Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

October Exhibit: The Russian Revolution

October 6th, 2017

Spencer’s renovated North Gallery includes two new cases in which staff members can display materials on a short-term basis. During October, we’re exhibiting items in Spencer’s holdings that relate to the Russian Revolution of 1917. The exhibit is free and open to the public in the Spencer North Gallery during the library’s regular business hours.

The cover of the pamphlet entitled Eugene V. Deb’s Canton Speech, published after 1921

One of the most well-known and popular American socialists
during the early 20th century, Eugene V. Debs was the
Socialist Party’s candidate for U.S. President five times.
As a result of this speech, Debs was arrested and convicted
in federal court under wartime espionage law.
Call Number: Josephson 5687. Click image to enlarge.

“During a revolution, millions and tens of millions of people learn in a single week incomparably more than in a whole year of every-day sluggish life.”

Vladimir Lenin

Marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Spencer Research Library is currently displaying highlights from the Leon Josephson Collection on Modern Socialism. Extensively documenting the international socialist movement during the first half of the 20th century, the Josephson Collection contains over 8000 pamphlets, books, and ephemeral materials.

Examples of materials on display include Lessons of the Revolution and The Land Revolution in Russia by Vladimir Lenin, as well as a copy of the first constitution adopted by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) in 1918.

Image of the cover of The Masses, September 1917

As a result of the magazine’s consistent denouncement of
World War I and American involvement, nearly all of the
editors and writers of The Masses were charged with violating
the Espionage Act of 1917. Call Number: D2009. Click image to enlarge.

Image of the cover of The Liberator, March 1918

John Reed later published his eyewitness account of the Bolshevik Revolution
as a book, Ten Days that Shook the World (1919). Reed died in a Moscow hospital
in 1920; he is buried in the graveyard of revolutionary heroes near the
Kremlin Wall. Call Number: RH WL D1614. Click image to enlarge.

“The Russian Revolution is an incomparably mightier even than any previous revolution; larger in scope and deeper in ultimate meaning than the French Revolution.”

Louis C. Fraina, a founding member of the American Communist Party

Socialist publications from America such as The Masses and its successor The Liberator are also on display. These magazines were illustrated with realist and modernist artwork, which they combined with poetry, short stories, and articles discussing and interpreting the Russian Revolution and its influence on the international socialist movement.

Statement from Public Services student Zachary Lassiter

I started KU in the fall of 2015 as a History major, and began working at Kenneth Spencer Research Library in August 2016. I’ve spent most of my time as an undergraduate studying the former Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc, and the Cold War. I had the desire to take part in researching and constructing one of the many exhibits that are showcased at Spencer throughout the year. With the recent renovation of Spencer’s North Gallery, and with the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it was a perfect opportunity. Going through countless pamphlets, magazines, and ephemeral materials, I have gained a better understanding of the Russian Revolution from the perspectives of the Bolsheviks and American socialists in their own words as it was happening. I also gained experience in the research and development process of constructing an exhibit, knowledge I hope to utilize in future work. Finally, I want to thank Caitlin Donnelly, Head of Public Services, for helping me through this process and providing me with this opportunity.

Zachary Lassiter
Public Services Student Assistant

Labor Issues in the Josephson Collection

September 5th, 2016

The Josephson Collection contains booklets and pamphlets having to do with the labor union movement in the United States. The items were collected by Leon Josephson and later acquired by KU Libraries. The materials are not only from the United States, but also from Europe and Russia.

Leon Josephson, and his more famous brother Barney, were avowed Communists. Leon was an attorney and accused of aiding the Communist Party of the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. He was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947.

The Josephson Collection also includes material on Communism and Socialism, but in honor of Labor Day weekend, here are some images of several of the U.S. labor-related items it contains.

Title pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

Title pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 5396, Josephson 4172,
Josephson 5608, and Josephson 4164. Click image to enlarge.

TItle pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

A selection of materials from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 1455, Josephson 4749,
Josephson 3472, and Josephson 3487. Click image to enlarge.

TItle pages of selected items from the Josephson Collection

A selection of materials from the Josephson Collection.
Call Numbers, from left to right: Josephson 2904, Josephson 3883,
Josephson 3974, and Josephson 3489. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of an issue of Labor Unity, February 1928

Cover of an issue of Labor Unity, February 1928.
Call Number: Josephson 4200. Click image to enlarge.

Cover of May Day vs. Labor Day, 1936

Cover of May Day vs. Labor Day: A Comparison of the
Social Significance of the Two Days of Labor Celebration
by Olive M. Johnson, 1936.
Call Number: Josephson 5757. Click image to enlarge.


Kathy Lafferty
Public Services