Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Holiday Travel Edition

December 13th, 2018

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!

If you’re traveling this holiday season, we hope your journey is much more pleasant than what’s depicted in this week’s image!

Image of the "Off for the Holly-Days" cartoon in the Sour Owl, December 1926

“Off for the Holly-Days” cartoon in The Sour Owl, December 1926.
The humorous periodical was written and published by KU students from 1914 through 1956.
University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 71/0/58. Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Holiday Hosting with “The ‘Home Queen’ Cook Book”

December 7th, 2018

December has arrived and with it the winter holiday season! Since the holiday season means holiday parties, I wanted to look into hosting an oft forgotten type of affair – a lovely, elegant dinner party!

Personally, I do not have much experience with dinner parties so I decided to go to the best source I could find: The “Home Queen” Cook Book. Compiled during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, The “Home Queen” Cook Book features recipes, etiquette, and entertaining suggestions from “over two hundred World’s Fair lady managers, wives of governors, and other ladies of position and influence.” Armed with the advice of these many esteemed ladies, I set out to see if I could recreate an elegant dinner party from generations past. What follows is a story of research, abandoned dreams, and a final feeble attempt to do anything I had originally hoped to accomplish.

Image of the cover of "The 'Home Queen' Cook Book," 1901

The cover of The “Home Queen” Cook Book, 1901.
Call Number: Galloway C35. Click image to enlarge.

Now, I do not know what everyone else pictures when they think of a dinner party, but I was envisioning an elegantly set table with beautiful linens and fine china to hold a magnificent multi-course meal. With that image in mind, I immediately began examining the section on “Party Suppers” in The “Home Queen” Cook Book. That sounds like the place to start, right? And what did I learn? First, a “party supper” and a dinner party are not synonymous. A party supper is much less formal than what I was expecting when I read the heading:

An evening party… would assemble quite early in the evening. This would give plenty of time for social intercourse, music and innocent amusements. Refreshments might be carried around on trays, and the guests served with cake, coffee or lemonade. Fine large napkins should first be handed around. These should be spread on the knees to receive the plates afterward furnished. Delicate sandwiches of chopped tongue, spread thinly on sandwich biscuits, or the white meat of turkey or check are very nice for such entertainments. Ice cream, confectionery, and ripe fruit of any kind may be served.

I liked the idea of this informal gathering, which was meant to “facilitate conversation, ease, and the choosing of congenial companions out of mixed gatherings at large parties.” What more could you want from a festive holiday party? However, I still had the aforementioned picture of a dinner party in my mind. This prompted me to look to the sections on “The Mid-Day Meal” and “The Evening Meal” in the book, hoping to find any information that might be of use. Lo and behold, I found exactly what I was picturing in “The Mid-Day Meal” section! In it was everything I could ever want to know about table settings, the most appropriate food choices, even how to properly invite your guests to the affair. Before spending a great deal of time on the overwhelming amount of food described, I decided to focus first on the most basic aspect of the evening: a proper table setting.

After reading the descriptions of the proper linens, plates, crystal, and silver, I realized that just setting the table would cost a small fortune. The proper “snow white” table linen made of the suggested “handsome Irish damask” would easily cost over $100 for a small tablecloth. Any attempt at recreating the quality of a proper dinner table setting was clearly out of reach.

“Ok,” I thought to myself, “If the expected quality is unmanageable, what can I do that would dress up a somewhat subpar table setting so that it at least looks elegant?” Returning to the book, I found the perfect remedy: an artfully folded napkin. Aided by the “Folding Table Napkins” section, I began my attempt to create anything that might give me the air of sophistication I had hoped to achieve when I originally formed this brilliant plan of mine.

Image of the instructions for the Escutcheon napkin fold in "The 'Home Queen' Cook Book," 1901

Escutcheon napkin fold diagram and instructions in
The “Home Queen” Cook Book, 1901.
Call Number: Galloway C35. Click image to enlarge.

The “Home Queen” Cook Book features no less than twenty-one different napkin-folding techniques to help ensure that “the dining room, the table and all that is placed upon it shall be made as attractive as possible.” With such a plethora of options – all with detailed instructions and pictures to guide me – I thought I had finally found the perfect starting point on my way to my dream dinner party. Unfortunately, my optimism and confidence were quickly destroyed after attempting only two of the possible folds: the Escutcheon (picture above) and the Chestnut Pocket (pictured below).

Image of the instructions for the Chestnut Pocket napkin fold in "The 'Home Queen' Cook Book," 1901

The Chestnut Pocket napkin fold diagram and instructions in
The “Home Queen” Cook Book, 1901.
Call Number: Galloway C35. Click image to enlarge.

The Escutcheon: Described as “the easiest of all the ornamental foldings,” the Escutcheon was the beginning of the end for me. It was here I learned that the instructions to starch and iron the napkins immediately before folding was not a suggestion but truly an absolute requirement. After close to a half an hour of intense labor and a great deal of swearing, I finally managed to produce… something.

Photograph of an Escutcheon napkin fold attempt

My attempt at the Escutcheon napkin fold. Click image to enlarge.

The Chestnut Pocket: My attempt to regaining any semblance of dignity after being so embarrassingly defeated by the Escutcheon finally yielded a positive result for me! I even took it a step beyond the Chestnut Pocket and created the Pocket Napkin. I found that the secret to success lay in finding a napkin-folding technique that did not need to stand up. With this revelation, I managed to produce the following creation:

Photograph of a Pocket napkin fold attempt

My successful attempt at the Pocket napkin fold
(a variation on the Chestnut Pocket napkin fold).
Click image to enlarge.

So after all of this – the research, the numerous disappointments, the defeat, and eventual triumph – I am sure you must be wondering: will I be hosting my envisioned elegant dinner party this holiday season? To put it succinctly, absolutely not. There is only so much embarrassment by fabric I am willing to put myself through in the name of holiday entertaining.

Emily Beran
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Holiday Lights Edition

December 21st, 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!

Wishing all of our researchers, visitors, donors, friends, and supporters the merriest of holidays!

Photograph of Hoch Auditorium with holiday lights, 1954

Hoch Auditorium with holiday lights, 1954. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/33 1954 Negatives: Campus: Buildings: Hoch Auditorium (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Spencer Research Library will be closed from December 23rd through January 1st.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

“Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good Night”

December 19th, 2017

To help celebrate the holidays, we’re sharing Clement Clarke Moore’s poem The Night Before Christmas (originally published in 1823 as A Visit from St. Nicholas) as illustrated by two copies of the text in Spencer’s collections – one from 1896 and the other from the early 1900s. The version of the poem used here comes from a 1920 edition, also in the library’s holdings.

Image of The Night Before Christmas, cover, 1896

The Night Before Christmas, or, A Visit of St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore, 1896.
Call Number: Children E39. Click image to enlarge.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, circa early 1900s

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore,
undated, circa early 1900s. Call Number: Children E40.
Click image to enlarge.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, 1896

The Night Before Christmas, 1896.
Call Number: Children E39. Click image to enlarge.

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, circa early 1900s

The Night Before Christmas, undated, circa early 1900s.
Call Number: Children E40. Click image to enlarge.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack.

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, 1896

The Night Before Christmas, 1896.
Call Number: Children E39. Click image to enlarge.

His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was white as snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and twist of head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, circa early 1900s

The Night Before Christmas, undated, circa early 1900s.
Call Number: Children E40. Click image to enlarge.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team he gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT

Illustration from The Night Before Christmas, 1896

The Night Before Christmas, 1896.
Call Number: Children E39. Click image to enlarge.

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Cards of Christmas Past: 1900s – 1920s

December 20th, 2013

***Reminder: The Kenneth Spencer Research Library will be closed December 21-December 29, 2013 and January 1, 2014. ***

The 2013 holiday season is underway, and many of us are preparing to send (or have sent) cards to friends and family.  With this in mind, we share some cards and postcards of Christmas Past (1900s-1920s).

Christmas Postcards: 1903 – 1907

"A Merry Christmas"; Christmas postcard 1903 Christmas Postcard featuring children hanging stockings by the fire, ca. 1900-1910 "A Merry Christmas"; Christmas postcard 1907

Left to right:  Postmarked 1903, from Cleveland, Ohio to Leona Baumgartner in Lawrence, Kansas;
Addressed to Leona Baumgartner, undated; Postmarked 1907, from Chicago, IL
to Leona Baumgartner in Lawrence, Kansas.  Anna Olinger Papers. PP 113 Box 1. Click images to enlarge.

These three Christmas postcards were sent to a very young Leona Baumgartner (1902-1991).  Baumgartner was a prominent doctor who served as the first female Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health. This national figure was also a Jayhawk; earning a BA in Bacteriology and MA in Immunology at KU.   Explore Leona Baumgartner’s life through several of Spencer’s other collections: the Personal Papers of Leona Baumgartner (PP 52) and J. W. Miller Collection (RH MS 960) and the Kansas Newspaper Clippings Collection (RH MS 828).

Christmas Cards and Postcards: 1913 – 1918

"Best Wishes": front of Holiday card.

"With Best Wishes for a Bright and Happy Christmastide;" Holiday card, interior (from "Robert"), undated.

"Christmas Greeting" holiday postcard, 1913

"When Shepherds watched their flocks by night"; Christmas card, 1913   "A Merry Christmas to You" Christmas card, 1918

Holiday cards from the Robert L. Gilbert Papers.
Top: Holiday card from “Robert,” undated. Center: “Christmas Greeting” postcard,
postmarked December 22, 1913 and addressed to Mrs. R. L. Gilbert, Lawrence, Kansas.
Bottom left: Card postmarked December 24, 1913, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. R. L. Gilbert,
Lawrence, Kansas, and sent from Meridian, Mississippi. Bottom right: Card postmarked
December 24, 1918, addressed to Mrs. R. L. Gilbert, Lawrence, Kansas. Sent from
Lawrence, Kansas. Robert L. Gilbert Papers. RH MS P764, folder1. Click images to enlarge.

Robert L Gilbert (1898 – 1987) was born in Lawrence, KS. He joined the Navy in 1917 and served during World War I as an airplane mechanic, deployed in France.  He returned to Lawrence to attend KU (1919-1923), graduating with a degree in Journalism. The cards pictured above come from his family’s collection (RH MS P764), though the card at the top perhaps bears the signature of the young Robert. Learn more about Robert L Gilbert his Personal Papers, (PP 223), which consist primarily of letters from France but which also include a Christmas Dinner menu from 1918.

Christmas Cards and Postcards: 1917 – 1920

Christmas Greeting with printed poem, "To My Old Friend," 1917

"A Merry Christmas" (card with candle), 1917 Card, "Bringing you best wishes for Christmas and the New Year," 1920

To Miss H. Morrison, Glendive, Montana, sent from New York, New York,
postmarked December 23, 1917 (top), from New York, New York, postmarked
December 24, 1917 (bottom left), and to Harriet in Bloomfield, New Jersey,
sent from New York, New York, postmarked December 22, 1920.
Lionel A. Anderson Collection. RH MS 624, Folder 16.

Harriet M. Kemper Morrison was a nurse at the Northern Pacific Railway Hospital in Glendive, Montana, where she met Dr. Lionel Anderson. The collection consists primarily of letters (1917 – 1920) from Lionel  to Harriet, his fiance; however it also includes holiday cards from a variety of senders. The beige card featuring a candle dates from 1917 and contains the following message:

There are miles and miles
Between us and it is days
And days since we’ve met. But
This little Christmas Greeting
Will prove. I haven’t forgotten you yet.
Signed:  With Best Wishes, Lovingly, Frances

Christmas Cards and Postcards: 1925 – 1927

Holiday card from "Shorty," undated: "A Merry Christmas"  Holiday Card, 1925: "Christmas Greetings!" Holiday card: "Christmas Greetings! Christmas Cheer", 1927

Cards sent to the Reichert family. Undated card from “Shorty” (top left);
Card from Frankie to Mr. Carroll Reichert, Seneca, Kansas, postmarked
December 21, 1925 and sent from Topeka, Kansas (top right).
Card postmarked December 20, 1927 to Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Riechert, Seneca, Kansas,
and sent from Leavenworth, Kansas (bottom).
Albert. A. Reichert papers. RH MS 1028, Folder 7. Click to enlarge.

Albert A. Reichert lived for many years in Seneca, KS, with his wife Myrtle and son Carroll.  He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, serving with the 22nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Meredith Huff
Building Operations and Stacks Manager, Public Services Student Assistant Co-Supervisor