Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Wayback Wednesday: American Flag Edition

July 3rd, 2019

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!

Photograph of an American flag flying over Memorial Stadium, 1969
An American flag flying over Memorial Stadium, 1969. Note the two men in uniform saluting the flag. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/66/14 1969/1970 Prints: Student Activities: Sports: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Homecoming History Edition

September 20th, 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!

Photograph of an early KU Homecoming football game, 1910s

An early KU homecoming football game at McCook Field, 1910s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/1 Prints: Student Activities: Homecoming (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

For over a century, the tradition of homecoming has been observed across KU and the city of Lawrence. Originating as an opportunity for alumni to revisit campus, the first homecoming game was played against the University of Missouri in November 1912, with KU winning 12-3. Over the next decade, the popular event spun off into many traditions. Some – like homecoming parades – have endured to this day, while others – like the annual tiger bonfire and a day dedicated to dressing like hobos – have disappeared.

Photograph of KU students dressed up for Hobo Day, 1931

Students dressed up for Hobo Day, 1931. The raucous event became an
integral part of homecoming festivities at KU. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/9 1931 Prints: Student Activities: Hobo Day (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Homecoming mostly continued on in this fashion for nearly six decades – a week of parties, rallies, and promotional activities leading up to the big football game. It wasn’t until 1970 that the next major development in the history of KU homecoming took place. In 1969, senior student Janet Merrick was crowned KU’s final homecoming queen. The selection of the homecoming queen had been part of the celebration since 1925. Protests surrounding the war in Vietnam and a growing sense of student-establishment tension deemed the tradition to be clashing with modern sensibilities. Additionally, frustrated with a process that had never resulted in a black homecoming queen, KU’s Black Student Union first chose its own queen in 1969. The following year was the first homecoming celebration without a queen, and the tradition remains shelved. The Black Student Union continues to crown a homecoming queen each year.

Photograph of KU Homecoming Queen Jan Merrick, 1969

Homecoming Queen Janet Merrick, 1969. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/1 1969 Prints: Student Activities: Homecoming (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The following year, KU introduced a second Jayhawk mascot. During halftime of the 1971 homecoming game against Kansas State University, Baby Jay was unveiled to the student body after hatching from a giant blue egg. Big Jay and Baby Jay have been staples of the university spirit team ever since.

Photograph of the Baby Jay egg, 1971

Baby Jay egg, 1971. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/25 1971
Negatives: University General: Jayhawk mascot, dolls, etc (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of KU Chancellor Chalmers with new Baby Jay at Homecoming, 1971

Chancellor Chalmers with new Baby Jay at Homecoming, 1971.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 2/13 1971 Prints:
Chancellors: E. Laurence Chalmers (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

In 1993 there may have been some consideration in reviving the homecoming court; however, a new tradition began instead. An award was given to students that exhibited academic excellence, leadership, and a strong sense of service to the Lawrence community. This became the KU Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards, or the KU Ex.C.E.L. Awards. This honor has been given to two students, every homecoming, for the past twenty-eight years.

Homecoming in more recent years has seen the emergence of new traditions. For example, at Chalk ‘n’ Rock, student groups and organizations create elaborate chalk murals along Wescoe Beach. The Jayhawk Jingles continue as a new version of the Jayhawk Follies; students compete in a contest of musical performances.

Photograph of the Jayhawk Follies, 1954

Four women dancing on stage dressed as dolls in the Jayhawk Follies, 1954.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/1 1954 Prints: Student Activities:
Homecoming (Photos). Click on image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

This year, KU faces off against Oklahoma State in the 106th homecoming football game. The theme this year is “Home on the Hill,” a call for alumni to return home to their University as they always have and for current students to further solidify their own homes on the hill.

Mallory Harrell
KU Museum Studies graduate student and University Archives intern

Throwback Thursday: Canine Mascot Edition

August 24th, 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!

National Dog Day is this Saturday, but you can celebrate a little early with this week’s photograph.

Photograph of the KU Marching Band mascot, Boris, 1968

Boris, former mascot of KU’s Marching Band, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 22/1/m 1968 Prints:
Fine Arts: University Bands: Marching Band (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Want more cute pictures of KU-affiliated dogs? Check out last year’s photograph of James Naismith with two adorable puppies.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Flashback Friday: Cowboy Band Edition

August 5th, 2016

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 28,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of the KU Cowboy Band in front of a bandstand, 1941-1942

KU Cowboy Band in front of a bandstand, 1941-1942.
Note that the bass drum says “University of Kansas Band.”
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 22/1/m 1941/1942 Prints:
Fine Arts: University Bands: Marching Band (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the KU Cowboy Band on a race track, 1941-1942

KU Cowboy Band on a race track, 1941-1942. The image is stamped on back
“R. R. Doubleday, 2523 Ave. A, Council Bluffs, Iowa,” indicating that this picture
was probably taken by renowned rodeo photographer Ralph R. Doubleday.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 22/1/m 1941/1942 Prints:
Fine Arts: University Bands: Marching Band (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

A Lawrence Journal-World article from October 27, 1942, described the Cowboy Band.

The cowboy band, made up of the topflight members of the University of Kansas band, which has played at fairs and rodeos the past two summers is fast growing into a permanent organization at the University, Russell L. Wiley, band director, said today…

The summer trips for the group, which dresses in cowboy boots, big hats and crimson or blue silk shirts, are apparently over for the duration but there are strong possibilities that they will hit the big rodeo circuit in a big way when the war has ended.

Last year the group played for the Sydney, Ia., rodeo, one of the big wild west shows of the country. As a result of that engagement they now have been approached by the management of rodeos including the famous Frontier Days at Cheyenne, Wyo., Madison Square Garden, the Boston Garden, the Empire State fair, Billings, Mont., Fortuna, Calif., and Midland, Tex. Bids have come for the group to play at the Ft. Worth Livestock show and the Little Rock, Ark., Livestock show.

Because Neodesha, Kan., two summers ago, found itself in desperate need of a small band organization to furnish music for its rodeo and called Wiley for help, the band was organized.

The type of music played and the scintillation of its arrangement appeals to both the brilliant young musicians, who formed the organization, and the public, who heard it each day for three hours at rodeos and clamored for more.

In scarcely 18 months the Cowboy band has been developed into a distinct organization with a repertoire of about 115 numbers. Last summer it had been booked for five weeks, but this schedule was set aside in large part because of the war and the cancellation of many fairs and rodeos.

At Sidney the band hit its stride. The members played a total of nearly six hours a day, and yet the youth and vigor of its membership showed no evidence of fatigue. The last numbers of the day’s program were given with the elan of an opening performance.

The group developed a reputation as a singing band and a little humor is injected now and then as well as the singing of popular songs like “Jingle Jangle” and “The Last Roundup.”

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Jayhawks at the Beach Edition

July 7th, 2016

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 24,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of members of the KU Marching Band at the beach, 1948

Members of the Marching Jayhawks at the beach in Miami, Florida, 1948.
The band was accompanying the football team at the Orange Bowl,
held on January 1st. KU lost to Georgia Tech, 20-14.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 22/1/m 1948 Prints:
Fine Arts: University Bands: Marching Band (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants