Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Celebrate National Ice Cream Month!

July 23rd, 2020

I love ice cream. I’ve very rarely screamed for it, but I may occasionally feel the urge! There are many flavors I like, including matcha and mint chocolate chip, though I feel there is something special about a good vanilla or my absolute favorite…homemade peach ice cream. Ice cream flavors are also a great thing to disagree about. You can have a very satisfying argument about which flavor is best (or at least rank them) knowing that it doesn’t really matter. It is a treat, it is satisfying, it is not particularly healthy, and it has a special quality of nostalgia for me.

Photograph of Snyder’s Ice Cream Co. (Wichita, Kansas) building exterior with ice cream trucks, circa 1920
Snyder’s Ice Cream Co. in Wichita, Kansas, circa 1920. Artificial Kansas-Based Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 535, Box 11, Folder 19. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of Brown's Taylor Maid Ice Cream Shop, circa 1950-1970
Brown’s Taylor Maid Ice Cream Shop in Coffeyville, Kansas, circa 1950-1970. Patterson Family Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 476, Box 1, Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

I remember getting together with family on the Fourth of July, playing all day, eating too many hot dogs/burgers/potluck/picnic food of all sorts, then finding the room to try three or four different flavors of homemade ice cream while sitting back and watching the fireworks. The sound of the churns were a persistent whine accompanying the conversation and bangs going on through the day.

No doubt such shared smiles and remembrances led to the naming of July as National Ice Cream Month.

Photograph of William Joe Woods at Franklin Ice Cream Co. in Tonganoxie, Kansas, circa 1940
William Joe Woods at Franklin Ice Cream Co. in Tonganoxie, Kansas, circa 1940. Woods Family Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P P660, Box 1, Folder 6. Click image to enlarge.

Ice cream can be found in our collections as well. I mean…not literally. That would be a nightmare for archival control. Instead there are pictures of people working on the apparatus of ice cream making, gathering socially around ice cream, or even making a buck going back quite a while!

Photograph of a man with a violin and ice cream sign in Anthony, Kansas, circa 1880-1900
Man with a violin and ice cream sign in Anthony, Kansas, circa 1880-1900. Leonard Hollmann Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 54, Folder 3. Click image to enlarge.

So when the urge for ice cream strikes, indulge, at least a little.

Shelby Schellenger
Reference Coordinator

Joseph Pennell Collection: Fathers with Their Children

June 18th, 2020

In honor of Father’s Day, please enjoy this selection of photographs of fathers with their children, taken from the Joseph Pennell photograph collection of Fort Riley and Junction City, Kansas.

Photograph of Sgt. Lynch with his baby, 1898
Sgt. Lynch with his baby, 1898. Just a year later, on October 6, 1899, the Junction City Union reported the death of Sgt. Lynch. He was killed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 315, Box 10. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of D.N. Hicks with his son, Lieutenant Harold Hicks, 1914
D.N. Hicks with his son, Lieutenant Harold Hicks, 1914. Just a year before this photograph was taken, the Junction City Sentinel carried the obituary of Mrs. Hicks, wife and mother. Lieutenant Hicks went on to be promoted to Colonel. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 2748, Box 59. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of John Orr with two of his sons, 1919
John Orr with two of his sons, 1919. The Orrs had three sons: John E. Orr, Jr., Wilbur and Roy. All three enlisted during World War I, and all three were wounded and gassed on the front in France, but survived the war. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 3074, Box 69. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Lieutenant George Patton with his daughter, Beatrice, 1914
Lieutenant George S. Patton with his daughter, Beatrice, 1914. Patton was stationed at Fort Riley from 1913 to 1915. He was assigned to the Mounted Service School, and became the school’s first Master of the Sword, teaching a course in swordsmanship while a student. Patton would go on to become a general in command of the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany after D-Day. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 2759, Box 59. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

More photographs from the Pennell Collection follow, but unfortunately no other information could be found about the people in them.

Photographh of the Lopez family, 1920-1921
The Lopez family, 1920-1921. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 3177.14, Box 72. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Lieutenant Dorsey with his baby, 1902
Lieutenant Dorsey with his baby, 1902. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 918.1, Box 24. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Lieutenant R.L. Cox with his baby, 1920-1921
Lieutenant R.L. Cox with his baby, 1920-1921. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 3257.6, Box 74. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Alex Johnson with members of his family, 1913
Alex Johnson with members of his family, 1913. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 2645, Box 56. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Captain Kinnington with his daughters, 1909
Captain Kinnington with his daughters, 1909. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 2180, Box 47. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Photograph of Major Baird with his children, 1920-1921
Major Baird with his children, 1920-1921. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 3257.2, Box 74. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Treatment of Mary Huntoon’s Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, an Etching: Part 2

May 19th, 2020

In the first installment of this two part blog series, the Kansas artist, Mary Huntoon, was introduced. We shared how her print, Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, was prepared for an overall washing treatment in order to reduce several dark brown stains along the top edge that interrupted the image area and created bulging in the surface.

Before any washing treatments are performed on works on paper, all media are tested with the proposed washing solutions to ensure their stability. The surface is also checked for any areas where the print may have been previously restored, or even re-touched by the artist with another material that might be water-soluble. I carefully examined the print under magnification during testing in order to make sure the ink and paper were safe for washing. Everything checked out, so I was ready to start the washing step.

Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, prior to treatment. Call Number: RH MS 209. Click image to enlarge.

Prior to washing, the print was gently surface-cleaned and the brown paper attachments were removed. You can read more about these steps in the first blog post about this treatment.

Before a work on paper is placed into a bath, the entire object must slowly undergo a humidification step. This helps to relax the paper and the media and prevents aggressive swelling. Then the object is gently sprayed with deionized water using a fine mist attachment in order to fully saturate it. This step-wise procedure ensures a gentle transition for the object into the bath.    

The print was washed in successive baths of pH-adjusted deionized water and air-dried. I examined the print once again to assess the progress of the washing step. The stains had noticeably lessened, but they were still quite visible, and I decided to test another stain reduction technique.

Using a small brush, I gently introduced very small applications of a dilute reducing bleach to the stained areas. This reduced the stain to an almost undetectable level. Then the bleach was fully rinsed with additional baths of pH-adjusted deionized water. I used an ultraviolet lamp to check to see that all the bleach, which fluoresces under ultraviolet radiation, was rinsed away.

The etching Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, by Mary Huntoon, in normal light, after treatment.
Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, in normal light, after treatment. Call Number: RH MS 209. Click image to enlarge.

After the stain reduction and overall washing was complete, it was time to address a few structural concerns. Weak creases in the upper corners made the print vulnerable to breakage and tearing, so I reinforced them using Japanese paper applied with wheat starch paste we make in our conservation lab. Instead of cutting the Japanese paper, it is wetted and torn. This torn edge makes use of the long kozo fibers in the paper and creates a strong mend that integrates well into the paper. After all the mends and reinforcements were complete, the print was humidified a second time and flattened between thick felts. Pressing between felts helped to remove planar distortions along the edges, while also maintaining the plate mark of the etching.

Now that the treatment is complete, the print is ready to be returned to the collection where it can be safely examined by visitors to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.  

The Kenneth Spencer Research Library is home to the collection of papers and original artwork by Kansas artist and art therapist, Mary Huntoon (1896 – 1970). As part of a collaborative initiative between KU Libraries and the Spencer Museum of Art, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, many of the prints, drawings, and watercolors by Huntoon will be treated.

Creases in the upper corners of the etching Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, by Mary Huntoon, being reinforced with Japanese paper attached with wheat starch paste.
Creases in the upper corners were reinforced with Japanese paper attached with wheat starch paste. Call Number: RH MS 209. Click image to enlarge.
The etching Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, by Mary Huntoon, in raking light, prior to treatment (at left), and after treatment (at right).
Kansas City, Kansas Grain Elevators, in raking light, prior to treatment (at left), and after treatment (at right). Call number: RH MS 209. Click image to enlarge.

Jacinta Johnson, Associate Conservator, Mellon Initiative

Meme K.U.

April 22nd, 2020

In this time of pandemic, we are all facing issues of material access and spending inordinate time in the halls of the internet. And if you’ve spent much time in the halls of the internet, then you are well familiar with memes. These pictures taken out of context and often slightly edited or at least with added text deliver small, precise, and often entertaining snippets of thought in an easily digestible, easily shareable format. 

Let’s do this!

Meme created from a photograph of two soldiers on a Fort Riley porch, 1904
A meme created from a photograph of two soldiers on a Fort Riley porch, 1904. Joseph Judd Pennell Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 1256, Box 30. Click image to enlarge.

I mean, I suppose there are a few considerations. It is important to be aware of copyright concerns when it comes to both making and sharing memes. Is the work transformational? Is the selected image in the public domain? How do I do this meme thing anyway? 

This post will deal primarily with finding and using University of Kansas digital collections as a source for memes. As such, I will focus on things that are clearly okay to use. This is going to mean things which clearly state use is possible as well as anything from before 1925. Beyond that, use may be possible but pay close attention to any rights statements and be aware of Fair Use doctrine application. The Kenneth Spencer Research Library addresses much of this in our section “Request Reproductions.”

Many use statements are going to include attribution. One of the easiest ways to do this in a meme format image is that once you have your meme generated, but before you share it, open the file properties. In the file properties you should be able to add author/artist and a note/comment including the attribution statement. Once those have been added to the file, then share!

Meme created from a photograph of Ziegler's dog, 1897
A meme created from a photograph of Ziegler’s dog, 1897. Joseph Judd Pennell Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 212.05, Box 6. Click image to enlarge.

A few collections to search for materials to use: 

From the Ground Up: Collection of landscape art with a few other things. Use statement allows use with attribution. 

Invertebrate Paleontology: Photographs of invertebrate fossils. Use statement allows use with attribution. 

KU Libraries – Digital Collections: Many images prior to 1925, published by a government entity, or otherwise available for use…still important to check the rights information of any image you use! 

Once you have selected an image to use in making your meme, you will want to figure out what service you may want to use. There are several free-to-use options out there as well as using software such as Photoshop or Paint. I have used Adobe Spark, KAPWING, and imgflip in making the memes I’ve put on this page. They were all similar in ease-of-use. KAPWING offered a few features that were easy to find but has a more intrusive watermark. Imgflip was straightforward, but maybe not as many features. Adobe Spark required a registration that the others didn’t. 

A couple of other articles you may find helpful in your meme-making future: “How to Make a Meme” by Gannon Burgett on Digital Trends and “Copyright for Meme-Makers” by Colleen McCroskey at Public Knowledge.

Meme created from a photograph of a woman driving a buggy through the Kansas countryside, 1902
A meme created from a photograph of woman driving a buggy through the Kansas countryside, 1902. Joseph Judd Pennell Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 939, Box 24. Click image to enlarge.

Shelby Schellenger
Public Services

Love in the Time of Corona: How to Write Love Letters

April 16th, 2020

Picture it: You’ve met someone interesting, funny, exciting, attractive – someone who could be something really special. Then, POOF! Social distancing happens and you have no option for in-person contact with your romantic prospect for who knows how long.

How do you continue getting to know each other and keep that initial connection flourishing? Texting? Emails? Video calls? While all are great options, why not take this opportunity to try another choice? Everyone, it is time to break out those pens and paper and start writing love letters again!

Photograph of a soldier writing a letter in a barracks room at Fort Riley, 1908
A soldier writing a letter in a barracks room at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1908. Joseph Judd Pennell Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Now you may ask, “Why write letters when we have phones and computers at our disposal?” The logic is three-fold:

1) Tangibility: Since you can’t embrace the one you fancy, why not create something physical for one another to have and hold during this time of distance?

2) Permanence: Typically, text messages are deleted automatically after a certain period of time. Phone calls and video chats exist only at the time they are happening (unless you record them). Letters, on the other hand, will last – as long as they are cared for properly.

3) Hobby option: Social distancing has prompted many people to explore new hobbies – particularly creative ones. While people learn to bake from scratch, sew masks, and try their hands at knitting, writing letters or keeping a journal is another creative outlet to explore!

Personally, I do not do much letter writing (let alone ones of an amorous nature) and I know that most of my friends, family, and colleagues do not either. Thankfully, I found a great source of advice: How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun (1927), one of the Little Blue Books in Spencer’s Kansas Collection.

Cover of How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927
The cover of How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927. Call Number: RH H-J 1244 Little. Click image to enlarge.

Using the long-distance love story of Clementine and Thomas (a traveling salesman), this quaint publication gives examples of love letters appropriate to various levels of relationships – Better Acquaintance, Avowed Tenderness, Betrothed, and Married – and for a variety of situations within those relationships. In the midst of the letters, Markun also provides advice so that the reader may maintain the appropriate level of formality with regard to language, expectations, and even writing materials to use. For example, Markun writes that “amorous correspondence should be written in black or blue-black ink, and gentlemen usually write on white paper, although various light tints are occasionally in fashion” (10-11).

Part of the Introductory Note in How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927
Part of the Introductory Note in How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927. Call Number: RH H-J 1244 Little. Click image to enlarge.
Selected pages in How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927
Selected pages in How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927
The first four pages in the first chapter (“Better Acquaintance”) in How to Write Love Letters by Leo Markun, 1927. Call Number: RH H-J 1244 Little. Click images to enlarge.

I decided to focus my attention on the advice and examples for the first two levels of relationships: Better Acquaintances and Avowed Tenderness. After reading through the highly entertaining letters and advice featured, here are the five tidbits that I think will be most useful for those attempting to write a love letter in the 21st-century:

1) Respect the other’s wishes. Before courtship by mail can even begin, make sure that both of you are on the same page regarding your interest in each other. If one party isn’t interested in corresponding and has communicated their wishes, the other should not be angry when further letters are left unanswered.

2) Dates, dates, dates. Always include the full date on every letter. This will help avoid confusion and potential misunderstandings because it helps the recipient keep track of when the letter was written.

3) Think before you ink. You want to be clear about your intentions and not say things you do not mean. As Leo Markun wrote in the Introductory Note of How to Write Love Letters, “it is very unsafe to put into a love letter any matter which may not be proclaimed to the whole universe” (6). Saying “I love you” in person is fleeting; saying “I love you” in ink is forever. In addition to considering the permanence of what you write, know that it is possible that your letter may be read by someone other than the intended recipient. As Markun advises, “before sending off a letter, then, it is well to consider if it is one that may safely be read in a court room” (7).

4) Be yourself. Your letter should have personality! Show off your humor, share your thoughts, give your writing your style and voice. Because this is so vital, remember that merely copying a letter and changing the names is not going to give you the desired results.

5) Grammar is sexy. Personality does not come at the expense of proper grammar. Per Markun, “there is less excuse for slipshod grammar in a letter than there is in talking… If necessary it may be rewritten” (14).

And with this advice in hand, it’s time to start writing! So let’s break out the stationary, spread the love (without spreading the germs), and help keep the postal service afloat.

Emily Beran
Public Services