Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Lucy McLinden: KU Student Nurse During the 1918 Flu Pandemic

October 20th, 2020

In the fall of 1918, the University of Kansas was swept up in the flu pandemic that was raging across the country and world. Out of a student population of approximately 3,000, it is estimated that there were as many as 1,000 cases of flu on campus, with up to 750 of those being ill at the same time. In addition to the main campus hospital, make-shift infirmaries were set up on campus to handle the vast number of servicemen and students who were getting sick. Doctors, nurses and volunteers worked tirelessly to care for them. One of the volunteers was Lucy McLinden. From my research, I estimate that thirty-two deaths actually occurred on campus, all of those male except for one, that being Lucy.

Photograph of Lucy McLinden, circa 1918
A photograph of Lucy McLinden in World War Roll of Honor, 1917-1920: Marion County, Kansas (page 216). Call Number: RH D448. The full text of this book can be accessed online via HathiTrust. Photo accessed via the Find A Grave website. Click image to enlarge.

Lucy was born on July 6, 1897, and lived in Cedar Point, Kansas. In the fall of 1918, she was a sophomore at KU. She was working her way through school as a librarian in the Physiology Library. When volunteers were needed, she was among the first to sign up. She worked in the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) hospital almost as soon as the epidemic started. She continued to nurse the sick even after she began to develop flu symptoms herself. When she finally succumbed to the illness, her mother and father came to care for her. Sadly, Lucy developed pneumonia and died on Saturday, November 9, 1918. She was twenty-one years old.

"Death of Volunteer Nurse," (Lawrence, Kansas) Daily Gazette, November 9, 1918
An obituary for Lucy McLinden in the (Lawrence, Kansas) Daily Gazette, November 9, 1918. Article accessed via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Want to learn more about this topic? Explore our online exhibition, “The 1918 Influenza Epidemic at KU.”

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Oral Histories

October 13th, 2020

As Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close I would like to draw attention to three oral history collections housed in the Kansas Collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. These collections speak to the everyday lives and experiences of the Hispanic communities in Garden City, Emporia, and Kansas City, Kansas.

The collection I’m going to highlight is the Oral History Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas (RH MS 750). The collection consists of interview transcripts, audio tapes, and photographs. This project was funded by a grant from what is now Humanities Kansas.  

For example, in her interview Cipriana “Sue” Rodriquez spoke about the harsh conditions and treatment her father faced as part of the working class in Mexico before coming to Garden City to work for the railroad, originally in 1900. Cipriana also discussed living in a railroad house, her experience in school, the family’s work experiences, and the strong sense of community among the Hispanic families.  

Photograph of a railroad crew in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1900
A railroad crew in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1900. Oral history Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas. Call Number: RH PH 183, Box 1, Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.
Portrait of an unknown Hispanic family in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1900
A portrait of an unknown Hispanic family in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1900. Oral history Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas. Call Number: RH PH 183, Box 1, Folder 25. Click image to enlarge.

Similarly, Lydia Mendoza de Gonzalez and Louis Mendoza discussed the conditions in Mexico that lead to family members coming to Garden City around 1900. They spoke of growing up in a culturally traditional Mexican household and the discrimination faced by the Hispanic community. A primary focus of this interview was education and Lydia’s efforts to help members of the community get the financial support they needed to attain a vocational education.

Photograph of a Mexican Fiesta in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1950
A Mexican Fiesta in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1950. Oral history Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas. Call Number: RH PH 183, Box 1, Folder 24. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of graduates Angela and Salina Gonzales, with their mother Lydia, at a commencement ceremony in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1970
Graduates Angela and Salina Gonzales, with their mother Lydia, at a commencement ceremony in Garden City, Kansas, circa 1970. Oral history Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Garden City, Kansas. Call Number: RH PH 183, Box 1, Folder 31. Click image to enlarge.

The other oral history collections are the Oral History Project Regarding the Hispanic Community of Emporia, Kansas (RH MS 751) and the Kansas City, Kansas, Spanish Speaking Office Interviews and Slides (RH MS 752).

Letha E. Johnson
Kansas Collection Curator

Women’s Suffrage: The Lighter Side

September 2nd, 2020

When we talk about the history of the women’s suffrage movement, the narrative is often quite serious in terms of focus and tone. We read the rhetoric and arguments for and against suffrage; we learn about the struggles faced – mockery, ostracism, even imprisonment. But in the midst of all this seriousness existed publications and ephemera full of sass, humor, and wit! 

Featured in our new online exhibit, Women’s Suffrage: The Lighter Side, is a selection of items from our collections that show the lighter side of the women’s suffrage movement. Published several years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, these items include satirical essays and poems, popular song parodies, and nursery rhyme re-imaginings.

The cover of the book Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times, 1915
The cover of Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times by Alice Duer Miller (1915). Call Number: Howey C6148. Click image to enlarge.

Published in 1915, Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times features satirical poems and other humorous writings by Alice Duer Miller to promote the women’s suffrage movement. Many of the poems were originally published individually in The New York Tribune before their publication together in this book. The material in the book is divided into five categories: Treacherous Texts, Campaign Material (For Both Sides), Women’s Sphere, A Masque of Teachers: The Ideal Candidates, and The Unconscious Suffragists.

The cover of the book The Suffrage Song Book: Original Songs, Parodies and Paraphrases, Adapted to Popular Melodies, 1909
The cover of The Suffrage Song Book: Original Songs, Parodies and Paraphrases, Adapted to Popular Melodies by Henry W. Roby (1909). Call Number: KAC B29. Click image to enlarge.

A publication from Topeka, Kansas, The Suffrage Song Book: Original Songs, Parodies and Paraphrases, Adapted to Popular Melodies was created by Henry W. Roby and published in 1909. By taking the ideals of the women’s suffrage movement and setting them to the music of a variety of popular songs, Roby’s parodies are not only informative but catchy examples of some of the messaging used in the fight for women’s rights.

The cover of the book The Gee-Gee’s Mother Goose, 1912
The cover of The Gee-Gee’s Mother Goose by Lilla Day Monroe (1912). Call Number: KAC C2. Click image to enlarge.

Another Kansas publication, The Gee-Gee’s Mother Goose by Lilla Day Monroe, is a collection of common nursery rhymes but re-written to incorporate pro-suffrage messages and ideas. For added interest in this 1912 publication, the rhymes are accompanied by related illustrations including scenes from “Three Blind Mice” and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.”

Emily Beran
Public Services

North Gallery Highlight: Sumner High School

August 26th, 2020

We are periodically sharing some of the materials that are featured in Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery permanent exhibit. We hope you’ll be able to visit the library and explore the full exhibit in person! This week’s post highlights materials documenting the history of Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas. The Sumner collection is part of the African American Experience Collections within the Kansas Collection.

Photograph of the exterior of the Sumner High School building, 1905–1940
The “old” Sumner High School building at 9th and Washington Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, 1905-1940. This image appeared in the 1922 Sumnerian yearbook. Call Number: RH Ser D1286 1922. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the exterior of the Sumner High School building, 1940-1978
The “new” Sumner High School building at 8th and Oakland Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, 1940-1978. Sumner High School Records. Call Number: RH MS-P 1137, Box 1. Click image to enlarge.

Established in 1905 in response to the threat of racial violence and a decades long effort to exclude African Americans from the city’s high school, Sumner High School was created by exempting Kansas City, Kansas, from the state law prohibiting racially segregated high schools. However, the local African American community resisted further efforts to further diminish their children’s opportunities to achieve academic excellence. Their relentless push for the school’s curriculum to emphasize college preparation earned Sumner High School’s membership in the prestigious North Central Association of Secondary Schools by 1914. Under a federally mandated plan for racial integration, Sumner closed in 1978.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 national convention of the Sumner High School Alumni Association of Kansas City, Kansas, has been postponed until next year. In anticipation of the convention – and in honor of the new school year – here are a few highlights from the Sumner High School Alumni Association of Kansas City, Kansas, Collection, established in 1986. Additional donations of materials are welcomed.

Photograph of Sumner High School faculty, 1919
Sumner High School faculty, 1919. Before the late 1950s, Sumner was the only high school in Kansas comprised of an African American faculty and the only high school in Kansas that permitted African Americans to serve as teachers. Sumner High School Records. Call Number: RH MS-P 1137, Box 2. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the Sumner High School orchestra, 1918
The Sumner High School orchestra, 1918. Sumner High School Records. Call Number: RH MS-P 1137, Box 1. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of a Sumner High School chemistry class, 1930s
A chemistry class at Sumner High School, 1930s. Sumner High School Records. Call Number: RH MS-P 1137, Box 2. Click image to enlarge.

The film clips below show various aspects of Sumner High School. The first features scenes from a football game in 1931. The second clip, from the 1940s, introduces viewers to the new building, the principal, and staff members; it also shows students arriving for school. There’s no need to turn up the volume on your computer or phone; neither clip has any sound.


See Spencer’s online exhibit “Education: The Mightiest Weapon” to learn more about the active role African Americans in Kansas played in our nation’s past struggle with laws and practices of racial segregation in public schools.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist/Curator, African American Experience Collections
Kansas Collection

Quantrill’s Raid and Its Aftermath: Anna Soule Prentiss

August 14th, 2020

One hundred and fifty-seven years ago, on August 21, 1863, William Clarke Quantrill and his men rode into Lawrence bent on destroying the town. The results of the dawn raid were the destruction of numerous businesses and homes and 143 deaths. State officials and people from surrounding towns provided aid to Lawrence to help meet the basic needs of the residents and to rebuild the town. 

"The Destruction of Lawrence," an artist's sketch from Harper's Weekly, September 5, 1863
“The Destruction of Lawrence,” an artist’s sketch from Harper’s Weekly, September 5, 1863. Lawrence Photo Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18:L:8.5. Click image to enlarge.

Although her family lived in Lawrence, Anna Julia Soule was a school teacher in Kanawaka, six miles to the west, at the time of the raid. That morning, she saw the smoke coming from Lawrence, and would later recall that “we (the citizens) knew that a raid had been feared but vigilance had been relaxed and, concluding that there was not much danger, the town had stopped keeping guard at night” [1].

When Anna reached Lawrence after the raid, she found her high school teacher among the dead at the first house she stopped at. Upon locating her brother William Soule, Anna learned that her the rest of the family were safe, but that the family’s house had been destroyed. They had nothing except for the clothes they were wearing. The family stayed at the home of prominent Lawrence physician Sylvester B. Prentiss in the days following the raid. 

Anna briefly return to Kanawaka to teach after the raid, but not for long. As she would later write, “the term was nearly out and the excitement made teaching difficult, as even in the country the raid was the only thing in all our minds” [2].  

Instead of completing the term, Anna decided to go to Maine with her mother and sister to live with family and friends for a time. Of the first leg of the journey back east, she wrote,

“We went on the stage to Leavenworth, borrowing bonnets for the trip so far and sending them back on the stage. The people of Leavenworth were very kind, the women meeting daily to sew for the Lawrence sufferers and offering us help, but we only accepted such things as seemed necessary for our journey, as the people in Lawrence were in greater need than we were, for we were going to our friends who gladly helped us” [3].

The ladies returned to Lawrence in 1865 to find the town rebuilt. On June 21, 1866, Anna married Dr. Prentiss. Over the years, she was an active participant in the Lawrence community. She was involved in Lawrence’s temperance organization, was a founding member of the Lawrence No Name Club, active in her church, and took part in the reunions held by raid survivors. Anna was also the proprietor of a home goods store for several years.

Photograph of Annie Soule Prentiss standing outside of her residence and home goods store with son Frank, circa 1900
Annie Soule Prentiss standing outside of her residence and home goods store with son Frank, circa 1900. The structure was located at 1105 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas; Brothers is located there now. Lawrence Photo Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18:C15. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Anna wrote about her experiences during Kansas’s territorial period for publications and the various clubs, organizations, and activities in which she was involved. 

[1] Clevenger, Maurine. “Memories of Early Lawrence.” Jayhawk: The Magazine of Kansas, volume 2, number 8, August 1929.

[2] Prentiss, Ann Julia Soule. “From Boston to Kansas in 1855.” Kansas Woman’s Journal, June 1926.

[3] Ibid.

Letha Johnson
Kansas Collection Curator