Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Happy Halloween from Spencer Research Library

October 31st, 2017

Spencer Research Library houses the records and films of the Centron Corporation, a production company that specialized in industrial and educational films from the 1940s through the 1990s. Childhood friends and aspiring filmmakers Russell Mosser and Arthur Wolf started working in films together while they were attending the University of Kansas. Their first film was “Sewing Simple Seams,” a one-reel sewing lesson. The rights for this film were purchased by a large instructional film company, and soon Centron grew to be a successful, independent film production company, nationally known in the field. Their most successful film was “Leo Beuerman,” nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary short of 1969.

For your Halloween preparation and enjoyment, here, compliments of Internet Archive, is Centron’s film “Halloween Safety,” produced in 1977 and now in the public domain. This film was directed by Herk Harvey, who would go on to direct “Carnival of Souls,” another excellent film to watch in preparation of Halloween. Be safe out there, little trick-or-treaters!

Image of "Halloween Safety" Film title sequence.

Kathy Lafferty
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

Myrtle Shane: Devoted Ally of the Armenian People

April 24th, 2017

“I shall stay here and face starvation with the Armenians.” Myrtle Shane, 1920

One of the rewards of working in a place like Spencer Research Library are the unexpected discoveries you make. While working on a project involving the Shane-Thompson Collection, I came across the courageous story of one of James Shane’s daughters, Myrtle Shane. Her story is especially fitting on April 24th, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Myrtle Shane from the Shane Thompson Photograph Collection. Kansas Collection. Call Number: RH PH 500.2.18
Photograph of Myrtle O. Shane, undated.
Shane-Thompson Collection, Kansas Collection.
Call number: RH PH 500:2.18. Click image to enlarge.

War always brings with it atrocities, and World War I was certainly no exception. One of the greatest atrocities during that time was the government-sponsored genocide and deportation of the Armenian people, which took place between 1915 and the early 1920s. The Armenian people were Christians who had made their home in the Caucasus region of Eurasia since the 6th century BC. Control of Armenia shifted between empires, eventually becoming part of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottoman leaders and their subjects were Muslim, yet, in spite of this vast religious difference, the two groups were able to live together relatively peacefully. Still, the majority of Muslims viewed the Armenians as “infidels” and subjected them to unequal laws and unfair treatment. Toward the end of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire began to fall apart, and there was growing suspicion among the Muslim rulers that, if given the opportunity, the Armenians would be loyal to Christian governments such as Russia, and that they would turn on their Muslim compatriots. Consequently, in 1894 Ottoman ruler Abdul Hamid II instigated the first of several pogroms against the Armenians, ordering the razing of their villages and the massacre of the people.

In 1914, Turkey entered World War I on the side of the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and at the same time the Ottoman religious authorities declared a holy war against all Christians. The view they held of the Armenian people as infidels and potential traitors was intensified, and now it included Turkish military leaders. The genocide began on April 24, 1915, when the Turkish government started killing and deporting Armenian citizens. At the start of the war there were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Between 1915 and 1923 it is believed that over one and a half million of them died by execution, starvation, exhaustion, or disease. There were many non-Armenian witnesses to the genocide, in spite of government imposed restrictions and censorship of photography and reporting. Foreign diplomats and missionaries gave chilling accounts of the atrocities taking place. Among the missionaries serving in Turkey in 1915 was a woman named Myrtle Shane.

Myrtle was born in Lawrence, Kansas, on August 16, 1880, the seventh of ten children born to James and Missouri Lee Shane. Myrtle graduated from the University of Kansas in 1906 and taught school for nearly eight years. In 1913, at the age of 32, she turned her attention to the mission field and joined the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Her first assignment was to the mission in Bitlis, Turkey, where she was serving when World War I broke out and the full-scale genocide pogrom began., Certificate of Registration of American Citizenry, Myrtle O. Shane, 1913.
Certificate of Registration of American Citizenry
for Myrtle O. Shane, 1913.
Accessed via Click image to enlarge.

By June 1915 the crisis had reached Bitlis, and the Armenian people began to seek refuge in the mission. Myrtle and a handful of other missionaries took it upon themselves to give the refugees as much protection as possible. They did this at great risk because foreigners had been forbidden to offer any help whatsoever. Not conceding to this directive, Myrtle went to the local governor to ask if he would allow the refugees – by this time about sixty women and children – to remain with her at the mission. She was told no, that there were to be no Armenians left in Bitlis. “In that case I will not give them up,” she replied. After several attempts by Myrtle, the governor finally relented and agreed to leave the refugees at the mission as long as he could.

By the middle of July conditions had worsened in Bitlis, and all missionaries were ordered by the governor to leave because he could no longer guarantee their safety, but again, Myrtle and her colleagues refused to go. Eventually Myrtle was the only missionary left to supervise the mission and the refugees. The others had died of typhus (which Myrtle also contracted during this time), been forced to leave because they were men, or been reassigned to positions in other besieged Armenian communities. Several times throughout the summer and fall attempts were made to wrest the refugees from the mission, but Myrtle always managed to negotiate a way to keep them.

By November, though, Myrtle herself was finally forced by the American State Department to leave Bitlis and go to Harpoot, where it was safer for her. She fought the order as long as she could and went reluctantly. She worked in Harpoot until the summer of 1917, when diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey were severed and Americans were ordered to leave for good. Myrtle returned to the United States in October 1917. With no one left to defend them, the refugees were eventually overtaken. While back home, Myrtle went on a speaking tour and told her audiences what she had witnessed, encouraging Americans to provide support for the suffering Armenian people.

Letter from the State Department to Herbert Thompson, Myrtle’s brother-in-law. Shane Thompson Collection,Kansas Collection. Call number: RH MS 58:1.12.
Letter from the State Department to
Herbert Thompson, Myrtle’s brother-in-law, 1915.
Shane Thompson Collection, Kansas Collection.
Call number: RH MS 58:1.12. Click image to enlarge.

"Told of Cruelties to Armenian Race" article from the Lawrence Journal World, January 3, 1918.
An account of a lecture given by Myrtle Shane
about the “cruelties to [the] Armenian Race,”
Lawrence Journal-World, January 3, 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

In 1919, at the closing of World War I, Myrtle returned to Turkey, having joined the first expedition of the American Commission for Relief in the Near East, an organization formed to provide humanitarian aid in response to the Armenian Genocide. She worked as the director of an orphanage in Alexandropol, housing nearly 5,000 orphans. Ten of her assistants were women she had protected in Bitlis. The post-war Treaty of Sevres established an Armenian state, but the new Turkish regime did not recognize it and soon atrocities against the Armenian people resumed. Again, Myrtle fought to stay with her charges until the tension eased, resisting orders to leave and dedicating herself to defend the people she had come to love. She went on to serve in Turkey, as well as in Greece and Beirut, for another ten years. She retired from the Commission in 1929. Upon her return to the United States, she went to live with her sister, Ella Gilbert, in Columbus, Ohio, and resumed teaching school. On June 28, 1953, Myrtle suffered a stroke and passed away at age 72.

Armenian National Institute, Washington, DC.

Digital Library for International Research.

Hubbard, Ethel Daniels. Lone Sentinels in the Near East: War Stories of American Women in Turkey and Serbia. Boston: Woman’s Board of Missions, 1920.

Shane-Thompson Collection, RH MS 58 and RH PH 500, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Louie Chester Walbridge Photograph Collection

March 8th, 2017

“I’m off Friday noon, destination Russell, Kansas…Direct all letters to Russell, Russell Co., Kansas, until you hear from me to the contrary”

Letter from Louie C. Walbridge, September 27, 1882

Louie C. Walbridge was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1859, the youngest of six children. In 1878, after finishing his education at the Riverview Military School in Poughkeepsie, he headed west to take a clerical job in St. Louis, Missouri. He left that job in the summer of 1879 to join his brother in Sioux City, Iowa, where together they worked for the government, surveying the Missouri River. Next, Louie went to Chicago and worked in a hardware store for a couple of years. Sometime after his 23rd birthday, he made the decision to move to Russell County, Kansas, and on October 24, 1882, Louie signed papers to form a partnership in a plot of land that would eventually grow to 3,000 acres and a herd of over 1,000 sheep. This would be the start of his life-long career as a sheep rancher and farmer.

Photograph of Louie C. Walbridge on porch of his home, 1884

Louie C. Walbridge on porch of his home,
Profile Ranch, Russell County, Kansas, 1884.
Walbridge Collection. Call Number: RH PH 21.
Click image to enlarge.

About two years later, Louis bought out his partner and proceeded in business alone. He named the property Profile Ranch. He wrote, “I have made this purchase basing all my calculations on the future prosperity of the country.” And just to remove all doubt as to who owned the property, he painted “WALBRIDGE” on the roof of his most visible barn.

Photograph of wool wagons on Profile Ranch, circa 1885

Wool wagons on Profile Ranch, circa 1885. Walbridge Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 21. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of sheep on Profile Ranch, circa 1885

Sheep on Profile Ranch, circa 1885. Walbridge Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 21. Click image to enlarge.

On January 21, 1892, Louie married Louise Rachel Castle (1861-1947). They had six children: Margaret (1893-1974), Louise (1895-1966), Caroline (1898-1989), Anne (1900-1971), Chester (1903-1984), and Henry (1905-1949).

Photograph of tive of the Walbridge children, undated

Five of the Walbridge children: Caroline, Margaret,
Louise, Anne, and Chester, undated (circa 1904).
Walbridge Collection. Call Number: RH PH 21.
Click image to enlarge.

One of Louie’s hobbies was photography. He owned his own equipment and set up a darkroom in his family’s home. He photographed his property and his herd, but his favorite subject was his family. What sets Louie’s family photographs apart from those of other amateur photographers of his time is the intimate and candid way in which he captured their images. Many of his photos show his children relaxed and smiling, often leaning on or touching one another, looking at each other and not at the camera. In one image, their faces, hands, and clothes are dirty, as though they had just come in from playing outside, and their attention is on a cat they are holding, seemingly unaware of the camera. It is as though Louie wanted to portray his family as they really were, and he did not try to get the “perfect” photo of “perfect” children. In this way his photographs are quite endearing.

Photograph of Louie C. Walbridge with Louise, Caroline, and Margaret, undated

Louie C. Walbridge with Louise, Caroline, and Margaret, undated (circa 1899).
Walbridge Collection. Call Number: RH PH 21. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Louise Walbridge with Margaret, Caroline, and Louise, undated

Louise Walbridge with her children Margaret, Caroline, and Louise, undated (circa 1899).
Walbridge Collection. Call Number: RH PH 21. Click image to enlarge.

Margaret, Caroline, and Louise Walbridge holding a cat, undated (circa 1900).
Walbridge Collection. Call Number: RH PH 21. Click image to enlarge.

The Walbridge family enjoyed many years of overall success in ranching, and later in farming, but the Depression hit Louie and Louise hard, and their business suffered greatly. Poor economic conditions were made worse by dust storms, drought, crop failures, and Louie’s declining health. He was eventually forced to sell the ranch, and Louie and Louise moved to town. Perhaps the words he wrote years earlier gave him comfort: “There is one prominent feature of the Walbridges that I hope will descend to the coming generations, i.e., enduring with good grace what cannot be helped.” On February 1, 1939, just two months after moving to town, Louie passed away at the age of eighty. Louise would follow him in death eight years later.


“Louie Walbridge, Renaissance Man,” Kansas State Agriculturist, March 1981.

Walbridge, Caroline K. Ranchorama and Louie C. Walbridge: An Illustrated Story of Profile Ranch and the Owner, 1859-1939. Russell, Kansas: The Russell Record, 1966. Call Number RH D787.

Walbridge, Caroline Knickerbacker. Gallant Lady 1861-1947. Topeka, Kansas: Clyde E. Gilbert, printer, 1968. Call Number RH D3896.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

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