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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

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.

That’s Distinctive!: Campus Aerials

February 17th, 2023

Check the blog each Friday for a new “That’s Distinctive!” post. I created the series because I genuinely believe there is something in our collections for everyone, whether you’re writing a paper or just want to have a look. “That’s Distinctive!” will provide a more lighthearted glimpse into the diverse and unique materials at Spencer – including items that many people may not realize the library holds. If you have suggested topics for a future item feature or questions about the collections, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

This week on “That’s Distinctive!” we will be highlighting photos from University Archives that show views of campus throughout the years. The University Archives houses over a million photographs along with departmental records, personal papers, university publications, and much more. Over 35,000 photos within University Archives have been digitized and can be browsed online. Many more photos of campus over the years can be found by using the search term “campus.”

Black-and-white photograph of large buildings on both sides of a wide street.
Jayhawk Boulevard looking east, circa 1927. On the left (from left to right) is Strong Hall, Bailey Hall, Old Fraser Hall, Old Snow Hall. On the right (from right to left) is Hoch Auditorium and Old Haworth Hall, with the roofs of Robinson Gymnasium and Watson Library visible in the background. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/P 1925 Prints: Campus: Panoramas (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Black-and-white photograph of streets and buildings lit by bright lights.
Aerial of campus at night, 1987. The photo appears to have been taken from Iowa Street just south of Fifteenth/Bob Billings; the Daisy Hill residence halls are in the foreground. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/A 1987 Prints: University General: Campus: Campus Aerials (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Color photograph of the KU campus with fall foliage.
Campus aerial, 1994. From left to right are Lippincott (Old Green) Hall, Fraser Hall, Blake Hall, and Watson Library. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/A 1994 Prints: University General: Campus: Campus Aerials (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

If you are following the holidays we have correlated with previously and are still in the Valentine’s Day mood, check out our 2013 “Civil War Valentine” post by Whitney Baker, Head of Conservation Services at KU Libraries. It focuses on a handwritten poem titled “A Valentine” from one of Spencer’s regional history collections.

These items are meant to show that the library houses many things that many people may not realize. From books, to manuscripts, to maps and ephemera, if you can think of a topic, we likely have something related. Have a topic in mind? I have three unplanned weeks between March and April so please feel free to leave ideas/interests in the comment box below and I will see what items we may hold.

Tiffany McIntosh
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Severe Weather Edition

March 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 3,600 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

It may still feel like winter on Mount Oread, but spring is just around the corner, and with it the potential for strong storms. We selected today’s images thinking about Kansas Severe Weather Awareness Week, which ends tomorrow, and today’s specific focus on thunderstorm and lightning safety.

Photograph of lightning flashing above the Campanile and Spencer Research Library, 1980

Lightning flashes above the Campanile, with Spencer Research Library
faintly visible behind it, 1980. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Storms 1980 Prints: Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of firefighters battling a blaze at Hoch Auditorium, 1991

Firefighters battling a blaze at Hoch Auditorium, June 15, 1991. The building was struck
by lightning
during a violent thunderstorm that, according to the Kansas Alumni magazine,
“pelted the Lawrence area with heavy rain and pea-sized hail.” University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/33 1991 Slides: Campus: Buildings: Hoch Auditorium (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of a tree in front of Fraser Hall damaged by a storm, 1991

Tree in front of Watson Library (not shown) damaged by a storm, 1991. This may have been
the same June 15th storm that caused the fire at Hoch Auditorium. Fraser Hall is
in the background. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Storms 1991 Negatives:
Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

A Find in Fraser

September 20th, 2013

This summer I was the Stannard Conservation Lab Intern at the University of Kansas. I worked on many projects, but the most challenging one was treating a large collection of architectural plans. University Archives already has many architectural plans of KU campus buildings, so it was a surprise when more original plans were found in the attic of Fraser Hall. The plans had been rolled up, tied with string, and left for years in the attic. They were stacked on top of each other and very dirty, some showing signs of bird droppings and cobwebs. Due to this rough storage environment, some of the plans were severely damaged, although most were in fairly stable condition. The plans were moved from Fraser’s attic to University Archives until a more appropriate and permanent storage situation could be found.

Photograph of architectural plans temporarily stored in University Archives.
Rolled architectural plans temporarily stored in
University Archives. Click image to enlarge.

It is best for architectural plans to be stored flat, not only for their preservation but also to save space. Since the plans were stored rolled for so long, they needed to be humidified and flattened before they could be stored in horizontal files in the Archives. This required some creative thinking by the KU conservation team because a humidity chamber had to be specially made to accommodate these large plans.

The construction of the humidity chamber was finished when I started my internship, so I was able to start right in on developing the work procedure for humidifying and flattening the plans. I developed a documentation process to keep track of the plans that were treated and instituted an efficient work flow to keep the project rolling.

Photograph of the humidity chamber.
The specially-built humidity chamber at KU’s Conservation Lab.
Click image to enlarge.

The rolled plans were sorted by what building they depicted and then moved to the work room in their respective groups. Next, the drawings were prepared for humidification: staples were removed and important information about the plans – including title and date – were recorded in a database. The plans were then humidified and flattened. Lastly, the plans were placed in labeled folders and stored in the Archive’s new horizontal storage cases. The work procedure I developed allowed the other interns to continue the flattening and filing process even after my internship ended.

Photograph of Summer Conservation Intern Erin Kraus.
Summer Conservation Intern Erin Kraus removes
water from the humidity chamber with a wet vac.
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of horizontal storage cases.
New horizontal storage cases in University Archives.
Click image to enlarge.

These historic plans were an important discovery because they can still be useful to architects today when improvements are being made to buildings. The conservation of the plans so far turned out beautifully, so it was very satisfying to see the progress made on the project.

Photograph of humidified and flattened plans.
Architectural plans after humidification and flattening.
Click image to enlarge.

The conservation lab at KU was a great place to spend my summer and I learned a lot from this project. Having an internship in Kansas allowed me to not only spend time in my home state, but to also get to know all of the wonderful people at the Stannard Conservation Lab. Thanks for a great summer!

Erin Kraus
2013 Conservation Summer Intern