Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

In the Moment of “Something Else,” Native American Heritage Honors “Something Meaningful” in Indigenous Studies at the University of Kansas

November 18th, 2020

This week’s blog post has been guest written by L.Marie Avila, an Undergraduate Engagement Librarian at KU Libraries, and Carrie Cornelius, the Acting Supervisory Librarian at Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University.

In 1991, Congress proclaimed the month of November as a time to acknowledge Native American Heritage (PL 101 343). In honor of Native American Heritage, we would like to draw attention and reverence to the Indigenous Nations Studies Program collection (Call Number: RG 17/71) found in the University Archives at Spencer Research Library. 

Kenneth Spencer Research Library holds the documents of the Indigenous Nations Studies Program, which signify the decades of effort by University of Kansas scholars to improve the opportunities for Indigenous students. This collection consists of a variety of communications: memos among academics and sovereign tribal nations; program development proposals; articles; and university news releases.

There, with the assistance and expertise of the staff, is a pathway to the access and discovery in research. Our research led to significant artifacts in the early discourse and vision in establishing the program dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, and records of the events and the scholarly accomplishments of native students and scholars in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Included in the artifacts is the historical partnership between the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University.

This is in dedication to Native peoples’ resiliency, and to impress to the next generations of learners, to acknowledge the historical and contemporary contributions of Native people, throughout all seasons.

To begin, we examine the current 2020 Indigenous Studies Program Brochure for Indigenous Methodology noting the flexibility, student choice, and opportunity to direct research to community improvement. All of which was the direct result of the communication and program review noted in the historical documents, each showing the passion and dedication of scholars pursuing excellence for KU’s Indigenous students. 

Photograph of the first page of the KU Indigenous Studies Program brochure, 2020
Photograph of the second page of the KU Indigenous Studies Program brochure, 2020
The KU Indigenous Studies Program brochure, 2020. Image courtesy of the Indigenous Studies Program. Click images to enlarge.

The 2020 Indigenous Studies Program illustrates the inclusion of Indigenous Methodologies, while partnering not only with Haskell Indian Nations University, but Indigenous communities of the world. Students focus their Indigenous studies and research not only in Indigenous content, but with purpose to problem-solve the unique needs of Indigenous communities. Skill-based programs and build-your-own courses allow for individualized design and show flexibility and individualized student choice. 

A step back gives the opportunity to gain insight to the process. This early artifact (below) looks at the promise and challenge in developing a program dedicated to Indian studies.

Photograph of a memorandum, 1972
A memorandum from Professor Murray L. Wax (Sociology) and Professor Rosalie Wax (Anthropology) regarding “American Indian programs: prospects and difficulties,” October 19, 1972. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.

Illustrated in a meaningfully-written letter by a KU professor, the letter below captures the Indigeneity of Indian students and their ultimate regard to “make something meaningful” out of a college education and an Indian Center in the space. The document provides insight into the 1973 “Indian work” strategies that were systematically and proportionally selecting tribal students by their traditionality. Additional strategies included housing together, scheduling core courses together, and mentoring by tribal teachers. 

Photograph of a letter from Stuart Levine to professors Murray L. Wax and Rosalie Wax, March 12, 1973
Letter from Professor Stuart Levine (American Studies) to professors Murray L. Wax and Rosalie Wax, March 12, 1973. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.

Moving into the end of the twentieth century is an in-depth proposal from KU’s Indigenous Nations Studies Task Force.

Cover of “A Proposal to Establish a New Master’s Degree Program in Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas," March 6, 1997
Cover of “A Proposal to Establish a New Master’s Degree Program in Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas,” March 6, 1997. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the Indigenous Nations Studies Program brochure, 1999-2000
Indigenous Nations Studies Program brochure, 1999-2000. This artifact outlines the Indigenous Nations Studies pedagogy, course schedule, requirements, and Native and non-native faculty. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of a KU news release, November 17, 1999
KU news release, “Historian Recalls Terror of Osage Murders: U.S. History Books Need Native American Perspectives,” November 17, 1999. In this document, Donald L. Fixico, a KU professor of history and director of KU’s Indigenous Nations Studies Program, shares his perspective on the content of history books and Native American history. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the cover of Indigenous Nations Studies Journal, Spring 2000
The cover of the Indigenous Nations Studies Journal, an academic journal produced out of the KU Indigenous Nations Studies Program, Spring 2000. Call Number: RG 17/71. Click image to enlarge.

To conduct in-depth research in this subject area, and others, make an appointment to visit Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

For more information about the term “something else,” see the Indian Country Today article “‘Something else’ may make all the difference this election.”

L.Marie Avila, Urban Waganakasing Odawa
Undergraduate Engagement Librarian
University of Kansas

Carrie Cornelius, Prairie Band Potawatomi, Oneida
Acting Supervisory Librarian
Tommaney Library, Haskell Indian Nations University

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

North Gallery Highlight: University Archives

July 16th, 2020

Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery houses a permanent exhibit highlighting materials from the library’s various collecting areas: the Wilcox Collection, the Kansas Collection, Special Collections, and University Archives. While the library is closed to the public, we hope you enjoy the periodic exhibit highlights we’ll be sharing on the blog. Once Spencer reopens, we hope you’ll be able to visit the library and explore the full exhibit in person!

The University Archives portion of the North Gallery exhibit showcases materials related to University Chancellors, faculty, athletics, and student life. In one interactive part of the exhibit, visitors can peruse a timeline of highlights from nearly 150 years of KU’s history.

Below are two videos from the timeline. The first (which has no sound) is a compilation of film clips and photographs showing snippets of student life at KU during the 1940s. The second video contains clips of Robert F. Kennedy’s speech at Allen Fieldhouse on March 18, 1968.


Molly Herring
Associate Archivist, University Archives

Meet the KSRL Staff: Molly Herring

June 3rd, 2020

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 Herring, who joined Spencer in February as the Associate Archivist in University Archives.

Photograph of Associate Archivist Molly Herring
Associate Archivist Molly Herring. Click image to enlarge.

Where are you from?

I was born in the Kansas City area, but I moved around a lot growing up. My father was a Chaplin in the Army, and over the past twenty-five years I’ve lived in eleven states and fifteen cities, and I even spent three years living in Germany. However, I spent my senior year of high school in Kansas and went to college at KU, so Kansas really feels like my home state.

How did you come to work in archives?

I had always planned on going to library school after teaching for a few years (I got my bachelor’s degree in Secondary English education), although at that point I was thinking more along the lines of working in a public library. While researching programs, I began to learn more about the field of archives and decided it was the place for me! I decided to go to graduate school immediately after college, got my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree with a specialization in Archives and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017, and then spent a couple of years working at the Indiana State Archives. I jumped at the opportunity to work in the University Archives, being a KU graduate myself as well as a fifth-generation Jayhawk.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

As the Associate Archivist, I appraise, accession, process, and manage records in all formats transferred to the custody of the University Archives. I answer research questions submitted by both on- and off-site patrons, participate in outreach services (such as exhibits, blog posts, etc.), work with donors who wish to give materials to the Archives, and collaborate with Digital Initiatives and Processing on digital collections management. Over the past couple months, as I’ve worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have devoted much time to working with Digital Initiatives and other Spencer Library staff on the University’s web archives.

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

There are so many interesting items in the Archives its hard to pick one! One of my favorite things to tell people we have is a vial of uranium from the Manhattan Project. Another object I love is a wooden Jayhawk that was carved by a German POW who was sent to Kansas during World War II. On a more personal note I found some wonderful information on my great-great grandmother. She was the Women’s Student Government President in 1913 and, as an alumna, helped start KU’s chapter of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, which I was a member of while at KU.

What part of your job do you like best?

My job entails a lot of different parts, which is something I really enjoy! I learn something new every day, and one day is never like the other. Also, although it’s a small part of my job, I really enjoy working on exhibits. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the collections and learn more about KU’s history.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I enjoy working on embroidery projects, baking, being outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and of course reading (sci-fi and fantasy in particular).

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

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and as many as you need to! Researching in special collections and archives can feel daunting, but we’re here to help!

Molly Herring
Associate Archivist, University Archives

Color Our Collections – Round 3!

February 4th, 2020
Color Our Collections logo, 2020

It’s the fourth-annual Color Our Collections week! Started by the New York Academy of Medicine Library in 2016, Color Our Collections is a week of coloring fun where libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world share coloring pages that feature their collection materials.

KU Libraries is pleased to share this year’s submission for the annual week of coloring craziness. Featuring the collections at Spencer Research Library, this year’s coloring book celebrates nature, history, and even mythical creatures! You can download and print the book via the Color Our collections website. While you are there, be sure to check out the submissions from our colleagues at other institutions!

As a preview, here are three pages from the book. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Spencer Research Library image in the KU Libraries coloring book, 2020
Spencer Research Library image in the KU Libraries coloring book, 2020
Spencer Research Library image in the KU Libraries coloring book, 2020

Are you a fan of the collections at Spencer? Have you ever come across an image in our materials that would make a great coloring page? Tell us about it in the comments or email us at ksrlref@ku.edu!  

Happy coloring, everyone!

Emily Beran
Public Services