Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Brown v. Board of Education Resources at Spencer Research Library

August 11th, 2021

For over fifty years it was legal to segregate elementary children in the United States into schools based on the color of their skin. In Kansas, unless the town had a population less than 15,000, Black and white children went to different elementary schools. 

Less than a half-hour drive west from the University of Kansas campus is the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Located in Topeka, Kansas, this important historic site is one of the origins of the Supreme Court case that marked the end of legal racial segregation in the nation’s public schools. 

The court case was five separate lawsuits brought by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to the Supreme Court. One of the five lawsuits was filed against the Topeka Board of Education after the local NAACP assembled a group of thirteen African American parents and instructed them to attempt enrollment of their children in a segregated all-white school near their home. As anticipated, they were denied. All total the parents attempted enrollment in eight of the eighteen segregated all-white schools in the city. The Topeka School Board had established only four schools segregated for the city’s African American children. One of those parents was Oliver Brown. When the case was filed his name headed the roster of Topeka plaintiffs. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court the Topeka, Kansas, case was consolidated with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The high court ruled on the cases under the heading of the Kansas case, Oliver L. Brown et al vs. the Board of Education of Topeka (KS) et al. The unanimous decision was announced on May 17, 1954, with the court finding that racially segregated schools violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The decision marked a turning point for the pursuit of equal opportunity in education.  

Photograph of Ms. Lois Abbott’s kindergarten class at the Washington School in Topeka, Kansas, 1955
Ms. Lois Abbott’s kindergarten class at Washington School in Topeka, Kansas, 1955. Washington School was one of Topeka’s four elementary schools for African American students. Joe Douglas Collection. Call Number: RH PH 90. Click image to enlarge.

The court case was complicated and is difficult to describe in a few paragraphs. Fortunately, there are good resources that provide a summary of the history, such as the website for the Brown Foundation, the progenitor of the National Park Site. The Brown Foundation was the leader of the community’s success in establishing the Brown v Board National Historic Site in 1992. They created the concept and worked with Congress to establish it. The Foundation’s website contains a wealth of information and curriculum materials that can be ordered for classroom teachers. The website for the National Park Service’s Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site contains excellent information on the story of Brown v Board of Education and civil rights. In addition, resources such as the KU Libraries’ publication Recovering Untold Stories: An Enduring Legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, a project of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, give a greater understanding of the court case and the individuals involved. 

For those wanting to conduct in-depth research on the court case and the circumstances behind it, Spencer Research Library has many primary resources available.

Although the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was closed to visitors during COVID-19, I wanted to see if there were any volunteer opportunities. When I contacted the volunteer coordinator, Dexter Armstrong, in October 2020, he was open to suggestions for off-site volunteering projects. I offered to assemble a list of local primary resources to not only aid their staff, but also any visitors, teachers, or site researchers that may need it. He agreed that a list of local primary resources would be a valuable tool. 

Listed below are the Brown v. Board of Education resources and closely related material at Spencer Research Library. 

Online Exhibits

Education: The Mightiest Weapon
Curated by Deborah Dandridge, Field Archivist and Curator, African American Experience Collections

Archival Resources

Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research Records
Date Range of Materials: 1970-2017
Call Number: RH MS 876

The records in this collection are those of the Topeka, Kansas-based Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research, established in 1988 as a tribute to the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case and its plaintiffs and participants. These records include general information on the foundation and related subjects and events.

Paul Wilson Papers
Date Range of Materials: 1962-1995
Call Number: RH MS 746

Paul Wilson was a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas, who, prior to his University service, participated in the Brown v. Board of Education case on behalf of the State of Kansas. This collection contains research and notes on Wilson’s book, A Time to Lose: Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education.

See also:

  • Paul Wilson’s oral interview with the Endacott Society, an organization for retired KU faculty, staff, and spouses (Call Number: UA RG 67/754)
  • Paul Wilson talks about Brown v. Board of Education (Call Number: UA RG 44/1, cassette tape 0329)

Charles S. Scott Papers
Date Range of Materials: 1918-1989
Call Number: RH MS 1145

The Charles S. Scott Papers are those of a prominent native Topeka, Kansas, lawyer who focused on civil rights and was one of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case.

Records of the Topeka Back Home Reunion
Date Range of Materials: 1975-2010
Call Number: RH MS 1291

The Topeka Back Home Reunion originated in 1973 thanks to the efforts of Charles Scott, Carl Williams, and Eugene Johnson. The purpose of the Reunion was to bring together those who attended the four elementary schools in Topeka, Kansas, designated for Black students (Buchanan, McKinley, Monroe, and Washington) before the 1954 Brown v. Board U.S. Supreme Court decision and, later, African Americans who attended Topeka schools after 1954. The Reunion took place triennially, supplemented by regular meetings and newsletters. The final reunion took place in 2010. 

State Street Elementary School Photograph
Date Range of Materials: circa 1944
Call Number: RH PH P16

This collection contains one photograph of a fifth-grade classroom at the State Street Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas. The print shows teacher Louise Becker helping her class with a penmanship lesson; student Ruth Lassiter-Snell stands in front of the teacher.

Topeka Public Schools Class Photographs
Date Range of Materials: 1892
Call Number: RH PH 151

This collection contains class portraits from the public schools in Topeka, Kansas, in 1892.

Jesse Milan Papers
Date Range of Materials: 1931-2012
Call Number: RH MS 623

Jesse Milan, a longtime resident of northeast Kansas, was the first African American teacher to serve in the integrated Lawrence Unified School District #497. An active community leader, he was involved in the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education commemoration and other Brown v. Board of Education projects. He later became an Assistant Professor of Education at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.

Cheryl Brown Henderson Campaign Papers
Date Range of Materials: 1968-1979; 1989-1998
Call Number: RH MS 1190

This collection contains the papers of Henderson’s political campaigns. Cheryl Brown was born in 1950 to Oliver L. and Leola (Williams) Brown. Following her family’s involvement in the landmark Brown v. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education, Brown attended public schools in Topeka, Kansas, and Springfield, Missouri. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baker University (Baldwin, Kansas) and a Master of Science degree in Counseling from Emporia State University. Cheryl Brown married Larry Henderson in 1972. She worked as a classroom teacher and, from 1979 to 1994, as a consultant to the Kansas State Board of Education. In 1988 she co-founded the Brown Foundation for Educational Equality, Excellence, and Research and served as its Executive Director. In 2010 Henderson served as the Superintendent of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site.

Nathaniel Sawyer Family Papers
Date Range of Materials: circa 1880-2012 (bulk 1950s-1990s)
Call Number: RH MS 1460

Nathaniel Sawyer was an active opponent to the expansion of segregation in Kansas schools, helping to defeat a 1918 legislative bill that would have allowed communities with as few as 2,000 people to segregate their public schools. Sawyer’s family members were prominent in Topeka. They were involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had some involvement with the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site occupies the Monroe Elementary School building, formally one of Topeka’s schools for African American students. Linda Brown attended Monroe Elementary, which was 24 blocks from her home. Photo by Lynn Ward. Click image to enlarge.

To view these materials in person, contact Spencer Research Library. Besides the collections listed, pertinent materials can be found in other collections at Spencer, such as the single photograph (above) of Ms. Abbott’s kindergarten class in the Joe Douglas Collection. Be sure to speak with our knowledgeable reference staff during your visit. They can help you find information relevant to your topic.

I suggest also visiting the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka to experience in-depth, thought-provoking exhibits. Visitors to the site leave with an understanding of how Topeka’s schools led to the Supreme Court declaring that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”   

To see the complete local primary resource, which also includes resources at the Kansas Historical Society and the Eisenhower Library, contact the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Special thanks go to Dexter Armstrong, Park Ranger at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, for his support and encouragement for the list of local primary resources.

Lynn Ward
Processing Archivist

How the J. B. Watkins Papers Came to Spencer Research Library

February 9th, 2021

How does Spencer Research Library acquire its collections? Mostly, collections come from donors contacting the library. Occasionally, it is just luck. As for acquiring the papers of the J. B. Watkins Mortgage Company, it was luck combined with tenacity – and being just a foot in front of scrap paper balers at a junkyard during World War II.

The luck came on a Saturday afternoon during World War II, when KU history professor James C. Malin (1893-1979) happened to notice an article printed in the local Lawrence, Kansas, newspaper. The article described how scrap paper from a local business was to be sold for the war effort. Malin was a historian known for his study on Kansas and Nebraska agricultural history and settlement from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s. His prolific writings on the subject are still referenced today.    

Article, "Watkins Records Sold for Benefit of Red Cross," Lawrence Journal-World, January 10, 1942
Fortunately, KU history professor James C. Malin noticed this article in the Lawrence Journal World on January 10, 1942. During World War II, those on the home front donated or sold metal, rubber, clothing, and paper scraps to the United States armed forces. The scraps were then made into useful material for the war effort. Click image to enlarge.

The local business, James C. Malin knew, was no ordinary business. The J. B. Watkins Mortgage Company was one of the largest farm mortgage businesses in the central United States during the last three decades of the 19th century. Headquartered in Lawrence, Kansas, it had branch offices in Dallas, New York, London, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. The data and information contained in the company’s records would be immensely useful to Malin’s work and to other researchers studying agriculture, commerce, economics, and other areas. He knew that he had to rescue the historic collection before it was lost.

James C. Malin in his office in the KU History Department, 1950
James C. Malin in his office in the KU History Department, 1950. Jane Wofford Malin Collection. Call Number: RH MS-P 1444, Box 2, Folder 18. Click image to enlarge.

Without wasting any time, Malin picked up the telephone and called then-University of Kansas Chancellor Deane Malott at his home. Before becoming KU’s Chancellor, Deane Malott had himself studied agricultural issues and business administration. Coincidentally, the Chancellor’s home was the beautiful mansion of J. B. and Elizabeth Watkins, known as the “Outlook,” donated by Mrs. Watkins to KU. Malott had been living in the mansion just a little over two years when he received Malin’s phone call insisting something be done to keep the Watkins records from becoming scrap. 

Interior view of the “Outlook,” 1924
An interior view of the “Outlook,” 1924. Elizabeth Miller Watkins, J. B. Watkins’ widow, gave the mansion to the University of Kansas for use as a Chancellor’s residence. J. B. Watkins Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1, Box 238, Item 5. Click image to enlarge.

Malott eventually yielded to Malin’s insistence. Malott agreed to substitute scrap paper from the University pound for pound for the Watkins records at the junkyard. Dick Williams, the executor of the Watkins estate and possibly the person responsible for selling the paper scrap, was contacted. Malott then authorized Malin to act in the matter.

The day after Malin read the newspaper article he went to the junkyard when it opened. He spoke to the scrap supervisor “Mr. Cohen.” Cohen was cooperative but insisted that “business was business.” He agreed to swapping out the Watkins papers for KU papers, but would not halt his operation. By then, the Watkins papers had already been dropped three floors from a window at what was then city hall (which had been previously the Watkins National Bank, what is now the Watkins Museum of History), hauled to the junkyard, and mixed with other scrap paper. The junkyard had started working on the Watkins material when Malin arrived, with some of it already in a 600-pound bale ready for loading on the railroad car. Cohen permitted Malin to sort the material if he kept ahead of the baler and not interfere with the operation.

Lawrence City Hall, circa 1930-1950
Lawrence City Hall, circa 1930-1950. Elizabeth Miller Watkins donated the J. B. Watkins Land Mortgage Company and Watkins National Bank building to the city in 1929. It was used as city hall until 1970. J. B. Watkins Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1, Box 238, Item 4. Click image to enlarge.

Malin immediately solicited help from his colleague in the department of history at KU, Charles B. Realey, and his 16-year-old daughter Jane Malin. They worked all that Sunday pulling everything that seemed to belong to the Watkins records out of the heap of scrap paper – keeping just ahead of the baler. Malin worked by himself the next day, cutting all his classes. University trucks were sent to pick up the material – over two and a half tons – and dumped it on the ramp area of Watson Library. The collection had been saved!

The J. B. Watkins papers were acquired before there was a separate research library for special collections at KU. The collection was housed at Watson Library until Kenneth Spencer Research Library was built in the 1960s. One of the first researchers to use the collection was historian Allan Bogue (1921-2016) in 1949. He, too, was interested in the history of agriculture and economics. Malin hired Bogue to be his assistant and organize and describe the vast Watkins collection. Bogue wrote a description of Watkins’ Mortgage Company and published it in his book, Money at Interest: The Farm Mortgage on the Middle Border (1955).

J. B. Watkins (1845-1921) as a young man, undated
Jabez Bunting “J. B.” Watkins (1845-1921) as a young man, undated. J. B. Watkins Papers. Call Number: RH MS 1, Box 238, Item 68. Click image to enlarge.

Through the years, additions to the Watkins papers have been donated by Dick Williams and the Watkins Museum of History. The Watkins Museum of History, operated by the Douglas County Historical Society, is housed in the beautifully iconic 1888 Watkins Land Mortgage and National Bank building in downtown Lawrence, Kansas. Visitors at the museum can view the grandeur and intricate details that J. B. Watkins chose for his business and some of his original effects as well as an interesting history of Lawrence and Douglas County. 

An iron framed railing of the staircase in the Watkins Museum
The iron framed railings of the staircase in the Watkins Museum of History are inlaid with J. B. Watkins’s initials in copper shields. Photo by the author during a recent visit. Click image to enlarge.

While it was by luck and tenacity that James C. Malin procured the historically valuable collection of J. B. Watkins for KU Libraries, we are proud that this collection is just one of the ways we connect scholars in varied disciplines with the information that is critical to their research. The J. B. Watkins papers at Spencer Research Library comprise over 627 linear feet of correspondence and business records and are available for research. The finding aid for the J. B. Watkins papers has recently been updated so that it is easier for researchers to discover pertinent material. Papers describing Malin’s heroic salvage of the collection are in the Watkins accession file

During COVID-19, the Reading Room at Spencer Research Library is open by appointment only. Please see our website for more information on hours and new procedures. In addition, since most of the Watkins papers are housed off-site, please plan at least three days of retrieval time for research. 

Lynn Ward
Processing Archivist

Working from Home Without Manuscripts or Rare Books

June 24th, 2020

During Covid-19 isolation, our team in the cataloging and processing department at Kenneth Spencer Research Library has been busy working from home. Instead of working hands-on with the rare books and manuscripts, like we normally do, we have been working on our databases and other online sources to ensure that our all of our material is easily searchable and discoverable for researchers and scholars, not only here in Kansas, but worldwide. This work is important to the mission of the library.

Five professionals from the cataloging and processing department share their working-from-home experience.

Marcella Huggard, Manuscripts Coordinator

What are you working on?

I am continuing to coordinate my team’s projects of data cleanup or data creation for legacy collections that never had online finding aids; I’m also coordinating other folks’ work on legacy data projects. One of my own cleanup projects—consolidating finding aids that had been separated when they were first put online, due to descriptive decisions made at the time that no longer hold true—is something I’ve been wanting to focus on for a couple years now. I have also been working on a research project to document the history of the Menninger Foundation’s archives.

Why is this work important to the library?

The projects that I’m coordinating and working on myself continue to enhance access to our manuscript collections, so that when researchers request materials they’ll have a better sense of what we have available, and they’ll be able to find that information that much more easily in an era where expectations are that information will be discoverable online.

What will you miss from home when we go back to work in the Spencer building?

Sleeping in an extra hour! I will also miss the scheduling flexibility.

Photograph of Marcella and Salty Bear
Marcella’s new co-worker, Salty (short for Salted Caramel) Bear. “My spouse, a teddy bear himself, likes to buy me teddy bears; he got me this one soon after I started working from home.” Click image to enlarge.

Mike Readinger, Special Collections and Manuscript Cataloger

What are you working on?

I am working on ArchivesSpace database clean-up and creating bibliographic records for the legacy finding aids. In the early 2000s, we switched from using card files. Thousands of records in Voyager (the old, though still in use, KU Libraries online catalog) were created using these bibliographic cards. Those records were brief, so now I am using this time to create more complete records.

Why is this work important to the library?

These completed records will be put on OCLC WorldCat. The work done in cataloging and processing is the first step in letting the whole world know what we have. We make the information known, then our great reference staff can serve the scholars and researchers.

What will you miss from home when we go back to work in the Spencer building?

Right now, I have my home office set up in our basement. I can run upstairs to get dinner started, then come back down and keep working. I like the ease of doing those kinds of things.

Photograph of Mike and his supervisor
Mike and his supervisor look out the window in Mike’s home office. Click image to enlarge.

Jennifer Johnson, Manager of the Non-Manuscript and Inventory Unit

What are you working on?

I am editing and creating personal name authorities and name/subject headings for the library catalog. Plus, I have been removing duplicate records from the catalog.

Why is this important to the library?

Authority control is important because it creates organization and structure of information resources, making the materials more accessible, allowing better researching for the users.

What will you miss from home when we go back to work in the Spencer building?

I love working from home! I really enjoy being able to go grab something to eat or drink. I work by a window that I can open. I’ll also miss being able to switch tasks, for example, I can do the dishes at lunchtime. And I love getting to see my son more often!

Photograph of Jennifer and her dog

Jennifer’s loyal co-worker. Click image to enlarge.

Mary Ann Baker, Special Collections and Manuscript Processor

What are you working on?

I have been working on the Access database listing of The Miscellany part of the English Historical Documents Collection. Almost all the manuscripts in this collection were acquired in the late 1960s. Over all the decades that these collections have been worked on, data transference from one program to another has resulted in some data corruption. For example, the pound symbol (£) turned into an umlauted u (ü). So, I have been cleaning up the errors and expanding abbreviations to prepare the database for publication as part of the finding aid for the Miscellany Collection. 

Why is this important to the library?

Working on this collection contributes to making Spencer Library’s holdings known globally and accessible to all, one of the goals of the KU Libraries.

What will you miss from home when we go back to work in the Spencer building?  

Naps at their will. I will not miss Zoom meetings.

 

Lynn Ward, Manuscripts Processing

What are you working on?

I have been working on projects to clean-up and refine the information in our archives database, ArchivesSpace. I added “containers” to hundreds of the earlier resources that lacked box or volume information. I also have been adding collection inventory information directly to the ArchivesSpace resource; this information had previously only been available via a link to a separate scanned PDF document.

Why is this important to the library?

Adding “containers” makes it possible for researchers to request the material, which helps our reference staff to connect researchers with what they need. Adding the inventory information from the PDF to the resource makes the information more discoverable for researchers and scholars when they search online.

What will you miss from home when we go back to work in the Spencer building?

I have really been enjoying the extra time with my family, so I will miss that when I go back to working in the building.

Photograph of Lynn and her dog

Lynn’s co-worker requires daily walks. Click image to enlarge.

The work described above is important to the library’s mission.

All of the faculty and staff working at the Spencer Research Library share one mission: to connect scholars in varied disciplines with the information that is critical to their research, while providing excellent services in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

The work in the cataloging and processing department is an important step to that mission. Even while we are enjoying different aspects about working from home during Covid-19, we are continuing to work hard to make sure scholars and researchers can search, find, and connect with the information contained in Spencer Research Library’s collections.

Lynn Ward
Processing Archivist

Historic Kansas Photographs Recently Donated are the Subject of a Temporary Exhibit (Part Two)

August 7th, 2019

This second installment of the temporary exhibit of the Hollmann photograph collection focuses on photographs of Kansas, featuring images depicting settlement, military service, portraits, and colleges. (The first installment highlighted photographs of Lawrence.)

Kansas settlement

Cabinet card of a sod home with family.  Photographer B. I. March

Cabinet card of a sod home with family. Photographer B. I. March.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 41, Folder 8. Click image to enlarge.

M. Sheley and his family casually pose outside of their sod home with their horses near Norton. The date of the photograph is approximately 1900. In some areas of Kansas, lumber and trees to build houses were not available to early settlers. They built homes, barns, churches, and schools out of sod instead. Many images of sod structures appear in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Stereoview of Dodge City, Kansas. Published by J. Lee Knight of Topeka, Kansas

Stereoview of Dodge City, Kansas. Published by J. Lee Knight of Topeka, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 85, Folder 6. Click image to enlarge.

This stereoview shows an early view (1874?) of the settlement of Dodge City. Wagons or carts are piled high with an indiscernible cargo. An inscription on the right side of the card reads “Goods for export, Dodge City.”

Kansas military service

The Hollmann photograph collection contains many images of Kansans serving in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and even World War II. Several hundred photographic postcards of Camp Funston illustrate life for Kansans training for World War I.

Postcard of Holyrood men before leaving for Camp Funston. 

Postcard of Holyrood men before leaving for Camp Funston.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 15, Folder 34. Click image to enlarge.

This postcard, dated May 27, 1918, captures men in suits leaving their hometown of Holyrood in central Kansas for Camp Funston to serve in World War I. It appears that the photograph was taken near a railroad. The building behind them could be the train station.

Two members of the 9th Cavalry band.  No photographer identified.

Two members of the 9th Cavalry band. No photographer identified.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 28, Folder 22a. Click image to enlarge.

Dorcy Rhodes (left) and Sergeant Emilio Jarnilia of the 9th Cavalry band pose outside a building at Fort Riley. Their names are inscribed on the back of photograph. Although their service dates are not identified, the photograph dates from approximately the 1910s.

Kansas colleges

Besides the University of Kansas and Haskell Institute, featured in the previous post, many other Kansas colleges and universities are represented in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Stanley Hall at Western University caption: Western University for African Americans in Quindaro.

Stanley Hall at Western University caption: Western University for African Americans in Quindaro.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 44, Folder 16. Click image to enlarge.

Unidentified students stand in front of Stanley Hall at Western University in Quindaro in approximately 1906. The school was established after the Civil War and was the only African American school in Kansas. The university closed in 1943.

Stereoview of the Agricultural College, published by L. A. Ramsour in Manhattan. 

Stereoview of the Agricultural College, published by L. A. Ramsour in Manhattan.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 87, Folder 10. Click image to enlarge.

Shown here is the “Main building” of the Agricultural College, now known as Kansas State University, dated approximately 1880. The stereoview publisher, L.A. Ramsour, of Manhattan, Kansas, also published views of New Mexico, hence the publisher’s printing along the sides of the stereoview.

Kansas portraits

Unidentified woman, possibly from Valley Falls.  Photographer McCoy from Valley Falls, Kansas. 

Unidentified woman, possibly from Valley Falls.
Photographer McCoy from Valley Falls, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 48, Folder 4. Click image to enlarge.

Unfortunately, many of the portraits in the Hollmann photograph collection do not have identification. Often, a penciled inscription on the back of the photograph will identify the subject or give a clue as to the identity. This woman is not identified on the back, however since the portrait was taken in Valley Falls, it is possible that she is from there. Her clothing allows the photograph to be dated to approximately the 1880s.

Carte de visite of Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett of Topeka.  The photographers are Bliss & Wentworth of Topeka.  Dated approximately 1869.

Carte de visite of Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett of Topeka.
Photographers Bliss & Wentworth of Topeka. Dated approximately 1869.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 60, Folder 18. Click image to enlarge.

Pottawatomie Chief Abram Burnett was an important figure in Topeka history, moving to the area in the 1840s and serving as a mediator among the Pottawatomie tribe. He died in 1870 and was buried on his farm.  His grave site is now known as Burnett’s Mound. A note inscribed on the back of the photograph states that the card was purchased as a souvenir in the 1860s.

Be sure to come view the temporary exhibit in the North Gallery in the Spencer Research Library before it closes at the end of August! The Spencer Research Library is open to everyone. If you would like to do research with the Hollmann photograph collection, please see our website for information on visiting and using the collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Lynn M. Ward
Processing Archivist

Historic Kansas Photographs Recently Donated are the Subject of a Temporary Exhibit (Part One)

August 6th, 2019

Leonard Henry Hollmann from Eudora, Kansas was passionate about photography and collecting photographs, especially those about Kansas or by Kansas photographers.

Mr. Hollmann donated his photographic collection to the Spencer Research Library shortly before he passed away in January 2016. Containing over 10,000 images, the collection is a gem. Hollmann had carefully collected images from across Kansas (and some from Missouri and Nebraska), with a concentration on Lawrence and Douglas County. Most of the images date from the 1850s-1930s.

The collection contains many types of photographic formats including ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, postcards, and stereoviews. The arranging and describing of the collection, because of its enormity, took seven months.

This amazing collection is now available for researchers. View the finding aid here: Guide to the Leonard Hollmann photograph collection. At the very top of the finding aid there is a search box where you can enter any keyword to search the document. Try typing in a town name or something else, like “dog” or “bicycle.”

A selection of the Hollmann photograph collection is on exhibit in the North Gallery of the Spencer Research Library until the end of August. The temporary exhibit highlights about 35 images of Lawrence, Kansas and other Kansas towns. The photographs on view date from 1862 to 1918. Some of them are rare and have not been viewed by the public before.

Our two-part blog will feature Lawrence photographs in the first installment and Kansas images in the second installment.

Early Lawrence residents

Ambrotype of deceased 11 month old Lawrence girl, Freddie Rockwell Read, 1862

 Ambrotype of deceased eleven-month-old Lawrence girl Freddie Rockwell Read, 1862.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 64, Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

One of the most defining moments in Lawrence’s history was Quantrill’s Raid in 1863. Before and during the Civil War, Kansas and Missouri had many unofficial skirmishes between each other. William Quantrill’s raid on the free-state town of Lawrence, Kansas (also known as the Lawrence Massacre) was a defining moment in this time period. At dawn on August 21, 1863, Quantrill and his guerrillas rode into Lawrence, where they burned much of the town and killed between 160 and 190 men and boys.

An early type of photograph, ambrotypes were produced by placing a glass negative against a dark background. Although they were more affordable for families, it was uncommon to have an ambrotype photograph taken. Unlike tintypes, only one ambrotype was produced during a photographic sitting. It is possible that this is the first time that this photograph of Freddie Read has ever been published, or been on exhibit!

Carte de visite of John Lewis Crane. Photographer L. M. Price, no location.

Carte de visite of John Lewis Crane. Photographer L. M. Price, no location.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 58, Folder 17. Click image to enlarge.

Originally from Connecticut, John Lewis Crane was a partner in a shoe store in Lawrence before he was killed during Quantrill’s raid. Photographs of two of his siblings and brother-in-law Gurdon Grovenor are also in this collection.

University of Kansas

Cabinet card of Hannah Oliver.  Photographer Mettner of Lawrence, Kansas.
Cabinet card of Hannah Oliver. Photographer Mettner of Lawrence, Kansas.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 36, Folder 5. Click image to enlarge.

A Quantrill’s raid survivor, Hannah Oliver received her Bachelor of Arts in 1874 and her Master of Arts in 1888 from the University of Kansas. She joined the faculty of KU in 1890, teaching Latin. She retired in 1931. The finding aid for her personal papers at Spencer Research Library can be accessed through this link: Guide to the Hannah Oliver collection.

Stereoview card of Old Fraser Hall, published by W. H. Lamon, of Lawrence, dated 1884.

Stereoview card of Old Fraser Hall, published by W. H. Lamon, of Lawrence, dated 1884.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 85, Folder 7. Click image to enlarge.

The “New Building,” as it was called when it was built in 1872, was later called “Fraser Hall” after KU’s second chancellor, General John Fraser. In these images, several covered buggies and horses are visible next to the building. It was demolished in 1965.

The Hollmann photograph collection contains thousands of stereoview cards. These were popular as a form of entertainment from the 1850s to the 1930s. To view the image, the card was inserted into a stereoviewer. When the two separate images depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene are viewed through the viewer, the brain merges both together, creating one three-dimensional image. While stereoview cards in general are common, the cards in the Hollmann photograph collection are mostly of rarer scenes. Some may even be one-of-a-kind.

Haskell Institute

Now known as the Haskell Indian Nations University, images of this important Lawrence school and college are represented in the Hollmann photograph collection.

Tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior

Tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 63, Folder 37. Click image to enlarge.

Little is known of the cased tintype of Standing Fox, also known as Ephram Cloud, Junior. According to paperwork with the image, he may be associated with Haskell Institute.

Cabinet card with identified students of Haskell Institute, photographer J. B. Shane of Lawrence. Students identified on the back as: 1. Geneva Roberts, Wichita (seated, far left); 2. Wiley Morgan, Seminole (standing, on left in back row); 3. Nellie Bates, Wichita (standing, center); 4. Nora Guy, Caddo (in front); 5. Peter Williams, Caddo (standing, on right in back row); 6. Richard Longhat, Caddo (standing, in dark uniform on far right).

Cabinet card with identified students of Haskell Institute, photographer J. B. Shane of Lawrence.
Call Number: RH PH 536, Box 37, Folder 21. Click image to enlarge.

These children have been identified on the back of the photograph as: 1. Geneva Roberts, Wichita (seated, far left); 2. Wiley Morgan, Seminole (standing, on left in back row); 3. Nellie Bates, Wichita (standing, center); 4. Nora Guy, Caddo (in front); 5. Peter Williams, Caddo (standing, on right in back row); 6. Richard Longhat, Caddo (standing, in dark uniform on far right).

Be sure to come view the temporary exhibit in the North Gallery in the Spencer Research Library before it closes at the end of August! Spencer Research Library is open to everyone. If you would like to do research with the Hollmann photograph collection, please see our website for information on visiting and using the collection at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Lynn Ward
Processing Archivist

[1]  From Quantrill and the border wars, by William Elsey Connelley, page 367, Spencer Research Library call number RH C5055.