Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

President Eisenhower: Abilene’s Greatest Son

February 20th, 2017

Abilene, Kansas is a small city of under 7,000 people, but it managed to produce one of the most influential U.S. presidents. The only president to come from Kansas, Dwight D. Eisenhower served 8 years in the office from 1953-1961. Here he worked ceaselessly to deescalate the cold war and poured his energies into working towards world peace. But before he became the 34th President of the United States, Eisenhower served as the commanding general of the U.S. troops in Europe during World War II. After Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945, then General Eisenhower returned to his hometown of Abilene. Here at the Spencer Research Library, as a part of our Kansas Collection, we have General Eisenhower’s Homecoming train brochure signed by the man himself and the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle issue reporting on his historic return. If you’re interested in learning more about our nation’s only president from Kansas, check out this great entry in the Kansas Historical Soceity’s Kansapedia, book a trip to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, or come visit us here at Spencer Research Library!

Eisenhower homecoming train brochure and menu front cover, signed by Dwight D. Eishehower. Kansas Collection, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35.
Eisenhower homecoming train brochure and menu front cover, signed by Dwight D. Eisehower.
Papers of Harry Darby, Kansas Collection, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35. Click image to enlarge.

General Eisenhower homecoming train seating chart and menu, call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35.
General Eisenhower homecoming train seating chart and menu, Papers of Harry Darby, Kansas Collection,
call number: RH MS 1345 Box 9 Folder 35. Click image to enlarge.

"Abilene's Greatest Son Comes Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page, June 22, 1945, Spencer Research Library.

“Abilene’s Greatest Son Comes Home”, Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page
from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click image to enlarge.

"Ike is at Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.   Continuation of "Ike is at Home", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle page 6 from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.
Article discussing General Eisenhower’s arrival by train titled “Ike is at Home”,
Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page and page 6 from June 22, 1945.
Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click images to enlarge.

"Eisenhower Calls Friends to Realize Responsibility in United Effort for Peace", Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945. Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319.

Article describing the speech given by General Eisenhower to Abilene residents titled “Eisenhower Calls Friends to Realize Responsibility in United Effort for Peace”, Abilene Reflector-Chronicle front page from June 22, 1945.
Kansas Collection, call number: RH H319. Click image to enlarge.

Mindy Babarskis
Reference Specialist
Public Services

George Allen Collection of Stereoviews, 1867-1915

May 13th, 2015

Photograph of George Allen, 1989

George Allen with his collection, December 1989.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo. George Allen Photograph Collection
accession file. Click image to enlarge.

George Allen (1913-2007) was born in Wichita, Kansas. His family moved to Lawrence in 1927. He graduated from Liberty Memorial High School, and then earned a law degree from Kansas University. He practiced law in Lawrence for forty years. Mr. Allen also collected stereoviews, a hobby fueled by his love of history and an interest in photography. He bought his first stereoview in the 1950s from a woman who operated an antique shop behind her house. He would go on to spend thirty-five years collecting thousands more, with his collection peaking somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000. In 1990 he sold 722 stereoviews to the University of Kansas Libraries. Among the collection are views of Kansas, Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Missouri, Dakota Territory, as well as images of cowboys, sod homes, coal mining, floods, cattle raising, the Chicago Exposition of 1874, and railroads.

Photograph of theEmporia News building, Emporia, Kansas, undated

Emporia News building on Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, undated.
George Allen Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 137.
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of a flood in Abilene, Kansas, 1903

Flood in Abilene, Kansas, 1903. George Allen Photograph Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 137. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of boys bathing in Mud Creek, Dickinson County, Kansas, undated

Boys bathing in Mud Creek, Dickinson County, Kansas, undated.
George Allen Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 137.
Click image to enlarge.

The most popular stereoviews from Mr. Allen’s collection are fifty-five from Alexander Gardner’s “Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division” series, which include several images of post-Civil War Lawrence, Kansas. Gardner, working for the Union Pacific Railway, took his photography wagon, loaded with chemicals and glass plates, across the west in 1867. He first followed the existing railroad line, which passed through Kansas, and then he continued along the proposed railroad route to the Pacific Ocean. He documented the towns, landscapes, and people he encountered on the way, using stereoviews to do so.

Photograph of Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 1867

Image of Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 1867 (back)

Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas, 1867 (front and back of card).
The image shows the rebirth of the town within five years of Quantrill’s Raid.
Alexander Gardner, Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division.
George Allen Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 137.
Click images to enlarge.

Stereoscopic photography consists of two nearly identical images pasted on a board, side by side. To get the two images, the photographer would make an exposure, then move the camera 2 1/2 inches, the average distance between human eyes, and make a second exposure. The photographer would then develop each of the images and paste the prints onto the board. When the two images are viewed through an apparatus called a stereoscope, or stereoviewer, the eyes force the two images into one image, creating the appearance of depth perception, or 3D. Another method was to use a twin-lens camera, which allowed the photographer to make the two exposures simultaneously, saving time and eliminating the need to reload the camera.

Image of a stereoviewer

An example of a stereoviewer, also known as a stereoscope.
Image courtesy of Gilai Collectibles. Click image to enlarge.

Collecting and trading stereoviews of plays, famous sites, people, or events was quite popular in the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most homes had a stereoviewer in the parlor, which allowed viewers to see, for example, views of Paris without actually traveling. Mr. Allen enjoyed stereoviews for the way they portrayed history and told the story of our shared past.

Photograph of a round-up on the Sherman Ranch, Genesee, Kansas, undated

Image of a round-up on the Sherman Ranch, Genesee, Kansas, undated

Round-up on the Sherman Ranch, Genesee, Kansas, undated (front and back of card).
George Allen Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 137. Click images to enlarge.

Photograph of a dugout sod home, Kansas, undated

Dugout sod home, Kansas, undated. George Allen Photograph Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 137. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services