Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

New Finding Aids, July-December 2019

January 21st, 2020

Archival collections do not always have a great deal of visual appeal—correspondence, diaries, reports, completed forms, memos, and other related record types may or may not include sketches, images, and other detritus that catches the eye when first opening a volume or folder.

But archival collections frequently contain photographs, ephemera, objects, and other items that do have visual appeal. In the last six months of 2019, Spencer Research Library staff completed processing a wide variety of archival collections, many of which have something to catch the eye as well as a great deal to research.

For example, Robert S. Lemon’s collection of photographs includes some lovely snapshots of Helen Spencer—funder of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library among many other projects on KU and elsewhere—and her husband Kenneth.

A candid photograph of Kenneth and Helen Spencer, probably dating from the 1940s
A candid photograph of Kenneth and Helen Spencer, probably dating from the 1940s. Robert S. Lemon Photographs. Call Number: RH PH P2837, Folder 2. Click image to enlarge.

The United Farm Workers collection, part of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements, includes this wooden pickers’ crate proudly displaying the Farm Workers’ stamp:

Photograph of a wooden pickers’ crate displaying the United Farm Workers' stamp
Photograph of the detail of a United Farm Workers' stamp on the wooden pickers’ crate
A wooden pickers’ crate displaying the United Farm Workers’ stamp. United Farm Workers Collection. Call Number: RH WL MS Q8, Box 2. Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Click images to enlarge.

Edith Krull, a freelance art critic and journalist, reviewed and saw a wide variety of art exhibits in East Germany during the latter half of the twentieth century, presumably including this showing of Budapest-born artist Gabriella Billege:

Front cover of a leaflet from the Berlin Gallerie Mitte for a 1983 show of Gabriella Billege’s works
Front cover of a leaflet from the Berlin Gallerie Mitte for a 1983 show of Gabriella Billege’s works. Edith Krull Collection. Call Number: MS 345, Box 1, Folder 34. Click image to enlarge.

Harold Orel’s 1941 “Books I Have Read” journal may not at first glance appear visually appealing, but his witty writing style makes for entertaining reading.

Photograph of a page from Harold Orel’s reading journal, discussing one of the books he read as a teenager in November 1941
A page from Harold Orel’s reading journal, discussing one of the books he read as a teenager in November 1941. The entry foreshadows Orel’s future career as an English professor at KU. Personal Papers of Harold Orel. Call Number: PP 615, Box 30. Click image to enlarge.

Please feel free to perform research in any of the newly processed collections listed below and see what catches your eye!

Banks family papers, 1921-2017 (RH MS 1488, RH MS-P 1488, RH MS R453)

Clyde Bysom collection, 1925-2015 (RH MS 1493, RH MS-P 1493, RH MS Q459)

Brent Campney research on racist violence against African Americans, 1863-2001 (bulk 1863-1920s) (RH MS 1492, RH MS Q458)

James B. English letters, 1968-1969 (RH MS 664)

Gilbert H. Finlay Order of Eastern Star scrapbook material, 1966-1989 (RH MS 1491)

Gerladine Mowbray-Arnett collection, 1908-2000 (RH MS 1489)

Hiat-Hett family genealogy collection, 1879 (RH MS P966)

Emmanuel Jones scrapbook, 1891-1947 (RH MS E210)

Henry C. Kollings photographs, 1906-1968 (RH PH 546, RH PH 546(f))

Robert S. Lemon photographs, 1920s-approximately 1944 (RH PH P2837)

Margaret Verhage collection, 1892-1951 (RH MS P967)

Mike Kautsch collection of William Allen White materials, majority of material found within 1929-1986 (RH MS 1494)

Ernesto Alvarado Garcia, 1939-1966 (MS 64, MS Qa26)

Jack E. Lorts collection of Larry Eigner correspondence and manuscripts, January 1960-February 26, 1962 (MS 352)

Bolton Company letters, 1695-1711 (MS 84)

Edith Krull collection, 1952-1990 (MS 345, MS Q77, MS Qa24, MS R20, MS S8)

Personal papers of Richard F. Johnston, 1962-1986 (PP 612)

Personal papers of Kala Stroup, 1959-2018 (PP 613)

Personal papers of Alton Thomas, 1948-1987 (PP 614)

Personal papers of John Walter Pozdro, 1940s-2000s (PP 616)

Personal papers of Harold Orel, 1941-2012 (PP 615)

Backus family newspapers collection, 1795-1870, 1889 (MS R24, MS Q85, MS Qa30, MS S12, MS P748)

A. Doyle Moore collection, 1967-1988 (MS 357, MS Q87)

Linda Kay Davis collection of Ed Sanders materials, 1967-2011 (MS 356, MS Q86)

Records of the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, 1966-2019 (RG 76/3, several CT call numbers)

John Coelln papers, 1961-1975 (RH WL MS 54)

United Farm Workers collection, 1966-1979 (RH WL MS 53, RH WL MS Q8)

Michael Zweig papers, 1964-1971 and undated (RH WL MS 55, RH WL MS Q9)

Sharon Feldman papers, 1963-1993 (RH WL MS 56, RH WL MS Q10)

George Cruse autograph album, 1901 (RH MS P968)

Hutchinson, KS Cyrus Cauldron souvenir photo book, approximately 1920s (RH PH P2838)

Dwight Eisenhower speaking at Abilene, June 22, 1945 (KC AV 90)

R.H. Gandiven and R. Hugoboom photographs, 1883-1884 (RH PH 547(f))

Barbara Hays Duke papers, 1909-2006, 2016 (RH MS 1495, RH MS-P 1495(f), RH MS Q462)

Peace Mennonite Church records, 1978-2018 (RH MS 1496)

Fred Six papers, 1929-2011 (RH MS 1506, RH MS Q467)

John Kessel papers, 1969-2019 (MS 358, MS Q88, MS Qa31, SC AV 25)

Personal papers of David Frayer, 1972-2012 (PP 619)

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

November 6th, 2019

The Berlin Wall stood in the center of Berlin, Germany, from 1961 to 1989. It acted as a physical symbol of the divide between East and West, not just in Germany, but between Western European democracy and Eastern European communism after the end of World War II. It was a literal “Iron Curtain,” in Winston Churchill’s words, and its fall in the late 1980s coincided with the end of the Soviet Union and Eastern European communism.

Materials related to the Berlin Wall at Spencer Research Library focus on its meaning soon after it was built in the early 1960s and its obliteration in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago this month (November 9, 1989), we thought we would share some of the more interesting pieces we have at Spencer Research Library related to this topic.

Holland Roberts, then director of the American Russian institute in San Francisco, wrote about the wall soon after it was built, in 1962. He argued that it was to protect East Berlin and East Germans from the militarism rising in West Germany, led by former Nazi officers. “The Wall will come down when the two Germanys disarm and form the core of a neutral peaceful zone in the heart of Europe,” Roberts wrote.

Image of “Behind the Berlin Wall” by Holland Roberts, 1962
The first page of “Behind the Berlin Wall” by Holland Roberts, 1962. Call Number: Josephson 2427. Click image to enlarge.

American journalists Margrit and John Pittman also wrote about the Berlin Wall soon after its construction. They too focused on West German propaganda against East Germany, as well as German perceptions of Americans visiting or stationed in their divided country.

Image of "Sense and Nonsense About Berlin” by Margrit and John Pittman, 1962
“Sense and Nonsense About Berlin” by Margrit and John Pittman, 1962. Call number: RH WL B1977. Click image to enlarge.

The items in Spencer’s collections from when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 seem more hopeful than these earlier written works. For example, Bob Swan’s Citizen Diplomacy Archives collection focuses mostly on the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union rather than the relationship between the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) and the U. S. However, Mr. Swan donated a chunk of the Berlin Wall as part of his collection. Throughout the 1980s, East Germans increasingly filed requests to immigrate to West Germany; with the (false) announcement of a new emigration policy on November 9, 1989, thousands rushed the Wall. Thereafter, individuals began picking off pieces such as this one to keep as souvenirs until the wall was finally dismantled systematically in the summer of 1990.

Photograph of a piece of the Berlin Wall
While it does not look like much, this piece of concrete from the Berlin Wall saw a lot of significant twentieth-century history. Call Number: RH MS Q426, Box 1. Click image to enlarge.

Professional photographer Gary Mark Smith spent some time in Europe in 1990 and took pictures of the streets in Berlin before the wall was entirely dismantled. He also took pictures of proud Germans waving a reunited German flag in Cologne.

Photograph entitled “Berlin Wall #1," 1990
An East German Trabant car is visible through the holes in the concrete in this photograph, entitled “Berlin Wall #1,” by Gary Mark Smith, 1990. Call Number: RH MS-P 1380, Box 6, Folder 16. Click image to enlarge.
Photograph entitled “Berlin Wall Guard Tower,” 1990
Does the graffiti at the base of the guard tower diminish its forbidding height in any way? This photograph was taken by Gary Mark Smith in 1990 and entitled “Berlin Wall Guard Tower.” Call Number: RH MS-P 1380, Box 6, Folder 15.
Photograph entitled “Flag Celebration #2," 1990
Germans parading with a German flag in honor of reunification on October 3, 1990. This photo by Gary Mark Smith is titled “Flag Celebration #2.” Call Number: RH MS-P 1380, Box 6, Folder 9. Click image to enlarge.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is one of those globally historic moments, the kind that has people asking each other “Where were you when….?” Were you alive when the Berlin Wall fell? Do you remember what you were doing that day in November 1989 when you heard the news?

Marcella Huggard
Processing

New Finding Aids, January-June 2019

July 10th, 2019

In case the summer heat and humidity is getting to you, here are the finding aids newly published to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library website in the last six months. Come do some research in the cool air conditioning!

1970 political campaigns collection, 1970 (RH MS 1453, RH MS R433)

Governor Mike Hayden’s family on Harvest Day slides, July 1983 (RH PH 534)

Lawrence Chamber of Commerce records, 1948-1986 (bulk 1968-1975) (RH MS 1454)

Lawrence Friends of Music records, 1967-2006 (RH MS 1463)

Cora Parker collection, approximately 1860-1940 (RH MS 1464, RH MS-P 1464(f))

GRIST records, 1963-1968 (MS 53)

Hill family papers, 1900-2005 (RH MS 1461, RH MS Q443, RH MS R438, RH MS-P 1461, RH MS-P 1461(f))

William A. Smith papers, 1931-1938 (RH MS 1465)

Fannie Dixon photograph album, 1923-1928 (RH PH 538)

Stephen Kellison family collection, 1893-1983 (RH MS 1471, RH MS G87, RH MS E208, RH MS EK7, RH MS Q456)

William Tuttle’s research and teaching in African American history and the history of racial violence in 20th century America, 1899-2016 (RH MS 1472, RH MF 193, KC AV 59, RH MS R442)

Bessie Wilson photographs, approximately 1920s-1960s (RH PH P2832, RH PH P2832(f))

Artificial Kansas-based photographs collection, approximately 1875-1984 (bulk 1900s-1910s) (RH PH 535, RH PH 535(f), RH PH 535(ff))

Andrew J. Haynes papers, 1866-1907 (RH MS E209)

Illustrated Cold War current events calendars, 1981-1991 (RH MS R441)

KU Athletic Director’s records, 1919-1943 (bulk 1920s-1930s) (RG 66/11/4)

Personal papers of Edward L. Meyen, 1962-2018 (PP 608, UA AV 7)

Personal papers of Elizabeth A. Schultz, 1897-2018 (bulk 1944-2018) (PP 606, UA AV 8)

Photograph of a page from one of Elizabeth Schultz’s school scrapbooks
A page from one of Elizabeth Schultz’s school scrapbooks. Personal Papers of Elizabeth A. Schultz. Call Number: PP 606. Click image to enlarge.

Artificial portraits collection, approximately 1868-1986 (bulk 1900s-1960s)

Artificial non-Kansas based photographs collection, approximately 1867-1954 (bulk 1900s-1920s) (RH PH 539, RH PH 539(f), RH PH 539(ff))

William Maria Boedefeld architectural renderings, 1940s (RH AD 15)

Leonard Hollmann photograph collection, bulk 1850s-1920s, 1930-2015 (RH PH 536, RH PH 536(f), RH PH  536 glass negatives)

Old Windmill of West Lawrence, Kansas, drawing, January 21, 1904 (RH MS R445)

Letters of Orvis Hull, 1918 (RH MS P962)

Lawrence Woodwind Quintet records, 1970-2018 (RH MS 1475)

Trans World Airlines’ Hostess School photographs, 1938-1973 (RH PH 541, RH PH 541(f))

Photograph of a flight attendant student at the TWA Training School practicing with a fire extinguisher
A flight attendant student at the TWA Training School practicing with a fire extinguisher. Trans World Airlines’ Hostess School Photographs. Call Number: RH PH 541. Click image to enlarge.

Ruth Bloom collection of Larry Eigner materials, 1953-1996 (MS 349, MS Q81)

Scrapbook concerning the assumption of Presidency of Paraguay by Andres Rodriguez, 1989 (MS Q79, MS R22)

Mexican recipes, early 19th century (MS 346)

A recipe for “enpanadas” from an early 19th century set of recipes from Mexico
A recipe for “enpanadas” from an early nineteenth-century set of recipes from Mexico. These recipes – in various hands and on differently-sized pieces of paper – were originally placed together in a leather wrapper. Conservation staff recently disassembled the pages and placed them in folders. Staff included Shelley Miller Memorial Fund student Indira Garcia, who also inventoried the collection. Mexican Recipes. Call Number: MS 346. Click image to enlarge.

Francisco Maria Nunez Monge papers, 1940, 1941 (MS 88)

Theodore Sturgeon’s A Way Home manuscript collection, 1946-1955 (MS 351, MS J37)

Katie Armitage papers, 1953-2017 (RH MS 1479, RH MS Q451, RH MS R447)

Ernst Ulmer collection, 1950 (RH MS R449)

Edith Falkenstien’s Menninger Bible Study course materials, 1941-1945 (RH MS 1483)

John C. Johnson papers, 1930s-1940s, 1975-2015 (bulk 1975-2015) (RH MS 1476)

Kansas Commission on Civil Rights film, approximately 1961 (KC AV 72)

John C. Morley architectural drawings, 1958-1985 (RH AD 14, RH MS Q447)

Rexford Scott Sorenson negatives collection, 1957-2009 (RH PH 537)

Norman York and The Invincibles: Interstate Troop of Corresponding Scouts letters, 1914-1916 (RH MS 1482)

Abraham Lincoln portrait, 1911 from an 1860 drawing (RH MS R446)

William E. Barnes collection, 1878-1910 (RH MS 1484)

Elmer and Viola McColm glass plate negative collection, 1900s-1920s? (RH PH 543)

Basketball team portraits, 1912-1917 (RH PH 542)

Personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson, 1950-2018 (PP 607)

Meade, Kansas, glass plate negatives, approximately 1920s (RH PH 544)

Film by Paul Hausman, approximately 1960s (KC AV 71)

Slides of Lawrence, Kansas, churches, approximately 1990s (RH PH P2833)

Lawrence, Kansas, photographs, 1909 (RH PH P2834)

William and Donna Mitchell family papers, 1945-1965 (RH MS 1487)

Dr. Wilda Smith collection of Peggy Hull biographical materials, 1914-1991 (RH MS 1485, RH MS-P 1485, RH MS Q453)

Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, eighth grade class snapshots, 1918 (RH PH P2836)

Katherine Goldsmith papers, 1825-1999 (RH MS 1093, RH MS 569, RH MS 1072, RH MS Q454, RH MS R452, RH MS R453, RH MS S62, KC AV 78)

Florence Harkrader Hastings photographs, 1915 (RH PH 545(f))

James H. Holmes letter, 1856 (RH MS P963)

Martha McCoy dental ledger, volume 1, 1899-1902 (RH MS P965)

Leo L. McKenzie Body Works photographs, approximately 1950s (RH PH P2835)

Papers of Gregory Corso, 1953-1979 (MS 138)

Papers of Jean Ingelow and Mackenzie Bell, 1870-1897 (MS 45, MS R8)

Photograph album of the funeral of Bernardo Soto Alfaro, 1931 (MS K35)

Personal papers of Chuck Berg, 1965-2016 (PP 609)

Personal papers of Ann Hyde, 1934-2008 (PP 610)

Personal papers of R. Keith Lawton, 1951-1982 (PP 611)

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Kansas Collection Artificial Photograph Collections

June 11th, 2019

Sometimes archivists and special collections librarians “create” collections for their institutions by grouping together like items that came from different sources. We call these artificial collections, and we typically do this in order to make materials more physically manageable and/or more easily accessible to researchers.

A real photographic postcard of the Wallace County Courthouse in Sharon Springs, Kansas
A real photographic postcard of the Wallace County Courthouse in Sharon Springs, Kansas. Artificial Kansas-Based Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 535. Click image to enlarge.

From the 1980s through early 2000s, archivists in Spencer’s Kansas Collection , focusing on regional history, worked with dealers specializing in photography to purchase a wide variety of photographs of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and other surrounding states. These photographs display street scenes and aerial views of small towns; exterior (and sometimes interior) shots of churches, schools, courthouses, and other public buildings; interior and exterior shots of drugstores and other commercial buildings; residences; portraits of individuals and groups; rodeos, theatrical entertainments, and opera houses; and a wide variety of other subjects. Staff carefully chose these hundreds, even thousands, of images for their subject matter and content.

At that time, Kansas Collection staff had a practice of describing these images individually on paper worksheets, assigning each image its own call number, and placing the worksheets in notebooks for patrons and staff to access in the reading room. This practice became untenable over time, particularly as the library moved away from analog description to online finding aids, and hundreds of these images remained inaccessible in an unprocessed backlog.

In the past year, processing staff – in collaboration with curators and public services staff – developed a new workflow for managing these photographs through the creation of three artificial photographic collections: one for Kansas images, one for non-Kansas images, and one strictly for portraits (i.e. individuals typically formally posed in a photographic studio, rather than large groups at church or fraternal meetings, or athletic teams, or other images of people that could fit into a subject theme). These images are now described online in Spencer Research Library’s finding aid system and available for research.

The artificial Kansas collection of photographs includes images from across the state. It is organized by county and then by town or other political boundary within each county. These images are further categorized by subjects such as agriculture, education, recreation, social customs, etc.

A color lithographic postcard of a street scene from Sylvia, Reno County, Kansas. One of the dealers with whom Kansas Collection staff worked most frequently came from Reno County, leading to a large selection of images of that area. Artificial Kansas-Based Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 535. Click image to enlarge.

Non-Kansas images are organized alphabetically by state and then simply by town or other political boundary. 

Men standing and sitting on what appears to be a large pile of buttons at the Iroquois Pearl Button Company in Sabula, Iowa, 1911
Men standing and sitting on what appears to be a large pile of buttons at the Iroquois Pearl Button Company in Sabula, Iowa, 1911. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.
A photograph of Fourth and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, 1869
According to the caption on the back, this mounted print shows Fourth and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, 1869. Included is Sheridan’s pond, as photographed from Sheridan’s residence. The Missouri photographs include a small set of Kansas City street scenes from the late 1860s and early 1870s. Unfortunately, they are in poor physical condition. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.

Portraits are organized either alphabetically by family name, if provided, or grouped by babies, children, men, women, and groups of people when individuals are unidentified.

Portrait of Ivan Bowers
Portrait of Ivan Bowers. A note accompanying this unusually mounted print states that Bowers was born in North Lawrence, Kansas, spent many years in the military, and married late in life, and that the photograph was taken by the A. Lawrence Photo Studio. Artificial Portraits Collection. Call Number: RH PH 540. Click image to enlarge.
Portrait of an unidentified woman
Portrait of an unidentified woman. The back of this carte de visite lists Mrs. M. Gainsford of Great Bend, Kansas, as the photographer. Artificial Portraits Collection. Call Number: RH PH 540. Click image to enlarge.

Many of the images in these artificial collections are real photographic postcards, typically sent between 1900 and 1920; many of these same postcards have messages on the back. The artificial collections also include mounted prints, glass plate negatives, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, and other photographic formats and processes.

An exaggeration postcard by Frank D. Conard, a noted photographer based in Garden City, Kansas. Conard excelled at exaggeration postcards, or a kind of trick photography that makes normally small things such as farm crops, rabbits, and grasshoppers appear much larger than they ever do in reality. While some of Conard’s images appear to be based in Garden City, many are not; as a result, processing staff categorized several of these images in the non-Kansas topical photographs. Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection. Call Number: RH PH 539. Click image to enlarge.

When a photographic collection comes from a singular donor, such as a photographic studio or collector of photographs or a local family, these images will continue to be handled as separate and unique collections. The Kansas Collection has a rich and varied set of photographic collections; these artificial collections both supplement and complement what is available in other collections at Spencer Research Library and at other collecting institutions in Kansas and the surrounding states.

Please feel free to explore these newly processed collections!

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Spring 2019 Exhibit: “Meet the Spencers: A Marriage of Arts and Sciences”

February 5th, 2019

Who was Kenneth Spencer, the namesake of Spencer Research Library? Why is the library named after him? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions and wondered about the library’s origins, be sure to visit and explore its current exhibit, “Meet the Spencers: A Marriage of Arts and Sciences.”

Kenneth and Helen Spencer in their garden, 1959

Kenneth and Helen Spencer with their dog Topper in the garden of their home at
2900 Verona Road in Mission Hills, Kansas, spring 1959.
Helen Foresman Spencer Papers. Call Number: RH MS-P 542. Click image to enlarge.

The exhibit provides a personal look at the lives of Kenneth Spencer and his wife Helen, including:

  • their childhoods growing up in southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri
  • their relationship and marriage
  • their hobbies and interests
  • Kenneth’s work as an engineer and accomplishments as a business leader in Kansas City
  • the creation of Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Additionally, the exhibit examines the Spencers’ significant philanthropic work, particularly Helen’s dynamic leadership of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation after her husband’s death in 1960. The foundation provided funds for major construction projects at many institutions throughout the Kansas City area, including KU’s Lawrence campus. For example, gifts from the Foundation and from Helen personally ensured the construction of Spencer Research Library as well as the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.

Photograph of the installation of wall labels for the "Meet the Spencers" exhibit

Installing wall labels can be a messy business. Shown here is a
timeline of the early history of Spencer Research Library
in the context of KU’s history in the 1960s, part of the new
“Meet the Spencers” exhibit. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of the installation of items for the "Meet the Spencers" exhibit

The installation of items for the “Meet the Spencers” exhibit.
Library staff try not to open the heavy glass case covers too frequently.
In 1968, Helen Spencer selected and purchased the five large German-made
display cases now located in the Exhibit Space. Click image to enlarge.

The opening reception for “Meet the Spencers” will be held this Thursday, February 7, 2019. The exhibition will be installed in the third-floor Exhibit Space through June 2019 as part of ongoing celebrations for Spencer Research Library’s fiftieth anniversary. It is free and open to the public.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator