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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

New Finding Aids, July-December 2022

January 25th, 2023

It was a busy back half of 2022 for the manuscripts processing team at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We hired two new full-time staff members, which has helped us a great deal in getting more collections processed and finding aids produced!

See below a listing for the finding aids newly produced between July and December 2022, with a selection of images from some of these newly processed collections.

Preliminary Report on the Geology and Oil Potential of the Snyder Lease, Linn County, Kansas, approximately 1964 (RH MS P989)

Evacuation of Wounded in Modern Wars, 1912, 1917 (RH MS D303)

Walt Mason Rhymes, 1943-1944 (RH MS D304)

Origin of Names of Army and Air Corps Posts, Camps and Stations in WWII in Kansas, approximately 1953 (RH MS P990)

A.A.B. Cavaness Poems, December 9, 1901 (RH MS P991)

Student articles on [Native American] Personalities, March 1-23, 1964 (RH MS 1559)

Passing of the Eldridge House: The Birthplace of Kansas, February 24, 1924 (RH MS P992)

Right Reverend Thomas Hubbard Vail and the Right Reverend Elisha Smith Thomas, January 6, 1890 and April 14, 1895 (RH MS Q490)

Edna Worthley Underwood collection, 1919-1947 (bulk 1924) (RH MS E213, RH MS P993)

Kansas Pre-War Army, September 1939 (RH MS P994)

Hopefield Presbyterian Mission, March 30, 1951 (RH MS P995)

Discussions by Thomas Ewing, August 11, 1871-October 31, 1887 (RH MS C94)

Four Centuries in Kansas, January 20-February 23, 1930 (RH MS E214)

Michael Shaw papers, 1978-2018 (RH MS 1560)

First Twenty Years of the M.E. Church, 1865-1978 (bulk 1865-1885) (RH MS P996)

Personal papers of John Dardess, 1919-2016 (bulk 1966-2016) (PP 635)

American Indian Movement protest photograph collection, July 6, 1976 (RH WL MS Q13)

Black-and-white photograph of a man standing with his hand over his mouth.
An Indigenous person looks on during a protest at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., July 1976. Police attacked and arrested American Indian Movement protestors. American Indian Movement Protest Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH WL MS Q13, Box 1, Folder 7. Click image to enlarge.

Martha “Matt” Mueller collection, 1851-2010 (RH MS P997)

Gene Burnett papers, December 4, 1919-October 3, 2013 (RH MS 1561)

Joyce Fent papers, 1928-August 28, 2002 (RH MS 1562)

Theatre Guild Picnic production records, March 1, 1949-November 8, 1972 (bulk 1950s) (RH MS 1563)

Michael A. Smith papers, 1966-December 2, 2019 (RH MS 1564, RH MS Q493, RH MS R502, RH MS R503)

Pamphlets on Cherokee Neutral Lands, 1868-1872 (RH MS 1565)

Dirk Shears-Klocke family correspondence, June 1975-March 30, 2008 (RH MS 1566, RH MS R504)

Richard “Dick” Gunn photographic collection, February 8, 1991-March 8, 1998 (RH PH 565, RH PH 565(f))

Ernest Manheim papers, 1900-2015 (MS 373, MS Qa42, SC AV 42)

Records from the University of Kansas Center for Research, 1953-2018 (RG 49)

Personal papers of Michael Swann, 1968-2020 (PP 636)

Document with black typed text plus handwritten notes and a sketch in blue ink.
Agenda from a Quindaro Town Preservation Society meeting, May 28, 1994. KU School of Architecture and Design Professor and Assistant Dean Michael Swann sketched out (the Quindaro?) town site and took notes from the meeting. Personal Papers of Michael Swann. Call Number: PP 636, Box 8, Folder 56. Click image to enlarge.

“The Tall Four,” 1861-October 1880 (RH MS D305)

Edgar and Elizabeth Begole’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp collection, November 1940-October 1996 (bulk 1942-1944) (RH MS 1567, RH MS R507)

Thomas Woodson Poor papers, 1904-July 10, 2021 (RH MS 1568)

Brown cover with handwritten text and glued-on printed letters.
Front cover of Tom Poor’s “A High Jumper’s [Sporting] Scrapbook,” in which he kept materials related to the 1925 Kansas Relays. Poor won the high jump category in the first Kansas Relays of 1923. Thomas Woodson Poor Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1568, Box 1, Volume 1. Click image to enlarge.

Kenneth Crockett’s research material on Kenneth and Helen Spencer, 2010-2014 (RH MS 1569)

Willioughby L. Rowson’s personal financial ledgers, 1917-1944; 1964-1970 (RH MS 1570)

Benjamin LeRoy “Roy” Love collection, January 26, 1982-October 31, 2020 (RH MS 1572, KC AV 125)

“Depiction of the Nine Phases” scroll, approximately 1800-1865 (MS Roll 16)

Thomas Bewick wood engravings printed by Robert Middleton, 1970-1971 (MS E285, MS P762)

Black-and-white drawing of an otter with rocks and plants in the background.
Otter print created by Robert Middleton from one of Thomas Bewick’s wood blocks at the Newberry Library, Chicago. Part of a limited edition set, this print was donated by Harry Tyler, husband of D.D. Tyler, whose papers are also housed at Spencer Research Library. Thomas Bewick Wood Engravings Printed by Robert Middleton. Call Number: MS E285. Click image to enlarge.

Robert M. Mengel bird paintings, 1952, 1954 (MS Q99)

Preliminary sketch of “Le tarsier podge,” [between 1797-1800] (MS Qa43)

Palm leaf book extracts, [18th century or before?] (MS Q98)

Charles “Buddy” Rogers papers, approximately 1904-2011 (bulk 1920s-1990s) (MS 372, MS Q97, MS Qa41, SC AV 41, MS E284, MS G57, MS K36)

Barbara Bohm’s Star Trek scripts collection, May 26, 1966-July 23, 1973 (MS 374)

Jessica Mae Watts Elliott scrapbooks, 1909, undated (MS 376)

“Dutchman” collection, 1965-1967 (MS P763)

LaSalle Extension University collection, approximately 1927-1934 (MS 375)

Personal papers of Daryle S. Busch, 1946-2015 (PP 637)

Gretchen Cassel Eick collection, 1983-2017 (bulk 1990s) (RH MS 1574, RH MS R515, KC AV 126)

Dennis Enslinger papers, 1924-1996 (bulk 1980-1996) (RH MS 1576, RH MS Q498, RH MS R516)

James Dewey family collection, 1893-2002 (bulk 1910-1960) (RH MS 1575, RH MS Q497, RH PH P2847(ff))

Dine-A-Mite Inn and Borgen family collection, 1943-2007 (bulk 1950-1991) (RH PH 567, RH PH 567(f))

Robert L. Gilbert First Issues collection, 1810, [1855?], 1900s-1983 (bulk 1920s-1970s) (Gilbert)

Hacienda Sondor collection, 1850s-1860s (MS E286)

Madre Dona Juana Maria de la Fuente inventory, 1741 (MS E287)

Personal papers of William Staples, April 7, 1980-September 7, 2019 (PP 638)

Personal papers of Norris Nahman, September 1961-November 24, 2012 (PP 639)

Personal papers of Sheryl Williams, January 5, 1980-October 12, 2017 (PP 642)

Please explore these new finding aids and discover what exciting research opportunities you might find!

Marcella Huggard
Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Meet the KSRL Staff: Erika Earles

January 11th, 2023

This is the latest installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Erika Earles, who joined Spencer Research Library in June 2022 as a Manuscripts Processor.

Headshot of a woman standing in a field.
Manuscripts Processor Erika Earles. Click image to enlarge.

Where are you from?

I grew up on a farm in Baldwin, about fifteen miles southeast of Lawrence. My mom taught at Lawrence High, and I was glad to attend high school there as a result. We were the last class to graduate before Free State High opened. With about 800 graduates, the lengthy graduation ceremony was held at Memorial Stadium. Then I went to school in Upstate New York, worked trails across the West and in Yellowstone National Park, and settled in Teton Valley, Idaho, where I worked at the local library.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

My job is to look through the items that have been accepted into the library collection, put them in acid-free containers, and describe them in the KU Libraries online catalog so researchers can find them. I’m a manuscripts processor, so most of the items I deal with are papers and unpublished writing, but occasionally there are audiovisual materials, photographs, slides, or objects like scarves, flags, and toys. You never can tell what you’ll find.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

In my first weeks at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, I processed the collection of Martha “Matt” Mueller, a KU graduate, librarian, and newspaper columnist. In addition to some of her writing, the items included several autograph collections. One of the pieces was a 5-pound check written out to cash, signed and underlined three times by Charles Dickens! He is one of my favorite authors. He’s still funny after 150 years! I was star-struck and astounded that I was touching the same piece of paper that he touched so many years before. My supervisor was unfazed – just a regular day at work for her – but I still get excited when I think about it.

That was the most exciting thing for me personally, but one of the most interesting things I’ve processed is the Pamphlets on Cherokee Neutral Lands. This was a bound volume, separated for preservation and ease of use, that included writing from people on many sides of a contested land issue in southeast Kansas. In 1866, the Secretary of the Interior sold the land to his brother-in-law, who represented a railroad company.

This collection includes the federal court papers detailing the two suits filed by the railroad to establish title to the land; pamphlets circulated by white farmers who asserted their right to the land as homesteaders and criticized the government support of corporate interests over the working man; and a statement from the chief of the Cherokee tribe stating that the tribe had paid for and continuously occupied the land, nullifying the right of the government to sell or the settlers to occupy it. It also includes an Indiana Representative’s report to the Indian Affairs Committee decrying a government that breaks its own treaties with various tribal nations despite their peaceful negotiation and warning that the recent Civil War had shown the United States what comes of denying legal rights to an entire group of people.

These documents are a reminder that racial and economic issues that we may think of as modern are not. People have fought for and against equity and fair distribution of resources since the founding of the country. The struggle for tribal sovereignty, full rights of citizenship, and racial equity – and the relationship between the federal government, corporations, and workers – are still being negotiated in our culture and our legal system 150 years later. Reading how people talked about these issues in their own words and how decisions were made helps you understand how we got to where we are today.

What part of your job do you like best?

Learning about local history is always interesting to me. I recently learned that the fire department in Lawrence used to be alerted by bells that would ring a certain number of times for each fire district. According to a local woman who gave a talk at Pinckney Elementary School in the 1970s, they rang those bells when World War I ended. When people called the local telephone operator to find out what was going on, they were told the good news. She said when World War II ended it was announced on the radio.

These kinds of details give you a real glimpse into the past. I enjoy learning about people and places this way and helping to ensure that their legacy will be available for future generations.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

Walking in the woods with my dad under the Kansas sky is one of my favorite things ever. I also enjoy going to art museums, painting, drawing, reading, dancing, and hanging out with my stylish cat, Iyla View, a.k.a. Miss Pants. (The unusual spelling of Iyla’s name is a nod to her home state of Idaho, where people spell names however they choose.)

Gray tabby cat with white stomach, nestled in pink tulle.
Pants loves dresses. Click image to enlarge.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Search the catalog for something that interests you and let the friendly staff in the Reading Room help you find it. Don’t leave without getting something in your hands. There is nothing like looking at original materials.

Erika Earles
Manuscripts Processor

Meet the KSRL Staff: Molly James

October 27th, 2022

This is the latest installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Molly James, who joined Spencer Research Library in 2022 as a Manuscripts Processor.

Headshot of a young woman in front of green foliage.
Manuscripts Processor Molly James. Click image to enlarge.

Where are you from?

I’m from Kansas! I was born in Wichita, then lived for a brief time in Salina before my family moved to Eudora, a small town just outside of Lawrence. After graduating high school, I moved to Manhattan, obtaining both my bachelor’s and Master of Arts in English before returning to the Eudora-Lawrence area.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I process incoming collections for Spencer’s various collecting areas. This includes maintaining the original order that the materials’ donor or creator had them in, or creating an order that makes sense if there wasn’t one before, and then creating a finding aid to make these collections easily searchable online. Sometimes it also means identifying and sending a damaged item to Conservation and Preservation to stop something from deteriorating so it can be referenced in the future.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

Before working at Spencer, I spent six years with the Eudora Community Library, first as a volunteer then as a circulation assistant. Then, while I was working on completing my undergraduate degree, I was briefly introduced to Library Science by a K-Stater who was going to Simmons University to complete their Master of Library Science degree. Before this, I hadn’t known there was an entire field dedicated to library science and spent some time researching it. This exploration led me to learn about archives and libraries in a broader sense, so when I graduated with my master’s, I knew I wanted to return to a library to keep learning about how libraries and archives operate. I’m incredibly lucky to be here with the Spencer Research Library!

What is one of the most interesting items you have come across in Spencer’s collections?

While I haven’t interacted with a terribly large number of collections, the most interesting thing I’ve come across so far is a lock of hair in a baby book from 1919. I wasn’t expecting it! Otherwise, the most interesting thing that I’ve seen (but didn’t process) is the Hugo Award currently on display in the North Gallery.

What part of your job do you like best?

I feel like I learn something new every day – either about how libraries and archives work or history! I consider myself a lifelong learner, so having constant interactions with a continuously growing knowledge resource is fantastic.

What do you have on your desk?

I’ve got a small assortment of companions to help with processing – notably Gander the Magnetic Goose who holds on to the paperclips I find. Additionally, I’ve got both Calcifer the Fire Demon and Howl’s Heart from Howl’s Moving Castle, a magnetic Totoro, and a good luck tribble, if tribbles can be good luck signs.

Five small items in front of a sign that reads "Inking Station; No Original Materials on This Surface!"
Items on Molly’s desk. From left to right: Gander the Magnetic Goose, Howl’s Heart, a tribble, Calcifer the Fire Demon, and Totoro. Click image to enlarge.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I enjoy reading – primarily science fiction and fantasy – when I’m not at work. I’m currently trying to work my way through a rather large to-be-read pile that I had started before pursuing my undergraduate degree. Besides reading, I enjoy spending time with my dogs, writing, and playing board and card games.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Sometimes unexpected connections between collections appear, and when they do, don’t be afraid to explore those opportunities! They might be the key to expanding your research horizons or unlocking something previously unknown.

Molly James
Manuscripts Processor

Meet the KSRL Staff: Jaime Groetsema Saifi

October 4th, 2022

This is the latest installment in a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Today’s profile features Jaime Groetsema Saifi, who joined Spencer Research Library in 2022 as Assistant Librarian and Special Collections Cataloging Coordinator.

Young woman standing in front of trees, bushes, pink flowers, and a black wrought-iron fence.
Special Collections Cataloging Coordinator Jaime Groetsema Saifi. Click image to enlarge.

How did you come to work in Special Collections?

At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I studied in the Visual & Critical Studies department and engaged with theories in art history, social theory, and aesthetics that brought into question the meaning of visual objects. As a student worker in the John M. Flaxman Library, I learned about the importance of special collections and research libraries, like the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, then run by the great Doro Boehme, and the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.

After graduating, I started my library career at the Newberry Library, an independent research library dedicated to the humanities. This experience gave me a firm grounding in what it means to work with unique, rare, and scarce materials; to engage with an international scholarly community; and to consider the ethical responsibilities librarians and archivists have to the public in supporting access to these materials.

Since then, I’ve continued working with special collections materials and archives at libraries in Chicago, Denver, and Boulder. I am excited to continue to work with special collections materials in Lawrence at the Spencer Research Library!

What does your job at Spencer entail?

As the Special Collections Cataloging Coordinator, I support a team of four rare materials catalogers and manage workflows for our Special Collections Cataloging Unit. I enjoy working across the Spencer Research Library with Curators and colleagues in Conservation and Public Services, to ensure our collections are well-described and accessible.

A row of book shelves; many have books or archival boxes on them.
Collection materials at Spencer Research Library waiting to be processed and cataloged. Click on image to enlarge.

What is your research about?

My research focuses on the epistemological intersections of materiality, artifact, and environment and is concerned with the ways that (visual) evidence and language work together to transmute meaning. I am most interested in how pairings and double-meanings shape and question memory. To that end, I work with materials from antiquity through the contemporary period that come out of counter-cultural movements, very broadly defined.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I love to play pinball, draw, drink coffee, watch art films, and read.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

My advice to a researcher visiting Spencer Research Library for the first time is to take a stroll through the North Gallery and Exhibit Space to view our permanent and rotating exhibitions. They will give you a small glimpse into the expansive, important, and complex collections, both new and old, that the Spencer Research Library provides public access to. On your way out, pick up a Spencer 50th Anniversary exhibit catalog to learn more and celebrate your visit.

Jaime Groetsema Saifi
Special Collections Cataloging Coordinator

New Finding Aids, January-June 2022

July 19th, 2022

Supply chain issues and lower staffing levels have continued to affect our ability to process new collections in the first half of 2022, but despite this we have continued to process and describe new materials. We’ve also been able to return to a project that has long languished, in which we are inventorying and describing the official records of the University of Kansas, including creating finding aids for record groups that were previously undescribed in an easily accessible, online way. Look for updates to our record group listings throughout the rest of this year and beyond!

You’ll see some newly described record groups in the list below, amongst our other newly processed collections.

William Coker collection, 1932-2004 (RH MS 1550)

Hodgeman colony history collection, 1879-1963 (RH MS P977)

Chester Owens collection, 1923-2010 (bulk 1950s-1980s) (RH MS 1549, RH MS R496)

Paul A. Black photograph album, approximately 1916-1938 (RH PH 564)

Philippine-American War diary by a U.S. officer, March 25-April 6, 1900 (RH MS C93)

Dotti McClenaghan “Follies” collection, 1959, 1963 (bulk 1959) (RH PH 563)

Black album page with two black-and-white photographs and "The Golden Voice of Jenni Wren" written in white.
A page from a scrapbook/photograph album compiled by the cast and crew of the “Follies” variety show produced by the Antioch Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association in Overland Park, Kansas. Call Number: RH PH 563, Box 1, Volume 1. Click image to enlarge.

Pace and Mendenhall family photographs, 1909, 1925-1935, undated (RH PH 562)

Jerauld R. Crowell papers, 1963-2018 (RH MS 1551, RH MS R497, RH MS R498, RH MS S76, KC AV 115)

Independent Order of Good Templars of Jefferson County, Kansas, Lodge No. 17 records, 1874, 1876 (RH MS P978)

June flood of 1908 at Kansas City postcards, June 1908 (RH PH P2843)

Walter Thomas Bezzi journals, 1975-1985 (RH MS 1552)

Bullene family bible, [bible printed in 1833, includes information dating up to 1926] (RH MS 1546)

J.C. Nichols Investment Company covenant book, November 1922 (RH MS P976)

Bell Memorial Hospital photograph, 1918 (RH PH P2842(f))

Clarence Kivett papers, 1977-1995 (RH MS 1547)

Harris family papers, 1965-2019 (RH MS 1543, RH MS Q483)

Perry Alan Werner photograph collection, December 1977-September 1978 and undated (RH PH 561)

1890s family photograph album, probably from Kansas, 1890s (RH PH P2845)

James Milton Turner correspondence, July 1884 (RH MS P979)

Langston Hughes play scripts, 1937-1958 (RH MS 1554)

Robert C. Wilson collection, 1967-1999 (RH MS 1556, RH MS R501, KC AV 119)

“The Order of the Little Bears” notebook, April 7, 1942-May 1943 (MS C317, MS P761)

Hand-drawn sketch of a woman with the caption "Our Grand Master Bear Bibs."
One of the many delightful illustrations from this English World War II-era scrapbook that describes the escapades of a group of young women, The Order of the Little Bears, living in wartime. Call Number: MS C317, Volume 1. Click image to enlarge.

Personal papers of Thomas N. Taylor, 1961-2016 (PP 631)

Hinton family papers, 1921-2016 (RH MS 1558, RH MS Q489, KC AV 120)

“These Were People of Mercy” Stoner family genealogy, December 2019 (RH MS D302)

John Parks enlistment papers, October 1, 1863 (RH MS P980)

Joshua William Beede letters, April 6, 1899 and August [1899?] (RH MS P981)

Postcards addressed to Lillian Mitchner, 1910 (RH MS P982)

Records regarding Faculty and Staff at the University of Kansas, 1880s-2020 (bulk 1930s-2000s) (RG 41)

Group of people standing in a large warehouse.
Image from the May 1997 Wheat State Tour, a week-long tour organized by the University of Kansas for new faculty and staff to become acquainted with the state. Call Number: RG 41/5 Photographs. Click image to enlarge.

Records of Radio, TV, and Film at the University of Kansas, 1923-2019 (bulk 1950s-1980s) (RG 40)

Records of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas, 1925-2019 (RG 48)

Personal papers of Neil J. Salkind, 1970-2017 (PP 632)

Personal papers of Anton Rosenthal, 1984-2020 (PP 633)

Personal papers of Larry Martin, approximately 1972-2010 (PP 630)

Living the Dream, Inc. invitation, 2020 (RH MS P988)

Margaret Kramar collection, March 2017 (RH MS P987)

John Swift school records, 1950-1956 (RH MS P986)

Amelia Pardee Ellis McQueen collection, 1862-1997 (RH MS P985)

Blue Rapids Supply Company brochures, February 1940, September 1941 (RH MS P984)

“Grandmother’s Letters,” by Louisa B. Simpson, 1847-1864 (RH MS P983)

U.S. Committee on Public Information Division of Women’s War Work collection, December 1917-July 1918 (MS 371, MS Qa40)

Personal papers of Donald Stull, 1967-2015 (PP 583)

Personal papers of Charles D. Bunker, 1901-1937 (PP 634)

Marcella Huggard
Manuscripts Processing Coordinator