Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Kansas Leader and Innovator: Delano Lewis

January 16th, 2018

One of my first projects in the African American Experience Collections was to help the Field Archivist/Curator, Deborah Dandridge, put together an exhibit titled Education: The Mightiest Weapon. Many of the items that we used came from the Sumner High School Collection, and it didn’t take long for me to notice how accomplished the graduates of that school were. As coincidence would have it, one of my relatives, Delano Lewis, is a Sumner High graduate. Like many of Sumner’s graduates, he went on to accomplish great things like working as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department, becoming Associate Director for the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Uganda, and being appointed as the United States Ambassador to South Africa.

Delano Eugene Lewis was born in November of 1938 in Arkansas City, Kansas. His family later moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where he attended Sumner High School, graduating in 1956.

Photograph of Delano Lewis, Drum Major, Sumner High School, 1956

Photograph in the 1956 Sumnerian yearbook showing
Delano Lewis (center) as a Drum Major at Sumner High School.
Call Number: RH Ser D1286. Click image to enlarge.

Sumnerian yearbook photograph of Delano Lewis,
President of the Junior Class of
Sumner High School, 1955.
Call Number: RH Ser D1286. Click image to enlarge.

Lewis graduated from the University of Kansas in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. In 1963, he received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Washburn University School of Law, after which he went to Washington, D.C., to work as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1967 Lewis served as the Peace Corps’ Country Director in Uganda. After leaving Uganda, he worked as a Legal Assistant for Senator Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction.

Photograph of Delano Lewis with Senator Edward Brooke and Vice President Walter Mondale, undated

Delano Lewis (center) with Senator Edward Brooke (left) and
Vice President Walter Mondale (right), undated photograph.
Delano Lewis Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 1075.
Click image to enlarge.

While he held esteemed positions in service of the U.S. government, Lewis also had an impressive corporate career. He served as the Public Affairs Manager for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company in 1973, and in 1990 he became the CEO. In 1993, Lewis was the first African American become the President and CEO of National Public Radio. Then from 1999 to 2001, Lewis was appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.

Photograph of Delano Lewis with Al Gore, 1997

Delano Lewis (center) with Vice President Al Gore (left), 1997.
Delano Lewis Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 1075. Click image to enlarge.

Initially proposed and funded by Michael Shinn (B.S., Aerospace Engineering, 1966), the KU Black Alumni’s African American Leaders and Innovators project recognized Mr. Lewis in 2007.

Arielle Swopes
Spencer Research Library Student Assistant
African American Experience Collections

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist and Curator
African American Experience Collections

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: January 15-21, 1918

January 15th, 2018

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).

Highlights from this week’s letters include new equipment, transfer to a new unit, and typhoid inoculations.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 20, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 20, 1918

Jan. 20, 1918

Dear Marie,

I am mighty sorry I haven’t written to you oftener. Please don’t think that I am not thinking of you. I am surely going to write you a long “newsy” letter Monday or Wednesday and try to make up. Now, little Girlie please forgive me this once more will you?

With love,
Forrest.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 21, 1918

Jan 21, 1918.

Dear Marie,

I am sorry that you are not feeling well. What is wrong with Mother? I want you to keep the sweater so of course you may alter it as you like. There are no negatives in my desk except the ones that I took with Roy’s camera. Did you get the picture of the Cantonment that I sent? The little signet ring you gave me shows very plainly in that picture of you picking cherries by the porch. Do you remember when we took that picture on July 4th? The ring is quite distinct in that picture of you in the canoe with the duck. Have you got these two pictures? It doesn’t look as if we will take any more next summer. We have our pistol belts now and all our equipment and clothes has been stamped A6F.BN.S.C. We were all measured for shoes a short time ago. I put on a 9D shoe the first time, picked up the dumb-bell and stood on one foot while the lietenent felt of the shoe to see how it fit. He said it was too small so I had to take a 9 ½ C. It looks as if we are going to do some footwork alright. We are no longer mounted. Never again will the bugle blow “Prepare to Mount” for Co. A-6. We expect to have motor equipment before we leave U.S. Each morning I attend a motor class for two hours at the War College. There are six others from A-6 in the same class. The work is quite interesting.

I have been transferred to the First Section. This section does more actual field work than the 5th section, which moves about very little in real service. The section-chief, Sergeant Baber, is the telegraph instructor of the Company. He sure is a fine fellow and is some operator alright. Corporal Abrahms, with whom rode as far as Chi., Thanksgiving, is also in this section. The “First” is probably the leading section in the Company and I sure am glad to get in it.

I had to take my three triple-typhoid innoculations all over again as the old record was lost at the hospital. This differs from a vaccination as the serum is injected with a hypodermic needle. I am not going to argue vaccination at long range but I know that no M.D. will ever get a shot at me after I get back in civilian life.

Well the Company goes on guard again tomorrow night so I think I will hit the straw early tonight.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Throwback Thursday: Campanile Groundbreaking Edition

January 11th, 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!

On this date sixty-eight years ago, ground was broken for the Memorial Carillon and Campanile, which honors the 277 KU alumni, students, faculty, and staff who died in World War II.

Photograph of the groundbreaking for the Campanile, January 11, 1950

Groundbreaking for the Campanile, January 11, 1950.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/8 1949 Negatives:
Campus: Buildings: Campanile (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

According to a “data sheet” – located in the Campanile building file in University Archives – the small ceremony began at 11:00am. Moreover, the document notes that

The ground breaking today is arranged only for picture-taking purposes and a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Memorial Association. The University held an impressive memorial service May 5, 1946, for its war dead. The chief celebration in connection with the Campanile will come at the time of its dedication. At that time one of the great Carillonneurs of the country will be called in to play the dedicatory recital and doubtless great crowds will gather for viewing the Campanile and hearing the Carillon.

An article about the groundbreaking in the January 1949 Graduate Magazine (page 9) noted that

Tommy Constant’s big power shovel [Constant Construction Company] moved in and started operation immediately as soon as the honorary hand diggers stepped aside. The power shovel had an excavation down 12 feet by evening of the first day.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

V-Mail: You Write, He’ll Fight

January 9th, 2018

Victory Mail, commonly called V-Mail, was a process developed in 1942 to more efficiently transport the immense amount of correspondence being generated between military personnel and their families during World War II. The system was a cooperated effort between the U.S. Postal Service and the military, intended to preserve precious cargo space for essential military personnel, equipment, and supplies by reducing the volume and weight of the mail.

Image of a blank v-mail sheet, undated

Image of a blank v-mail sheet, undated

Image of a Blank v-mail envelope, undated.

Blank v-mail sheets and envelope.
Personal collection of Kathy Lafferty. Click images to enlarge.

A V-Mail letter started out as a single sheet of pre-printed stationery that served as both letter and envelope. The use of V-Mail was voluntary for both military personnel and those on the home front, but its use was encouraged by all branches of the U.S. military as a way to support the war effort. Correspondents were instructed to write only within the space provided, using dark ink or a heavy pencil, then to fold and seal the paper along the lines indicated, forming an envelope. V-Mail was mailed along with normal U.S. mail. Post office staff separated out the V-Mail and sent it to V-Mail stations for filming, using equipment provided by Eastman Kodak. In the U.S., these stations were located in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, while a network of V-Mail stations throughout Europe and the Pacific handled V-Mail written by those serving overseas. Letters written by military personnel were censored for classified intelligence before filming. Once filmed, reels of microfilm were created, each capable of holding approximately 1,700 letters. The reels of microfilm were then mailed. Once the microfilm reached a V-Mail station, it was developed, and each four-by-five inch printed letter was folded and placed into a window envelope for mailing to the recipient. Members of the military who were serving overseas could mail V-Mail, as well as all other mail, for free under an Act of Congress in March 1942.

Shown here are examples of V-Mail from a few of the manuscript collections housed in Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Orin Roland Bales, June 26, 1945

V-Mail letter from Orin Roland Bales to his mother,
June 26, 1945. Bales Family Papers.
Call Number: RH MS 952. Click image to enlarge.

Orin Roland Bales (1919-2010) was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia (1940) and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas (1942). From 1942 to 1945 he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces‘ 63rd Air Service Group, stationed primarily in the Philippines, where Luzon is the largest island. After the war he owned businesses in Emporia, Kansas, and Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.

Image of a V-Mail letter from John Avery Bond, December 31, 1943

V-Mail letter from John Avery Bond to his parents,
December 31, 1943. Papers of John A. Bond.
Call Number: RH MS 1272. Click image to enlarge.

John Avery Bond (1919-2016) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946, serving in the Pacific, French New Caledonia, New Zealand, Guadalcanal, and Bougainville. At Bougainville, Bond monitored radar for information about Japanese position changes and potential attacks. Back in the United States, he taught electronics to Navy sailors and worked at the U.S. Marine Corps Rehabilitation Office, advising discharged Marines of their rights and opportunities as veterans. After the war he graduated from the University of Chicago with a masters degree in social science, and then earned his Ph.D. in political science. Dr. Bond taught at Hillsdale College, the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern Illinois, North Dakota State University, and the University of Southern Colorado.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Bill F. Mayer, April 11, 1945

V-Mail letter from Bill F. Mayer to his parents,
April 11, 1945. Bill Mayer Correspondence.
Call Number: RH MS 1386. Click image to enlarge.

Bill F. Mayer (1925-2014) was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1925. After graduating from Wyandotte High School in 1943, he served in the Army Air Forces as a navigator on B-24 bombers during World War II, flying missions over the European Theater of Operations. After his Army service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. He worked at the Lawrence Journal World newspaper for sixty years.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Charles S. Scott, March 16, 1944

V-Mail letter from Charles S. Scott to his father, March 16, 1944.
Charles S. Scott Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1145. Click image to enlarge.

Charles S. Scott, Sr. (1921-1989) was born in Topeka, Kansas. During World War II, he served with the United States Army’s 2nd Calvary Division and the Red Ball Express Transportation Unit. Following the war, he earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1948 and his Juris Doctorate in 1970. In 1954, Scott was one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which ended legal segregation in public schools.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Robert Ernest Willman, October 4, 1944

V-Mail letter from Robert Ernest Willman to his parents,
October 4, 1944. Robert Ernest Willman World War II Letters.
Call Number: RH MS 946. Click image to enlarge.

Robert Ernest Willman (1923-1978) was born in Lawrence, Kansas. He was inducted into the Army in 1943 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with the rank of Private. He was sent overseas in August 1944, serving in France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Germany with Company C of the First Division’s First Battalion, 26th Infantry. Willman was wounded in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, Germany, and was awarded the Purple Heart. He returned to active duty in May 1945 and served with American occupation forces at Fürth, Germany, guarding prisoners of war who had served in Hitler’s SS forces. In February 1946 Willman suffered injuries in a jeep accident and was hospitalized at Nürnberg, Germany, returning to the U.S. in May 1946 for hospitalization and recuperation.

Image of a V-Mail letter from Leo William Zahner, Jr., June 25, 1944

V-Mail letter from Leo William Zahner, Jr. to his parents,
June 25, 1944. Leo Zahner, Jr. World War II Letters.
Call Number: RH MS 1079. Click image to enlarge.

Leo William Zahner, Jr. (1925-2007) was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He joined the Navy in 1943, receiving training in the Navy’s metalsmith school. He shipped overseas in 1944, serving on a tank landing ship in combat zones in New Guinea and the Philippines. After the war, Leo joined his father in the family business, the Zahner Sheet Metal Company. Under Leo Jr.’s influence, the company applied its metal work to architecture, earning awards and a global reputation for innovative and visually striking building design. In 1989, Leo was awarded the National Sheet Metal Contractor of the Year. In 2000, he received the National AFL-CIO Labor – Management Award.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Potter Lake Skate Edition

January 4th, 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!

There’s only light patchy snow on Mount Oread right now, but the cold weather means that Potter Lake is frozen enough for ice skaters.

Photograph of people ice skating on Potter Lake, 1926

Ice skating on Potter Lake, 1926. Notice the diving board on the far side.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Potter Lake 1926 Prints:
Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services