Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

North Gallery Highlight: University Archives

July 16th, 2020

Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery houses a permanent exhibit highlighting materials from the library’s various collecting areas: the Wilcox Collection, the Kansas Collection, Special Collections, and University Archives. While the library is closed to the public, we hope you enjoy the periodic exhibit highlights we’ll be sharing on the blog. Once Spencer reopens, we hope you’ll be able to visit the library and explore the full exhibit in person!

The University Archives portion of the North Gallery exhibit showcases materials related to University Chancellors, faculty, athletics, and student life. In one interactive part of the exhibit, visitors can peruse a timeline of highlights from nearly 150 years of KU’s history.

Below are two videos from the timeline. The first (which has no sound) is a compilation of film clips and photographs showing snippets of student life at KU during the 1940s. The second video contains clips of Robert F. Kennedy’s speech at Allen Fieldhouse on March 18, 1968.


Molly Herring
Associate Archivist, University Archives

Visit “Imagined Worlds: Writers and the Process of Speculative Fiction”

February 12th, 2020

Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Octavia E. Butler, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Joanna Russ, William F. Wu, John Kessel, Mary Shelley, and KU’s own James E. Gunn and Kij Johnson are just a few of the writers featured in Spencer Research Library’s new exhibit, Imagined Worlds: Writers and the Process of Speculative Fiction.

Imagined Worlds: visible in this central case are a notebook of Kij Johnson’s containing story drafts (left), Theodore Sturgeon’s Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter (center), and a letter from and a typescript by Octavia E. Butler (right).

While it’s true that all fiction is imagined (at least in part), writers working in the genres of science fiction and fantasy achieve their dramatic interest, pose their philosophic and scientific inquiries, and address social and political issues by playing with and re-configuring the confines of reality. In writing of other worlds, different times, alternate societies, new technologies, and fantastical circumstances, these writers can transfix readers and, in the words of Ursula K. Le Guin, offer a “convincing picture of alternative ways of doing and being, which can shake readers out of fixed mindsets, knock the blinkers off them.”

But how do they do it?

Imagined Worlds offers a peek behind the scenes to explore the messy, impassioned, deliberative, contentious, and inventive processes of speculative fiction (an umbrella term for those genres–including science fiction, fantasy, and horror–that diverge from reality and realism). Materials drawn from Spencer’s collections offer various points of entry into the writer’s experience. There are cases dedicated to:

  • conversations on the page (correspondence between authors)
  • influence and inspiration
  • from idea to book: the process of writing
  • page to screen (adaptation and writing for film and television)
  • the business of speculative fiction

There are also additional cases devoted to awards in speculative fiction and reading recommendations from KU faculty members, addressing SF books that have been significant to them. There are also paintings by two of the best-known science fiction and fantasy artists of the 1950s and 1960s, Ed Emshwiller and Frank Kelly Freas.

Imagined Worlds: a long view down the gallery space.
One of two cases containing faculty discussions of books that have been significant to them. From left to right: Vitaly Chernetsky (Slavic Languages and Literatures) on Stanisław Lem’s The Cyberiad, Anna Neill (English) on Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland, Giselle Anatol (English) on Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Paul Scott (French, Francophone, and Italian Studies) on Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.
Worlds to visit: One of two exhibition cases containing faculty discussions of books that have been significant to them. Left to right: Vitaly Chernetsky (Slavic Languages and Literatures) on Stanisław Lem’s The Cyberiad, Anna Neill (English) on Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, Giselle Anatol (English) on Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Paul Scott (French, Francophone, and Italian Studies) on Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.

The books and manuscripts on display reflect Spencer Research Library’s historic strength in the science fiction of the 1930s-1960s, with the addition of materials from more recent collections of writers’ papers. Since the exhibition focuses primarily on correspondence and manuscripts, a slideshow in the exhibition gallery also shares over 50 covers of speculative fiction volumes from Spencer’s collections.

Cover of paperback edition of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End (New York: Ballantine Books, ©1953). Call #: ASF B294, which features a man an an eye in a cosmos.   Cover of paperback UK edition of Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon (2014), which features a figure in a wildlife filled ocean under a cityscape

Left: Clarke, Arthur C. Childhood’s End. New York: Ballantine Books, ©1953. Call #: ASF B294; Right: Okorafor, Nnedi. Lagoon. London: Hodder, 2014. Call #: ASF C1260

To give a sense of the exhibit, we share something we had we couldn’t quite fit, a memo from Star Trek creator and producer Gene Roddenberry to writer Theodore Sturgeon about Sturgeon’s script draft for “Shore Leave.” One of the more surreal episodes in Star Trek‘s original TV run (1966-1969), “Shore Leave” sees the thoughts of crew members come to life when they beam down to a planet for some rest and relaxation. Roddenberry’s memo suggests the collaborative process involved in making the episode, and it reveals the mix of frankness, humor, and knowing cynicism he employed in guiding his writers.

Image of the beginning of a Memo from Gene Roddenberry to Theodore Sturgeon regarding the Shore Leave episode of Star Trek
Beginning of a memo from Gene Roddenberry to Theodore Sturgeon regarding Sturgeon’s draft of the first act of the “Shore Leave” episode of Star Trek, June 8, 1966. Theodore Sturgeon Papers. Call #: MS 303, Box 5, folder 10

He balances praising Sturgeon for his successes, with addressing logistical matters—such as the necessity of breaking down the script shot by shot for the sake of the costume, casting, and special effects departments—and then pushes Sturgeon toward what he judges will connect best with viewers. “Wouldn’t your teaser be richer if just one person saw Alice and the rabbit, say McCoy?” Roddenberry asks, “When two people see it, you’ve got a witness. But the poor devil who sees it alone, he’s got trouble.”

Of course, writers like Sturgeon might also push back regarding script changes. During the shooting of “Shore Leave,” Sturgeon would complain about a scene in which the resurrected Dr. McCoy enters with a woman on each arm. This is a “first order vulgarism,” Sturgeon wrote to Roddenberry, arguing that it undercut the emotional development of McCoy’s relationship with the character of Tonia. Roddenberry’s own memo to Sturgeon ends with a serio-comic sign-off that highlights the blend of art and business that television entails: “You’re lovely, inventive, wonderful. Now be commercial.”

Image of the closing line of Gene Roddenberry's memo to Theodore Sturgeon, "You're lovely, inventive, wonderful. Now be commercial."
The closing line of a memo from Gene Roddenberry to Theodore Sturgeon concerning his script for the “Shore Leave” episode of Star Trek, June 8, 1966. Theodore Sturgeon Papers. Call #: MS 303, Box 5, folder 10

Founded in 1969 by a financial gift from a student who thought KU should be collecting science fiction, Spencer Research Library’s SF collections continue to be built largely by donation. Over the decades, they have grown appreciably thanks to the support of James E. Gunn (writer, critic, Professor Emeritus, and founder of KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction). He has not only donated books and periodicals, but has encouraged others to make gifts as well, including fellow writers, whose papers now reside at KU. These efforts have been continued in recent years by writers Chris McKitterick and Kij Johnson (the current Director and Associate Director of the Gunn Center, respectively). We hope to continue to grow our science fiction and fantasy collections to better reflect the diversity of voices writing in the field.

Imagined Worlds: Writers and the Process of Speculative Fiction is free and open to the public and will be on display in Spencer’s Gallery through July 31st, 2020. We invite you to visit and explore the forces at work as writers imagine worlds!

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

Ho Chi Minh, the Black Panther Party, and the Struggle for Self-Determination

January 15th, 2020

The temporary exhibit described in this post will be on display in Spencer’s North Gallery through the end of January.

Photograph of one of the title labels in the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit
One of the title labels in the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit. Click image to enlarge.

As a student assistant for the African American Experience Collections, I recently had an opportunity to produce a temporary exhibit in Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

After reviewing the 1968-1970 issues of The Black Panther, which was published by the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, I uncovered an astonishing connection linking African Americans and Asians: In 1969 and 1970, the Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver, led delegations of African Americans to visit North Vietnam, North Korea, and China.

Although I would have loved exploring the connections between the Black Panther Party, North Korea, and China, as a Vietnamese-American, I found myself inextricably drawn to the history of Ho Chi Minh and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. With the topic of my temporary exhibit decided, I scoured Kenneth Spencer’s collections in search of material relating to Ho Chi Minh and the Black Panther Party.

Photograph of the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit under development
Developing my temporary exhibit. Shown here is the second exhibit case focusing on African American anti-war sentiment. Click image to enlarge.

For my first exhibit case, I decided to focus solely upon Ho Chi Minh. (Notably, Ho Chi Minh is one of many pseudonyms he adopted.) I found two Black Panther Party newspapers in the African American Experience Collections but for the rest of my materials, I went digging around in the Wilcox Collection. I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful poster of Ho Chi Minh in the Counter Culture Posters Collection, along with two primary sources written by Ho, including Ho Chi Minh Answers President L.B. Johnson (Call Number: RH WL B3690) and Against U.S. Aggression for National Salvation (Call Number: RH WL B3593).

A poster of Ho Chi Minh, circa 1960s-1970s
A poster of Ho Chi Minh, circa 1960s-1970s. Counter Culture Posters Collection. Call Number: RH MS R23, Folder 3. Click image to enlarge.

Around the same time I was creating my temporary exhibit, I was also participating in an independent study relating to eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Vietnamese history. There I learned that in 1924 Ho Chi Minh had penned two essays titled “Lynching” and “the Ku Klux Klan.” In these essays, Ho Chi Minh wrote about the violence and racism African Americans faced in the United States, demonstrating his awareness of the oppressions endured by peoples outside Vietnam. It is highly probable that Ho read documents published from the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign, which included information and statistics about African Americans lynched in the United States each year beginning in 1909. However, it is also worth noting that Ho worked aboard a steamship and traveled internationally to the United States, France, England, and other European countries.

Some of the most memorable quotes from his essay on “Lynching” include:

  • “After sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching.”
  • “From 1899 to 1919, 2,600 Blacks were lynched, including 51 women and girls and ten former Great War soldiers.”
  • “Among 78 Blacks lynched in 1919, 11 were burned alive, three burned after having been killed, 31 shot, three tortured to death, one cut into pieces, one drowned and 11 put to death by various means.”
  • “Georgia heads the list with 22 victims. Mississippi follows with 12. Both have also three lynched soldiers to their credit.”

Upon Ho Chi Minh’s death, The Black Panther’s newspaper issue printed on September 13, 1969, included these two essays, along with an essay commemorating Ho’s death. However, Ho wrote these essays almost four decades before the Black Panther Party newspaper issues were printed in 1968-1970, during the height of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

In addition, I also wanted to showcase the Black Panther Party’s anti-Vietnam propaganda and demonstrations. Once again, I found myself digging around in the Wilcox Collection. Among the items I chose for the second exhibit case include A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown (Call Number: RH WL C2210). Brown acted as the Black Panther’s Southern California Chapter’s Deputy Minister of Information. Brown also accompanied Eldridge Cleaver on his visits to North Vietnam, North Korea, and China.

One of my favorite items in the exhibit is Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond, a founder of the Atlanta sit-in movement and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The comic book is a piece of anti-war propaganda that highlights the connections between the struggles of African Americans and the Vietnamese people during the 1970s.

Photograph of the cover of Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond
Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond. Frederick Allan Whitehead Papers. Call Number: RH MS 162, Box 8, Folder 8. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit
The finished exhibit. Click images to enlarge.

A huge thank you to Caitlin Donnelly Klepper, Angela Andres, and Letha Johnson for helping me at various stages of my exhibit, as well as to my supervisor, Deborah Dandridge, for supporting my interest in exploring a fascinating side of history that was unknown to me at the time that Kenneth Spencer Research Library provides in its variety of collections of resources. Another thank you to the staff and students at the Reading Room reference desk, who helped me with my requests.

Sophia Southard
African American Experience Collections Student Assistant

Historic Kansas Photographs Recently Donated are the Subject of a Temporary Exhibit (Part Two)

August 7th, 2019

This second installment of the temporary exhibit of the Hollmann photograph collection focuses on photographs of Kansas, featuring images depicting settlement, military service, portraits, and colleges. (The first installment highlighted photographs of Lawrence.)

Kansas settlement

Cabinet card of a sod home with family.  Photographer B. I. March

Cabinet card of a sod home with family. Photographer B. I. March.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 41, folder 8. Click image to enlarge.

M. Sheley and his family casually pose outside of their sod home with their horses near Norton. The date of the photograph is approximately 1900. In some areas of Kansas, lumber and trees to build houses were not available to early settlers. They built homes, barns, churches, and schools out of sod instead. Many images of sod structures appear in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Stereoview of Dodge City, Kansas. Published by J. Lee Knight of Topeka, Kansas

Stereoview of Dodge City, Kansas. Published by J. Lee Knight of Topeka, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 85, folder 6. Click image to enlarge.

This stereoview shows an early view (1874?) of the settlement of Dodge City. Wagons or carts are piled high with an indiscernible cargo. An inscription on the right side of the card reads “Goods for export, Dodge City.”

Kansas military service

The Hollmann photograph collection contains many images of Kansans serving in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and even World War II. Several hundred photographic postcards of Camp Funston illustrate life for Kansans training for World War I.

Postcard of Holyrood men before leaving for Camp Funston. 

Postcard of Holyrood men before leaving for Camp Funston.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 15, folder 34. Click image to enlarge.

This postcard, dated May 27, 1918, captures men in suits leaving their hometown of Holyrood in central Kansas for Camp Funston to serve in World War I. It appears that the photograph was taken near a railroad. The building behind them could be the train station.

Two members of the 9th Cavalry band.  No photographer identified.

Two members of the 9th Cavalry band. No photographer identified.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 28, folder 22a. Click image to enlarge.

Dorcy Rhodes (left) and Sergeant Emilio Jarnilia of the 9th Cavalry band pose outside a building at Fort Riley. Their names are inscribed on the back of photograph. Although their service dates are not identified, the photograph dates from approximately the 1910s.

Kansas colleges

Besides the University of Kansas and Haskell Institute, featured in the previous post, many other Kansas colleges and universities are represented in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Stanley Hall at Western University caption: Western University for African Americans in Quindaro.

Stanley Hall at Western University caption: Western University for African Americans in Quindaro.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 44, folder 16. Click image to enlarge.

Unidentified students stand in front of Stanley Hall at Western University in Quindaro in approximately 1906. The school was established after the Civil War and was the only African American school in Kansas. The university closed in 1943.

Stereoview of the Agricultural College, published by L. A. Ramsour in Manhattan. 

Stereoview of the Agricultural College, published by L. A. Ramsour in Manhattan.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 87, folder 10. Click image to enlarge.

Shown here is the “Main building” of the Agricultural College, now known as Kansas State University, dated approximately 1880. The stereoview publisher, L.A. Ramsour, of Manhattan, Kansas, also published views of New Mexico, hence the publisher’s printing along the sides of the stereoview.

Kansas portraits

Unidentified woman, possibly from Valley Falls.  Photographer McCoy from Valley Falls, Kansas. 

Unidentified woman, possibly from Valley Falls.
Photographer McCoy from Valley Falls, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 48, folder 4. Click image to enlarge.

Unfortunately, many of the portraits in the Hollmann photograph collection do not have identification. Often, a penciled inscription on the back of the photograph will identify the subject or give a clue as to the identity. This woman is not identified on the back, however since the portrait was taken in Valley Falls, it is possible that she is from there. Her clothing allows the photograph to be dated to approximately the 1880s.

Carte de visite of Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett of Topeka.  The photographers are Bliss & Wentworth of Topeka.  Dated approximately 1869.

Carte de visite of Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett of Topeka.
Photographers Bliss & Wentworth of Topeka. Dated approximately 1869.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 60, folder 18. Click image to enlarge.

Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett was an important figure in Topeka history, moving to the area in the 1840s and serving as a mediator among the Pottawatomie tribe. He died in 1870 and was buried on his farm.  His grave site is now known as Burnett’s Mound. A note inscribed on the back of the photograph states that the card was purchased as a souvenir in the 1860s.

Be sure to come view the temporary exhibit in the North Gallery in the Spencer Research Library before it closes at the end of August! The Spencer Research Library is open to everyone. If you would like to do research with the Hollmann photograph collection, please see our website for information on visiting and using the collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Lynn M. Ward
Processing Archivist

Historic Kansas Photographs Recently Donated are the Subject of a Temporary Exhibit (Part One)

August 6th, 2019

Leonard Henry Hollmann from Eudora, Kansas was passionate about photography and collecting photographs, especially those about Kansas or by Kansas photographers.

Mr. Hollmann donated his photographic collection to the Spencer Research Library shortly before he passed away in January 2016. Containing over 10,000 images, the collection is a gem. Hollmann had carefully collected images from across Kansas (and some from Missouri and Nebraska), with a concentration on Lawrence and Douglas County. Most of the images date from the 1850s-1930s.

The collection contains many types of photographic formats including ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, postcards, and stereoviews. The arranging and describing of the collection, because of its enormity, took seven months.

This amazing collection is now available for researchers. View the finding aid here: Guide to the Leonard Hollmann photograph collection. At the very top of the finding aid there is a search box where you can enter any keyword to search the document. Try typing in a town name or something else, like “dog” or “bicycle.”

A selection of the Hollmann photograph collection is on exhibit in the North Gallery of the Spencer Research Library until the end of August. The temporary exhibit highlights about 35 images of Lawrence, Kansas and other Kansas towns. The photographs on view date from 1862 to 1918. Some of them are rare and have not been viewed by the public before.

Our two-part blog will feature Lawrence photographs in the first installment and Kansas images in the second installment.

Early Lawrence residents

Ambrotype of deceased 11 month old Lawrence girl, Freddie Rockwell Read, 1862

 Ambrotype of deceased eleven-month-old Lawrence girl Freddie Rockwell Read, 1862.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 64, folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

One of the most defining moments in Lawrence’s history was Quantrill’s Raid in 1863. Before and during the Civil War, Kansas and Missouri had many unofficial skirmishes between each other. William Quantrill’s raid on the free-state town of Lawrence, Kansas (also known as the Lawrence Massacre) was a defining moment in this time period. At dawn on August 21, 1863, Quantrill and his guerrillas rode into Lawrence, where they burned much of the town and killed between 160 and 190 men and boys.

An early type of photograph, ambrotypes were produced by placing a glass negative against a dark background. Although they were more affordable for families, it was uncommon to have an ambrotype photograph taken. Unlike tintypes, only one ambrotype was produced during a photographic sitting. It is possible that this is the first time that this photograph of Freddie Read has ever been published, or been on exhibit!

Carte de visite of John Lewis Crane. Photographer L. M. Price, no location.

Carte de visite of John Lewis Crane. Photographer L. M. Price, no location.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 58, folder 17. Click image to enlarge.

Originally from Connecticut, John Lewis Crane was a partner in a shoe store in Lawrence before he was killed during Quantrill’s raid. Photographs of two of his siblings and brother-in-law Gurdon Grovenor are also in this collection.

University of Kansas

Cabinet card of Hannah Oliver.  Photographer Mettner of Lawrence, Kansas.
Cabinet card of Hannah Oliver. Photographer Mettner of Lawrence, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 36, folder 5. Click image to enlarge.

A Quantrill’s raid survivor, Hannah Oliver received her Bachelor of Arts in 1874 and her Master of Arts in 1888 from the University of Kansas. She joined the faculty of KU in 1890, teaching Latin. She retired in 1931. The finding aid for her personal papers at Spencer Research Library can be accessed through this link: Guide to the Hannah Oliver collection.

Stereoview card of Old Fraser Hall, published by W. H. Lamon, of Lawrence, dated 1884.

Stereoview card of Old Fraser Hall, published by W. H. Lamon, of Lawrence, dated 1884.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 85, folder 7. Click image to enlarge.

The “New Building,” as it was called when it was built in 1872, was later called “Fraser Hall” after KU’s second chancellor, General John Fraser. In these images, several covered buggies and horses are visible next to the building. It was demolished in 1965.

The Hollmann photograph collection contains thousands of stereoview cards. These were popular as a form of entertainment from the 1850s to the 1930s. To view the image, the card was inserted into a stereoviewer. When the two separate images depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene are viewed through the viewer, the brain merges both together, creating one three-dimensional image. While stereoview cards in general are common, the cards in the Hollmann photograph collection are mostly of rarer scenes. Some may even be one-of-a-kind.

Haskell Institute

Now known as the Haskell Indian Nations University, images of this important Lawrence school and college are represented in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior

Tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 63, folder 37. Click image to enlarge.

Little is known of the cased tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior. According to paperwork with the image, he may be associated with Haskell Institute.

Cabinet card with identified students of Haskell Institute, photographer J. B. Shane of Lawrence. Students identified on the back as: 1. Geneva Roberts, Wichita (seated, far left); 2. Wiley Morgan, Seminole (standing, on left in back row); 3. Nellie Bates, Wichita (standing, center); 4. Nora Guy, Caddo (in front); 5. Peter Williams, Caddo (standing, on right in back row); 6. Richard Longhat, Caddo (standing, in dark uniform on far right).

Cabinet card with identified students of Haskell Institute, photographer J. B. Shane of Lawrence.
Call Number: RH PH 536, box 37, folder 21. Click image to enlarge.

These children have been identified on the back of the photograph as: 1. Geneva Roberts, Wichita (seated, far left); 2. Wiley Morgan, Seminole (standing, on left in back row); 3. Nellie Bates, Wichita (standing, center); 4. Nora Guy, Caddo (in front); 5. Peter Williams, Caddo (standing, on right in back row); 6. Richard Longhat, Caddo (standing, in dark uniform on far right).

Be sure to come view the temporary exhibit in the North Gallery in the Spencer Research Library before it closes at the end of August! Spencer Research Library is open to everyone. If you would like to do research with the Hollmann photograph collection, please see our website for information on visiting and using the collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Lynn Ward
Processing Archivist

[1]  From Quantrill and the border wars, by William Elsey Connelley, page 367, Spencer Research Library call number RH C5055.