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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.

Ho Chi Minh, the Black Panther Party, and the Struggle for Self-Determination

January 15th, 2020

The temporary exhibit described in this post will be on display in Spencer’s North Gallery through the end of January.

Photograph of one of the title labels in the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit
One of the title labels in the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit. Click image to enlarge.

As a student assistant for the African American Experience Collections, I recently had an opportunity to produce a temporary exhibit in Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

After reviewing the 1968-1970 issues of The Black Panther, which was published by the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, I uncovered an astonishing connection linking African Americans and Asians: In 1969 and 1970, the Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver, led delegations of African Americans to visit North Vietnam, North Korea, and China.

Although I would have loved exploring the connections between the Black Panther Party, North Korea, and China, as a Vietnamese-American, I found myself inextricably drawn to the history of Ho Chi Minh and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. With the topic of my temporary exhibit decided, I scoured Kenneth Spencer’s collections in search of material relating to Ho Chi Minh and the Black Panther Party.

Photograph of the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit under development
Developing my temporary exhibit. Shown here is the second exhibit case focusing on African American anti-war sentiment. Click image to enlarge.

For my first exhibit case, I decided to focus solely upon Ho Chi Minh. (Notably, Ho Chi Minh is one of many pseudonyms he adopted.) I found two Black Panther Party newspapers in the African American Experience Collections but for the rest of my materials, I went digging around in the Wilcox Collection. I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful poster of Ho Chi Minh in the Counter Culture Posters Collection, along with two primary sources written by Ho, including Ho Chi Minh Answers President L.B. Johnson (Call Number: RH WL B3690) and Against U.S. Aggression for National Salvation (Call Number: RH WL B3593).

A poster of Ho Chi Minh, circa 1960s-1970s
A poster of Ho Chi Minh, circa 1960s-1970s. Counter Culture Posters Collection. Call Number: RH MS R23, Folder 3. Click image to enlarge.

Around the same time I was creating my temporary exhibit, I was also participating in an independent study relating to eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Vietnamese history. There I learned that in 1924 Ho Chi Minh had penned two essays titled “Lynching” and “the Ku Klux Klan.” In these essays, Ho Chi Minh wrote about the violence and racism African Americans faced in the United States, demonstrating his awareness of the oppressions endured by peoples outside Vietnam. It is highly probable that Ho read documents published from the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign, which included information and statistics about African Americans lynched in the United States each year beginning in 1909. However, it is also worth noting that Ho worked aboard a steamship and traveled internationally to the United States, France, England, and other European countries.

Some of the most memorable quotes from his essay on “Lynching” include:

  • “After sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching.”
  • “From 1899 to 1919, 2,600 Blacks were lynched, including 51 women and girls and ten former Great War soldiers.”
  • “Among 78 Blacks lynched in 1919, 11 were burned alive, three burned after having been killed, 31 shot, three tortured to death, one cut into pieces, one drowned and 11 put to death by various means.”
  • “Georgia heads the list with 22 victims. Mississippi follows with 12. Both have also three lynched soldiers to their credit.”

Upon Ho Chi Minh’s death, The Black Panther’s newspaper issue printed on September 13, 1969, included these two essays, along with an essay commemorating Ho’s death. However, Ho wrote these essays almost four decades before the Black Panther Party newspaper issues were printed in 1968-1970, during the height of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

In addition, I also wanted to showcase the Black Panther Party’s anti-Vietnam propaganda and demonstrations. Once again, I found myself digging around in the Wilcox Collection. Among the items I chose for the second exhibit case include A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown (Call Number: RH WL C2210). Brown acted as the Black Panther’s Southern California Chapter’s Deputy Minister of Information. Brown also accompanied Eldridge Cleaver on his visits to North Vietnam, North Korea, and China.

One of my favorite items in the exhibit is Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond, a founder of the Atlanta sit-in movement and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The comic book is a piece of anti-war propaganda that highlights the connections between the struggles of African Americans and the Vietnamese people during the 1970s.

Photograph of the cover of Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond
Vietnam: An Anti-War Comic Book by Julian Bond. Frederick Allan Whitehead Papers. Call Number: RH MS 162, Box 8, Folder 8. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph of the Ho Chi Minh temporary exhibit
The finished exhibit. Click images to enlarge.

A huge thank you to Caitlin Donnelly Klepper, Angela Andres, and Letha Johnson for helping me at various stages of my exhibit, as well as to my supervisor, Deborah Dandridge, for supporting my interest in exploring a fascinating side of history that was unknown to me at the time that Kenneth Spencer Research Library provides in its variety of collections of resources. Another thank you to the staff and students at the Reading Room reference desk, who helped me with my requests.

Sophia Southard
African American Experience Collections Student Assistant

Spencer Research Library and Archaeology

February 19th, 2019

This month’s temporary exhibit in Spencer’s North Gallery – titled “Spencer Research Library and Archaeology”features a collection of materials available through Spencer that could or have proven to be useful in archaeological research. Spanning from tomes written during the developmental days of archaeology as a science to modern articles on the forefront of archaeological investigations, the collections at Spencer Research Library offer a broad assemblage of knowledge not available through most library settings.

The first display case demonstrates the spectrum of resources available to archaeological researchers by highlighting a sample from each of Spencer’s collections. This includes documents of early Old World archaeology, books on regional archaeology, archaeological reports, and serial clippings and publications featuring archaeological findings and collections. Such materials are often used as supplementary materials in extant studies, though there is plenty potential for new studies to be conducted as well.

Image of pages from Archaeologia cambrensis, January 1846

Archaeologia cambrensis (Welsh Archaeology), volume 1, number 1, January 1846.
Published by the Cambrian Archaeological Association with the goal of interpreting cultural significance
over material value, Archaeologia cambrensis illustrates a transitional period
in the development of archaeology as a science. Call Number: C16530. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of the book Kansas Archaeology, 2006

Kansas Archaeology, 2006. This work offers a broad perspective of the
archaeological history of Kansas. It is accessible to those with or without a
strong background in archaeology. Call Number: RH C11685. Click image to enlarge.

The second display case features materials available at Spencer Research Library that have been used in archaeological projects. One such project is the Douglas County Cellar Survey, known colloquially as the “Caves Project.” The Caves Project is a survey funded by the Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant Program with the goal of locating and documenting stone arched cellars. The cellars (referred to as “caves”) – constructed from the 1850s into the 1920s – represent a cultural phenomenon unique to the region; thus, archaeologists hope to properly document these caves before they are lost to time. The Caves Project has utilized Spencer Research Library materials such as plat maps, deed records, and topical books on regional history.

Map of Lecompton Township, 1909

Plat map of Lecompton Township in Plat Work and Complete Survey of Douglas County, Kansas, 1909.
This map was used in the Caves Project to locate potential cave structures. In addition to
revealing site locations, the map was also superimposed with older plat maps of the same area to
indicate images that were no longer extant. Call Number: RH Atlas G32. Click image to enlarge.

Also included in the second display case is an artifact, known as a projectile point base, that comes from the Clovis Paleoamerican culture of North America. Likely a broken spear tip, this artifact is likely around 13,000 calendar years old. Found during a 1976 pedestrian survey of site 14DO137 near Clinton Lake in Douglas County, Kansas, this point base is one of the only remaining items left by some of – if not the – first people to ever walk in eastern Kansas. Reviewed as part of an ongoing survey of literature for the Caves Project, multiple archaeological reports indicated that the point was donated to the University of Kansas Archaeological Research Center. Thanks to their cooperation, the point has been loaned to Spencer Research Library for this current exhibit and, as seen below, three-dimensionally scanned. The point has been used in a number of archaeological investigations, including a report on the presence of Clovis people in southeastern Kansas by KU’s Dr. Jack Hofman.

Frank Conard
Spencer Research Library Public Services Student Assistant and KU Anthropology Major

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Spring 2019 Exhibit: “Meet the Spencers: A Marriage of Arts and Sciences”

February 5th, 2019

Who was Kenneth Spencer, the namesake of Spencer Research Library? Why is the library named after him? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions and wondered about the library’s origins, be sure to visit and explore its current exhibit, “Meet the Spencers: A Marriage of Arts and Sciences.”

Kenneth and Helen Spencer in their garden, 1959

Kenneth and Helen Spencer with their dog Topper in the garden of their home at
2900 Verona Road in Mission Hills, Kansas, spring 1959.
Helen Foresman Spencer Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 542. Click image to enlarge.

The exhibit provides a personal look at the lives of Kenneth Spencer and his wife Helen, including:

  • their childhoods growing up in southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri
  • their relationship and marriage
  • their hobbies and interests
  • Kenneth’s work as an engineer and accomplishments as a business leader in Kansas City
  • the creation of Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Additionally, the exhibit examines the Spencers’ significant philanthropic work, particularly Helen’s dynamic leadership of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation after her husband’s death in 1960. The foundation provided funds for major construction projects at many institutions throughout the Kansas City area, including KU’s Lawrence campus. For example, gifts from the Foundation and from Helen personally ensured the construction of Spencer Research Library as well as the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.

Photograph of the installation of wall labels for the "Meet the Spencers" exhibit

Installing wall labels can be a messy business. Shown here is a
timeline of the early history of Spencer Research Library
in the context of KU’s history in the 1960s, part of the new
“Meet the Spencers” exhibit. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the installation of items for the "Meet the Spencers" exhibit

The installation of items for the “Meet the Spencers” exhibit.
Library staff try not to open the heavy glass case covers too frequently.
In 1968, Helen Spencer selected and purchased the five large German-made
display cases now located in the Exhibit Space. Click image to enlarge.

The opening reception for “Meet the Spencers” will be held this Thursday, February 7, 2019. The exhibition will be installed in the third-floor Exhibit Space through June 2019 as part of ongoing celebrations for Spencer Research Library’s fiftieth anniversary. It is free and open to the public.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Exploring the Life and Labor of Edwin M. Hopkins, KU English Professor

January 11th, 2019

Among the personal papers of faculty, staff, and students contained in Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s University Archives are materials connected to the life of KU Professor Edwin Mortimer Hopkins (1862-1946). These materials include photographs, his personal diaries (which span sixty-five years), three paintings, and much more. Hopkins taught at the University of Kansas for his entire career, beginning in 1889 and ending with his retirement in 1937.

A portrait of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated A portrait of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated

Two portraits of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Hopkins, Edwin M. (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Hopkins most frequently taught courses in rhetoric, literature, and composition, though he also taught the University’s first journalism course. The work of two of his “Advanced English Composition” students, Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen, are featured in a temporary exhibit at Spencer Research Library from December 2018 to January 2019. (Hopkins co-taught the course alongside Professor Raphael Dorman O’Leary.)


Photograph of a KU classroom, 1890s

A KU classroom, 1890s. Hopkins is pictured on the far left. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 17/25 1890s Prints: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:
Department of English (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins is an important figure in the field of rhetoric and composition. He was a founding member and early president of the National Council of Teachers of English, as well as a founder of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English. At KU, Hopkins was the head of the English Department from 1902 to 1909.


Image of a portion of Edwin M. Hopkins' resume, 1922

A portion of Edwin M. Hopkins’ resume showcases some of his
achievements, 1922. University Archives. Call Number:
Biographical File, Edwin M. Hopkins. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins is likewise often cited for his labor activism, as he advocated throughout his career for fair teaching loads and working conditions for writing teachers. His empirical study, The Labor and Cost of the Teaching of English in College and Secondary Schools with Especial Reference to English Composition — which scholar Randall Popken calls the “first of its kind in composition history” — was the result of fifteen years of survey-taking and data interpretation (Popken, “The WPA,” pages 7-11).


Title page of "The Labor Cost of the Teaching of English" by Edwin M. Hopkins, 1923

Hopkins’ extensive study of labor conditions yielded this report,
pictured here in its sixteenth edition. University Archives. Call Number:
RG 41/ Faculty publications: Hopkins, Edwin M. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins’ contributions to KU and higher education were not confined to the classroom alone. Hopkins’ personal diaries, which span from 1873 to 1939, help document his highly busy and productive career. For instance, Hopkins frequently recorded playing the organ for the university chapel within his diary entries.


Photograph of pages in a diary kept by KU English Professor Edwin M. Hopkins

One of Hopkins’ diaries is currently on display in Spencer Research Library’s
“Writing within Required Genres” exhibit. Call Number: PP 73. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins also served as KU’s first football coach in 1891. Though he had never played football himself (but had seen it played in the East), he led KU to an undefeated season.


Photograph of the KU football team, 1891

The KU football team, 1891. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/14 1891
Team Prints: Athletic Department: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins also helped found numerous other KU organizations, including the University Daily Kansan student newspaper, the Department of Journalism, and the University’s first literary society, the Quill Club.


Cover of the KU Graduate Magazine, December 1939

This December 1939 edition of KU’s Graduate Magazine featured a
cover photo and story on Hopkins. University Archives.
Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1939. Click image to enlarge.

Be sure to stop by Spencer Research Library to view the exhibit showcasing the writings of Hopkins’ students, Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen, from their 1899 and 1900 composition courses! It is on display at the two entrances to Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery until the end of January 2019.

Works Consulted and Further Reading

Popken, Randall. “Edwin Hopkins and the Costly Labor of Composition Teaching.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 55, no.4, 2004, pp. 618-641.

Popken, Randall. “The WPA as Publishing Scholar: Edwin Hopkins and the Labor and Cost of the Teaching of English.” Historical Studies of Writing Program Administration: Individuals, Communities, and the Formation of a Discipline. Edited by Barbara L’Eplattenier and Lisa Mistrangelo, 2004, pp. 5-22. KU Libraries Call Number: PE1405.U6 H55 2004.

Sarah E. Polo
KU Doctoral Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition
Spencer Research Library Student Assistant

December-January Exhibit: Women Students’ Writings in KU’s Department of English, 1899-1900

December 11th, 2018

A new temporary exhibit is currently on display at the entrances to the North Gallery at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. This exhibit is titled “Writing within Required Genres: Women Students’ Writings in KU’s Department of English, 1899-1900” and showcases many of the materials that serve as the basis of my dissertation work in the Department of English’s Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. program.

Photograph of the east side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

Photograph of the temporary exhibit case on the east side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

The temporary exhibit case on the east side of Spencer’s North Gallery.
Click images to enlarge.

Throughout its history, the Department of English at the University of Kansas has experienced many changes in its structure, policies, and approaches to the teaching of writing. In this exhibit, materials from KU’s University Archives at Kenneth Spencer Research Library help narrate a snapshot of time in that history—the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, and a course titled “Advanced English Composition.”

This exhibit provides information about the Department of English, its teachers, and this particular course. Moreover, it showcases the importance of examining the writings of individual students and their unique responses to the writing instruction they received.

Exhibit Case 1 is located at the west entrance to the North Gallery. It contains materials that help contextualize “Advanced English Composition” and the student writings produced for it. Included are course catalogues, photographs, English Department publications, and more.

Photograph of the temporary exhibit case on the west side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

Exhibit Case 1 seeks to contextualize the writings of students
Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of pages in a diary kept by KU English Professor Edwin M. Hopkins

A sample item on display in Exhibit Case 1: a diary of KU English Professor
Edwin M. Hopkins. Call Number: PP 73. Click image to enlarge.

Exhibit Case 2 is located at the east entrance to the North Gallery. It contains the actual writings produced by two women students for “Advanced English Composition”: the 1899 course notes of Margaret Kane (PP 23) and the 1900 course papers of Kate Hansen (PP 19). These texts were required for the successful completion of their courses. They show instances of Margaret and Kate writing within, pushing against, and even occasionally even moving beyond the expectations of these genres. These writings stress the importance of viewing students—those in the past and in the present—as unique individuals, not a homogeneous group.

Phtoograph of selected writings of Margaret Kane

Exhibit Case 2 highlights information from life of student
Margaret Kane and features her notebook and course notes.
Call Number: PP 23. Click image to enlarge.

Photographs of Kate Hansen

Exhibit Case 2 likewise highlights information about the life of student
Kate Hansen, including these two photographs taken during and
shortly after her time at KU. Call Number: PP 19. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of "Description of a Library Chair" by Kate Hansen

Among Kate Hansen’s featured papers is her essay providing a
“Description of a Library Chair.” Call Number: PP 19. Click image to enlarge.

Curating this exhibit has been a joy. It has provided an opportunity to share my research with a more public audience, a feature that dissertations and the academic publications that stem from them too often lack. I’m extremely grateful to the staff at Kenneth Spencer Research Library—particularly those in public services, conservation, and University Archives—for assisting me with this process.

Sarah E. Polo
KU Doctoral Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition
Public Services Student Assistant