Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Faculty Vacation Edition

August 3rd, 2017

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 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

The new school year is just around the corner, but there’s still time for travel and vacation. When you go, be sure to take along some KU gear – just like the faculty members and their families in this week’s photograph did in 1921.

Photograph of KU faculty group in California, 1921

A group of KU faculty members with their wives and children in
Laguna Beach, California, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/0 Faculty 1921 Prints (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Back row: Frederick Billings.

Second Row: William Chase Stevens, Mrs. William C. [Ada E. Pugh] Stevens, Harriet Greissinger, Lucinda Griffith, Mrs. William A. [Ida Greeley Smith] Griffith, Carrie Watson, Jane Griffith, Mrs. Frederick [Louise M.] Billings, Mary Maud Smelser.

Front Row: Bertha Mae Billings, Ida Griffith Jr., Francis Billings.

Here is some additional information about each faculty member.

Frederick H. Billings (circa 1869-1964): Billings taught in the department of bacteriology (1907 to 1917) and served as its first chairman. He was then at the University of Redlands in southern California, where he was a professor of biology and bacteriology for nineteen years, until his retirement in 1940.

Harriett Greissinger (1876-1941): A KU alumna (1895), Greissinger was an Instructor (1902-1907) and Assistant Professor (1907-1921) of piano at the university. It appears she married John Wallace Brown around 1921 and moved to Santa Barbara, California, where she lived for the rest of her life.

William Alexander Griffith (1866-1940): Griffith came to KU in 1899 to establish the department of drawing and painting. During his tenure at the university, Griffith lobbied Sallie Casey Thayer to donate her art collection to KU; it forms the basis of what is today the Spencer Museum of Art. Griffith resigned his position at KU in 1920, relocating to Laguna Beach, California, to focus full time on landscape painting.

Mary Maud Smelser (1873-1960): Smelser studied music at KU (1891-1894) and returned to the university in 1903 to continue her studies. She worked at KU Libraries for fifty years as a reference assistant (1903-1905); an accessions librarian and, in her spare time, a collector of Kansas historical materials (1905-1950); and the head of the Kansas Historical Collections, which became the foundation of Spencer’s Kansas Collection (1950-1953).

William Chase Stevens (1861-1955): Stevens received his B.S. (1885) and M.S. (1893) at KU. He taught botany at his alma mater for forty-eight years, from 1889 to 1937. “I will do botanical work as long as I am able to wiggle,” Stevens declared to the University Daily Kansan on his eighty-seventh birthday (February 24, 1948).

Carrie Watson (1858-1943): Watson survived Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence as a young child and went on to study at KU, earning degrees in 1878 and 1880. She was hired as an Assistant Librarian in 1878 and promoted to Head Librarian in 1887, a position she held until her retirement in 1921. Known as a disciplinarian, the Kansas City Star once reported that Watson “quieted [unruly students] with a chiding eye” and always insisted that “the library was a place for study rather than flirting.”

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Cora Downs Edition

March 30th, 2017

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 34,500 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

In honor of Women’s History Month, we, earlier this month, shared a photograph of Mary Evelyn Ransom Strong, who was active in the women’s suffrage movement. This week’s post highlights another history-making KU woman: eminent scientist and professor Cora Downs (1893-1987). In 1924, Downs became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, in bacteriology. Through her research, Downs developed disease diagnosis techniques that revolutionized doctors’ abilities to identify and quickly combat viral and bacterial infections.

Photograph of Cora Downs on graduation day, 1924

Cora Downs on graduation day, 1924.
On that day she became the first woman to
receive a Ph.D. from KU, in bacteriology.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty:
Downs, Cora (Photos). Click image to enlarge
(redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of Cora Downs in a laboratory, 1956

Cora Downs in a laboratory, 1956. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Downs, Cora (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

You can learn more about Cora Downs by accessing additional digitized photographs of her, an oral history interview she gave in 1984, and an article about her from KU’s Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

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