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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.

Pride Month, 2022: Highlights from the Bruce McKinney Papers

June 27th, 2022

Hello and happy Pride Month!

The Bruce McKinney collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library holds many pieces of LGBTQIA+ materials and memorabilia. McKinney was a Kansas activist for gender and gay rights. His collection of papers ranges from pamphlets for rallies and centers for queer individuals all over the country to stickers and pins.

For example, McKinney’s papers document the work of the Wichita, Kansas, LesBiGayTrans Center, an organization with which he worked closely.

Text that reads "Welcome to The Center, Wichita's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and HIV/AIDS Affected People's Community Center, Operated by Kansans for Human Dignity. Look for a Volunteer wearing a KFHD volunteer staff badge."
A flier for The LesBiGayTrans Community Center of Wichita, Kansas, undated. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 15, Folder 29. Click image to enlarge.
Black text on a white background describing the event.
Flier for Lesbian/Gay History Month at The LesBiGayTrans Community Center of Wichita, Kansas, October 1994. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 15, Folder 29. Click image to enlarge.
Black text on white and pink backgrounds. The main text reads "Your Next Step" and "This is Who I Am."
An undated National Coming Out Day pamphlet in Bruce McKinney’s files of The LesBiGayTrans Community Center. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 15, Folder 29. Click image to enlarge.
Blue text that says "Safe Zone" on white paper. There is also a pink triangle centered in a blue circle.
An undated Safe Zone flier in Bruce McKinney’s files of The LesBiGayTrans Community Center. This jumped out to me because I recently learned that Nazis used pink triangle badges to distinguish gay men in concentration camps. The triangle was later reclaimed as a protest symbol against homophobia. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 15, Folder 29. Click image to enlarge.

Some items in the McKinney collection highlight the history of the LGBTQIA+ community at the University of Kansas. The documents below focus on LesBiGay Awareness Week events held in 1995.

Black text on white paper. There is a black-and-white American flag in the background.
Flier for the “Pride March on Lawrence,” April 1995. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 31, Folder 39. Click image to enlarge.
Black text on white paper.
KU Queer Prom flier, April 1995. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 31, Folder 39. Click image to enlarge.

Additionally, McKinney’s papers includes information to help learn more about the queer community. I was particularly interested in the information written on bisexuality and even a paper about how to defend homosexuality in instances where individuals use the Bible against them.

Black text on yellowish/orange paper. The document lists four biphobic (negative) attitude levels and four bifriendly (positive) attitude levels.
“The Biphobia Scale,” undated. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 14, Folder 49. Click image to enlarge.
Black text on white paper. The document is a resource order form for workshop and teaching materials.
“Campaign to End Homophobia” flier, undated. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 14, Folder 48. Click image to enlarge.
Black text on white paper. The document examines Bible verses Genesis 18-19 and Judges 19, arguing that they "were not written as tools for condemnation toward homosexuals."
“Homosexuality and the Scriptures” document, undated. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 14, Folder 49. Click image to enlarge.

Some of the more fun things to look at were the many different bumper stickers that McKinney saved!

Two circular stickers with primarily white text against a red background.
Hot pink text against a black background.
Pink text with a row of people in black silhouette against a white background.
Blue text with a globe, a compass, and a pink triangle on a white background.
A selection of bumper stickers from Bruce McKinney’s collection. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS 1164, Box 15, Folder 5. Click images to enlarge.

Have a happy and safe Pride!

Black-and-white newspaper clipping of a man leaning up against a wall. He is wearing a black cowboy hat and a white t-shirt that says "Queer Cowboy."
Advertisement for a “Queer Cowboy” t-shirt in the Over the Rainbow catalogue, undated. Papers of Bruce McKinney. Call Number: RH MS Q306, Box 124, Folder 10. Click image to enlarge.

Alex Williams
Public Services Student Assistant

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day

November 7th, 2018

While conducting research in a collection of family papers for an exhibit I was putting together, I came across the paper hat shown below. The accompanying note in the box that houses it, provided by Mary P. Miller, gives some context.

This paper hat was worn on Armistice Day (then called “Peace Day”), November 11, 1918, by Eva Lathrop Phillips. Eva was meeting a friend in downtown Kansas City. It took her “all day” because she had to join a parade to move in the direction she wanted to go. Eva was 24 years old and attending business college in Kansas City from her home in Blue Rapids, Kansas. Eva died at age 102.

Image of the paper hat worn by Eva Lathrop Phillips on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Paper hat worn by Eva Lathrop Phillips on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Nothing in the collection indicates where Eva got it.
Eva Lathrop Phillips Papers. Call Number: RH MS 710. Click image to enlarge.

The Kansas City Star estimated that “60,000 to 100,000 flag waving, cheering men and women” participated in the “monster Victory Parade” in downtown Kansas City – despite the ongoing flu pandemic.

The parade, hastily planned early today, started at 10:30 o’clock from Convention Hall. There was no attempt at organization, because of the lack of time, but was made up for the most of masses of workers from downtown stores and factories, released for the day to celebrate the release of the world from threatened German bondage.

To get a sense of what the scene looked like, check out these photographs of Armistice Day parades in St. Louis (Missouri Historical Society) and Philadelphia (Library Company of Philadelphia).

Photograph of the front page of the Kansas City Star on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Image of the article "A March of Victory" in the Kansas City Star on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

Front page of the Kansas City Star (top) and the article
“A March of Victory” (bottom) on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Anschutz Library microfilm collection. Call Number: MRN 0269.
Click images to enlarge.

Somewhere in the crowd of Kansas City revelers described in the Star article was Eva in her paper hat.

Evangeline “Eva” Lathrop was born in Irving, Kansas, on October 1, 1894. Her brother Byron enlisted in the Army and served in France. Around the time of the Armistice, Eva moved to Kansas City to attend school. In 1924, she married Alfred G. Phillips, also a veteran. She lived in Baxter Springs, Kansas, for fifty years.

Photograph of Eva Lathrop Phillips, 1992

Photograph of Eva Lathrop Phillips at age ninety-eight, 1992.
Frowe and Lathrop Families Records. Call Number: RH MS 696. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Exhibiting Free Speech: The Wilcox Collection at 50

March 16th, 2015

This post is written to highlight the current exhibit at Spencer Library: Free Speech in America: The Wilcox Collection at 50. A reception will be held on March 25 at Spencer Library to celebrate the Wilcox Collection.

Fifty years ago Laird Wilcox was a student at the University of Kansas. He had started collecting political literature in his teen years, fueled in this interest by his diverse family leanings and volatile discussions over family meals. He wanted to understand what motivated people to believe the things they did and act on those beliefs.

In 1964 Laird entered and won the Elizabeth Taylor Book Collecting Contest sponsored by the KU Libraries. The Libraries purchased his collection in 1965 (then four filing cabinets of materials). Today the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements is one of the largest assemblages of left and right wing U.S. political materials anywhere. There are thousands and thousands of pamphlets, books, newsletters, audio recordings, and political ephemera such as bumper stickers, posters, flyers, organizational membership mailings, and book catalogs, relating to some 10,000 organizations at the fringes of the political spectrum. There is also a growing component of manuscript collections as well, including Laird Wilcox’s personal papers.

1964 Contest Winners Laird Wilcox, Lawrence Morgan, and Jerry L. Ulrich, with Elizabeth M. Taylor.

The winners of the Taylor Book Collecting Contest, KU Libraries, 1964. Laird Wilcox, far left, and Elizabeth M. Taylor (sponsor of the contest), second from left. University Archives. Call Number: RG 32/40. Click image to enlarge.

Laird Wilcox in Wilcox Collection stacks, University of Kansas Libraries

Laird Wilcox standing in the Wilcox Collection stacks, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, KU, 1996. University Archives. Call number: RG P/LW. Click image to enlarge.

In 2015 an exhibit was mounted in Spencer Research Library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilcox Collection. The exhibit includes examples of books, newsletters, and ephemera, and highlights some of the many books that have resulted from research in the collection. Materials from the collection include items from a scrapbook that Laird kept as chair of the Student Union Association Minority Opinions Forum, a FBI wanted poster with photos of Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayers from the ephemera file of the Weather Underground, and examples of Laird’s many publications.

Flyer from Wilcox Collection depicting American flag

Poster for a documentary film shown at KU in 1964 focusing on the Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). From the Laird Wilcox scrapbook. Kansas Collection. Call number: RH WL MS Q5. Click image to enlarge.

Wanted poster from Wilcox Collection, University of Kansas Libraries

FBI wanted poster from the ephemera file of the Weather Underground which operated as an underground urban guerilla force. Kansas Collection. Call number: RH WL EPH 2094. Click image to enlarge.

One of the strongest features of the Wilcox Collection is ephemeral materials, including bumper stickers, buttons, and flyers. Because of their “throw-away” nature ephemera are often overlooked as an information source, but can provide the original message of the creator in a way that is often concise and colorful.  On display are materials from the National Youth Alliance, Community Churches of America, the American Education Lobby, the Lesbian/Gay Labor Alliance, the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, T.R.A.I.N. (To Restore American Independence Now), Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Phoebe Courtney’s Tax Fax, and The Fact Finder published by Harry Everington. There are more than 200,000 pieces of ephemera in the Wilcox Collection.

Ephemeral materials from Wilcox Collection, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Representative ephemera from the Wilcox Collection. Kansas Collection. Call number: RH WL EPH. Click image to enlarge.

The Wilcox Collection is a prime example of one of the world-class collections that reside within the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Researchers from many parts of the globe have traveled to the KU campus to view this collection, an opportunity that is easily available to KU’s students and faculty.

Rebecca Schulte
University Archivist and Curator, Wilcox Collection

Sherry Williams
Curator of Collections and Curator, Kansas Collection



Irish Ephemera for St. Patrick’s Day

March 14th, 2014

Some things are built to last, and others…well…are not. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (this upcoming Monday), we are sharing five examples of ephemera from Spencer’s Irish Collections.  “Ephemera” is the term applied to a variety of everyday documents originally intended for one-time or short-term use, including posters, playbills, political pamphlets, broadsides, advertisements, and newspapers (to name but a few).  Such materials form the background of everyday life and furnish researchers with important information about the material, political, and cultural conditions of the past. Since Spencer’s Irish Collections include ephemera in addition to major works by significant authors, they serve as particularly fertile ground for students and scholars.

1.  Color “Supplements” from United Ireland and The Irish Fireside, 1884-1885.

These colorful cartoons and illustrations are examples of loose supplements that sometimes accompanied late nineteenth-century Irish periodicals.  The first three cartoons are from United Ireland and reflect that weekly’s Parnellite politics. Earl Spencer (John Poyntz Spencer), then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, is depicted with his distinctive red hair twisted into horns.  The third cartoon shows Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish nationalist leader, handing Earl Spencer his walking papers following the fall of William Gladstone’s administration in June of 1885.  The final two illustrations come from The Irish Fireside, a periodical whose subtitle spells out its mission: Fiction / Amusement / Instruction.  These illustrations celebrate Aideen and Emmeline Talbot as part of a series depicting heroines of Irish history.

Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring valentines to Erin (Ireland), February 16, 1884.
Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring "Erin" and Earl Spencer, March 28, 1885 Image of Color Supplement from United Ireland, Cartoon featuring Parnell and Earl Spencer, June 20, 1885.

Above: Color Political Cartoons, “Supplement Gratis with ‘United Ireland.'” [Dublin]: [United Ireland], 1884-1885. Call Number: DK17, Folder 16.  Below: Heroines of Irish History–Aideen and Emmeline Talbot, “Supplement to The Irish Fireside.” Dublin, [The Irish Fireside], 1885. Call Number: DK17, Folder 5. Click images to enlarge.

Image of Color Supplement from The Irish Fireside, Heroines of Irish History: Aideen, July 8, 1885 Image of Color Supplement from The Irish Fireside, Heroines of Irish History: Emmeline Talbot, July 22, 1885

2. “Programme” for the Abbey Theatre, [1910]

The Abbey Theatre was a key site for the Irish Literary Revival at the beginning of the twentieth century.  W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and (as seen below) J. M. Synge were among the playwrights active there.  The Abbey Theatre’s printed programs record not only the dates of performances and the actors who played each role, but they also shed light on local businesses through the advertisements that appeared in their pages.  Moreover, if you examine the ads closely, you’ll discover little gems, such as this 1910 announcement for James Joyce’s Dubliners by publisher Maunsel & Co. (“Ready in September” it promises).  As Joyceans know, this “Dublin” first edition of Dubliners never did come to pass. Following long delays at the publisher over concerns about potentially objectionable content, the printed sheets for the edition of 1000 copies were destroyed (burned!) by the printer in September 1912, after Joyce tried to retrieve them.  Understandably bitter, the author left Ireland for good, and satirized the incident in his poem “Gas from a Burner.” Dubliners would not reach the shelves until 1914, when it was published by the London firm Grant Richards.

Cover of Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910 Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910, open to play credit lists.

Abbey Theatre Programme, 1910, open to Dubliners Ad (circled).

Abbey Theatre, “Programme.” Dublin, [1910]. Call Number: D134, vol. 194. Click images to enlarge.

3. Gaelic League Carnival Poster, 1912

The Gaelic League was founded in 1893 to revive the Irish language, which was falling increasingly out of use, especially in urban areas where English was dominant.  The majority of its members were middle- and working-class English-speakers, and by 1908 it boasted roughly 600 branches, primarily in cities.  One of the ways that the organization attracted new members was by offering opportunities for socializing and fun alongside Irish language study.  An tOireachtas, the annual national festival (also advertised below) was launched in 1897.  As the poster notes, by 1912, there were even special excursion trains to carry visitors from Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast and other locales to the festivities in Dublin. After all, who can resist a hornpipe championship and £ 1,200 in prizes?

Poster for Gaelic League Carnival (Oireachtas)

Gaelic League Carnival: Jones’ road, Dublin, … [June 29 to July 5, 1912]. Poster. Dublin: O’Loughlin, Murphy & Boland, Ltd., [1912]. Call Number: O’Hegarty Q36. Click image to enlarge.

4. “Ticket of admission to public meeting […] to form a Cork City Corps of the Irish Volunteers,” [1913]

Eoin MacNeill, a founder of the Gaelic League, was also a leader of the Irish Volunteers, a paramilitary organization. As this ticket shows, MacNeill was to be the headliner at a recruitment event in Cork, held just a month after the group’s formation in November 1913.  Spencer holds over 40 tickets for this event, several of which bear the stamp of the “Irish Transport and General Worker’s [sic] Union, Dublin” on the reverse.  Interestingly, though the tickets themselves clearly state that capacity of the venue hall is limited to 1500, there are tickets in the lot numbered almost as high as 3000 (see below, bottom right).

Image of a set of tickets to an Irish Volunteers public meeting, December 14 (1913), City Hall, Cork.

“Ticket of admission to public meeting: to be held at 8.30 o’clock in the City Hall, Cork, on Sunday night next, 14th December, to form a Cork City Corps of the Irish Volunteers / Professor Eoin Mac Neill, B.A., Dublin, and local speakers will address the meeting. …” [Cork : s.n., 1913]. Call Number: O’Hegarty AK7. Click image to enlarge.

5. A sheet of “slip songs” from the mid-to-late 1800s

Ballads were popular street literature in Ireland, as in England.  The earliest English printed broadside ballads can be traced back to sixteenth-century London; however the sheet pictured below was printed in Dublin during the second half of the nineteenth century.  A large sheet like this would be cut up into slips by the printer or bookseller and sold individually,  giving us the term “slip song.” Though often ornamented with woodcuts, these ballads and songs did not actually include music (only the occasional reference to a tune). Many of the songs on this particular sheet treat Irish themes, with the tone ranging from comic to satiric to elegiac to patriotic.  History, politics, and love were all popular subjects, as were drinking songs and accounts of contemporary events, including crimes (“murder ballads”).  Slip songs were meant to sell cheaply and quickly, so their paper tends to be thin and the printing rather shoddy.  The staff at Nugent’s General Printing Office in Dublin must have been having a particularly bad day when they printed the sheet below.  Skim through it and and you’ll find slanted text, uneven inking, inked “spaces,” and many, many typographical errors (we dare you to count the mistakes in “The Rakisk [sic] Bachelor”)!

Image of large uncut sheet of Irish slip songs, with woodcuts.

Can you spot the typos? (hint: zoom in on the “Rakisk [sic] Bachelor,” to start…): Uncut sheet of Irish slip songs.
Dublin: Nugent’s General Printing Office, after 1866. Call Number: R43, Item 6. Please click to enlarge.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian