Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Happy Birthday, William Inge!

May 3rd, 2017

Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning playwright and screenwriter William Inge (1913-1973) was born on this day in Independence, Kansas, 104 years ago.

Photograph of William Inge, circa 1960

William Inge, circa 1960. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: P/ Inge, William (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Inge attended the University of Kansas from 1930 to 1935, getting his degree in speech and dramatic arts. While a student, Inge pursued his interest in acting as a member of the KU Dramatics Club. In the fall of 1934 he was in a KU production of Eva the Fifth, the story of a traveling theater troupe.

Photograph of William Inge in "Eva the Fifth,” Fall 1934

William Inge and Virginia Hecker in a scene from Eva the Fifth, Fall 1934.
This photograph appeared in the Topeka Capital Journal, October 19, 1963.
William Inge biographical file. University Archives. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of William Inge, 1935

Inge was a also member of Sigma Nu while at KU.
This picture of him is from the fraternity’s
group photo in the 1935 Jayhawker yearbook.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1935.
Click image to enlarge.

Inge turned his attention to playwriting after leaving KU and was quite successful. His most well-known works are Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic, Bus Stop, Splendor in the Grass, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Inge came back to KU several times as a guest lecturer, and in 1955 he directed a KU production of what would become Picnic, using an early draft version of the play entitled Summer Brave.

Photograph of the "Summer Brave" cover page, 1961

Cover page of Inge’s “Summer Brave,” 1961.
Call Number: RH MS D70. Click image to enlarge.

Spencer Research Library has a small Inge Collection, and the William Inge Memorial Theatre, housed in Murphy Hall on the KU campus, is named in his honor. The largest collection of Inge materials is housed at Independence Community College, where there is also the William Inge Center for the Arts and an annual William Inge Theater Festival.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

New Finding Aids Available: Part II

April 4th, 2017

Finding aids are documents created by a repository’s staff members as a point of access for an archival or manuscript collection. To understand more about how finding aids helps researchers navigate collections of manuscripts, organizational records, personal papers, letters, diaries, and photographs, check out our Finding Aids 101 blog post. Here’s a list of some of Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s newest finding aids, so see which collections interest you!

A photograph of members belonging to the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at a banquet from the Dorothy McField collection of sorority and fraternity papers. African American Experience Collection, Spencer Research Library.

A photograph of members belonging to the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at a banquet
from the Dorothy McField collection of sorority and fraternity papers.
African American Experience Collection. Call number: RH MS P944.3. Click image to enlarge.

The first page of a listing of titles for Éigse Eireann ["Poetry Ireland"] from the Catholic Bulletin collection. Special Collections.

The first page of a listing of titles for Éigse Eireann [“Poetry Ireland”]
from the Catholic Bulletin collection. Special Collections.
Call number: MS 329 Box 2 Folder 45. Click image to enlarge.

A photograph of two cowboys on horseback from the Wallace, Kansas photographs collection. Kansas Collection.

A photograph of two cowboys on horseback from the Wallace, Kansas photographs collection.
Kansas Collection. Call number: RH PH 60 Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

The title page from Eugène Farcot’s Literary Manuscript Un Voyage Aérien; Dans Cinquante Ans. Special Collections.

The title page from Eugène Farcot’s Literary Manuscript Un Voyage Aérien; Dans Cinquante Ans.
Special Collections. Call number: MS K32. Click image to enlarge.

May 7th and 8th from the five year Diary of Maude Egbert, note her entry on May 8, 1945 or Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). Kansas Collection.

May 7th and 8th from the five year Diary of Maude Egbert, note her entry on May 8, 1945
or Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). Kansas Collection.
Call number: RH MS B77. Click image to enlarge.

Other new finding aids:

Mindy Babarskis
Reference Specialist
Public Services

Academics for the War Effort: KU Faculty and Their Service

March 20th, 2017

Members of the University of Kansas’s faculty involved themselves in the World War I war effort in a multitude of ways, including military and government service. By 1918, thirty-one members of the faculty were actively engaged in some type of war work. Here are some highlights of their efforts from the University Archives.

School of Engineering

Dean Perley F. Walker left his position and joined the Army when the United States entered the war. He entered the service as Major, but shortly thereafter was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Photograph of Perley Walker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Perley Walker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Department of Physical Education

Several members of the Physical Education staff joined the Armed Forces during WWI, including coaches George Clark, Leon McCarty, and Herman Olcott. In addition to those faculty members who enlisted, the Department of Physical Education also saw Dr. James Naismith leave to work with the Y.M.C.A. in France.

Photograph of Herman Olcott in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Herman Olcott in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of James Naismith in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

James Naismith in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Military service was not the only thing that pulled faculty away from the University of Kansas. Dean Olin Templin took a temporary leave to organize and supervise the War League of American Colleges – an idea originated by Dean Templin. The goal of the organization was to educate college students across the country about the significance of the war and to prepare them for the future changes that would impact them as a result of the conflict.

Photograph of Olin Templin in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918

Olin Templin in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

For additional information regarding the University of Kansas during World War I, please visit Spencer Research Library and explore our University Archives collections – including items such as issues of the Graduate Magazine, Jayhawker yearbooks, and ROTC records!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services

A Good Mannequin is Hard to Find

March 13th, 2017

Actually, there are many quality mannequins readily available through a variety of sources – but a good, affordable mannequin that is appropriately sized for a nineteenth-century male of small stature is, in fact, quite hard to find. We were in need of such a mannequin to display a Civil-War-era vest worn by John Fraser, who served as the second Chancellor of the University of Kansas from 1868-1874. Later this year the vest will be part of Spencer Research Library’s new North Gallery exhibit, which will transform that iconic space into a showcase for Spencer’s rich collections.

Chancellor Fraser’s cream-colored wool vest will be featured alongside his sword and scabbard in the University Archives section of the exhibit. A professional mount maker will fabricate the supports for the sword and scabbard, but we in Conservation Services were charged with finding or making an exhibit support for the vest. Our search for a ready-made mannequin of the right shape, size, and price for our needs proved unsuccessful, so we decided to make our own. It’s one of those “other duties as assigned” that presented a fun challenge!

In preparation for building the mannequin, I viewed a webinar about mannequin-making for conservators, and found a handful of blog posts and articles by non-textile conservators like myself who’d built mannequins. It was great to see what others in similar situations had done; their work helped me to form an idea of how to approach this project. I decided to carve the basic mannequin shape out of archival foam, then add more detailed shaping with layers of cotton batting, and finally cover the form with stretchy stockinette fabric.

Prior to starting, I measured the original vest and sewed a simple dummy version of it to use for test fittings along the way. I also printed out some images of torso mannequins from the web to serve as a point of reference for the basic shape. I found a T-shaped jewelry stand, originally meant for retail display, on Amazon to serve as the armature for the mannequin. It has a sturdy weighted base and adjustable height, and the price was right. I began building the mannequin by using hot-melt glue to affix three planks of archival polyethylene foam to the armature and sketching out a basic torso shape on the foam, then set to work carving with a foam knife.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

The mannequin before and after the first round of carving. Click image to enlarge.

At this point the mannequin needed more bulk in the chest, so I glued on more foam pieces and shaped them with the knife, then put the dummy vest on the form to see how the fit was progressing. You can see in the image below (right) that the vest doesn’t look quite right on the form at this stage.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left to right: Adding more foam; the mannequin with bulkier chest; testing the fit with the dummy vest.

After yet another round of adding foam and shaping it down with the knife, this time bulking up the chest, abdomen, and upper back, the form began to take on a more natural shape and the dummy vest fit much better.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left to right: More foam added to the mannequin; the front and back of the increasingly shapely torso; a better fit.

As the mannequin’s surfaces became more curved, attaching stiff foam planks became more difficult, so in order to do the last bits of shaping I applied built-up layers of cotton batting, again using hot-melt glue.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Shaping the back and shoulders with batting.

Now the mannequin was almost complete, but I wanted to be sure that the original vest, and not just its stand-in, would fit just right, so I brought the form and some supplies over to the University Archives, where the vest resides, to do the final fitting. I also brought along my colleague, collections conservator Roberta Woodrick, who has a background in textiles, to lend her eye and advice to this stage. We placed the vest on the form and identified a couple of places that needed a little more trimming with the foam knife. With the last adjustments made, it was time to cover the mannequin in stretchy stockinette fabric.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

Left: Testing the fit of the original garment on the mannequin. Right: Covering the form with black stockinette fabric.

After trimming and pinning the stockinette at the neck and base of the mannequin, it was finally ready! I placed the vest on one more time to be really sure of a good fit.

Constructing a mannequin to display a Civil War vest

John Fraser’s vest on its new form for display in Spencer Library’s North Gallery.

The vest fits the form, but there is one feature of the mannequin that remains unfinished. The shiny base of the mannequin stand might be too shiny – it may be too reflective under the exhibit lighting – but we won’t know that until the gallery renovation is completed and we place the form in its new home. If it’s too reflective, we plan to cover it with remnants of the same fabric that will be used to line the display “niche” in which the vest will be exhibited. However, if the consensus opinion is that the shininess is acceptable, we’ll simply polish away the fingerprints and the mannequin will be ready to go!

Angela Andres
Special Collections Conservator
Conservation Services

Women and World War I: Contributions at the University of Kansas

December 12th, 2016

Women at the University of Kansas contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways during World War I. Here’s a look at just some of the ways that KU women found to support the war effort, as illustrated by the collections in University Archives!

The physical education and English departments made their mark on the war effort through several organized projects. Students in various knitting and sewing classes made sheets and bed socks for hospitals and sweaters for the troops. Knitting classes were later disbanded temporarily to allow time and space for female students to make surgical dressings for military hospitals.

In addition, many women on campus also became involved with the Red Cross during the war via courses in home nursing and Red Cross organization and home relief.

Photograph of a surgical dressing class at KU, 1918

A surgical dressing class at KU, Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of surgical dressing and Red Cross pamphlet in the Florence Harkrader scrapbook, 1916-1919

Surgical dressing and Red Cross pamphlet in the Florence Harkrader scrapbook, 1916-1919.
University Archives. Call Number: SB 71/99. Click image to enlarge.

Food use and conservation was of utmost importance to the war effort. As Herbert Hoover, Director of the U.S. Food Administration during World War I, said: “if food fails, everything fails.” The need to educate the public on food conservation prompted the Food Administration to begin offering lectures and courses about food use and conservation at universities around the country, including KU. All female students at the University attended these lectures, entitled “Food and the War.”

With so many men enlisted in the Armed Forces, it fell to women and younger men to fill vacant positions in the work force here in the United States. Several female students enrolled in stenography, typewriting, and telegraphy courses through the University and the Lawrence Business College.

Advertisement for the Lawrence Business College, 1918

Advertisement for the Lawrence Business College,
Jayhawker yearbook, 1918. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918. Click image to enlarge.

For additional information regarding the University of Kansas during World War I, please visit the Spencer Research Library and explore our University Archives collections – including items such as issues of The Graduate Magazine and Jayhawker yearbooks!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services