Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Perfect Stranger

August 22nd, 2016

Recently, I have been working with Sherry Williams, Curator of Collections and Curator of the Kansas Collection, to survey and treat priority materials from the Kansas Collection. Many of these items had notes in the finding aids about conservation treatment needs.

One particular item was accompanied by a note—dated 1968, the year Spencer Library opened—indicating that the item should not be used until treatment could be secured. The item, which was received in a mailing tube, had been dutifully filed away. We were happy to find it and finally be able to address its needs. Inside was a rolled paper item with a linen backing. It was a plat map of the town of Stranger, KS, surveyed by A.D. Searl and dated June 11, 1867. The item was caked in mud, extremely stained, and very fragile.

Map of Stranger, KS. Call number RH VLT MS Misc 5, Spencer Research Library

Rolled item as it appeared when removed from the tube. Call number RH Map R560. Click image to enlarge.

Map of Stranger, KS. Call number RH VLT MS Misc 5, Spencer Research Library

Detail of the mud along top edge, also showing linen backing below. Call number RH Map R560. Click image to enlarge.

I removed as much dirt and mud as possible with a tool called a microspatula (shown in the above image), lightly dry-cleaned the item with vinyl eraser crumbs to remove additional surface dirt, and removed the linen backing, which peeled right off. The map was placed in a bath to wash away as much of the water-soluble degradation products as possible, then placed in an alkaline bath to add a buffer as the paper ages. Next, it was lined on the back with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste to provide more support to the fragile item. Areas of loss were filled in with toned Japanese paper.

Map of Stranger, KS. Call number RH VLT MS Misc 5, Spencer Research Library     Map of Stranger, KS. Call number RH VLT MS Misc 5, Spencer Research Library

Map of Stranger, KS, before and after treatment. Call number RH Map R560. Click images to enlarge.

Once the treatment was completed and I could safely view the map, I had to learn more about this town with the “strange” name. From the History of Leavenworth County Kansas by Jesse A. Hall and Leroy T. Hand (Topeka: 1921), I discovered that the town was originally named “Journey-Cake” after a nickname given to a Delaware chief who lived nearby. When the town was platted in 1867 (the date of the map), the name was changed to Stranger after the Big Stranger Creek that flowed through the town. However, another nearby town had the same name, so in 1877 the name was again changed to Linwood, in honor of the linden trees in the area.

As you can see from the map, Stranger was situated along both the Big Stranger Creek and the Kansas River. In May and June of 1903, excessive flooding wreaked havoc in the town. On the evening of May 29, 1903, Hall and Hand note, “Many frame houses were swept away in the newly made channel of the Kaw. Some were upturned and were not swept away. Water in places was 20 feet deep over what had been Linwood. The postoffice was completely submerged” (324). The townspeople eventually decided to move their town of Linwood a mile north, where it remains today.

Kaw River flood, 1903? Call number RH Ph P 1055_2, Spencer Research Library

Photo print of flood, possibly 1903. Call number RH PH 1055.2.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

 

Native American Heritage Month: Haskell Indian Nations University

November 23rd, 2015

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, I’m highlighting items from our Kansas Collection that feature events and people from Haskell Indian Nations University, which has been educating First Nations students since 1884 in Lawrence, KS.

Did you know that Haskell offered the first touch-typing class in Kansas? The commercial department, now known as the business department, opened in 1895 with five typewriters. To find this information and other interesting facts about Haskell, check out their school history webpage.

Vivian McAllister and students typing in class.

Vivian McAllister with students typing in class at Haskell.
Miscellaneous photographs and negatives, ca. 1970.
Wallace Galluzzi Papers. Call Number: RH MS 807. Click Image to Enlarge.

This picture was taken in the 1930s by the well-known local photographer, Duke D’ambra. It illustrates Haskell’s long history as a diverse intertribal educational institution. Haskell continues to celebrate its cultural diversity with the annual Haskell Indian Art Market.

Unknown Haskell students. Photograph of Haskell Activities, 1930s.

Unknown Haskell students. Photograph of Haskell Activities, 1930s.
Duke D’ambra photograph collection. Call Number: RH PH 69.542.6. Click Image to Enlarge.

Haskell has a long tradition of producing exceptional athletes. Below are a couple of examples from Haskell’s rich athletic history.

John Levi played football at Haskell from 1921-1924 and then came back to coach the team from 1926-1936. He has been inducted into 3 sports hall of fames, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame, and the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. Check out Haskell Athletics’ Flashback Friday post on John Levi to learn more.

Photograph of Haskell football player John Levi and accompanying document describing his actions in a game against the Quantico Marines.Photograph of Haskell football player John Levi and accompanying document describing his actions in a game against the Quantico Marines.

Photograph of Haskell football player John Levi and accompanying document chronicling
his actions in a game against the Quantico Marines. Duke D’ambra photograph collection.
Call Number: RH PH 69.583.3. Click Image to Enlarge.

Billy Mills was a graduate of both Haskell and KU. He is most remembered for his surprise win of the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. To learn more about Billy Mills and his incredible life story check out this interview with Mills from Haskell Athletics’ Flashback Friday post and “Mill’s Moment” on KUHistory.com written by Mark D. Hersey.

“Billy Mills is inducted in Sports Hall of Fame.” The Indian Leader, November 27, 1964.

“Billy Mills is inducted in Sports Hall of Fame.” The Indian Leader,
November 27, 1964.William Galluzzi Papers. Call Number: RH MS 807.
Click Image to Enlarge.

Mindy Babarskis
Library Assistant and Supply Coordinator

Collection Feature: Veteran’s Day

November 9th, 2015

In honor of Veteran’s Day on November 11, we feature this item from the Verlean Tidwell Family Collection, from our African American Experience Collections. This collection was donated by Dr. John Edgar Tidwell, a KU English Department faculty member. His mother, Mrs. Verlean Tidwell, served as a member of Maple Street Baptist Church in Independence, Kansas, for more than 70 years.

This handmade Veteran’s Day book was compiled by Mrs. Arletta Moore in 1966 to honor veterans of World War I and II from Maple St. Baptist Church.

Handmade Veteran's Day book

The decorated cover features glitter, gold stickers, and a silk flower. Call number RH MS 1286 Box 10, Kansas Collection. Click image to enlarge.

Handmade Veteran's Day book  Handmade Veteran's Day book

The book includes clippings about war, a typed list of veterans and their next of kin, poems, and handwritten notations. Call number RH MS 1286 Box 10, Kansas Collection. Click images to enlarge.

Handmade Veteran's Day book

Detail of handwritten Pledge of Allegiance, along with gold stickers and handwritten “war” in block letters. Call number RH MS 1286 Box 10, Kansas Collection. Click image to enlarge.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good

April 27th, 2015

We are moving into high tornado season here in the Great Plains (typically April through June). In the spirit of the season, today we feature images from the Kansas Collection of tornado damage to unlucky Kansas towns.

On April 21, 1887, the town of Prescott, Kansas (Linn County) suffered complete destruction. According a newspaper report from the time, “every house was either carried away or ruined” in this settlement of one-thousand residents. Hailstones “as large as hen’s eggs” preceded the tornado. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper featured front-page illustrations of the damage caused to an underground dugout.

Interior of cellar during tornado

Image from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of May 7, 1887, depicting a spike entering through the roof of a dugout during a tornado on April 21, 1887. Kansas Collection, call number RH H102. Click image to enlarge.

 

On May 2, 1898, a cyclone hit Wellington, Kansas (Sumner County) and caused widespread damage. Here is a view of the toppled Lutheran Church, taken the day after the tornado struck.

RH PH P2356.3. Lutheran Church at Wellington, Kansas on May 28, 1898 after tornado hit

Photograph of the Lutheran Church, Wellington, KS, in 1898. Kansas Collection, call number RH PH P2356.3.
Image from Kansas Collection Photographs LUNA site. Click image to enlarge.

 

A tornado hit the W.O. Tanner home in Mullinville, Kansas (Kiowa County) on June 11, 1915, leaving it damaged but standing. The A.W. Kline family was not as fortunate, suffering complete destruction of their home. Writing on the back of the photo below, representing these two family homes, indicates that “mules and cattle [were] carried two miles” in this storm.

Mullinvile [sic] Kansas (Kiowa County) on June 11, 1915 after tornado hit

Two images from Mullinville, Kansas showing tornado damage in 1915. Above: W. O Tanner home. Below: A. W. Kline home. Kansas Collection, call number RH PH P1625.1. Image from Kansas Collection Photographs LUNA site. Click image to enlarge.

 

If you live in tornado country you will have heard many tales of selective and odd damage left by a tornado, with complete destruction next to a perfect area of order. A tornado that hit Andale, Kansas (Sedgwick County) in 1918 provided such an example of unusual cyclone damage: the wind ran spikes of wood through tree trunks as seen in the image below.

RH PH P2767. Andale, KS tornado damage, 1918

Spikes through tree trunks, 1918. Kansas Collection, call number RH PH P2767.
Image from Kansas Collection Photographs LUNA site. Click image to enlarge.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

William S. Burroughs’ last journals come to KU Libraries

February 7th, 2014

It’s been an exciting week or two in Lawrence for scholars and fans of William S. Burroughs.  Wednesday, February 5 was the centenary of the writer’s birth, and around town events and exhibitions have been exploring his writing, art, and deep ties to Lawrence.  Burroughs made Lawrence his home during the last fifteen years of his life, and now, thanks to a gift from James Grauerholz, executor of the Burroughs estate and a KU alumnus, the influential author’s last journals will join the collections of KU Libraries.

Burroughs helped revolutionize the post-WWII literary landscape with novels like Naked Lunch and Nova Express, the latter a part of his cut-up trilogy.  To celebrate the gift, five of the ten journals will be on display in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s lobby through February.  These notebooks, which span from November 1996 to Burroughs’ death in August of 1997, were the basis for Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs, a volume edited by Grauerholz and published in 2000.  In their pages we see literature, politics, art, and philosophy collide with everyday life.  A reference to speaking with an ailing friend, poet Allen Ginsberg  (“His voice over the phone from Beth Israel Hospital in NYC sounded very weak”), appears alongside a reminder to buy disposable razors.  The final entry (see below) offers a meditation on conflict and love.  To the left Burroughs has written:  “Love? What is it? / Most natural pain / killer what there is. / L O V E.”

Image of William Burroughs' last entry in one of his final journals.

William S. Burroughs’ final journal. Image courtesy of Chuck France / KU Office of Public Affairs.  Click here for a larger version.

 

Image of display case containing five of Burroughs' last journals  Image of display case containing five of William S. Burroughs' last journals, as seen from above.

On display through February in Spencer Research Library’s lobby: five of the ten journals donated by the Burroughs estate.

 

In addition to the journals, the gift also includes typescripts and draft materials for the edition Grauerholz produced. Once cataloged, these “last words” of William S. Burroughs will be available for researchers and the public to consult at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Elspeth Healey,
Special Collections Librarian