Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Meet the KSRL Staff: Deborah Dandridge

February 22nd, 2016

This is the sixth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Deborah Dandridge is the Field Archivist/Curator for the African American Experience Collections in our Kansas Collection.

Deborah Dandridge. Field Archivist/Curator for African American Experience Collections.

Deborah Dandridge reading over her presentation notes
at the Black Archives of Mid-America conference held in
Kansas City, MO this past October.

Where are you from?

I was born in Topeka, Kansas, where I attended school K through 12. I began kindergarten at Washington School, one of the city’s four elementary schools designated for African American students and teachers. After the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, I completed my grade school education at Washington because my parents determined that Washington’s excellent faculty and supportive environment afforded me the best opportunity for a quality education, although I lived only a half block from a previous whites-only school.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I reach out to communities across the state for donations of their historical materials (i.e. written and photographic) that document the experiences of African American families, churches, organizations, and businesses and I serve as curator of these materials (i.e. the African American Experience Collections).

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I began my work in KSRL as field archivist for a 1986-1989 National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant awarded to the Kansas Collection, in cooperation with KU’s African and African American Studies department.

What is the strangest item you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

All of the items reflect important experiences in the lives of the donors. They represent special moments or routine activities of the past that inform us about the present.

What part of your job do you like the most?

Visiting with potential donors of materials and participating in community public programs across the Kansas region.

What are your favorite pastimes?

Although it’s difficult, I’m enjoying my new journey into the world of physical training as a client of an expert in the field.

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

Be prepared to embark upon a fascinating, never seen before, exploration of the rich, diverse record of human past.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist/Curator
African American Experience Collections
Kansas Collection

In Commemoration: Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965

March 9th, 2015

This weekend’s three-day commemoration of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” recognized one of the pivotal events of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.  The occasion drew President Barack Obama, the First Lady and their daughters, former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, as well as a delegation of bipartisan Congressional representatives to Selma, Alabama.

On Sunday, March 7, 1965, about 600 civil rights activists marched in silence from Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama for the Montgomery state capitol building to memorialize the shooting death of Jimmy Lee Jackson by a state trooper at a peaceful voting rights rally in Marion, Alabama and to protest against the intransigent opposition to African Americans registering to vote.  The opposition to voting rights was especially strong in Selma, Alabama, where half of the population was African American and had not been allowed to vote since the late nineteenth century. Immediately after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers were halted by heavily armed state troopers and local police who ordered them to turn back. When they refused, the troopers and police, in full view of news media and other photographers, mercilessly beat and tear-gassed the marchers. Today, this tragic event in our nation’s history is often referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” A week later, in a televised speech, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked for a voting rights bill, and on August 6, Congress passed the
1965 Voting Rights Act.

Spencer Research Library’s Kansas Collection includes sources that document the region’s support for Bloody Sunday’s civil rights workers and their efforts. We share a selection of these documents.

ITEMS FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE COLLECTIONS

The Wichita Chapter of the NAACP was an early leader in the Modern Civil Rights Movement’s strategy of breaking down the color line through non-violent, direct action.   The Chapter’s Youth Council organized the movement’s first lunch counter sit-in on July 19, 1958.  A month later, the Youth Council in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted their sit-in.

On March 20, 1965, the Topeka Branch of the NAACP organized and led a Sympathy March for the civil rights activists in Selma, Alabama.

Samuel C. Jackson served as the president of the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, which had been first established in 1913. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Jackson earned his law degree from Washburn University Law School and was a WWII veteran. During the fall of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the first U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Four years later, he was appointed General Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Richard M. Nixon.

 Portrait of Samuel C. Jackson

Photograph: Samuel C. Jackson portrait. Samuel C. Jackson Collection, Call Number: RH MS-P 557, Box 1, Folder 4.
Click image to enlarge.

The Topeka Branch of the NAACP distributed this flyer to mobilize community participation and support for the Sympathy March.

 Citizen’s Attention flyer

Citizen’s Attention flyer. Samuel C. Jackson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS 557, Box 1, Folder 11. Click image to enlarge.

On Saturday morning, March 20, 1965, about 150 marchers began their journey from Second Baptist Church on 424 N.W. Laurent Street in Topeka, Kansas and walked across the Topeka Avenue Bridge, wearing black armbands and carrying signs that read “Topeka NAACP Deplores Selma’s Brutality,” “Mourners March,” and “Police Brutality Must Go.”

Newspaper clipping of “Topeka Rights March.”

Newspaper clipping of “Topeka Rights March.” Samuel C. Jackson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS 557, Box 1, Folder 11. Click image to enlarge.

The Sympathy March continued through the streets of Topeka, Kansas.

Civil Rights Marchers.  Topeka, KS, 1965.

Civil Rights Marchers.  Topeka, KS, 1965. J. B. Anderson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS-P 1230 Box 1, Folder 31.  Click image to enlarge.

When the Sympathy March reached the downtown area of Topeka, about 100 more participants joined them as the demonstration moved toward South Kansas Avenue to the Topeka Post Office where they placed in the mail hundreds of letters and petitions to the Kansas Congressional Delegation, urging them to support upcoming civil rights legislation.

Sympathy March, Topeka, March 1965

Sympathy March, Topeka, March 1965.  J.B. Anderson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS-P 1230 Box 1, Folder 31.  Click image to enlarge.

In the Greater Kansas City area and in Independence, Missouri, local chapters of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the NAACP led silent marches throughout the day on Sunday, March 14, 1965. More than 1,200 people participated in these demonstrations.

Greater Kansas City Marches. March 14, 1965

Greater Kansas City Marches. March 14, 1965. Greater Kansas City Council on Religion and Race Collection.
Call Number: RH MS 786, Box 8, File 12.  Click image to enlarge.

At the Music Hall in Kansas City, Missouri, the Greater Kansas City Council on Religion and Race, an organization of clergy and lay members of all faiths dedicated to the advancement and attainment of interracial justice and charity, sponsored a community memorial service for the Reverend James J. Reeb, who was murdered by white vigilantes in Selma, Alabama on March 11, 1965. He had traveled to Selma a few days after “Bloody Sunday” to support the area’s civil rights workers. A Unitarian Universalist minister and a social worker, The Reverend Reeb was born in Wichita Kansas and resided in Russell, Kansas as a youth.

Second Reeb Memorial Program, March 14, 1965.

Reeb Memorial Program. Greater Kansas City Council on Religion and Race Collection.
Call Number: RH MS 786, Box 8, File 12. Click image to enlarge.

The KU Libraries is a co-sponsor of the African and African American Studies Department’s public program Selma: A Film Screening and Panel Discussion on March 25, 2015, at 5:30p.m. in Wescoe Hall, Room 3140.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist and Curator
African American Experience Collections

Throwback Thursday: Alpha Kappa Alpha Edition

February 5th, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week we’re highlighting photographs of an historic KU organization found within Spencer’s African American Experience Collections. Additional materials about Alpha Kappa Alpha – primarily donated by former members – can be found in Spencer’s Kansas Collection by searching our online finding aids. Records and photographs documenting the Delta’s Chapter’s history at KU can also be found in University Archives at call number RG 67/128

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter, 1930

Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter, 1930. Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collection.
Call Number: RH MS-P 549. Click image to enlarge.

The Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated celebrates its first 100 years at the University of Kansas during the weekend of February 13-15, 2015. It is the first African American Greek-letter organization chartered at KU.

Their national organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), which began in 1908 at Howard University, is our nation’s first sorority organized by African American college and university women. Today AKA includes members from diverse racial and ethnic identities.

On Friday, February 13, 2015, from 1p.m. to 3p.m., Spencer Research Library will present a display of the Delta Chapter’s archives at the Oread Hotel. It will include these historical photographs (and the one above) from the Kansas Collection’s African American Experience Collections:

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter house, circa 1940-1949

AKA Delta Chapter house at 1101 Indiana in Lawrence, circa 1940-1949.
Dorothy Hodge Johnson Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 549. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1944

AKA Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1944. Photograph by Duke D’Ambra.
Julia V. (Richards) Harris Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 1179. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1945

AKA Delta Chapter Ivy Leaf Pledge Club, 1945. Photograph by Duke D’Ambra.
Julia V. (Richards) Harris Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 1179. Click image to enlarge.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist and Curator
African American Experience Collections

Share Your Story: Documenting the Double V Campaign in the Kansas Region

June 21st, 2013

Although the nation’s color line continued to systematically exclude African Americans from equal access to employment, education, and housing, this segment of the Greatest Generation refused to give up on pushing for a double victory (“Double V”):  for democracy at home and abroad.

How did African American members of the Greatest Generation experience life on the domestic front and in the military during World War II?  

The University of Kansas Libraries is seeking to provide answers to this question by recording stories from the Kansas region’s African American men and women. These memories of family, community and/or military experiences during World War II are an integral part of the legacy of the Greatest Generation.

Photograph of Charles S. Scott, Sr. with unidentified group of soldiers, circa 1940s

Portrait of Sgt. Thaddeus A. Whayne, circa 1943 Photograph of Anna Woods in uniform, June 1943

Top: Charles S. Scott, Sr. with a group of soldiers, circa 1940s. Charles S. Scott Papers. Call Number: MS P-1145, Box 1, Folder 9. Bottom: Sgt. Thaddeus A. Whayne, circa 1943. Whayne Family Papers. Call number: RH MS-P 905, Box 1, Folder 1; Anna Woods, June 1942. Afro-American Clubwomen Project Collection. Call number: RH MS-P 705, Box 2, Folder 5. Click images to enlarge.

Sponsored in part by the Sandra Gautt KU Endowment Fund, which Professor Gautt established to honor her father, Sgt. Thaddeus A. Whayne (a member of the Tuskegee Airmen unit), this World War II oral history project is part of the ongoing effort of the African American Experience Collections to document life in the Kansas region.

If you would like to have your story recorded for future generations to know and better understand the past, please contact:

Deborah Dandridge

ddandrid@ku.edu

Phone: 785.864.2028

Tuskegee Airmen, Motion Field.

Photograph of Frederick C. Temple

Top: Tuskegee Airmen, Motion Field. Ross Merrill Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P P588, Box 1, Folders 3-4. Bottom: Frederick C. Temple sitting for his Oral History Interview, October 3, 2010.

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist, African American Collections, Kansas Collection

Do You Remember These People and/or Events in Wichita, Kansas?

February 28th, 2013

Do you remember these people and/or events in Wichita, Kansas? The Leon K. Hughes Photography Collection consists of more than 2,000 photographs documenting African American community life in Wichita, Kansas from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Photograph of Unidentified child's birthday party, n.d.

Photograph of Bridesmaid helping bride adjust her veil, n.d.

Photograph of Ted Crochet and unidentified bride and their wedding party, June 14, 1969.

Photograph of Rosie Hughes and unidentified girl surrounded by a variety of camera equipment, n.d.

From top: Unidentified child’s birthday party, n.d. Call number: RH PH 506 Box 1, Folder 5;  [?] Johnson and unidentified bride, n.d. Call number: RH PH 506 Box 3, folder 37;  Ted Crochet and unidentified bride and their wedding party, June 14, 1969. Call number: RH PH 506  Box 2, Folder 20; Rosie Hughes and unidentified girl surrounded by a variety of camera equipment, n.d. Call number: RH PH 506 Box 18, Folder 30. Click images to enlarge.

The University of Kansas Libraries is honored to steward the Leon K. Hughes Photography Collection and make it accessible to viewers worldwide. As you can see when you browse through the amazing photographs found in this collection, many pieces of information are missing. Names, dates and/or events may not be known; some information may be incorrect or misspelled.

The collection is not static – it is intended to grow and it needs to grow!

We need your help to identify the community represented through this comprehensive and timeless collection. If you have additional information about any of the descriptions related to the collection photos, please click on the “Add Comments” link in the “Related Objects” field for any image in the collection and your knowledge about the photo will be sent to us here at KU so we can revise the information. All digitized Hughes photographs can be found at http://luna.ku.edu:8180/luna/servlet/kuluna01kui~16~16.

You may also submit your information by contacting Deborah Dandridge (ddandrid@ku.edu).

Start exploring the collection:

Deborah Dandridge
Field Archivist/Curator, African American Experience Collections