Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Spencer Research Library: Home of Kansas’s Apollo 17 Moon Rock

July 17th, 2019

We have previously highlighted the oldest man-made item in Spencer’s collections: a cuneiform tablet that is more than 4,000 years old. You can visit the library and see the tablet on display in the library’s North Gallery exhibit.

But, did you know that there is one item in Spencer’s holdings that is even older than the cuneiform tablet? It’s a moon rock that is approximately 3.7 billion years old!

Photograph of the Kansas Apollo 17 lunar sample display, 1972
Kansas’s Apollo 17 lunar sample display, 1972. Robert Blackwell Docking Papers. Call Number: RH MS VLT 167. Click image to enlarge.

The rock was gathered during the December 1972 Apollo 17 mission, the last human expedition to the Moon. According to information from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum,

[Apollo 17] carried the only trained geologist to walk on the lunar surface, lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt. Compared to previous Apollo missions, Apollo 17 astronauts traversed the greatest distance using the Lunar Roving Vehicle and returned the greatest amount of rock and soil samples. Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, still holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon, as no humans have visited the Moon since December 14, 1972.

Specifically, according to a NASA description of the mission, the Apollo 17 astronauts “deployed or conducted ten science experiments, including the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) suite of instruments, took more than 2,000 photographs and collected about 243 pounds (110 kilograms) of soil and rock samples at twenty-two different sites.”

Photograph of the Kansas Apollo 17 lunar sample display, 1972
Photograph of the Kansas Apollo 17 lunar sample display, 1972
Close-ups of the lunar sample in Kansas’s Apollo 17 display. The 1.1 gram rock is encased in a small Lucite ball. Robert Blackwell Docking Papers. Call Number: RH MS VLT 167. Click image to enlarge. Click images to enlarge.

The moon rock now housed at Spencer was part of a larger sample gathered at the end of the third and final Extravehicular Activity (EVA) moonwalk on December 13-14, 1972. Here is what astronaut Eugene A. Cernan said as he collected the sample in the Taurus Littrow Valley. (The section below is excerpted from a transcription of the EVA-3 closeout at the archived Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Journal website. You can also watch footage of the sample being collected by clicking on the 169.41.46 video clip link; the section quoted below starts about a minute and a half into the footage.)

I think probably one of the most significant things we can think about when we think about Apollo is that it has opened for us – “for us” being the world – a challenge of the future. The door is now cracked, but the promise of the future lies in the young people, not just in America, but the young people all over the world learning to live and learning to work together. In order to remind all the people of the world in so many countries throughout the world that this is what we all are striving for in the future, Jack has picked up a very significant rock, typical of what we have here in the valley of Taurus-Littrow.

It’s a rock composed of many fragments, of many sizes, and many shapes, probably from all parts of the Moon, perhaps billions of years old. But fragments of all sizes and shapes – and even colors – that have grown together to become a cohesive rock, outlasting the nature of space, sort of living together in a very coherent, very peaceful manner. When we return this rock or some of the others like it to Houston, we’d like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world. We hope that this will be a symbol of what our feelings are, what the feelings of the Apollo Program are, and a symbol of mankind: that we can live in peace and harmony in the future.

Photograph of the Kansas Apollo 17 lunar sample display, 1972
A close-up of the state flag on Kansas’s Apollo 17 lunar sample display. Robert Blackwell Docking Papers. Call Number: RH MS VLT 167. Click image to enlarge.

An article on the website Collect Space describes what happened to the larger moon rock when it arrived on Earth.

Three months after Apollo 17 returned home in December 1972, then-U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the distribution of fragments from the rock that Cernan and Schmitt collected, since labeled sample 70017, to 135 foreign heads of state, the fifty U.S. states and its provinces. Each rock, encased in an acrylic button, was mounted to a plaque with the intended recipient’s flag, also flown to the Moon.

Photograph of Kansas Governor Robert Docking with KU Chancellor E. Laurence Chalmers at a basketball game, circa 1969-1972
Kansas Governor Robert Docking (right) with KU Chancellor E. Laurence Chalmers (left) at a basketball game, circa 1969-1972. Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG LJW P/ Robert Docking (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Kansas’s Apollo 17 moon rock is housed at Spencer as part of Robert Blackwell Docking’s papers. Docking was the governor of Kansas at the time of the Apollo 17 mission (1967-1974); he donated his papers to Spencer in 1975.

A similar lunar sample display was presented to each state after the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, the first manned mission to land on the Moon. You can see Kansas’s Apollo 11 moon rock on display at the Kansas Museum of History.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Kansas Collection Artificial Photograph Collections

June 11th, 2019

Sometimes archivists and special collections librarians “create” collections for their institutions by grouping together like items that came from different sources. We call these artificial collections, and we typically do this in order to make materials more physically manageable and/or more easily accessible to researchers.

A real photographic postcard of the Wallace County Courthouse in Sharon Springs, Kansas
A real photographic postcard of the Wallace County Courthouse in Sharon Springs, Kansas. Artificial Kansas-Based Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 535. Click image to enlarge.

From the 1980s through early 2000s, archivists in Spencer’s Kansas Collection , focusing on regional history, worked with dealers specializing in photography to purchase a wide variety of photographs of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and other surrounding states. These photographs display street scenes and aerial views of small towns; exterior (and sometimes interior) shots of churches, schools, courthouses, and other public buildings; interior and exterior shots of drugstores and other commercial buildings; residences; portraits of individuals and groups; rodeos, theatrical entertainments, and opera houses; and a wide variety of other subjects. Staff carefully chose these hundreds, even thousands, of images for their subject matter and content.

At that time, Kansas Collection staff had a practice of describing these images individually on paper worksheets, assigning each image its own call number, and placing the worksheets in notebooks for patrons and staff to access in the reading room. This practice became untenable over time, particularly as the library moved away from analog description to online finding aids, and hundreds of these images remained inaccessible in an unprocessed backlog.

In the past year, processing staff – in collaboration with curators and public services staff – developed a new workflow for managing these photographs through the creation of three artificial photographic collections: one for Kansas images, one for non-Kansas images, and one strictly for portraits (i.e. individuals typically formally posed in a photographic studio, rather than large groups at church or fraternal meetings, or athletic teams, or other images of people that could fit into a subject theme). These images are now described online in Spencer Research Library’s finding aid system and available for research.

The artificial Kansas collection of photographs includes images from across the state. It is organized by county and then by town or other political boundary within each county. These images are further categorized by subjects such as agriculture, education, recreation, social customs, etc.

A color lithographic postcard of a street scene from Sylvia, Reno County, Kansas. One of the dealers with whom Kansas Collection staff worked most frequently came from Reno County, leading to a large selection of images of that area. Artificial Kansas-Based Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 535. Click image to enlarge.

Non-Kansas images are organized alphabetically by state and then simply by town or other political boundary. 

Men standing and sitting on what appears to be a large pile of buttons at the Iroquois Pearl Button Company in Sabula, Iowa, 1911
Men standing and sitting on what appears to be a large pile of buttons at the Iroquois Pearl Button Company in Sabula, Iowa, 1911. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.
A photograph of Fourth and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, 1869
According to the caption on the back, this mounted print shows Fourth and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, 1869. Included is Sheridan’s pond, as photographed from Sheridan’s residence. The Missouri photographs include a small set of Kansas City street scenes from the late 1860s and early 1870s. Unfortunately, they are in poor physical condition. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.

Portraits are organized either alphabetically by family name, if provided, or grouped by babies, children, men, women, and groups of people when individuals are unidentified.

Portrait of Ivan Bowers
Portrait of Ivan Bowers. A note accompanying this unusually mounted print states that Bowers was born in North Lawrence, Kansas, spent many years in the military, and married late in life, and that the photograph was taken by the A. Lawrence Photo Studio. Artificial Portraits Collection. Call Number: RH PH 540. Click image to enlarge.
Portrait of an unidentified woman
Portrait of an unidentified woman. The back of this carte de visite lists Mrs. M. Gainsford of Great Bend, Kansas, as the photographer. Artificial Portraits Collection. Call Number: RH PH 540. Click image to enlarge.

Many of the images in these artificial collections are real photographic postcards, typically sent between 1900 and 1920; many of these same postcards have messages on the back. The artificial collections also include mounted prints, glass plate negatives, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, and other photographic formats and processes.

An exaggeration postcard by Frank D. Conard, a noted photographer based in Garden City, Kansas. Conard excelled at exaggeration postcards, or a kind of trick photography that makes normally small things such as farm crops, rabbits, and grasshoppers appear much larger than they ever do in reality. While some of Conard’s images appear to be based in Garden City, many are not; as a result, processing staff categorized several of these images in the non-Kansas topical photographs. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.

When a photographic collection comes from a singular donor, such as a photographic studio or collector of photographs or a local family, these images will continue to be handled as separate and unique collections. The Kansas Collection has a rich and varied set of photographic collections; these artificial collections both supplement and complement what is available in other collections at Spencer Research Library and at other collecting institutions in Kansas and the surrounding states.

Please feel free to explore these newly processed collections!

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Happy Birthday, John Brown

May 8th, 2019

Spencer Research Library holds three letters written by American abolitionist John Brown, who was born in Connecticut on May 9, 1800. Brown was raised in a deeply religious family, and his father taught him that slavery was a great sin. This conviction was so ingrained in Brown that he worked his entire life to end it. “Though a white gentleman,” Frederick Douglass said, Brown “is in sympathy, a black man, and as deeply interested in our cause, as though his own soul had been pierced with the iron of slavery.” Eventually, Brown came to believe that the only way to rid the United States of slavery was through violence. He played a large role in the chaos that reigned in Kansas during the late 1850s.

Image of a letter from John Brown to Orson Day, February 21, 1856

Letter from John Brown to his brother-in-law Orson Day, February 21, 1856.
John Brown Letters. Call Number: RH VLT MS P2. Click image to enlarge.

John Brown wrote the first letter in Spencer’s collections approximately four months after he arrived in Kansas in October 1855. He joined his five sons and his brother-in-law, Samuel Adair. Brown’s eldest son, John Brown, Jr., had moved to Kansas in the summer of 1854, after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He named his settlement Brown’s Station, and, like his father, was heavily involved in the abolition cause.

Osawatomie, K T [Kansas Territory], 21st Feby, 1856

Orson Day Esqr [Esquire]
White Hall
NY

Dear Sir

Yours of the 17th Jany is at last received. Deep Snow drifts have prevented the arrival of the Mail several times of late. We shall endeavour to be ready for you by the first of April; & I think you need not hesitate about starting with a view to reach by that time. Such has been the state of the weather; that we could not well undertake to set a time for you before. I know of no further hints to give you; than those which I & my Son John Jr have previously sent you. There should be a regular Mail Waggon to leave Westport every Monday Morning but it sometimes fails. Westport is Three or Four Miles from Kansas City. This route is direct to this place; & is much the most convenient. It is 35 Miles from Browns Station, to Lawrence; & no regular carriage conveyance. When you get here; inquire for Mr Adair who will receive you as a friend. He is a half Brother in Law of mine; & a Missionary to Kansas. We are about 60 Miles from Kansas City; which is near the Missouri line. I think that Free State people who go quietly along their way will not now meet with any difficulty in Missouri. I have been a number of times of late into the State; & though I always (when asked) frankly avow myself a Free State man; have met with no trouble. I would advise to frankness; & quietness. The Contractors on the route from here to Westport are good Free State men; & Friends. Can think of no more to say now.

Respectfully Your Friend
John Brown

Image of a letter from John Brown to his children, August 11, 1856

Image of a letter from John Brown to his children, August 11, 1856

Letter from John Brown to his children, August 11, 1856. John Brown
Letters. Call Number: RH VLT MS P2. Click images to enlarge.

The second letter in Spencer’s collections illustrates Brown’s single-minded focus on destroying slavery and his increasing militancy. Much had occurred in the six months since the first letter. On May 22, 1856, South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks severely beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate, responding to Sumner’s “Crime Against Kansas” speech days earlier. When he heard of this, Brown said that “we must fight fire with fire. Something must be done to show these barbarians that we, too, have rights.” On the same day, Lawrence, Kansas, a free-state headquarters, was raided and sacked by Missouri pro-slavery men. Two days later, on May 24th, Brown – with four of his sons and three others – directed the brutal murder of five pro-slavery settlers in a settlement near Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas. On June 2nd, Brown and his men defeated a larger pro-slavery force at the Battle of Black Jack, Kansas.

Topeka, Kansas Ter[ritory], 11th Aug 1856

Dear Children every One

We all reached Nebraska (near Iowa line) well or much improved. I there left the company to return back with the long looked for L [Lawrence] emigrants. Left the train all safe yesterday at day light. Got in here last night. May be on hand for a good while; & may go off in another half hour. Have made by particular request of those who have charge of the contributed Eastern funds a statement of the suffering of yourselves, & brothers; which I have no doubt will receive attention; & that some part of your losses will [be] made up to you. At all events let none of you be disheartened for God still lives; & “blessed be his great & holy name.” The boys may go on soon for the East; & may hold on for me to join them. Say to Mr. Day that I have never had the most distant thought of wronging him to One Cent; & that so soon as force of circumstances will allow me to take up his matters I shall do so; & have them made right on my part at least. If he or his wife think; that I have had no responsibilities resting on me that call for my attentention before I should make up with their account & have a full settlement; I must differ with them on that point as I came on a particular business to the territory; & I supposed they understood that fully when they requested my assistance in their business. I feel that I have done all in the discharge of my duty to them that they could have any right to have expected untill I am further relieved for other cares. I trust they will be inclined to do right by Henry. I send you a kind of order on my friend Jones. If you or John ever get any thing on that account I wish you to divide it between you equally. Have heard no word from home since in June. Found one of henrys brothers amongst the emigrants; but only saw him for a few moments. Have received a little assistance within Three or Four days past. May possi[bly] be out to see you very soon. Shall write you when I can. May God for Christs sake abundantly bless & finally save you all.

Your Affectionate Father
John Brown

Image of a letter from John Brown to his daughter Ellen, May 13, 1859

Letter (photocopy) from John Brown to his youngest child, five-year-old Ellen,
May 13, 1859. John Brown Letters. Call Number: RH VLT MS P2. Click image to enlarge.

John Brown wrote the third letter in Spencer’s collections six weeks before he left for Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, with the intention of seizing the federal armory and starting a slave uprising. Brown, with twenty-one men, led his attack on October 16, 1859. After two days, U.S. marines stormed the building, capturing Brown and six of his men. Ten men, including two of his sons, were killed. Brown himself was wounded.

Boston, Mass. 13th May, 1859.

My Dear Daughter Ellen

I will send you short letter.

I want very much to have you grow good every day; to have you learn to mind your Mother very quick; & sit very still at the table; & to mind what all older persons say to you; that is right. I hope to see you soon again; & if I should bring some little thing that will please you; it would not be very strange. I want you to be uncommon good natured. God bless you my child.

Your Affectionate Father
John Brown

Convicted of treason, multiple first-degree murders, and inciting insurrection, Brown was hung on December 2, 1859. His last words, written shortly before his execution, prophesized the coming Civil War: “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.” On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: Epilogue

April 15th, 2019

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

 
We have reached the last of Milo’s letters. According to U.S. Army Transport Service passenger lists, he boarded the ship Mobile and sailed from Brest, France, on April 13, 1919. He arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, ten days later and was home in Argonia on May 12. Milo’s wartime experience was over.

Hoff & Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, August 28, 1919

Hoff & Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, August 28, 1919.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo quickly settled into civilian life. On June 5, the Argonia Argosy reported he had accepted a position in J. W. Achelpohl’s store, where he had worked before the war. One month later, on July 3, the newspaper reported that

I. G. David, who has conducted the Globe Store in the Newby building the past year, has sold the business to Geo. Hoff and Milo Main. They are now busy invoicing the stock. These gentlemen are both well known here, and are well qualified to handle the business having been employed by J. W. Achelpohl for several years.

Milo was employed as a merchant for at least the next several decades, although the 1940 census listed his occupation as a farmer. During this time, Milo was also a long-time member of the Methodist church, the American Legion, and the Masonic Lodge of Argonia.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, August 10, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, August 10, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, November 16, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, November 16, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, November 30, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, November 30, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

In 1927, Milo married Ruth Hill (born 1897) in Jackson County, Missouri. She may be the “Miss Hill” Milo mentioned in his letter of February 8, 1919: “You mentioned Miss Hills name again thru Elmer Bringer. You folks apparently, take the case more seriously than I. Quite true she is a nice girl, but Old Mike has not lost any girl, nor is he looking for any.”

After his wife’s death in 1957, Milo married Idella Martin Lane (1909-1983) in Oklahoma the following year. The couple settled in Lockwood, Missouri, located about fifty miles northwest of Springfield. Milo lived there the rest of his life; he died in Lockwood on December 11, 1979.

 
Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Remembering the Lawrence Tornado of April 12, 1911

April 9th, 2019

On April 12, 1911, the weather in Lawrence had already been unseasonably humid for two days. All through the day, it was obvious that a powerful storm was brewing. Wind speeds had steadily increased, reaching forty miles per hour at noon. By that evening, a full-blown thunderstorm was underway.

Seasoned Kansans knew that weather conditions such as these could foreshadow a coming tornado, and this was no exception. Five minutes before seven o’clock, in a surge of rain, the tornado dropped down. For twenty-five minutes, it passed through the city in a northeastern direction. In its path, it destroyed businesses along Massachusetts Street and homes in West and North Lawrence. Reporting on the event the next day, the Lawrence Daily Journal-World described the massive loss of property, estimated to be $200,000. The paper also estimated that repairs would cost $133,950.00, which would be over $3.5 million in today’s dollars. The extensive damage can be seen in the photographs included in this post, which were taken the day after the tornado.

Photograph of Massachusetts Street looking northeast after the tornado, April 13, 1911

Massachusetts Street looking northeast after the tornado, April 13, 1911. Lawrence
Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18 M 6:2. Click image to enlarge.

Coverage of the tornado by the Journal-World contained reports of the dead and injured. Miraculously, only two Lawrence residents perished.

Image of the tornado casualty list, Lawrence Daily Journal-World, April 13, 1911

The tornado casualty list from the Lawrence Daily Journal-World,
April 13, 1911. Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Included in the newspaper’s reports were details about the death of Margaret Sullivan, who was seventy-one years old.

When the full violence of the storm became apparent to the inmates of the Sullivan [home], George, a crippled son called to his mother to take refuge in the cellar. Mrs. Sullivan remembered an open transom, and fearing that the rain which was falling in torrents would stain her carpet, paused to lower the sash. Before she could join her son, the house was swept from its foundation and both inmates buried beneath a pile of wreckage.

Photograph of 636 Illinois Street, home of Mrs. Joe Sullivan, April 13, 1911

636 Illinois Street, the home of Mrs. Joe Sullivan, after the tornado, April 13, 1911.
Lawrence Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18 M 6:21. Click image to enlarge.

The Journal-World also provided detailed information about the death of Ethel Wheeler, who worked as a “domestic” on the Doubleday farm southwest of town.

The Doubleday farm was in the very vortex of the tornado. [Mrs. Wheeler] lived with her husband in a small annex to the chicken house not fifty feet from the Doubleday home. Just as the woman left the house to go to this small room in which she and her husband lodged, the Doubleday’s heard a terrific crash as the Sibley barn was blown against the farmer’s house a quarter of a mile away. An instant later, their own home was bombarded with flying wreckage, and looking towards the window they saw two faces pressed close against the glass. The faces were those of Phil Olmstead and Joe Badsky, who had been blown from, they did not know where. They were admitted to the Doubleday home, and with the passage of the tornado a few minutes later, they began searching for two Wheelers.

The little room the latter had occupied was merely a heap of heavy timber. Searching in its vicinity with an electric flash light, Floyd Doubleday heard a faint moan coming from beneath the tangled mass of wreckage. With the aid of the two lads, this was lifted up and Dave Wheeler released. He could only moan pitifully and ask brokenly for his wife. His injuries consisted of a compound fracture of the arm, serious internal hurts, and severe scalp wounds.

Securing lanterns the little searching part began looking for Mrs. Wheeler, the woman who had rushed into the very arms of the storm. In the center of a field a long distance from the house, Olmstead suddenly stepped on something yielding. Leaping hastily to one side he stooped over the cold corpse of the negro woman…

[Dave and Ethel Wheeler] were married last October and came to Lawrence only three weeks ago.

Photograph of Massachusetts Street looking south after the tornado, April 13, 1911

Massachusetts Street looking south after the tornado, April 13, 1911. The Thompson
photography studio
was at 615 Massachusetts, where Quinton’s Bar and Deli is located now.
Lawrence Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18 M 6:3. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the ruins of an unidentified home after the tornado, April 13, 1911

The ruins of an unidentified Lawrence home after the tornado, April 13, 1911.
Lawrence Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18 M 6:19. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services