Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Happy Halloween from Spencer Research Library

October 31st, 2017

Spencer Research Library houses the records and films of the Centron Corporation, a production company that specialized in industrial and educational films from the 1940s through the 1990s. Childhood friends and aspiring filmmakers Russell Mosser and Arthur Wolf started working in films together while they were attending the University of Kansas. Their first film was “Sewing Simple Seams,” a one-reel sewing lesson. The rights for this film were purchased by a large instructional film company, and soon Centron grew to be a successful, independent film production company, nationally known in the field. Their most successful film was “Leo Beuerman,” nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary short of 1969.

For your Halloween preparation and enjoyment, here, compliments of Internet Archive, is Centron’s film “Halloween Safety,” produced in 1977 and now in the public domain. This film was directed by Herk Harvey, who would go on to direct “Carnival of Souls,” another excellent film to watch in preparation of Halloween. Be safe out there, little trick-or-treaters!

Image of "Halloween Safety" Film title sequence.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: October 30-November 5, 1917

October 30th, 2017

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 selected letters from Forrest 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).

In last week’s letter, Forrest asked Marie “would your Mother let you use my .25 cal. automatic? If you want to shoot, and your folks don’t object, you’re welcome to it.” The answer to the question was apparently “yes,” because in this week’s letters Forrest instructs Marie on how to handle, load, and clean the gun. “I am going into detail so as to be sure you will know how to take good care of it,” he writes, “you know how ‘fussy’ I am about my ‘junk.’”

 

Friday 11-2, 1917

Dear Marie,

I managed to get hold of a Colt instruction sheet and will try to give you a clear explanation of it. (Seeing as how you are only a girl.)

I am going into detail so as to be sure you will know how to take good care of it – you know how “fussy” I am about my “junk.”

Let’s know what the names of the main parts of the pistol are. On the second page is a diagram showing:

No. 1. The receiver.
2. “ slide
3. “ barrel
21. “ Retractor spring guide.
20. The retractor spring.
7. “ Firing pin.
8. “ Mainspring.
9. “ Mainspring guide.

When the gun is taken apart you will have the loose parts shown on the third page. The firing pin – 7, 8 and 9 – will not always fall out.

The end of the barrel where the cartridge is “seated” when fired is the chamber. The other end is the muzzle end.

The magazine – No 23 – is the little box that holds the six cartridges. It must never be in the gun (empty or not) when the gun is being taken apart or put together.

  1. Remove the magazine.
  2. Pull back slide just as if you were going to shoot. This will throw out a cartridge that may be in the chamber of the barrel.
  3. Remove all cartridges from magazine and replace it in gun. Then pull the trigger – just as if you were shooting. When it snaps, the “hammer” is “uncocked.”
  4. Remove magazine.
  5. Hold the pistol in left hand exactly as if you were going to shoot, as shown on fourth page, except, keep your thumb down in normal position and not on the slide. The instruction sheet says to hold the slide back with the left thumb but your hands are too weak to do it this way. Instead – (of right hand) put thumb and index finger on the muzzle end of the slide so as to push it back instead of pulling at the rear.

Push it back far enough so that the muzzle end of the barrel shows as in picture on p. 4. Now, if you placed your thumb and finger right, you can hold the slide back and at the same time turn the barrel to the right a quarter turn, so that the 3 catches show, (as I have marked.)

Let the slide come forward and the gun will fall apart, exactly as shown on p. 3.

Note position of

No. 21 and 21 in

No. 1 and 2. Also 7, 8, &, 9

in No. 2.

Now remove the barrel from the slide by turning the barrel a quarter turn to the left and drawing it out to the rear.

Put the cleaning rod in the barrel with its ring end at the muzzle. Put a small patch of soft cloth (no lint) in the slot and moisten it well with “Hoppe’s Nitro Powder Solvent – No. 9.” Draw this thru the barrel several times – always from the chamber toward the muzzle.

Now wipe dry and apply 3-1 oil in the same manner, leaving a thin coat in the barrel. The first dope cleans only – 3-1 oil lubricates and prevents rusting. <- PLEASE

Now before you put the gun together be sure there are no bits of lint or threads in barrel or working parts. Read the above instructions Chinese fashion and you will know how to put the pistol together. Put the magazine – empty – in last and take the whole outfit to bed with you.

Always be careful to keep dirt out of the barrel so don’t put gun in a dirty sweater pocket.

Don’t let anyone stand at your right hand where he may get hit in the eye by the empty shell which is thrown out.

If the gun is ice-cold, warm it up before cleaning.

“””A gun is always loaded.””””

Do I get your goat at last?

Forrest.

See other letter.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 2, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 2, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, November 2, 1917

Click images to enlarge.

Fri. 11-2, 1917

Dear Marie,

Have just finished writing the “gun” letter so will write another short note and enclose the instruction sheet in this.

I sure do wish I could be there with you but no such luck. Here’s hoping you will get lots of fun out of it. It will keep you busy tutoring to pay for its fodder, but it’s great sport – how is it by you? I am glad you like it so well and want you to keep it for me while I am gone just as if it were yours.

You will find the dope in that black tin box. If there are any of my cartridges in sight burn ‘em up. Gee, if I could only be there to keep you. I like this life here, but there is one big thing missing and that’s You.

How are you coming with the dancing? Hope you will get a chance to try the horseback riding. It sure is good sport.

Forget about the chevrons.

Don’t plan on sending me anything. May think of a stunt later. If there is anything I can do speak out.

Yours,
Forrest.

Don’t forget that picture with S.C. emblem

Sorry about your teeth – know what it is.

See other letter

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Throwback Thursday: Skeleton Edition

October 26th, 2017

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!

Happy Halloween!

Photograph of Lewis Lindsay Dyche teaching an anatomy class, 1890s

Professor Lewis Lindsay Dyche teaching an anatomy class, 1890s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty:
Dyche, Lewis Lindsay (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Another view of this class is available online through Spencer’s digital collections. Note the skeleton on the right side of the photo, with what appears to be a tabletop easel and a cat.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

For All Your Custom Housing Needs!

October 24th, 2017

One of the most useful tools in a conservator’s arsenal is a good basic box template. Once one masters a simple enclosure pattern, the elements of the pattern can be adapted to create custom housings for just about anything – and in library and archives conservation, many objects besides books are in need of protective enclosures.

Our audiovisual preservation specialist Chris Bañuelos recently came to me with a few reels of videotape that were in need of housing. Enclosures for many types of audiovisual materials can be usually be purchased from archival suppliers, but this particular format, 2-inch quad tape, is apparently so obscure that containers for it are hard to come by. Chris had original boxes for some of the tapes, but these were made of acidic corrugated cardboard. I agreed to try and replicate the style of the original boxes using archival corrugated cardboard – I always enjoy a good enclosure challenge.

I did not set out to reinvent the wheel here; I wanted to mimic the original boxes as closely as possible by adapting the pattern for a basic corrugated book enclosure. I unfolded one of the old boxes and traced it on a blank sheet of paper to get a rough outline, then I measured the box and added the measurements to the tracing to make a template. I planned to use B-flute corrugated board, which is approximately but not exactly the same thickness as the original cardboard. Because of this difference I expected that my first trial of the template would likely be imperfect, but I went ahead with it anyway. I wanted to see what would be off in the finished box so that I could go back and fine-tune the template accordingly.

Sure enough, my first attempt wasn’t quite right – the lid was a bit too short and an even bigger bit too narrow, causing it to fit too loosely to stay closed. I added an eighth inch here and a quarter inch there and tried again. This time it looked great, but the lid was now just a little too tight for a person to easily and comfortably open it. After yet another small adjustment to the template, I had a box with a well-fitting, easy-to-open lid.

The last step was to fit the inside of the box with a short hub that would keep the reel from shifting. I used my handy circle cutter (which dates back to my high school days!) to score circles in scraps of the corrugated board, then finished cutting them out with a scalpel. I stacked three disks together, adhering with double-sided tape, and centered the stack in the bottom of the box, again with double-sided tape.

The finished box is similar in style to the original. Now that I’ve perfected the pattern through a little trial and error, I have a reliable template that I can hand to a student worker who should be able to successfully recreate the box.

Angela Andres
Special Collections Conservator
Conservation Services

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: October 23-29, 1917

October 23rd, 2017

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 selected letters from Forrest 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).

Both of this week’s letters focus on Forrest’s “first taste of riding” a horse. “My horse certainly is a dandy,” Forrest tells Marie, “he knows his business to a dot. One trouble with him is that he shys [shies] at motorcycles, and once, when we were at a halt out in the hills, a cannon fired a salute back at the fort and I thought he jumped a foot.”

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, October 26, 1917

Click images to enlarge.

Fri. Oct. 26, 1917

Dear Marie,

This sure has been a fine day for us here. How is your throat; I hope you won’t have any hard luck with it. Yesterday the weather was fierce, cold, drizzly rain all P.M. Of course it was the 5th section’s turn to water the horses and distribute the hay and grain. When we got back from the stables my feet were soaked. We have big heavy greenish colored raincoats. (Everything in the line of clothing and equipment has that olive drab color and just matches the dead grass. A motorcycle sidecar in the field seems to blend into the background so you can hardly distinguish it.) Well – these raincoats have a very queer cut as they are intended for mounted service men. They are so long that they just miss touching the ground, and when buttoned single breasted they are a regular tent. The back is split clear to the waist.

Yesterday I had my first taste of riding. After an hour of snappy drill on “Shank’s horses” the fifth section and a few others went to the stables and saddled the horses. We have 34 borrowed saddles now so we had a pretty good column, riding single file, each man leading an extra horse or pack mule. We went out in the hills which are heavily wooded. Gee, it was great riding that morning; the weather couldn’t have been better. The lietenant got lost once and had to ask a party of Engineers, who were out making maps, the right road in. We went about five miles altogether, half of it on a good trot, and got in about 11:00 A.M.

My horse certainly is a dandy – he knows his business to a dot. One trouble with him is that he shys at motorcycles, and once, when we were at a halt out in the hills, a cannon fired a salute back at the fort and I thought he jumped a foot. One fellow was thrown off his horse but not hurt. Our saddles ought to be here pretty soon now, and I suppose we will have regular mounted drill on our horses when they do come. Lietenant Butler gives us Sig. Corps drill maneuvers every morning now. It is a lot more interesting than the Infantry foot drill. We are learning the silent commands now, as when we are on horses we will be spread out so as to make it hard to hear spoken commands. First the Liet. blows a whistle for attention and gives the command by holding or waving his arm in a certain way for each maneuver. The section chiefs repeat the command then the Lietenant gives the command of execution, (which means to go ahead and do it), by raising his arm straight up and dropping it out sideways to the saddle. (That is when he is in one.)

Well I must quit. Won’t you let the chevrons be enough? Will let you know about them later. Be sure to take good care of your throat.

Yours,
Forrest.

Here is a picture of a couple of the fellows. Sgt. Brown is the chief of the fourth section.

 

Sunday, Oct. 28, 1917.

Dear Marie,

Just finished the hardest days work I seen for a month. My turn at stable police came today after I had planned to do a lot of picture work. Jerry Berry and I worked steady from breakfast till 11:00 then I saddled my horse and went to the barracks (a short mile) for an early dinner. This was only the second time I had been on a horse, and the first time alone, so had to watch my step. The most trouble I had was when we passed motorcycles and autos. He’s no city bred horse by a long shot and sure does hate those little three wheeled buzz wagons. When we came near an auto he slowed down from a trot to a walk and as the auto passed he laid back his ears and stopped short. We sure had some dinner. Pork-chops, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cabbage, bread pudding, and cocoa. I guess Tom was hungry too, for, on the way back, when he caught sight of the stables, he lit out on a gallop. This is easier riding than a trot so I let him go to it. I am mighty glad we have horses, for the riding is sure great stuff. We are allowed mounted passes from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 on Sunday. When I got back the other fellows went to dinner. At 1:30 we bedded the stalls and put out the hay and grain. I took a few pictures and then it was time for me to go to supper, so as to get back before regular mess.

Say, would your Mother let you use my .25 cal. automatic? If you want to shoot, and your folks don’t object, you’re welcome to it. Of course the gun has to be thoroughly cleaned right after using, and I will have to show you how to take it apart and remove the barrel.

Don’t you think it would be better if you did go to these parties even if you don’t care very much about them? I wish you would – I don’t like to hear of people noticing that you only go with me. Please don’t misunderstand me – I simply think you out to go just for that one reason, don’t you?

I can’t get the goods nor the fine olive drab silk floss for the chevrons so will have to give it up. Here are some cards.

Yours,
Forrest.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant