Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Total Eclipse of the Heart(land)

August 18th, 2017

In honor of Monday’s total solar eclipse, the Spencer Research Library staff was curious about our collection holdings related to this celestial phenomenon. We found two reports detailing previous solar eclipses, one from South America in 1889 and one from the United States in 1900.

Selected from from the Report on the Total Eclipse of the Sun, 1889

Selected from from the Report on the Total Eclipse of the Sun, 1889

This image was developed using the negative from the exposure
created with the 18-inch reflector. Report on the Total Eclipse of the Sun,
Observed at Cayenne, French Guiana, South America, December 22, 1889

by S.W. Burnham and J.M. Schaeberle. Sacramento: A.J. Johnston,
Supt. State Printing, 1891. Call Number: C13311. Click images to enlarge.

The first report is from the Lick Observatory team’s visit to Cayenne, French Guiana, South America in 1889. The team left New York and traveled via boat to South America to observe and document the total solar eclipse on December 22nd. Despite some initial concerns about the weather, they were able to use several different lenses to create exposures of the eclipse that were later developed for further study.

Selected page from Total Eclipse of the Sun, May 28, 1900

Selected page from Total Eclipse of the Sun, May 28, 1900

The image shows what Charles Howard experienced when looking through
the telescope at the moment of the eclipse. Total Eclipse of the Sun,
May 28, 1900, Observed at Winton, North Carolina by Charles P. Howard
.
Hartford, Conn.: R.S. Peck & Co., printers and engravers, 1900.
Call Number: C13310. Click images to enlarge.

The second report is from Charles P. Howard’s visit to Winton, North Carolina, for the total solar eclipse in 1900. Howard joined the Trinity College team to observe and document the eclipse on May 28. Howard’s report also included images – created by the author – to convey his observations. His recorded thoughts show that he felt his images paled in comparison to the actual spectacle of the eclipse: ‘The view through the telescope, however, was far grander than the naked eye view and most awe-inspiring. Around the Sun was an appearance that almost made one exclaim, ‘the Sun is an enormous magnet, alive and hard at work.’” His illustration attempts to show the radiating waves he saw around the sun at the time of the eclipse.

If you are interested in learning more about the science behind a total solar eclipse, please take a look at Eclipse 101 from NASA!

Emily Beran
Public Services

The Pelican in Her Piety

July 24th, 2017

Just a few months after I began working at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Dr. Elspeth Healey, one of our Special Collections librarians, showed me some materials she had pulled for a class on Renaissance printmaking. With my background in Medieval and Renaissance art history, I was excited to explore the materials she had selected. She drew my attention to a small image in Conrad Gessner’s Historiae Animalium, a sixteenth-century natural history tome featuring various bird species. The somewhat bizarre and gruesome image in question shows a pelican pecking at its breast with visible blood spilling on a nest of baby birds – a startling depiction but one familiar to me from medieval bestiaries. The rather macabre bird depicted was none other than a vulning or heraldic pelican.

Image of a vulning pelican in Historia animalium, 1555

A vulning pelican in Historia animalium by Conrad Gessner, 1555.
Call Number: Ellis Aves G97. Click image to enlarge.

The term vulning comes from the Latin verb “vulno” which means “to wound.” When pelicans feed their young, the mother macerates fish in the large sack in her beak then feeds it to her babies by lowering her beak to her chest to transfer the regurgitated fish more easily. The observation of this feeding practice led to the mistaken descriptions of female pelicans pecking their breasts and spilling blood onto their babies to provide sustenance. The idea of a pelican wounding herself for the sake of her young gained a religious connotation and became a symbol for Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection – a necessary sacrifice for the redemption of humanity according to the Christian tradition. Also described as a “pelican in her piety,” the vulning pelican became a popular symbol in medieval heraldry and was featured in bestiaries (books about a mixture of real and imaginary animals) because of this religious association.

The presence of the vulning pelican in bestiaries could explains how this popular piece of religious symbolism found its way into a scientific study from the sixteenth century. Bestiaries were collections of descriptions of both real and mythological beasts. These creatures were typically accompanied by some moral tale that was meant to be instructional for the reader. While bestiaries had been around for centuries, they gained a high level of popularity during the Middle Ages. These bestiaries were in some ways the forerunners to later scientific publications like Conrad Gessner’s book about the natural history of animals. It is not surprising that certain illustrations were carried over from the bestiaries into early scientific books during the transition from the Medieval to the Renaissance period.

However, the vulning pelican also appeared in emblem books, a type of book that originated in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century, rapidly became fashionable throughout Europe, and remained popular until the early eighteenth century. An emblem book consists of a series of pictures, each accompanied by a motto and an explanatory poem, which together present a concept, usually with a moral, about a theme, such as religion, politics, or love. The vulning pelican appears in emblem books with a religious theme. This continuing popularity via another source could also account for the vulning pelican imagery’s use in naturalist texts.

The appropriation of the vulning pelican from religious symbol to scientific illustration has helped preserve the history of this strange depiction. Considering the vulning pelican’s history as a symbol of the Christian resurrection, it is rather ironic to see how this depiction has experienced a resurrection of its own throughout the centuries.

Emily Beran
Public Services

Letters Home: Correspondence during World War I

May 15th, 2017

In December 1917, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Graduate Magazine began publishing letters from Jayhawks serving in various capacities overseas. The letters became a regular part of the publication in 1918 and 1919. While some of the letters were from former students to faculty at KU or to The Graduate Magazine itself, most were sent to their families and later shared with the Alumni Association’s publication – giving those back home a glimpse into the lives of brave Jayhawks overseas.

For example, Herbert Laslett was a psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who graduated from KU in 1918. During his final year at KU, he was a student officer in the KU Cadet Regiment. While in Europe as a member of the 353rd Infantry, A.E.F., Laslett wrote to one of his former instructors describing his experience and sharing some news of other former students as well. His letter appeared in the December 1918 issue of The Graduate Magazine.

Photograph of the KU Cadet Regiment, 1918

The KU Cadet Regiment in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
Herbert Laslett is in the back row on the far left.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

Herbert Laslett, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, December 1918 Herbert Laslett, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, December 1918

Herbert Laslett’s letters in The Graduate Magazine, December 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1918. Click images to enlarge.

Evadne Laptad was a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Science who graduated from KU in 1908. Evadne worked as a hospital searcher with the American Red Cross’s Hospital and Home Communication Service during the war. A new initiative during World War I, the Hospital and Home Communication Service sent American women to military hospitals in Europe during and after the war. These women relayed information about injured soldiers to their family and friends back home. Her letter appeared in the April 1919 issue of The Graduate Magazine alongside letters from two other female graduates who were serving the war effort overseas.

Photograph of Evadne Laptad in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1908

Evadne Laptad’s senior picture in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1908.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1908.

Evadne Laptad, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, April 1919 Evadne Laptad, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, April 1919

Evadne Laptad’s letters in The Graduate Magazine, April 1919.
University Archives. Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1918. Click images to enlarge.

Emily Beran
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

Goin’ Courtin’ at Spencer Research Library

February 14th, 2017

There is so much uncertainty in the world of dating and relationships. Countless questions abound: Am I interested in this person? Who should make the first move? How soon is too soon to talk to the other person after a date? Should you play it cool and aloof or be more earnest about conveying your feelings for someone? How long should you wait to define the relationship or discuss being exclusive with your partner? Does wanting to have that discussion make you seem needy or confident? The list goes on and all of your friends, all of the dating articles available to you, and every show on television seem to have conflicting opinions. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a guidebook – a collection of dos and don’ts when it comes to dating so you would know what to do or expect? Well, look no further than the collections at Spencer Research Library!

Book chapter, "Etiquette of Courtship and Marriage," 1896

First page of the chapter entitled “Etiquette of Courtship and Marriage.”
Social Life; or, The Manners and Customs of Polite Society by Maud C. Cook.
Kansas City, Mo.: S.D. Knapp & Co., 1896. Call Number: C23427. Click image to enlarge.

Published in 1896 in Kansas City, Missouri, Social Life; or The Manners and Customs of Polite Society by Maud C. Cook is just one of several 19th and early 20th century etiquette books housed at Spencer. In addition to the etiquette of courtship and marriage, Social Life also details the proper etiquette for everything from correspondence to childcare and so much more. While some of the content may no longer be directly applicable in today’s society, many of the tenets regarding courtship and marriage are rather insightful.

“Intuition, our own selfhood, is nature’s highest teacher, and infallible; and tells all by her ‘still, small voice within,’ whether and just wherein they are making love right or wrong.”

Modern translation: Trust your instincts. No one knows you better than you know yourself. From choosing a partner to guiding the progression of your relationship, if something feels wrong, trust that feeling.

Book illustration, "A Polite Escort," 1896

Illustration, “A Polite Escort,” in Social Life; or,
The Manners and Customs of Polite Society
by Maud C. Cook, 1896.
Call Number: C23427. Click image to enlarge.

“Again the young lady who willfully, knowingly, deliberately draws on a man to place hand and heart at her disposal simply for the pleasure of refusing him and thus adding one more name to her list of rejected proposals is utterly unworthy the name of woman.”

Modern translation: Be kind. Don’t lead someone on or pretend you have feelings for them when you don’t. Be honest about your feelings and intentions, whatever they may be.

“Differences must needs arise, which cannot be adjusted too soon.”

Modern translation: Communicate. Address problems and differences calmly and in a timely manner. If something has upset you, speak up, just do so respectfully.

Book illustration, "Declined with Regrets," 1896

Illustration, “Declined with Regrets,” in Social Life; or,
The Manners and Customs of Polite Society
by Maud C. Cook, 1896.
Call Number: C23427. Click image to enlarge.

“She should never captiously take offense at her fiancé’s showing the same attention to other ladies that she, in her turn, is willing to accept from other gentlemen, and she should take the same pains to please his taste in trifles that he does to gratify her slightest wish.”

Modern translation: Don’t be hypocritical when it comes to your partner’s actions. It is unfair for you to be upset over behavior that is similar to your own.

“See or correspond with each other often. Love will not bear neglect. Nothing kills it equally. In this it is most exacting. It will not, should not, be second in anything. ‘First or nothing,’ is its motto.”

Modern translation: It is not a badge of honor to ignore someone, especially if you care about them. Spend time with the one you love and do your best to stay connected.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services