Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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

Votes for Women!: The Suffrage Movement at the University of Kansas

December 10th, 2019

The credit for the success of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States seems to always go to women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other well-known women who fill the history books. While they most certainly deserve all of the accolades given to them, much of the groundwork for equal suffrage was done at the local level. These well-organized suffrage leagues and associations were part of a national network of volunteers, all working for one common purpose. The women, and often men, in these types of small, grass-roots groups were no less passionate about suffrage for women as their more famous counterparts.

The College Equal Suffrage League was a national organization begun in 1900. The mission of the League was to get college students involved in the women’s suffrage movement. The League fostered branches on college campuses around the country. The University of Kansas chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League was organized in January 1909.

Information about KU's chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Information about KU’s chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Membership consisted of students, faculty, and staff. The first administrative sponsors of the KU league were Dr. William H. Carruth, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature; Dr. Arvin S. Olin, Professor of Education; and Carrie Watson, Librarian. Student leaders were chosen from among the members. The women shown here were the officers of the KU chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League for 1909. Also shown is the often patronizing write-up that accompanied their senior class pictures in the yearbooks.

Senior photograph of Jessie Baldridge in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Senior photograph of Jessie Baldridge in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Jessie Baldridge, A. B.
La Junta, Colo.

Kappa Alpha Theta, Sophomore Prom Committee, Junior Prom Committee, Junior Farce, President of College Equal Suffrage League, Senior Play.

Susan B. the Second, princess of the Suffragettes, and yet has as many friends among the boys as the next one. Last year it was feared that she would join the army but we notice this year that she has laid her “arms by” and joined the Suffragettes instead. She would have voted for Carruth in the spring election if she hadn’t forgot to register. Colorado had an evil effect upon her.
Senior photograph of Laurenia Mervine Shaw in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910
Senior photograph of Laurenia Mervine Shaw in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Laurenia Mervine Shaw, A.B.
Lawrence.

Decorating Committee for Chancellor’s Inaugural, Vice-President K.U. Branch of College League of National Equal Suffrage Association.

Laurenia has Miss Corbin and the Woman’s Collegiate Suffragettes Association backed clear off the boards when it comes to the strenuous upholding of the rights of downtrodden woman. She is chief suffragette and general agitator, and she has a falling for tall, good-looking men for escorts to dances. Is thinking of going to England as soon as school is out, to kidnap the prime minister. Born in the shadow of the capital, and is still old fashioned enough to have faith in the practical application of the motto: “Honesty is the best policy.”
Senior photograph of Mary Elizabeth Parker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Senior photograph of Mary Elizabeth Parker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Mary Elizabeth Parker, A.B.
Lawrence. “Maybeth”

Y.W.C.A., Chairman of Student Government Committee.

Her one great sorrow is that she could not persuade “Lummie” to join the Woman’s Suffrage movement. In addition to many other duties, social and intellectual, Maybeth cheerfully espoused the cause of the suffragettes. Owing to her ardent support, that band of martyrs has made a stir in feminine circles this year.
Senior photograph of Florence Hackbusch in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910
Senior photograph of Florence Hackbusch in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Florence Hackbusch, A.B.
Leavenworth.

Phi Beta Kappa, Y.W.C.A., W.S.G.A. [Women’s Student Government Association]

Florentine never hesitates to demonstrate with a flourish the ascendancy of noble woman. She possesses a great strength of her own convictions, and has even had the temerity to take a crack at Professor Boynton’s courses. As a suffragette Florentine is a winner, and bids fair to languish in bastiles [sic] right along with the rest of them.

Evidence suggests that the KU League only existed until 1912, and disbanded after women in Kansas had been granted the right to vote in national elections. An article in the December 12, 1912, issue of the University Daily Kansan reports that the League met to “decide whether or not to disband, now that suffrage has carried in Kansas.” There is no mention of the KU League in the university yearbook or newspaper after this date, and, unfortunately, there are no known archival records for the student organization.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Rudolph Wendelin: From KU to Smokey Bear

September 10th, 2019

Smokey Bear recently celebrated his 75th birthday. Rudolph Wendelin, a KU student in the late 1920s and early 1930s, worked for the United States Forest Service and created Smokey Bear artwork over the length of his career.

According to the Forest History Society that houses his archives, Wendelin was born in Ludell, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas School of Architecture, as well as art schools in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. After serving in World War II, Wendelin “was given responsibility for the Smokey Bear project and proceeded to create hundreds of Smokey representations that highlighted natural resources conservation and forest fire prevention.”

In honor of Mr. Wendelin and Smokey Bear, we would like to highlight some of the examples of his artwork that are housed in KU’s University Archives. His artistic promise can clearly be seen in the samples featured here.

MacDowell Club detail 69_1 1931 Jayhawker
University of Kansas MacDowell Fraternity for students interested in the arts of painting, music, and literature, chosen by the faculty and an honorary committee. Rudolph Wendelin is in the second row, third from right. Photograph in the 1931 Jayhawker yearbook. University Archives. Call Number: RG 69/1/1931. Click image to enlarge.

Rudolph Wendelin studied in the department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering. In a scrapbook from the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering that spans the years 1913 through the early 1930s, there are many examples of Wendelin’s caricatures.

Drawing of individuals in School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering in 1930-1931
“We Have With Us . . . 1930-1931.” Pencil drawing by Rudolph Wendelin featuring faculty and student leaders from the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering. University Archives. Call Number: SB/18. Click image to enlarge.

Wendelin captures student life, including the annual Architect’s Party. In 1932 the theme was “Depression.” The description in the scrapbook, most likely written by Wendelin, indicates that “costumes and decorations were in keeping with this feeling [of Depression] . . .” The event featured “singing and dancing by Bob Mann’s chorus, juggling of balls and jokes by Prof. Beal, and tap dancing by Ruth Pyle . . . Refreshments were served the hungry mob, and dancing followed–to depression music–the radio.”

Print: "Join the Breadline"
“Join the Breadline at the Architects Depression Party.” Print by Rudolph Wendelin, 1932? University Archives. Call Number: SB/18. Click image to enlarge.

Wendelin’s work was also included in the Humor section at the end of the 1930, 1931, and 1932 Jayhawker yearbooks. In 1931 he depicted the “Hill’s Hottest He,” which features Sennett Kirk as the most desirable bachelor on campus.

Page from 1931 Jayhawker yearbook
The “Hill’s Hottest He.” Reproduction of a Rudolph Wendelin mixed media piece, featured in the 1931 Jayhawker yearbook. University Archives. Call Number: RG 69/1/1931. Click image to enlarge.

Rudolph Wendelin was also an accomplished sculptor. Early in his career, he used bars of Ivory soap to hone his craft. Rather amazingly, the Archives houses a collection of these tiny sculptures, dated 1929.

Soap sculptures by Rudolph Wendelin
Above: Photographs of Rudolph Wendelin’s soap sculptures in the School of Architecture and Architectural Engineering scrapbook. Below: Three examples of surviving Ivory soap sculptures. The one in the center is most likely featured in the photographs above. University Archives. Call Numbers: SB/18 and RG 18/1 (artifacts). Click image to enlarge.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

The Search for Women’s Suffrage: Re-Discovering Letters from Susan B. Anthony

September 3rd, 2019

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment (which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex), the Public Services staff at Kenneth Spencer Research Library are exploring the collections to create a list of materials in our holdings related to this historic event.

This summer, I served as a temporary Reference Specialist in Public Services. One of my primary projects in this role was to seek out women’s suffrage-related materials specifically within the University Archives division of the Library, which documents the history of the University of Kansas and its people.

This project required a good deal of patience and persistence, as it is not always clear whether a collection contains suffrage materials based solely on its title or even on its digital finding aid. As a result, often the best way to be certain of a potentially-promising collection’s contents was to go through them folder by folder, item by item.

My most exciting find came from the Kate Stephens Collection (PP 43). In Box 2, I came across seven letters written to Stephens by noted women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
A letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

Stephens, a Professor of Greek at KU in the late 1870s and 1880s, was the first woman to serve as the Chair of a department at the university. Stephens was asked to resign from her position in 1885, a decision she appears to have attributed to her gender, her lack of religious affiliation, or possibly the recent death of her father, a prominent lawyer and judge. However, Stephens went on to become a prolific writer, editor, and proponent of women’s equality in higher education.

Top: A portrait of Kate Stephens taken during her Greek professorship at KU, 1880s. Bottom: A portrait of Stephens, undated. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Stephens, Kate (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Box 2 of Stephens’ collection contains correspondence, though further details (such as dates or senders of this correspondence) were not previously provided in the collection’s finding aid. As such, I was surprised and thrilled to find the box contained letters from Susan B. Anthony.

Written on letterhead for the “National Woman Suffrage Association” and dated between 1884 and 1888, the letters build on an existing relationship between the two women that appears to have begun years earlier when Stephens served as a translator for Anthony’s lectures in Berlin, Germany. In some instances, Anthony’s writing is social, such discussions regarding shared acquaintances or regarding Anthony’s niece, who she hoped to persuade to attend KU.

In other instances, the contents of Anthony’s letters relate directly to the fight for women’s right to vote. For instance, Anthony asks Stephens to write a chapter in the forthcoming third volume of History of Woman Suffrage (a task Stephens attempted but was not able to complete) and to help organize a Women’s Suffrage Convention in Lawrence (which was held on November 1-2, 1886).

Anthony’s letters also demonstrate her interest in Stephens’ career, expressing congratulations when Stephens becomes a full professor and speculating on the motivations for Stephens later being asked to resign. As to this last event, Anthony wrote to Stephens on June 28, 1887:

The wonder is that a woman was ever appointed & that she remained in that honored & […] office so long as she did – not that when your noble & politically powerful father was gone the woman was dropped – I have no doubt – no matter how many other pretexts were devised – that at the bottom & most pottent of all influences – was the disabling facts – that the woman was not a voter and hence had no political power […]

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
A letter from Susan B. Antony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

As these letters from Anthony to Stephens were undocumented in the collection’s finding aid, there was previously no definitive way to learn of their existence. Their re-discovery has been noteworthy, not only for the commemoration of women’s suffrage, but also for prompting a revision of the collection’s cataloguing to help ensure future researchers can find and access them in years to come.

Sarah E. Polo
Reference Specialist
Public Services