Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

From cubbies to cases

November 10th, 2014

November is bringing good news for the storage conditions for many oversized, flat items in the Kansas Collection. After much planning and pondering, the existing wooden “cubby” storage unit has been dismantled to make way for flat file storage drawers often referred to as map cases.

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Kansas Collection cubbies, full of collection material

Over time, paintings, other framed materials, and oversized architectural drawings had ended up in the cubbies for lack of a more suitable place to store these challengingly-shaped and often very large items.

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Empty Kansas Collection cubbies

Student employees and staff worked to clear collections from the wooden storage unit. Some of the materials will return to the newly installed map cases, while others have moved to an area specifically made for hanging paintings and framed objects. Conservation Services staff then took apart the cubbies using car jacks, pry bars, and a sledge hammer. The original structure of the cubbies relied heavily on a slot-in-tab method of construction which made for a smoother deconstruction than if the unit had been held together primarily with screws or nails.

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Partially dismantled cubbies

In a happy bit of up-cycling, a sculpture professor in the Art Department at KU collected the nearly 50-year old ply board to be used by students working in the Fine Arts and Design Schools. Facilities Operations staff leveled the area by installing tile over the bare concrete floor and then installed fifteen five-drawer sets of map cases.

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New map cases for flat storage

Over the coming months, oversized and flat material–housed in appropriately-sized folders–will be placed in the new cases. This will not only provide a better storage environment for the items, it will also make the materials easier to page for patron use.

 

Roberta Woodrick
Assistant Conservator
Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Veterans Day Edition

November 6th, 2014

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 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We selected this week’s photograph in honor of Veterans Day, next Tuesday, November 11. For more information about this commemorative day and its origins at the end of World War I, see “History of Veterans Day,” provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Want to know more about how the Great War was felt on KU’s campus? The KU History website has nine articles about this period of the university’s history.

Photograph of Technical School for Drafted Men, Second Detachment, 1918

Technical School for Drafted Men, Second Detachment, August 15-October 15, 1918.
Class in signalling, or “telegraphers wigwagging.” University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 29/0 1918 Prints: Military Service and ROTC (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The student-soldiers in this photograph were part of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), established at more than 500 colleges and universities across the country, including KU. Describing the SATC on campus, the 1919 Jayhawker yearbook stated that “students, after entering the University by voluntary induction, became soldiers in the United States Army, were uniformed and subject to military discipline with the pay of a private. Housing and subsistence was furnished by the government. They were given military instruction under officers of the Army and watched very closely to determine their qualifications as officer-candidates” (244).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

Collection Snapshot(s): Victorian Fashion Edition

November 4th, 2014

One of the wonderful things about class visits is that they often send you hunting through the far reaches of the library’s collections in search of interesting and relevant holdings.  A recent visit from ENGL 572: Women and Literature: Women in Victorian England led me to happen upon two very rare Victorian fashion periodicals among Spencer’s collections. These British weeklies offered up the latest styles (hint: full skirts are in) alongside commentaries and entertainments that the editors thought might interest their nineteenth-century female readership.

The Ladies’ Penny Gazette (published 1832-1834) dates from the period just before Queen Victoria’s  ascent to the throne in 1837. Subtitled the Mirror of Fashion, and Miscellany of Instruction and Amusement, this weekly combined fashion with articles on subjects of interest to women, theater reviews, sheet music, and literary pieces. Subscribers were treated each month to a bonus sheet of “Coloured Fashions of the Lady’s Penny Gazette,” in which the dresses were hand-colored, even if somewhat hastily so.  For those interested in literature, the Gazette offers some finds as well.  Next to a discussion of lace and caps on one side and an article on “Bengal Marriages” on the other is “A Fragment”  by the poet L. E. L.  (Letitia Elizabeth Landon).

Image of coloured fashion sheet and first page of The Ladies’ Penny Gazette (1833)

Image of coloured fashion sheet and first page of The Ladies’ Penny Gazette (June 8, 1833)

Opening from the February 2nd, 1833 issue of The Ladies' Penny Gazette, featuring L. E. L.'s "A Fragment"

Top and middle:  the “Coloured Fashions” supplements and first pages of issues No. 16 (1833 February 9) and No. 33 (1833 June 8) of The Ladies’ Penny Gazette; or, Mirror of Fashion, and Miscellany of Instruction and Amusement. Call #: D4551.  Bottom: an opening from issue No. 15 (1833 February 2) featuring L.E.L’s poem “A Fragment.”  Click images to enlarge.

Though brief by modern standards–at a lean eight pages an issue–The Ladies’ Penny Gazette made the most of its allotted space, presenting pithy, sometimes biting, commentary between its longer pieces.  One such quip, titled “Small Talk,” gives a sense of how the magazine’s conceptions of womanhood are more complicated than a label like “Victorian fashion magazine” might immediately suggest:

Small Talk — Small talk is administered to women as porridge and potatoes are to peasants–not because they can’t discuss better food, but because no better is allowed them to discuss. (No. 42,  August 10,  1833, page 30)

Young Ladies of Great Britain (also known by the longer title, Illustrated Treasury for Young Ladies of Great Britain) ran between 1869 and 1871 before continuing on until 1874 under slightly different titles and formats.  Though each issue touched on the newest fashions (in England and in Paris), the first page of the weekly was usually reserved for one of the pieces of fiction serialized in its sixteen pages, accompanied by an attention-grabbing  (and often melodramatic) illustration.  Priced also at a penny, the magazine targeted a  younger readership than The Ladies’ Penny Gazette, and in its mission to divert and educate, lacks the edge at times found in the earlier magazine.  A piece simply titled “Characters; A Wife”  (see the middle image below) offers a discussion of three “types” of wives: the tawdry, careless wife; the domineering matron; and “the good wife,” whose character “cannot be delineated, she possesses so many minute, undeniable excellencies.”  Men aren’t entirely spared from this typology; the husband who is drawn to the “domineering matron” is described as an “easy-tempered simpleton, who lets her rule as she lists.”

Cover illustration for Vol. 1, No. 4 (March 13, 1869)

Opening from Young Ladies of Great Britain featuring a discussion of wife "types" and (on the verso) fashion design

Opening from Young Ladies of Great Britain, featuring New Shapes in Costume and Designs for Fancy Needlework

Fashion for Victorian Brits: Illustrated Treasury for Young Ladies of Great Britain. 1.4 (1869 March 13) and 1.5 (1869 March 20). Call Number: O’Hegarty D390. Click Images to enlarge.

Whatever their circulation might have been in their day, these magazines are now quite scarce.  KU appears to hold the only library copy of The Ladies’ Penny Gazette in North America, (with copies also recorded at the British Library, Oxford, and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands), and KU, New York Public Library and the British Library are the only places listed in WorldCat as holding physical copies of Young Ladies of Great Britain.  These weeklies are “rare birds” indeed, but the fascinating cultural texts they offer make them worth seeking out.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian