Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Genealogy Hunts in Processing

September 4th, 2018

Manuscripts processing staff try to provide contextual information when creating finding aids to help researchers discover what we have in our collections. Some of the most important contextual information we can provide concerns biographical information for individuals (e.g. when a person was born, what s/he did during his/her life, and whether s/he had children) or administrative information for organizations, businesses, and government agencies (e.g. when an organization was created, what its function was, and what happened to it – did it merge with another organization or fade into obscurity, or is it still going strong). Without that kind of information, it can be difficult for a researcher to evaluate a collection and determine whether or not it is of interest to their research.

When we’re lucky, we’re provided this information in the collection itself or in material provided by the donor when the curator picks up the collection. Sometimes, though, the donor doesn’t necessarily have information about a collection—maybe its something they found in their house or something a family member gave them years ago and for which they never got the story.

In these situations, processing can be a detective game of following clues and performing dogged research.

Take, for example, the Hungate family papers. We had very little information in the accession file about this collection; the accession itself was called “Housemother in Kansas.” (Accessioning in the cultural heritage domain is the act of transferring ownership from one owner to another—i.e. from a donor to the cultural institution, such as Spencer Research Library.)

Upon review, it was found that this collection is a mix of textual and photographic material, the photographs dating back to what I suspect are the 1860s up to 1958, and the textual materials mostly dating from 1945 to 1947.

Photograph of the Hungate family letters while being processed

Hungate family letters during processing.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

It was immediately obvious why the collection was initially called “Housemother in Kansas”: on top of the stacked material in the box was a scrapbook for Ida B. Patterson’s retirement as a house mother at Goffe House at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearby was a marriage certificate (shown below) for Ida B. Devaney to Frank P. Patterson in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri.

Photograph of the Hungate family papers guestbook

Photograph of a Hungate family marriage certificate

The inside first page to the guest book (cover shown, top) states it was for
“Mother, when she left Art Institute as house mother 1950,” with some items inside
addressed to Mrs. Patterson. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

However, the bulk of the collection was Hungate family material, much of which were photographs that were remarkably well identified, including late 19th century cabinet cards.

Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate

The front (left) and back (right) of a photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife Essie Smith Hungate,
one of several identified family photos in the collection. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection was to Dr. Carroll Paul Hungate, a medical doctor serving in the Naval Reserves in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1945, or to his daughter Mary Agnes Hungate from Brazilian penpals. By quickly skimming some of the letters and reading the backs of some of the identified photographs, I was able to start piecing together family connections.

Photograph of Carroll Paul Hungate

Caroll Paul Hungate.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

Both Mary Agnes Hungate (writing to her husband “my darling Carroll”) and her daughters Mary Agnes and Annabel (writing to their father “Daddy”) several times mentioned going to the lake with the Pattersons. In one letter, Mary Agnes Sr. mentioned that Donald Patterson called, telling her “Aunt Maude” had died of cancer.

Image of a letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, October 5, 1945

A letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, writing
about the children going to the movies with the Pattersons, October 5, 1945.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

The clues in the collection itself led to online researches on genealogical websites. HeritageQuest (available for free through KU Libraries), Find a Grave, and other websites all aided in tracking down Hungate and Patterson family members. I finally discovered the connection between these two families: Ida B. Patterson was Mary Agnes (Patterson) Hungate’s mother. Ida’s husband Frank died in 1908, after they had been married for just ten years. According to the 1910 U.S. census, the widowed Ida was left to care for her two children, Howard and his younger sister Mary Agnes.

Screenshot of the 1910 United States federal census record for Ida B. Patterson

A screenshot of the transcribed entry for Ida B. Patterson in the
1910 United States federal census. From Ancestry.com. Click image to enlarge.

Sometimes, processing detective work pays off.

Pro Tip

If you reside in Kansas and want to look up information in Kansas newspapers prior to 1923—even later for some content—including birth announcements and obituaries, you can go to the Kansas Historical Society’s website, provide your name, date of birth, and Kansas driver’s license number, and have free access to thousands of images of digitized Kansas newspapers on Newspapers.com. Very helpful when confirming birth dates found in other sources!

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

New Finding Aids, December 2017-June 2018

July 17th, 2018

Interested in what’s become recently available for research amongst the archival materials at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library? Then you’ve come to the right place! Below is the listing of finding aids newly published in the past several months.

For those of you of with an artistic or musical bent, here are a few images to whet your appetite:

A thank you poem from Leonard Bernstein, in the Joyce Castle collection

A thank you poem from Leonard Bernstein in the Joyce Castle collection.
Call Number: RH MS 1441, Box 1, Folder 30. Click image to enlarge.

Still image of Marya Ouspenskaya from an American Laboratory Theatre production (Three Sisters?) Photographer: Maurice Goldberg

Still image of Marya Ouspenskaya from an American Laboratory Theatre
production (Three Sisters?). Photographer: Maurice Goldberg.
American Laboratory Theatre Collection. Call Number: MS 338, Box 4, Folder 78.
Click image to enlarge.

First page of sheet music from Laurel Everette Anderson’s “Quartet in C Minor for Strings” (Fourth Movement, Introduction and Allegro)

First page of sheet music from Laurel Everette Anderson’s “Quartet in C Minor for Strings”
(Fourth Movement, Introduction and Allegro). Personal Papers of Laurel Anderson.
Call Number: PP 587, Box 1, Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

If that has piqued your interest, here is the full list of new finding aids:

Merrill Ross collection, approximately 1944-1977 (RH MS P558, RH MS-P P558)

University of Kansas publication photographs, 1970-1990 (RH PH 176)

African American World War II oral history collections, 1940s, 2010-2013 (RH MS 1439, RH MS-P 1439, KC AV 26, KC AV 29)

A River Running West literary archive, [before 2001] (RH MS 981, RH MS Q249, RH MS R201)

Denise Low papers, 1970-2013 (MS 334, MS Qa19)

American Laboratory Theatre records, 1923-1982 (bulk 1925-1930) (MS 338, MS Q73, MS Qa20, MS K33, MS E278)

Alexander L. Boyle artworks, 1965-1992 (PP 548)

Personal papers of John Macauley, 1960s-1980s (PP 464)

Community Mercantile oral history transcripts, 1996-2001 (RH MS 570)

Senator Fred Kerr papers, 1976-1992 (bulk 1988-1992) (RH MS 544)

Gordon Parks clippings and obituary materials, 1969, 1991, 2006 (RH MS P884, RH MS R277)

Personal papers of Laurel Anderson, circa 1935-1986 (PP 587)

Polly Lovitt biography, 2012 (PP 584, UA AV 1)

Personal papers of Russell Mesler, 1949-1992 (PP 582)

Personal papers of Glenn Parker, 1902-1955 (PP 586)

Personal papers of Ray J. Stanclift, Jr., 1941-1954, 1990 (PP 585)

J. Collins letter regarding the Pony Express route, September 10, 1951 (RH MS P703)

Ida Mae Newsom collection, 1930s-1980s (RH MS P593, RH MS-P 593)

Miscellaneous Kansas photographers collection, 1886, 1894, undated (RH PH 165)

Portraits and activities of African Americans in Kansas City, KS, approximately 1955-1988 (RH PH 174)

Photographic collection of portraits, landscapes, and buildings and structures, interiors, etc., approximately 1910-1950 (RH PH 11)

John Scoville collection, 1934, 1947, 1960, 1962-2003 (RH WL MS 48, RH WL MS Q6, RH WL MS R4)

William H. Morrison’s letters from the Nebraska Territory, 1864-1865 (RH MS P923)

Ole J. Olsen photographs, approximately 1900-1910? (RH PH 83)

Mrs. Oscar Polk photographs, approximately 1912-1919 (RH PH 102)

Nancy Porter photographs, approximately 1896-1958 (RH PH 62)

Seelander & Swanson Sign Company photographs, approximately 1940s-1960s? (RH PH 138)

David Stout’s ration book, October 1943 (RH MS P924)

Modern homes and other scenes of Lawrence, KS, 1970s? (KC AV 28)

Warner-Johnson Photographic Studio collection, 1893-1987 (RH MS 1440, RH MS-P 1440, RH MS-P 1440(f))

John C. Tibbetts portraits collection, 1981-2016 (MS Q74, MS Qa23)

Natural History Art and Illustration by D. D. Tyler, 1971-2014 (MS 337, MS Q72, MS Qa22, MS R19)

Personal papers of Roger Martin, 1980-2015 (PP 588, UA AV 2, UA AV 3)

Personal papers of Charles Stansifer, 1963-2012 (PP 589)

Personal papers of Jack Brooking (Beach), 1956-1974 (PP 590)

Warren Corman architectural drawings, bulk 1950s-1960s (PP 592)

Personal papers of Morton Green, 1939-2003 (PP 591)

John Lee papers, 1989-1996 (RH MS 1428, RH AD 11, RH MS R425)

O’Dell-Wilson family photographs, circa 1890-1930 (RH PH 63)

George Pollock photograph collection, approximately 1890s (RH PH P2821, RH PH 101)

Savage-Alford families photographs, approximately 1860-1916 (RH PH 59)

Geraldine Slater photograph collection, 1920s (RH PH P2830, RH PH 52)

Argentine River Improvement stock certificate, 1887 (RH MS P952)

Joyce Castle collection, 1843, 1903, 1953-2014 (RH MS 1441, RH MS Q434, KC AV 35)

Jane Wofford Malin collection, 1860s, 1890s-2016 (bulk 1926-2016) (RH MS 1444, RH MS R429, RH MS-P 1444, RH MS-P 1444(f), KC AV 44)

Jesse T. Roberts land certificate, 1854 (RH MS Q436)

David Samuels postcards collection, approximately 1900-1950s (RH PH 65, RH MS DK2)

Unidentified couple carte de visite, approximately 1880-1900 (RH PH P2829)

Moseley & Company photographs of Kansas City buildings, approximately 1920s-1969 (RH PH 135, RH PH 135(f))

H. Mulch collection, approximately 1908-1982 (RH PH 117, RH Cassette Tape 5)

Nebraska State Penitentiary photographs, approximately 1870 and 1910 (RH PH 129, RH PH 129(f))

Willard G. Ransom photographs, approximately 1900-1940 (RH PH 54)

Reuter Organ Company photographs, approximately 1917-1940s (RH PH 68)

Kenison family photographs, approximately 1890-1905 (RH PH 97)

Stanley Schmidt papers, 1976-2013 (MS 341)

Stanley, Kansas photograph album, approximately 1920s (RH PH 123)

Personal papers of Marlin D. Harmony, 1960-1998 (PP 593)

Personal papers of Roger L. Kaesler, 1961-2003 (PP 594)

Personal papers of Robert W. Wilson, 1937-2003 (PP 596)

Robert Hess collection, 1945-2013 (RH AD 10, RH MS 1415, RH MS R413)

Kansas State Seals collection, [not before 1867 – approximately 1900?] (RH MS Q428, RH MS R430)

Elizabeth Stephens collection, 1942-2002 (RH MS 1448, RH MS Q438, KC AV 47)

Vogel family collection, 1952-2015 (RH MS 1446, KC AV 46)

Hornbooks collection, 17 and 18th centuries (MS C315)

Melvin Landsberg papers: Correspondence with and about John Dos Passos, 1956-1970 (MS 342)

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Making Collections Accessible for Researchers

May 30th, 2018

When manuscript collections – the papers, letters, documents, photographs, and/or diaries of an individual or organization – are acquired by the Spencer Research Library, they need to undergo processing in order for them to be ready for researchers to use them. Some collections need more processing than others in order to make them accessible. While we process the collection, we create a finding aid so researchers know what is in the collection.

This blog post will use the Jane Wofford Malin Collection (Call Number: RH MS 1444) to illustrate what processing entails.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

The “before” picture of an unprocessed donation to Spencer Research Library.
Click image to enlarge.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018 Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

Sometimes collections are pretty large. Even a small box can contain hundreds of letters!
Click image to enlarge.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

Correspondence is unfolded and put into acid-free folders so researchers can
access them easily. The folders will be put into acid-free boxes. Notice the pencils
in the photo above? We use those to label the folder. We never use ink pens
around archival items. Researchers are also required to leave their ink pens behind
when they enter the research room here. Click image to enlarge.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

This donated box contained hundreds of photographs. In order to protect the photographs and
make them useful for researchers, we put them into acid-free folders and
note the content so we can enter it into the finding aid. Click image to enlarge.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

The photos from the box shown above were sorted into like-groups and by year.
On the far right corner of the work table, you can see the purple nitrile gloves worn
when handling the photos. We always wear cotton or nitrile gloves when handling photographs
so that our finger-prints don’t ruin the image. Researchers also have to wear gloves
when using photographs here at Spencer Research Library. Click image to enlarge.

 

Photograph of the Jane Wofford Malin Collection being processed, 2018

The “after” picture of a processed collection at
Spencer Research Library. Click image to enlarge.

Here is what the collection looked like after it was all arranged and organized. The larger boxes on top hold oversize documents, such as certificates and artwork, and an oversize scrapbook. Everything is ready to go to the stacks and wait for a researcher to call them into the Reading Room!

With the collection all organized, we put the finishing touches on the finding aid and publish it to our website. Try searching the finding aids for yourself and see what you can discover in the Spencer Research Library. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to ask the staff. We work hard to preserve history and to make sure that it can be used and accessed by you!

Lynn Ward
Processing

Meet the KSRL Staff: Lynn Ward

February 20th, 2018

This is the thirteenth (lucky number thirteen!) installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Lynn Ward, who joined the Spencer Research Library processing unit in late October as a processing archivist. 

Where are you from?
Since most of my adult life has been spent in Lawrence, I like to say that’s where I’m from. I grew up in Missouri but attended the University of Kansas for my bachelor’s degree (anthropology) and masters (museum studies). I have moved from Lawrence a few times, but I keep coming back!

What does your job at Spencer entail?
How do researchers know what’s on the shelves in the archives? That’s my job. I work on making all the amazing information that is here in the library—in documents, letters, maps, photographs, diaries, drawings, scrapbooks, and records—accessible. I do that by processing donations and collections and then making finding aids for them online. Then the information contained in the donations and collections can be searched, found, and utilized.

Lynn Ward in the Kansas Collection Stacks

Making Spencer’s collections accessible:
Lynn Ward in the Kansas Collection stacks.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?
This isn’t the first time I have worked at Spencer Research Library. When I was a graduate student in the Museum Studies program here at KU, I worked in the University Archives up on the 4th floor. That was my first archives position. Since then, I have had a long career working in a variety of museums, archives, and libraries. At each one, I have learned new skills, experienced many situations, and gained lots of knowledge! I’m happy to bring all this to Spencer Research Library where I can use all these skills and knowledge, plus learn even more from the excellent staff here. In a way, I’ve come full circle and now I’m back home.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?
It’s hard to narrow down one, because I find it all so interesting! I have worked on some great collections since starting here in late October. But, I would have to say that I am most interested in the territorial Kansas and also the early KU history material. In the lobby of the Spencer Research Library there is a map of Lawrence from 1854 that I love to look at—especially since “Kansas” is spelled with a “z”—“Kanzas.” I also like to walk in the North Gallery and see a cross-section of all the fascinating collections that are in the library. I love looking at all of the books and exhibits in that beautiful space.

Picture of the 1854 SearleMap of Lawrence housed in the Spencer Research Library Lobby

Map of “Lawrence City, Kanzas Territory, Surveyed Oct. 1854 by A. D. Searl.”
This map hangs in the Spencer Research Library lobby. Click image to enlarge.

What part of your job do you like best?
I like the feeling of being part of a team. We are all working to make the collections accessible so that everyone—the public, historians, students, genealogists—can benefit from them.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?
I love, love, love to travel and explore. I’m happy going anyplace and doing anything. For example, a few weeks ago, I went with a friend on a fun daytrip exploring territorial history in Big Springs, Kansas. And last summer, my daughter and I found a cool shark’s tooth near Hays, Kansas. (I’m a huge dinosaur and prehistoric life fan.) I enjoy little adventures like that! I’ve got two teenage kids, so my husband and I spend a lot of our time involved in their activities. I also read a lot—mostly books about Kansas history—but I do enjoy a good historical fiction or a Michael Creighton novel, too!

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?
I would tell them to take the time to talk to the reference room staff. If the staff know about your research project, they can help you think of resources here at Spencer Research Library.

New Finding Aids Available, Part III

December 12th, 2017

Is the cold weather encouraging you to stay indoors? Why not dive into a new research project using one of the recently processed collections at Spencer Research Library? Today we share with you a list of finding aids published between May 2017 and November 2017. Finding aids are inventories or guide documents that assist researchers in navigating collections of manuscripts, organizational records, personal papers, photographs, and audio visual materials. You can learn more about finding aids in an earlier Finding Aids 101 post, and you can search the library’s finding aids here. As you begin your research, remember that Spencer Library will be closed for the holidays from December 23-January 1. However, if your New Year’s resolution is to conduct more archival research, you’re in luck since Spencer Library re-opens on January 2nd!

Enjoy a few images from three of these recently processed collections, and then scroll down for the full list of new finding aids.

Photograph of an opening showing an autograph and photo of Count Basie in vol. 1 of the Chesterman C. Linley jazz scrapbooks

Selected pages from a jazz scrapbook from the Chesterman C. Linley Scrapbooks.
Left page: Chesterman C. Linley with Count Basie at the at the Panhandle Christmas Party,
with Count Basie’s signature below. Right: Bobby Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, and Carmell Jones (top),
and Marilyn Maye (bottom). Call Number: RH MS EK5, Vol. 1. Click image to enlarge.

Velum binding with tawed skin ties for a volume containing two manuscripts by Mlle de Lubert Beginning of "Les evenements comiques conte", one of two literary manuscripts by Mlle de Lubert bound together in a volume.

A volume containing two literary manuscripts by Mademoiselle de Lubert, “Les événements comiques conte” (above) and “Chélidonide histoire grecque,” approximately 1740-1760. Call Number: MS B182. Click images to enlarge.

Image of a color postcards of Frazier Hall (1909) and a general view of campus (1910), University of Kansas

University of Kansas postcards showing Frazier (i.e. Fraser) Hall (1909)
and a general view of campus (1910), from the Miller Family Postcard Collection.
Call Number: PP 581. Click image to enlarge.

New Finding aids

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian
and
Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator