Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

November 8th, 2018

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!

Fifty years ago today, the University of Kansas celebrated the dedication of the new Kenneth Spencer Research Library. It was the culmination of a project that had started over seven years earlier, and the result of a year of intensive planning by KU Libraries, multiple other campus units, KU Endowment, Helen Spencer, and the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation.

The dedication was comprised of four events:

Describing the dedication ceremony, the University Daily Kansan student newspaper reported on November 11th that “about 270 persons braved 35 degree weather Friday to watch” the event.

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe began the ceremony with introductory remarks. He later remembered that “a chill wind swept the terrace; the remarks were not brief because of it but because in moments of great meaning the heart speaks swiftly.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Next, Helen Spencer – speaking on behalf of the directors of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation – presented the library building to the University.

It is truly gratifying to be here for this dedication. I appreciate so many of my dear friends coming today to share with me what I consider a significant occasion.

If Kenneth were here, he would enthusiastically approve of this Library and the concept behind it —

Because this Library will serve the students, both graduate and undergraduate, of the State of Kansas, where he was born and reared and began his career;

Because it will serve this great University, which he loved and from which he was graduated in 1926;

Because it will serve the entire Middle Western area, of which he was always fiercely and justly proud;

Finally, he would have approved of this Research Library and the uses for which it is intended. As a business man and as a mining engineer, he was firmly convinced that growth of science-based industries in the Middle West could occur only with the aid of strong educational institutions capable of inspired teaching with facilities for forward-looking research in the sciences.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Helen Spencer speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Charles N. Cushing, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, replied and accepted the building on behalf of the Board of Regents and the University of Kansas.

I am deeply honored to accept this magnificent building from a generous and most gracious lady. We know there are people with means, but we also know there are few people with vision. So first of all, I would like to pay tribute to a person who has such vision and who is responsible for the reality we dedicate here today.

It is people like Helen Spencer who have made Kansas a great state. And it is generosity such as hers which has contributed immeasurably to the quality of this University she so deeply loves. And yet there is no person quite like Helen Spencer and, therefore, there is no gift quite like this one that has made this imposing structure possible.

We stand in awe here today of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Far more than any other building on this campus it represents creative imagination. From its first concept to its final completion, it carries the imprint of a lady whose impeccable taste can be seen throughout–from the largest design to the smallest detail. For this building typifies those very qualities so dear to Mrs. Spencer’s ideals.

It is only fitting and proper that this building bear the name of her late husband, the distinguished industrialist, Kenneth Spencer. A proud name for a proud building. And it will carry with it also the distinguishing characteristics of Kenneth Spencer’s life–quality–excellence–creativity. Through the years, the decades, and even the centuries to come, this building will long endure as a memorial–the building Helen Spencer built to honor her husband.

But we must remember it is more than just a memorial–it is a means. It is a tool by which we may open the door to both the past and the future. And it will benefit not only those who use it, but all who profit by new knowledge, and that is all of us–everyone. So it is today that everyone is indebted to you, Mrs. Spencer, and we thank you more than words can express.

English physicist, chemist, civil servant, and best-selling novelist Lord Charles Percy Snow followed with brief remarks. According to Joseph C. Shipman, Director of the Linda Hall Library, Snow was an excellent choice to speak because, in addition to being “a well-known name,” he “speaks and writes in such a fashion that his audiences are likely to relish and remember what he has said.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Lord C. P. Snow speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Earle B. Jewell concluded the ceremony by reminiscing about Kenneth Spencer and providing the benediction.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests entering the library after the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication
ceremony, November 8, 1968. This area is now the library’s Exhibit Space.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG LJW 32/37 1968: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day

November 7th, 2018

While conducting research in a collection of family papers for an exhibit I was putting together, I came across the paper hat shown below. The accompanying note in the box that houses it, provided by Mary P. Miller, gives some context.

This paper hat was worn on Armistice Day (then called “Peace Day”), November 11, 1918, by Eva Lathrop Phillips. Eva was meeting a friend in downtown Kansas City. It took her “all day” because she had to join a parade to move in the direction she wanted to go. Eva was 24 years old and attending business college in Kansas City from her home in Blue Rapids, Kansas. Eva died at age 102.

Image of the paper hat worn by Eva Lathrop Phillips on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Paper hat worn by Eva Lathrop Phillips on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Nothing in the collection indicates where Eva got it.
Eva Lathrop Phillips Papers. Call Number: RH MS 710. Click image to enlarge.

The Kansas City Star estimated that “60,000 to 100,000 flag waving, cheering men and women” participated in the “monster Victory Parade” in downtown Kansas City – despite the ongoing flu pandemic.

The parade, hastily planned early today, started at 10:30 o’clock from Convention Hall. There was no attempt at organization, because of the lack of time, but was made up for the most of masses of workers from downtown stores and factories, released for the day to celebrate the release of the world from threatened German bondage.

To get a sense of what the scene looked like, check out these photographs of Armistice Day parades in St. Louis (Missouri Historical Society) and Philadelphia (Library Company of Philadelphia).

Photograph of the front page of the Kansas City Star on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Image of the article "A March of Victory" in the Kansas City Star on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Front page of the Kansas City Star (top) and the article
“A March of Victory” (bottom) on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Anschutz Library microfilm collection. Call Number: MRN 0269.
Click images to enlarge.

Somewhere in the crowd of Kansas City revelers described in the Star article was Eva in her paper hat.

Evangeline “Eva” Lathrop was born in Irving, Kansas, on October 1, 1894. Her brother Byron enlisted in the Army and served in France. Around the time of the Armistice, Eva moved to Kansas City to attend school. In 1924, she married Alfred G. Phillips, also a veteran. She lived in Baxter Springs, Kansas, for fifty years.

Photograph of Eva Lathrop Phillips, 1992

Photograph of Eva Lathrop Phillips at age ninety-eight, 1992.
Frowe and Lathrop Families Records. Call Number: RH MS 696. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Dedication Preparation Edition

November 1st, 2018

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!

Fifty years ago, Spencer Research Library was abuzz with activity and final preparations ahead of the November 8th dedication ceremony.

Helen Foresman Spencer – who, as president and director of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation, had donated funds to KU in January 1966 for the construction of the library in honor of her late husband Kenneth – was heavily involved in completing these finishing touches. The Kansas City Star noted in an undated 1968 article (“Spencer Library–A New Center for Research”) that

the hand of Mrs. Spencer can be seen in every aspect of the library, university officials agree. Almost every detail was her personal decision. She went over the plans with the architect and supervised the finishing of the building in its later stages and its furnishings.

Similarly, a story about Spencer Research Library in the December 1968/January 1969 Kansas Alumni magazine noted that

Mrs. Spencer waxed and polished the furnishings and the floor of the Spencer Room [memorial office] herself before the opening and created floral arrangements for many of the rooms” (12).

Photograph of Helen Foresman Spencer in the memorial office at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Photograph of Helen Spencer directing the placement of furniture at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Helen Spencer standing in the memorial office (top) and directing the placement of
furniture (bottom) at Spencer Research Library, 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/82/i 1968 Negatives: Campus: Buildings:
Spencer Research Library: Interior (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services