contact the Spencer Public Services staff if you have questions before you visit. We look forward to seeing you at Spencer!

Stacey Wiens
Reference Specialist
Public Services