Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Housing the Zodiac Club Doll Collection

July 13th, 2015

One of my favorite group of objects that has come to Conservation Services for housing is the Zodiac Club peanut doll collection, housed in the Kansas Collection. As the name implies, it is a series of dolls made from shelled peanuts for heads, with wire bodies and intricate, period-appropriate dress.

The Zodiac Club was founded as women’s studying group, organized on February 5, 1878, by nine women from the Lawrence, KS area. Over the years the club met in members’ homes every Tuesday to read and discuss items relating to “cultural improvement.”

In 1943, when the Zodiac Club celebrated its 65th anniversary, twelve dolls were made to represent the original members of the Zodiac Club. The dolls are made of a frame of covered wire with peanuts for faces and dressed in costumes from the 1870s. Besides the dolls, the collection includes miniature period furniture, as well as leather-bound books, a tea service, spinning wheel, tintype photographs, needlepoint, and braid rug.

Zodiac Club doll collection,before rehousing, Kansas Collection      Furniture from Zodiac Club doll collection, Kansas Collection

Left: Zodiac Club doll collection before housing. Right: Examples of the other items housed with the dolls.
Kansas Collection, call number RH MS Q61.

 

All the dolls, furniture, and other items were wrapped in paper towels and placed together in a box, making it difficult to tell what was in the box and to access particular items. A museum studies student intern was assigned to rehouse the collection into a more usable form.

Doll in paper towel from Zodiac Club doll collection, Kansas Collection

Peanut-headed doll wrapped in paper towel. Note the fine detail in the costume.
Kansas Collection, call number RH MS Q61.

 

I asked her to create a housing that would keep the dolls and the other items in one box. She devised an ingenious two-tray system: the furniture and other items that are less frequently accessed are on the bottom layer, and the dolls are in a removable tray on top. Featured on the outside and inside of the box is a diagram that indicates how everything fits in the housing. Now the peanut ladies will be better protected and more easily displayed for many years to come.

Zodiac Club doll collection, after rehousing, Kansas Collection  Zodiac Club doll collection, after rehousing, Kansas Collection

Left: Top tray with dolls and housing guide. Right: Bottom tray with furniture and other items.
Kansas Collection, call number RH MS Q61.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Baseball Edition

July 9th, 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 5,300 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is next Tuesday, so this week we’re sharing a fun picture of an early KU baseball game. A horse and buggy along the outfield wall is something you certainly don’t see today!

Photograph of a KU baseball game, 1890s

KU baseball game at McCook Field, late 1890s. McCook was located
approximately where Memorial Stadium is today. This photo looks south/southeast
from the field; Spooner Hall and Old Fraser Hall can be seen in the background,
on top of Mount Oread. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/12 1890s Prints:
Athletic Department: Baseball (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Robert Taft writes in Across the Years on Mount Oread (1941) that baseball has been played at KU since 1866, “almost from the first day of University history.” Games were sporadic until April 18, 1880, the date of KU’s first intercollegiate game of which there is a definite record. Washburn College emerged victorious, winning 29-23. This was a decade before the first intercollegiate football game at Kansas.

Taft also writes that “the baseball team in the earlier years was handicapped by the lack of a suitable playing ground.”

During the late eighties [1880s] a field was used on South Massachusetts street (the site of the present Liberty Memorial High Central Middle School) but its use, however, had to be divided in time with the town team. As the field was also some distance from the University, regular practice was seldom attempted (40).

The construction of McCook Field – also used by the football and tennis teams – in 1892 established “baseball as a permanent sport on campus” (40).

Photograph of McCook Field, 1890s

McCook Field, 1890s. This view was taken from Mount Oread and looks north.
Note the Old Dutch Windmill in the background, at what is now the corner of
Emery Road and 9th Street. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1890s: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (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

The Streetcar of Old K.U.

July 6th, 2015

Streetcars once scaled Mt. Oread. From 1910 until 1933 the electric streetcar carried students and faculty up, across, and down the campus. The date of the first complete trip was May 26, 1910, when the Kansan reported, “The first car to complete the circuit on the Tennessee-Mississippi line carried a party of citizens and newspaper people over the Hill this afternoon.” There are reports of earlier trips on April, 9, 10, or 19, but these trips were most likely not a complete trip like that of May 26th.

Streetcar on KU Campus, Mississippi St. looking north  Streetcar on Mississippi St., Lawrence

Left: Front of a streetcar on Mississippi St. looking north. Right: Streetcar line up Mississippi Street. Call number 0/24/1/Streetcars.
From KU Luna image collections.

At the height of streetcar popularity, there were three service routes. Known as the KU Loop, the run started at 8th and Massachusetts, ran west to Mississippi St., then south to McCook Field (near present-day Memorial Stadium). There was a single track from McCook Field to the top of the hill, and a double track switch near the old Robinson Gymnasium. The cars came down by the same route, running on a single track. Two cars on this line provided service to KU every 15 minutes.

1993 KU Campus Map

A 1933 campus map created by F.A. Russell for the 25th Anniversary Reunion of the Class of 1908.  The streetcar line is shown running from north to south along Mississippi St.
Call number 0/24/Campus Map/1933.

Students exiting streetcar, KU Campus

Students exiting and entering a streetcar. Call number 0/24/1/Streetcars/1925.
From KU Luna image collections.

With the advent and popularity of buses in the 1930s, the streetcar system was no longer in use by 1933. The streetcar then entered into popular university lore, with stories of mischief and adventure told by those who got to experience a unique part of campus history.

Streetcar in front of Strong Hall, KU Campus. 0.24.1_streetcars_1925_0002

Streetcar in front of Strong Hall after it crossed over Jayhawk Boulevard in 1925. Call number 0/24/1/Streetcars/1925.
From KU Luna image collections.

Just recently some pieces of that history were uncovered when construction began on Phase 2 of the Jayhawk Boulevard reconstruction in the summer of 2014. Sections of the track were found and a few pieces are now housed in the University Archives, with a large piece of the track on display in the Kansas Union.

KU streetcar token   KU streetcar nails

Left: KU streetcar token. Right: KU streetcar nail spikes found in 2014.

KU Streetcar rail fragment view 2    KU streetcar rail fragment view 1

Two views of a KU streetcar rail fragment uncovered in 2014.

JoJo Palko
KU Sesquicentennial Research Assistant
University Archives

Throwback Thursday: Fourth of July Edition

July 2nd, 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 5,300 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of fireworks over the Campanile, 1981

Fourth of July fireworks over the Campanile, 1981.
Gordon Holland, photographer. Look closely and you’ll see
Spencer Research Library in the background, plus people
sitting on the hill and in Memorial Stadium. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Fireworks 1981 Prints:
Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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