Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

The House of David Baseball Team in Kansas

October 13th, 2015

Photograph of the Israelite House of David headquarters, entrance gate, undated

Entrance gate at the Israelite House of David headquarters, undated.
T. Y. Baird Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

The Israelite House of David is a religious society with headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell in 1903, the society is still in operation today. Throughout its existence it has not only been a religious order, but has also undertaken numerous business ventures, such as an amusement park, dairy, amphitheater, zoo and aviary, bowling alley, restaurant, hotel, logging operation, and bottled water plant.

Perhaps the society’s most successful business enterprise was owning and managing its own baseball teams, known simply as the “House of David.” The teams existed in varying forms from 1913 through the 1940s. As with all of their businesses, the teams were a way to both provide income for the society and to evangelize.

Photograph of the Israelite House of David ballpark, undated

Israelite House of David ballpark, undated. T. Y. Baird Papers.
Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the House of David baseball team, undated

A House of David baseball team, undated. Call Number: RH PH P1637.
Click image to enlarge.

The teams were originally comprised entirely of House of David members, but by the 1920s they began to hire professional athletes in order to remain competitive and provide better entertainment. Two of the most famous professional athletes to play for House of David teams were future Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander and Satchel Paige. The society hired women players, too. For example, Babe Didrikson Zaharias – a successful female athlete in golf, basketball, and track and field – and Jackie Mitchell, a professional female baseball pitcher in the minor leagues, were signed to play. Growing long hair and beards were part of the society’s religious beliefs, and, although it was not required, some of the hired players grew out their hair and beards as a way of showing respect for the society.

Photograph of Grover Cleveland Alexander, undated

Grover Cleveland Alexander, undated. T. Y. Baird Papers.
Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Babe Didrickson, undated

Babe Didrickson, undated. T. Y. Baird Papers.
Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of George Anderson, undated

House of David baseball player George Anderson, undated.
T. Y. Baird Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

Because the House of David operated outside of the framework of major league baseball, the teams barnstormed to find other teams to play. Barnstorming involved independent teams traveling to various towns around the country to play in exhibition games against hometown teams. The House of David also played teams from the Negro Leagues, which also barnstormed during and after their regular season.

Thomas Younger (T. Y.) Baird owned the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League baseball team, from 1947 to 1956. For a brief period during that time he was also the booking agent for the House of David teams. The photographs in this post are from the papers and photographs of T. Y. Baird held in the Kansas Collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Photograph of T. Y. Baird with a House of David team and the Kansas City Monarchs light boys, undated

T. Y. Baird, in the back row wearing a suit and tie, with a House of David team, undated.
Also shown are the the Kansas City Monarchs light boys, who set up stadium lights for night games.
T. Y. Baird Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 414. Click image to enlarge.

Advertisement, House of David vs. Kansas City Monarchs Travelers, May 28, 1950

Advertisement, House of David vs. Kansas City Monarchs Travelers,
May 28, 1950. T. Y. Baird Papers. Call Number: RH MS Q209.
Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Homecoming Queen Edition

October 8th, 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 6,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We’re excited that Homecoming is right around the corner, so this week’s photograph shows 1938 Homecoming Queen Dorothy “Denny” Lemoine (center) and her court, Helen Johnson (left) and Elizabeth Kemp (right). Lemoine was chosen by the football team.

Photograph of KU Homecoming queen and court, 1938

The KU Homecoming Queen and her attendants with campus officials on the field at
Memorial Stadium, November 1938. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/1 1938 Prints: Student Activities: Homecoming (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

According to an article on the KU History website, the first Homecoming Queen was crowned at KU in 1925. The “ceremony did not become a tradition until 1933. A new queen was crowned each year until 1969, when anti-war demonstrations and stormy race relations led to the committee’s decision that it was ‘more appropriate to recognize those who embody the academic spirit for which this community was established.'”

From left to right in the photograph are:

  • Colonel Karl F. Baldwin: A career Army officer, Baldwin (1885-1967) was a Professor of Military Science and Tactics and the ROTC commandant at KU from 1936 to 1941. Born in Iowa, Baldwin spent part of his childhood in Kansas. He received a B.S. in civil engineering (1908) and an M.A. (1918) from Norwich University, then The Military College of the State of Vermont.
  • Chancellor Ernest H. Lindley: A native of Indiana, Lindley received his B.A. (1893) and M.A. (1894) degrees in psychology from Indiana University before obtaining his Ph.D. in psychology from Clark University in 1897. He spent over twenty years as professor of psychology and philosophy at Indiana before becoming the president of the University of Idaho in 1917. Lindley (1869-1940) served as the Chancellor of KU from 1920 to 1939.
  • Attendant Helen Virginia Johnson: Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Helen graduated from KU in 1941 with a major in English. While at the university she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.). She also served on the Women’s Student Government Association (W.S.G.A.) and was the Vice President of her junior class. Helen was also a Kansas Relay Queen and a Jayhawker Queen.
  • Homecoming Queen Dorothy Deneise Lemoine: Dorothy graduated from KU in 1940 with a degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Also from Kansas City, Missouri, she was an intramural manager and a Hobo Queen, plus a member of Pi Beta Phi, Sociology Club, the Women’s Athletic Association (W.A.A.), and French Club. She became engaged to star KU halfback Dick Amerine about a month after this photo was taken.
  • Attendant Elizabeth Ellinor Kemp: A member of the Class of 1939, Elizabeth majored in Spanish. The Kansas City, Missouri, native was also a member of Spanish Club and Alpha Delta Pi.
  • Ralph T. O’Neil, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents: O’Neil (1888-1940) was born in Osage City, Kansas. He obtained an A.B. from Baker (1909) and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Harvard (1913). A World War I veteran, O’Neil was a long-time attorney in Topeka who also served as the national commander of the American Legion (1930-1931) and the president of the Kansas Bar Association (1939-1940).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

“Why Did You Come to KU?” and Other Questions from the 1895 Senior Quiz

October 7th, 2015

The 1895 KU yearbook – called Annus Mirabilis (Wonderful Year) – includes a fun senior quiz, shown below. It’s unclear whether the answers listed were actually provided by members of the Class of 1895 or whether they were jokes written by the yearbook staff and attributed to their classmates. Especially humorous are the responses to the question “what does Miss Watson [the first and longest-serving professional librarian at KU] say when you whisper in library?”

 

Image of KU yearbook, Annus Mirabilis, senior quiz, page 1, 1895Image of KU yearbook, Annus Mirabilis, senior quiz, page 2, 1895

Image of KU yearbook, Annus Mirabilis, senior quiz, page 3, 1895Image of KU yearbook, Annus Mirabilis, senior quiz, page 4, 1895

A senior quiz in the 1895 KU yearbook, Annus Mirabilis.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1895.
Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Pumpkin Edition

October 1st, 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 6,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of pumpkins decorating the porch at the Chancellor's residence, 1986

Pumpkins decorate the porch at the Chancellor’s residence, 1986.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/11 1986 Negatives:
University General: Buildings: Chancellor’s Residence (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