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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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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.

Ten Activities to Make Your Galentine’s Day 2024 Historic

February 13th, 2024

Happy Galentine’s Day, everyone! Valentine’s Day, while perhaps more well-known and vastly more commercially successful, is not the only holiday in February that deserves some love. And if you ignore Groundhog Day, the Lunar New Year, Super Bowl Sunday, and Mardi Gras, you’ll finally land on one of our favorite holidays of the year: Galentine’s Day! Originally introduced by hit television show Parks and Recreation in 2010, February 13th is a day dedicated to celebrating sisterhoods across all genders and ages. Dozens of you may be wondering how to celebrate this historic day. It can be a lot of pressure to find the time (and money) to spend quality time with friends. There are only so many hours in a day to make your friends feel appreciated, after all!

Fortunately, we here at the Spencer Research Library have combed through our Digital Collections and curated a list of our top ten ideas to help make your Galentine’s Day historic! Gather your closest friends and try out these fun (and inexpensive) activities.

1.) Teach a cooking class together.

Nothing ages finer than friendship, and what “butter” way to show how “fondue” are than to make something delicious to share with one another! Let’s not “mince” words. You “knead” to show how well you “jell” together!

Black-and-white photograph of two women standing behind pies on a table.
“4H Clubs – Baking demonstration – Gloria Ousdahl (left) and Mary Miller,” 1956. Lawrence Journal-World Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH LJW, Box 9, Folder 1, Item 212. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

2.) Enjoy the nice weather with an outdoor activity.

With the weather so nice, why don’t you “rope” some of your closest friends into a fun outdoor activity? “Jump” into the spring-like weather and keep your lines from getting crossed because friendship is not something to “skip” out on!

Black-and-white photograph of two girls holding the ends of a rope while three girls jump in the middle.
“Girls playing jumprope,” undated [circa 1900]. Leavenworth Public Library Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 72, Box 2, Folder 168. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

3.) Serenade one another.

Why not express to your friends how much they mean to you through the transcendent power of music? Whether you throw on a classic or compose a new, original tune, dedicating a song to a friend can be the perfect way to keep your friendship harmonious.

Black-and-white photograph of two African American women. One is playing the piano and one is singing.
“Anita Burney[?] and unidentified woman,” undated [circa 1950]. L. K. Hughes Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 506, Box 19, Folder 5. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

4.) Play a rousing game of cards.

What’s wrong with a little competition every now and again? If you and your besties prefer a quieter night out of the spotlight, a game night can be an excellent way for everyone to be dealt a good hand.

Black-and-white photograph of two women sitting at a small table, playing cards.
“Portrait of King sisters playing cards,” 1900. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 586, Box 16, Pennell Number 635C. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

5.) Spill the tea.

With good tea and conversation, you’ve got any get-together in the bag. Everyone could use some time to “steep” into someone else’s business and get that good-natured tea. Remember: sharing tidbits with friends helps you all “blend!”

Black-and-white photograph of seven women drinking tea and eating.
“Women’s club meeting,” undated [circa 1890]. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call number: RH PH 539, Box 5b, Folder 21 (previously RH PH P1017). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

6.) Design new outfits for one another.

When celebrating the ties that bind, gather a group of friends to create a new wardrobe together! Show how at ease you are with one another by knowing all your style quirks and colors. Friendship will never have felt so seamless, and you can count on being anchored for life!

Black-and-white photograph of a smiling woman next to a dress she is working on.
“Haskell – Dorothy Osceola, Seminole, hopes to become dress designer,” 1957. Lawrence Journal-World Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH LJW, Box 11, Folder 15, Item 205. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

7.) Hold a costume party.

What better way to show how authentic your friendship is than by pretending to be other people? Show new sides of yourself to old friends in a themed extravaganza celebrating famous friendships throughout history!

Black-and-white photograph of women wearing costumes and disguises.
“Group of women in costumes at Lulu Stanely party,” 1907. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 1825, Box 40, Pennell Number 1343F. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

8.) Hold a sports tournament.

Take time out from your day-to-day to place your friendships front and center. It would be foul to leave your friends on the sidelines, so why don’t you call them in to assist you with a sports tournament? Just a little free throw-away idea for you and yours!

Black-and-white photograph of six girls in similar outfits. One girl is holding a basketball.
“Sophomore girls basketball team,” 1913. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell, Print 2635, Box 56, Pennell Number 1400H. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

9.) Build a show pyramid.

If you’re looking for signs on how to clasp your friendships tight and provide that foundational base for your squad, cheer up because we have the ultimate friendship activity! Grip your friends tight together and prove to them all that this isn’t some sort of stunt but the real deal!

Black-and-white photograph of girls kneeling and standing on each other, with the group forming the shape of a pyramid.
“LHS [Lawrence High School] girls’ sport show – pyramid (L to R) back row,” 1957. Lawrence Journal-World Photograph Collection. Call number: RH PH LJW, Box 11, Folder 12, Item 141. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

10.) Leave your life behind and take a trip.

If life is making it hard for you and your friends to “coupe,” don’t leave each other in “suspension” and shift your perspective with a trip! You’ll find your spirits starting to lift as you leave that exhaust behind and steer you and your friends into new adventures.

Black-and-white photograph of women standing next to a train car.
A group of women next to a train, undated [circa 1950] Duke D’Ambra Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH 69. Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Charissa Pincock
Processing Archivist

New Finding Aids: July-December 2023

January 9th, 2024

Henceforth, it’s 2024, and we’re back at it again! Over the past year, the manuscripts processing team has been hard at work describing and housing one-of-a-kind collections. As a processor, you never quite know what you’ll find when you first open a box of dusty old records, but it’s always sure to delight! (most of the time…) Last year, the processing team worked through collections across Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s four collecting areas: the Kansas Collection, the Wilcox Collection, University Archives, and Special Collections. We even had an opportunity to further showcase a few of our favorite collections, including a Reuter Organ Company exhibit, a remembrance of a former colleague, and an in-depth look at the 1970 police shooting of KU student Nick Rice. This year we’re all excited to continue the process of processing new collections and additions, but first, here’s a list of new finding aids the manuscripts processing team published in the last six months of 2023:

Peggy Harrison papers, 1991-2002 (RH MS 1591)

Wilburn family collection, 1960-2023 (RH MS 1592)

Kij Johnson papers, 1975-2021 (MS 377)

Personal papers of Karen Severud (Pearson) Cook, September 1972-September 2021 (PP 648)

Personal papers of Amy Devitt, 1980-2013 (PP 653)

Personal papers of Dean “Deaner” Nesmith, 1935-1979 (PP 655)

Lorraine Co-Operative Oil Company records, 1930-1948 (RH MS D307)

U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association ledger, 1975-1977 (RH WL MS P3)

Take Ten, Inc. records, 1976-2013 (RH MS 1596)

This image has text. Black-and-white illustration of a stick-figure person standing at a large chalkboard covered in math equations.
Production notes for a Reading Rainbow episode featuring Math Curse, a children’s book written by Joe Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. The book was featured in the first episode of season 17 and originally aired on October 5, 1998. Take Ten, Inc. Records, Call Number: RH MS Q512. Click image to enlarge.

Schubert, Funk, Cooper-Warren Mortuaries records, 1904-1966 (RH MS 1597)

Alvin Forrest “Fritz” Grauerholz papers, 1925-2009 (RH MS 1593)

Creed Shepard collection, 1992-2002 (RH MS 1598)

Marvin Voth collection, 1975-2009 (RH MS 1595)

Pamela Johnson Betts collection, 1969-2021 (RH MS 1594)

Courtship of the Ruff watercolor, 1923 (MS Q107)

Illustration of birds in shades of white, black, and brown.
A 1923 watercolor painting created by M.H.A. Staring (1897-1929), a Dutch artist and ornithologist. The painting depicts the courtship display of three male ruffs, or calidris pugnax, towards one female ruff. Call Number: MS Q107. Click image to enlarge.

Wagner family collection (MS P766)

Personal papers of Tom Skrtic, 1972-2020 (PP 651)

Personal papers of Tom Hedrick, 1947-2021 (PP 654)

Personal papers of Ellsworth S. Gray, circa 1930-1955 (PP 656)

Yusuf and Zoleikha = یوسف و زلیخا, Poem originally written 888 A.H. / 1483 CE; this manuscript copy inscribed 17th century CE (MS A9)

Barteldes family tree, [after 1963 and before 2021] (RH MS R542)

Alice Walker photograph, February 1, 2002 (RH PH P2851)

Kaw Valley Living Wage Alliance collection, September 25, 2000-January 17, 2006 (RH MS 1602)

Personal papers of Andrew Tsubaki, 1954-2001 (PP 650)

Color photograph of actors kneeling around a man who is standing with his arms raised in the air.
A photograph of a 1973 production of the popular kabuki play Kanjinchō by Namiki Gohei III. Kanjinchō was adapted from Ataka, a play in the noh theater style, and would later serve as the inspiration for Akira Kurosawa’s film The Men who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail. Personal Papers of Andrew Tsubaki. Call Number: PP 650. Click image to enlarge.

Records of the Kansas State Geological Survey, 1865-2022 (bulk 1950s-2010s) (RG 37)

Jane van Meter collection, 1923-2020 (MS 383)

Paul Schaefer poster collection, 1970-1985 (RH WL MS R19)

Black-and-white illustration of a woman lying in a field of grass, looking at two nuclear reactors in the distance.
A print of the We All Live in Harrisburg collage created by R. Cenedella in 1979 as a response to the Three Mile Island accident that happened outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1979. The collage used Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World with permission from the artist. Paul Schaefer Poster Collection. Call Number: RH WL MS R19. Click image to enlarge.

General records from the University of Kansas – Architectural drawings, approximately 1890s-2000s (RG 0 – AD)

Archery: Two Treatises, 1150 A.H. / 1737 C.E. (MS C33)

This image contains handwritten text.
Folios from a 1150 A.H./1737 C.E. treatise containing two texts teaching and promoting the sport of archery. The texts are written in Persian in the Nasta’liq script, and the above folios feature a hand-drawn illustration of two bows with the names of various parts of the bows listed off to the side. Call Number: MS C33. Click image to enlarge.

Marcella Huggard
Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Charissa Pincock
Manuscripts Processor

Creepy, Curious, and Cursed Collections at Spencer Research Library

October 30th, 2023

Happy Halloween all you screechers, screamers, and hollerers! We’ve also been celebrating over here at Kenneth Spencer Research Library in the best we know how: combing the KU Libraries online catalog and finding what cursed history we can find. We asked our student workers to recommend their picks for items that best represent the spirit of Halloween. They went beyond the safety of the Reading Room and braved the stacks to bring us these unsettling tomes and relics, but not everything is what it seems. Here are a few of our favorites!

Our very first recommendation comes from the Centron Corporation, a film production company founded right here in Lawrence, Kansas. Perhaps best known for their work in educational films, the company also had a hand in the cult classic horror film Carnival of Souls. Elly Masteller found this lovely portrait in the Centron Corporation records collection. This cheerful gentleman was used in a film to help encourage literacy and creative writing among children. Remember kids, he can’t get you if your nose is in a book!

Color photograph a smiling clown who is holding a large lollipop.
Production still of a clown from Reaching Your Reader, undated [circa 1985]. Centron Corporation Records. Call Number: RH MS Q514. Click image to enlarge.

Kathryn Sauder sent in our next recommendation, another artifact, but this time from the Thomas Woodson Poor papers. Poor was an Olympic high jumper who competed for the University of Kansas from 1921 to 1925 and placed fourth in the high jump at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Poor is also known for his lifelong crusade in helping children receive the polio vaccine after the tragic death of his daughter, Melinda Sue, from polio. One of the toys he used to do so was this monkey puppet, and while the puppet may look demonic, it helped save lives! Absolutely heartwarming, not chilling, but perhaps maybe do not look into its eyes for too long.

Photograph of a brown monkey with his hands in the air.
Monkey puppet, undated [circa 1955-1956]. Thomas Woodson Poor Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1568. Click image to enlarge.

Literary giant Samuel Taylor Coleridge brings us our next spooky item, recommended by Nile Russo: a copy of The Devil’s Walk, or alternatively titled The Devil’s Thoughts. The Devil cuts a dapper shape as he gets himself dressed in his Sunday’s best for a walk around the town. In this poem, the Devil offers commentary about passersby, questioning perhaps if mankind might be the scariest creature of all.

Black-and-white sketch of a demon cutting the devil's hair while he reads the newspaper in front of a mirror.
The illustration accompanying the title page of The Devil’s Walk: A Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, 1830. Call Number: B4254. Click image to enlarge.

Molly Leonard recommended perhaps the most soul-wrenching item among our recommendations this year: a copy of Historie des diables de Loudun. This is a book about the Loudun possessions, a piece of history about an Ursuline convent being taken over by unusual behavior and visions attributed to demonic possession. In the end, through the intervention of Cardinal Richelieu, a local priest and decrier of Richelieu’s policies named Urbain Grandier was tried and executed for witchcraft in connection with the possessions. Again, and we can’t reiterate this enough, mankind might just be the scariest monster of all.

This image has text.
Title page of Histoire des diables de Loudun, 1716. Call Number: B12841. Click image to enlarge.

And finally, Ian Strasma reminds us that Halloween isn’t only about creepy clowns, puppets and possessions, and dashingly dressed demons with this recommendation: a black cat found lurking in the Ronald Johnson collection (literary estate papers). The cat may be cute, but be careful that you do not cross him!

Polaroid pictures of a black cat doing various things.
“Cat photos,” undated [but timeless]. Ronald Johnson Collection (Literary Estate Papers). Call Number: MS 336. Click image to enlarge.

Best of luck out there as you begin finishing up semester and don’t be afraid to check out the many – completely safe, we promise – collections here at Kenneth Spencer Research Library!

Charissa Pincock
Processing Archivist

Youth Baseball in Kansas: The NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball League

April 12th, 2023

As we enter the seventh inning stretch of the Spring 2023 semester, let’s throw it back to a beloved pastime: baseball! Today’s collection highlight, the Jerauld R. Crowell papers, showcases the NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball League, a league with ties back to Great Depression-era baseball in Kansas.

Black text on a yellow background with a sketch of a young baseball player throwing a ball.
NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball League rules and regulations booklet. Jerauld R. Crowell Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1551. Click image to enlarge.

In Wichita, Kansas, in 1935, Satchel Paige and his Bismarck, North Dakota, Churchills won the first National Baseball Congress tournament after defeating the Duncan, Oklahoma, Halliburtons in the title game. Raymond “Hap” Dumont, the founder of the tournament, promised Paige $1,000 (around $22,000 in today’s money) to simply play in the newly created tournament. Banking on Paige’s talent and star power to draw crowds, Dumont’s gamble paid off. The tournament was an instant success, drawing over 100,000 spectators over the course of the tournament. “Hap” Dumont used this success to turn the National Baseball Congress, or the NBC, into an institution that would feature some of the best talent in baseball. It is still in play today.

Nearly forty years later, Jerauld R. Crowell with other founding members created the NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball League, a youth league established in partnership with the NBC. Named after NBC founder “Hap” Dumont, the youth league began as an organization for participants twelve and under. The league would eventually grow to add eleven different age divisions from eight to eighteen years old. The youth league has held tournaments at the regional, state, and national level with teams from around the world. Like the original NBC league, the NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth League is still running the bases and spotlighting young talent today.

Silver metal device that records the number of strikes, balls, and outs.
Umpire counter used in an NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball game. Jerauld R. Crowell Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1551. Click image to enlarge.
White circle with a blue border and words accented by six red stars.
NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth State Champions patch. Jerauld R. Crowell Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1551. Click image to enlarge.
Baseball (with writing) in front of two flags, in front of a baseball diamond, in front of two bats crossed in an "X."
Pin from an NBC “Hap” Dumont Youth Baseball World Series tournament. Jerauld R. Crowell Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1551. Click image to enlarge.

As you all work to spotlight your own talent, don’t be afraid to swing for the fences as you clean up the semester. Finals week is on deck, but you’re in the home stretch. You’ve earned your curtain call!

Want more baseball? See our previous blog posts on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Kansas City Monarchs, baseball cards, and the House of David Baseball Team in Kansas, as well as a variety of entries about KU baseball.

Charissa Pincock
Processing Archivist

Meet the KSRL Staff: Charissa Pincock

June 1st, 2021

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 Charissa Pincock, who joined the Spencer Research Library processing unit in February as a Processing Archivist.

A woman in front of a row of shelves storing books and gray boxes.
Processing Archivist Charissa Pincock. Click image to enlarge.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Peoria, Illinois, area aka the corn parts of Illinois. I have also lived in states such as Texas, Nevada, Utah, and most recently Massachusetts before coming here to Lawrence, Kansas.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I help researchers find and access collections! As collections come to the Spencer, I make sure collections are arranged in a way that follows the collection creator’s intended arrangement, or if there is no original intended order, arrange the collection in a way that is accessible for researchers and patrons. I then describe collections through creating metadata and finding aids. Researchers can then more easily discover exactly what they are looking for by searching through and using these finding aids and collection descriptions.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I pursued a history degree for my undergrad, and while talking about career possibilities with a professor, she talked about her experiences working at a special collections early in her career. It was not for her, but many of the reasons she listed out for not personally wanting to work at a special collections/archives appealed to me, and so, my career in archives begun! I processed archival collections at a few different institutions before pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Science at Simmons University with an Archives Management concentration. I officially finished my program this past May, and I am ready to have free time again. I have always enjoyed working in academic special libraries and archives, and I am happy to be here at Spencer!

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

Even though I am fairly new, I have already come across so many interesting collections! It is hard to narrow it down to just one! I will say that there are some great collections created by speculative fiction writers at Spencer and seeing their drafts and writing notes and correspondence with other writers in the field has been a fascinating look into the more behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating these creative works.

What part of your job do you like best?

Every day is different! I get to see and read about the stories and experiences of people from many different communities and times. No collection is exactly the same. And with discovering these collections, I love being part of a team that helps the broader public discover these collections as well.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I always love getting outside, but while stuck inside during quarantine, I have cycled through a few hobbies. My new current pastime is trying to follow along with Bob Ross painting tutorials. You also can never go wrong with a good board game!

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

Ask questions! The Spencer Research Library has many amazing collections, and we want to let everyone know about them. Researching in a special collections or archive can be intimidating, but we have a great Public Services team that is happy to help. We have seen and heard it all, and no genuine request or question will be turned away!

Charissa Pincock
Processing Archivist