Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Votes for Women!: The Suffrage Movement at the University of Kansas

December 10th, 2019

The credit for the success of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States seems to always go to women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other well-known women who fill the history books. While they most certainly deserve all of the accolades given to them, much of the groundwork for equal suffrage was done at the local level. These well-organized suffrage leagues and associations were part of a national network of volunteers, all working for one common purpose. The women, and often men, in these types of small, grass-roots groups were no less passionate about suffrage for women as their more famous counterparts.

The College Equal Suffrage League was a national organization begun in 1900. The mission of the League was to get college students involved in the women’s suffrage movement. The League fostered branches on college campuses around the country. The University of Kansas chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League was organized in January 1909.

Information about KU's chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Information about KU’s chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Membership consisted of students, faculty, and staff. The first administrative sponsors of the KU league were Dr. William H. Carruth, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature; Dr. Arvin S. Olin, Professor of Education; and Carrie Watson, Librarian. Student leaders were chosen from among the members. The women shown here were the officers of the KU chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League for 1909. Also shown is the often patronizing write-up that accompanied their senior class pictures in the yearbooks.

Senior photograph of Jessie Baldridge in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Senior photograph of Jessie Baldridge in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Jessie Baldridge, A. B.
La Junta, Colo.

Kappa Alpha Theta, Sophomore Prom Committee, Junior Prom Committee, Junior Farce, President of College Equal Suffrage League, Senior Play.

Susan B. the Second, princess of the Suffragettes, and yet has as many friends among the boys as the next one. Last year it was feared that she would join the army but we notice this year that she has laid her “arms by” and joined the Suffragettes instead. She would have voted for Carruth in the spring election if she hadn’t forgot to register. Colorado had an evil effect upon her.
Senior photograph of Laurenia Mervine Shaw in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910
Senior photograph of Laurenia Mervine Shaw in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Laurenia Mervine Shaw, A.B.
Lawrence.

Decorating Committee for Chancellor’s Inaugural, Vice-President K.U. Branch of College League of National Equal Suffrage Association.

Laurenia has Miss Corbin and the Woman’s Collegiate Suffragettes Association backed clear off the boards when it comes to the strenuous upholding of the rights of downtrodden woman. She is chief suffragette and general agitator, and she has a falling for tall, good-looking men for escorts to dances. Is thinking of going to England as soon as school is out, to kidnap the prime minister. Born in the shadow of the capital, and is still old fashioned enough to have faith in the practical application of the motto: “Honesty is the best policy.”
Senior photograph of Mary Elizabeth Parker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909
Senior photograph of Mary Elizabeth Parker in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1909. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Mary Elizabeth Parker, A.B.
Lawrence. “Maybeth”

Y.W.C.A., Chairman of Student Government Committee.

Her one great sorrow is that she could not persuade “Lummie” to join the Woman’s Suffrage movement. In addition to many other duties, social and intellectual, Maybeth cheerfully espoused the cause of the suffragettes. Owing to her ardent support, that band of martyrs has made a stir in feminine circles this year.
Senior photograph of Florence Hackbusch in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910
Senior photograph of Florence Hackbusch in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1910. University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

Florence Hackbusch, A.B.
Leavenworth.

Phi Beta Kappa, Y.W.C.A., W.S.G.A. [Women’s Student Government Association]

Florentine never hesitates to demonstrate with a flourish the ascendancy of noble woman. She possesses a great strength of her own convictions, and has even had the temerity to take a crack at Professor Boynton’s courses. As a suffragette Florentine is a winner, and bids fair to languish in bastiles [sic] right along with the rest of them.

Evidence suggests that the KU League only existed until 1912, and disbanded after women in Kansas had been granted the right to vote in national elections. An article in the December 12, 1912, issue of the University Daily Kansan reports that the League met to “decide whether or not to disband, now that suffrage has carried in Kansas.” There is no mention of the KU League in the university yearbook or newspaper after this date, and, unfortunately, there are no known archival records for the student organization.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Whomper Edition

November 15th, 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!

Today is America Recycles Day. Did you know that in the early 1970s KU operated a small recycling facility under Memorial Stadium? The centerpiece of the Reclamation Center was the Whomper, which acquired its name from the sound it made when crushing cans and bottles.

Photograph of the Whomper recycling machine at KU, 1971

The Whomper recycling machine at KU, 1971. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Whomper 1971 Prints: Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photographs of the Whomper in the Jayhawker yearbook, Fall 1972

Photographs of the Whomper in the Jayhawker yearbook,
Fall 1972. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click image to enlarge.

A group of KU students started the campus recycling program in January 1971. According to the Fall 1972 Jayhawker,

In the fall of 1970, Steve Emerson, then a Topeka junior, introduced a bill to the Student Senate which, if it had been accepted, would have banned all vending machines from campus. From this humble beginning the University of Kansas “Whomper” was born.

The Reclamation Center was the brainchild of the Coca Cola Company and the Union vending service. Because the banning of vending machines would have meant tremendous losses of revenue to both companies and because both were environmentally concerned, they agreed to finance the project. The Coca Cola Company agreed to loan the machine to KU indefinitely, and the vending service financed the installation of the Whomper in Memorial Stadium…Both companies continue to provide support for the Reclamation Center…

All funding for operations comes from outside the University with the exception of Student Senate support for pick-up service and for a reclamation director.

According to an article in the University Daily Kansan on September 16, 1971, students and others could “bring glass and cans to the Reclamation Center from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays when the [Whomper] is actually in operation, but there is a chute at Gate 22 at the north end of the stadium for material to be deposited at any time.”

The Reclamation Center faced several challenges and was plagued by debts throughout its nearly six year history. The project relocated from Memorial Stadium in May 1972 and lost its Student Senate funding in late 1973. A nonprofit organization called Whomper Inc. continued the recycling program at various locations in Lawrence before it closed in late 1976.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Suitcase Avalanche Edition

August 17th, 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!

Today is Move-In Day, and new and returning Jayhawks are arriving on Mount Oread. This week’s post features a verbal description and visual depiction of what this looked like at the beginning of KU’s 1928-1929 academic year, according to the 1929 Jayhawker yearbook.

Happy greetings…hand shaking…taxis whizzing away loaded with newly arrived students…perspiring baggagemen swearing at an avalanche of trunks and suitcases…The sleepy town of Lawrence suddenly awakened to the realization that another nine months session had begun at K.U.

Page from the Jayhawker yearbook, 1929 Page from the Jayhawker yearbook, 1929

Selected pages from the 1929 Jayhawker yearbook. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click images to enlarge.

Subsequent pages in the yearbook describe the high points of the first week of freshman life at KU. Some events are familiar to modern students, for example participating in fraternity and sorority recruitment and learning about university customs and traditions. Other events – like taking a psychological examination, attending teas, and registering and enrolling for fall classes right before the beginning of the semester – would be foreign.

Page from the Jayhawker yearbook, 1929

Page from the Jayhawker yearbook, 1929 Page from the Jayhawker yearbook, 1929

Selected pages from the 1929 Jayhawker yearbook. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1929. Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Letters Home: Correspondence during World War I

May 15th, 2017

In December 1917, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Graduate Magazine began publishing letters from Jayhawks serving in various capacities overseas. The letters became a regular part of the publication in 1918 and 1919. While some of the letters were from former students to faculty at KU or to The Graduate Magazine itself, most were sent to their families and later shared with the Alumni Association’s publication – giving those back home a glimpse into the lives of brave Jayhawks overseas.

For example, Herbert Laslett was a psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who graduated from KU in 1918. During his final year at KU, he was a student officer in the KU Cadet Regiment. While in Europe as a member of the 353rd Infantry, A.E.F., Laslett wrote to one of his former instructors describing his experience and sharing some news of other former students as well. His letter appeared in the December 1918 issue of The Graduate Magazine.

Photograph of the KU Cadet Regiment, 1918

The KU Cadet Regiment in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1918.
Herbert Laslett is in the back row on the far left.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

Herbert Laslett, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, December 1918 Herbert Laslett, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, December 1918

Herbert Laslett’s letters in The Graduate Magazine, December 1918.
University Archives. Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1918. Click images to enlarge.

Evadne Laptad was a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Science who graduated from KU in 1908. Evadne worked as a hospital searcher with the American Red Cross’s Hospital and Home Communication Service during the war. A new initiative during World War I, the Hospital and Home Communication Service sent American women to military hospitals in Europe during and after the war. These women relayed information about injured soldiers to their family and friends back home. Her letter appeared in the April 1919 issue of The Graduate Magazine alongside letters from two other female graduates who were serving the war effort overseas.

Photograph of Evadne Laptad in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1908

Evadne Laptad’s senior picture in the Jayhawker yearbook, 1908.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1908.

Evadne Laptad, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, April 1919 Evadne Laptad, “Letters,” The Graduate Magazine, April 1919

Evadne Laptad’s letters in The Graduate Magazine, April 1919.
University Archives. Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1918. Click images to enlarge.

Emily Beran
Public Services

Happy Birthday, William Inge!

May 3rd, 2017

Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning playwright and screenwriter William Inge (1913-1973) was born on this day in Independence, Kansas, 104 years ago.

Photograph of William Inge, circa 1960

William Inge, circa 1960. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: P/ Inge, William (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Inge attended the University of Kansas from 1930 to 1935, getting his degree in speech and dramatic arts. While a student, Inge pursued his interest in acting as a member of the KU Dramatics Club. In the fall of 1934 he was in a KU production of Eva the Fifth, the story of a traveling theater troupe.

Photograph of William Inge in "Eva the Fifth,” Fall 1934

William Inge and Virginia Hecker in a scene from Eva the Fifth, Fall 1934.
This photograph appeared in the Topeka Capital Journal, October 19, 1963.
William Inge biographical file. University Archives. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of William Inge, 1935

Inge was a also member of Sigma Nu while at KU.
This picture of him is from the fraternity’s
group photo in the 1935 Jayhawker yearbook.
University Archives. Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1935.
Click image to enlarge.

Inge turned his attention to playwriting after leaving KU and was quite successful. His most well-known works are Come Back Little Sheba, Picnic, Bus Stop, Splendor in the Grass, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Inge came back to KU several times as a guest lecturer, and in 1955 he directed a KU production of what would become Picnic, using an early draft version of the play entitled Summer Brave.

Photograph of the "Summer Brave" cover page, 1961

Cover page of Inge’s “Summer Brave,” 1961.
Call Number: RH MS D70. Click image to enlarge.

Spencer Research Library has a small Inge Collection, and the William Inge Memorial Theatre, housed in Murphy Hall on the KU campus, is named in his honor. The largest collection of Inge materials is housed at Independence Community College, where there is also the William Inge Center for the Arts and an annual William Inge Theater Festival.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services