Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Dean Smith Edition

February 12th, 2015

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 join others around the country in remembering legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, who passed away at his home in Chapel Hill on February 7.

Dean Smith's basketball picture in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1953

Portrait of Dean Smith as a member of the “Cage Team” (basketball
squad) in the Jayhawker yearbook, Winter 1953. University Archives.
Call Number: UA Ser 69/1 1953 Winter. Click image to enlarge.

Smith was an Emporia, Kansas, native who graduated from Topeka High School before attending the University of Kansas from 1949 to 1953, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education. During his time on KU’s varsity basketball squad, Smith played under Coach Phog Allen and was part of a team that won the national championship in 1952 and was an NCAA tournament finalist in 1953. Smith also played freshman football and varsity baseball while at KU, was a member of the Air Force ROTC detachment and the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and participated in K-Club and Sasnak.

Photograph of Dean Smith in a game against Nebraska State, 1952-1953

Dean Smith (#22, far right) in a game against Nebraska State, 1952-1953. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/13 Dean Smith: Athletic Department: Basketball: Players (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Portrait of the basketball team after a game, 1953

Portrait of the basketball team after a game, 1953. Dean Smith is in the middle,
at Coach Phog Allen’s right shoulder. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/13 Dean Smith: Athletic Department: Basketball: Players (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

 

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

February 11th, 2015

Tomorrow, February 12, marks Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday. To mark this anniversary, we’re sharing a letter that Darwin wrote to James E. Todd in April 1882. At the time, Todd was a professor of natural science at Tabor College, a Christian college in Tabor, Iowa, that operated from 1853 to 1927. He went on to teach geology at KU from 1907 until his death in 1922.

Image of the first page of a letter, Charles Darwin to James E. Todd, 1882

Image of the second and third pages of a letter, Charles Darwin to James E. Todd, 1882

Image of the fourth page of a letter, Charles Darwin to James E. Todd, 1882

Letter, Charles Darwin to James E. Todd, 1882.
Call Number: MS C78. Click images to enlarge.

An article about this letter in Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (Vol. 48, No. 3, December 1945) describes the circumstances in which it was written, although the author’s speculation that the document was “Darwin’s last letter” appears to be erroneous.

In April 1882, James E. Todd…published in the American Naturalist (volume 16, pages 281-287) a paper, “On the Flowers of Solanum Rostratum and Cassia Chamaecrista.” The paper soon came to the attention of Charles Darwin, then in his seventy-fourth year. Almost immediately Darwin wrote the letter to Professor Todd [shown here]…

The most extraordinary feature of the letter is its date, written nine days before Darwin’s death on April 19, 1882. Darwin had been in poor health for some time and beginning in December 1881 underwent a series of heart attacks. He rallied from these attacks and, as the letter indicates, by April was still mentally active and planning work for the future. Five days after writing the letter his final illness began…

Dr. Fritz Müller, referred to by Darwin in the letter [above], carried on an extensive correspondence with Darwin for many years, although the two naturalists never met (317).

Charles Darwin spent decades gathering evidence for evolution before publishing his groundbreaking book, On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, in 1859. As demonstrated by his letter to Professor Todd, he remained active in scientific research until the end of his life.

Want to learn more about Charles Darwin? Spencer Research Library holds copies of many of his published writings, including a first edition copy of On the Origin of Species. You can find these sources by searching the KU Libraries online catalog. Spencer’s collections also contain two additional letters from Darwin; transcriptions of both documents are available online (letter to Emma Gärtner and Charles Lyell). As always, however, anyone interested in seeing these materials in their original physical form are welcome to do so at Spencer!

Digital copies of many sources by and about Darwin are also available; see the Darwin Correspondence Project and Darwin Online.

A transcription of Darwin’s letter to Professor Todd, also from the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science article quoted above, follows.

April 10 1882.

Down,
Beckenham, Kent.
Railway Station
Orpington. S. E. R.

Dear Sir

I hope that you will excuse the liberty which as a stranger I take in begging a favor of you. I have read with unusual interest your very interesting paper in the American Naturalist on the structure of the flowers of Solanum rostratum, & I shd. [should] be grateful if you would send me some seed in a small box (telling me whether to plant in as annual, so that I may know when to sow the seeds), in order that I may have the pleasure of seeing the flowers & experimenting on them. But if you intend to experiment on them, of course you will not send me the seeds, as I shd. be very unwilling to interfere in any way with your work. I shd. also rather like to look at the flowers of Cassia chamaecrista.

Many years ago I tried some experiments in a remotely analogous case & this year am trying others. I described what I was doing to Dr. Fritz Müller (Blumenau, St. Catharina, Brazil) & he has told me that he believes that in certain plants producing 2 sets of anthers of a different colour, the bees collect the pollen from one of the sets alone. He wd. [would] therefore be much interested in your paper, if you have a spare copy that you could send him. I think, but my memory now often fails me, that he has published on the subject in Kosmos.

Hoping that you will excuse me, I remain, Dear Sir
Yours faithfully
Ch. Darwin

P. S. In my little book on the Fertilization of Orchids, you will find under Mormodes ignea, an account of a flower laterally asymmetrical, & what I think that I called right-handed or left-handed flowers.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Alpha Kappa Alpha Edition

February 5th, 2015

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!

This week we’re highlighting photographs of an historic KU organization found within Spencer’s African American Experience Collections. Additional materials about Alpha Kappa Alpha – primarily donated by former members – can be found in Spencer’s Kansas Collection by searching our online finding aids. Records and photographs documenting the Delta’s Chapter’s history at KU can also be found in University Archives at call number RG 67/128

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter, 1930

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter, 1930. Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS-P 549. Click image to enlarge.

The Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated celebrates its first 100 years at the University of Kansas during the weekend of February 13-15, 2015. It is the first African American Greek-letter organization chartered at KU.

Their national organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), which began in 1908 at Howard University, is our nation’s first sorority organized by African American college and university women. Today AKA includes members from diverse racial and ethnic identities.

On Friday, February 13, 2015, from 1p.m. to 3p.m., Spencer Research Library will present a display of the Delta Chapter’s archives at the Oread Hotel. It will include these historical photographs (and the one above) from the Kansas Collection’s African American Experience Collections:

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter house, circa 1940-1949

AKA Delta Chapter house at 1101 Indiana in Lawrence, circa 1940-1949.
Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 549. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1944

AKA Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1944. Photograph by Duke D’Ambra.
Julia V. (Richards) Harris Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 1179. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1945

AKA Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1945. Photograph by Duke D’Ambra.
Julia V. (Richards) Harris Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 1179. Click image to enlarge.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist and Curator
African American Experience Collections

Get rolling

February 2nd, 2015

Taking our cue from a 2009 Conserve-O-Gram (a free resource published by the National Park Service) titled “Flag Rolling and Storage,” staff in Conservation Services created an inexpensive and accessible textile storage system. The University of Kansas class and school banners are part of the collection materials found in University Archives. These banners are an important part of the history of the commencement ceremony at the university. The banners are visually interesting and also instructive artifacts as markers of KU’s changing awareness of brand identity.

1964 KU class banner

1964 KU class banner, used in graduation ceremonies

After photographing each banner, staff carefully rolled each item around an pH-neutral cardboard core.

Rolling textiles on core

Rolling a class banner on a core.

The rolling process began with a tissue paper-liner and ended with a cover of cotton muslin. Each cover was tied into place just beyond the edges of the banner and identified with a small tag showing an image of the item inside as well as its call number.

1964 KU class banner    Rolled textile storage

Left: Visual identification tag for 1964 class banner. Right: Many rolled items, ready for hanging.

There are several advantages to rolling textiles for long-term storage. There are no folds made in the fabric, reducing stress on the fibers and limiting the creation of breaks and tears. Each textile can be removed independently of the others (unlike housing several textiles in a single box) thus decreasing the number of times all the objects must be handled. And because hanging storage is vertically oriented, it takes up less space than shelves or drawers, and can be fitted on an unused wall or into an aisle.

Detail of rolled textile storage

Detail of hanging mechanism.

Once staff completed the rolling process, empty shelves were removed from two ranges in the Spencer stacks. A durable, link-style chain was suspended from the overhead shelving beams and secured into place using locking bolts. Metal electrical conduit was cut to the proper length and passed through the center of the cardboard tubes. S-hooks were hung at intervals along the chain to support the rolls.  The resulting storage has a slim profile, and provides quick and easy access to the collection materials.

Rolled textile storage

Overall view of rolled textile storage.

Roberta Woodrick
Assistant Conservator
Conservation Services