Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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

New Finding Aids, July-December 2018

January 15th, 2019

If you have conducted research at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library in the past, then perhaps you already know about some of the collections listed here as having “new” finding aids. The library has been in physical existence for 50 years, and KU Libraries started collecting archival and manuscript materials long before there was a separate building to house them. However, KSRL has only been producing online finding aids for 20 years. This means that over those same 20 years, manuscripts processing staff have added information about legacy collections online as time and resources permit.

We added several legacy collection finding aids in the last six months of 2018 that you will see on this list, but we also worked on new collections!  Whether you want to know more about how basketball came to China, the Lawrence, Kansas literary scene, or prominent African American families of Kansas, we have something for everyone at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Photograph of the 1928 Tientsin Civilian Basketball Team, from the volume Tientsin Civilian Basketball Team Season 1927-28 Records 1926-28 in the personal papers of Charles A. Siler

Photograph of the 1928 Tientsin Civilian Basketball Team,
from the volume Tientsin Civilian Basketball Team
Season 1927-28 Records 1926-28 in the personal papers
of Charles A. Siler. Call #: PP 595, box 1 folder 30.
Click image to enlarge.

Image of a concrete poem that begins "Progress / Today Yesterday [...]" in the collection of John Fowler

Concrete poem by John Fowler, from his collection.
Call #: MS 344 box 1 folder 11.
Click image to enlarge.


Image of a page from the passport of Annabelle Sawyer, revealng stamps from France and the Consulate of Lebanon in New York.

A page from Annabelle Sawyer’s passport;
she served as a missionary in Sierra Leone as well as
traveled for pleasure. Nathaniel Sawyer family papers.
Call #: RH MS 1460, box 1 folder 47. Click image to enlarge.  


Finding aids newly published online in July-December 2018:

“Frozen in Time” J. J. Pennell exhibit photos, 1896-1922 (RH PH 48)

Photographs of Oklahoma scenes, approximately 1901-1903 (RH PH 150)

Josea M. Tyler collection, 1972-2014 (RH MS 1456, RH MS Q442)

Reese-Hanlon family photographs, approximately 1890-1967 (bulk 1890s-1940s), RH PH 181

Personal papers of James E. Dykes, 1960-1966 (PP 598)

Personal papers of F. Allan Hanson, 1961-1963 (PP 597)

Personal papers of Charles A. Siler, 1890-1982 (PP 595)

Glen Kappelman World War II photographs collection, 1944-1945, 1999, 2000 (bulk 1944-1945) (RH PH 533, RH PH 533(f))

Douglas County Genealogical Society records, 1975-2002 (RH MS 1450)

Edward Everett Hale letter, May 14, 1854 (RH MS P960)

Lawrence Memorial Hospital architectural records, 1933-1996 (RH AD 12, RH MS 1451)

Typescript of Destiny’s Road by Larry Niven, September 1996 (MS 343)

Personal papers of John B. Bremner, 1930-1986 (PP 600)

“Visualizing Muscles” scrapbook, 1995 (PP 599)

Papers of Arla Jones & Kimberly Kreicker, 1980s-2009 (RH MS 1452, RH MS S57)

President Obama’s Kansas Heritage oral history project, 2009-2017 (RH MS 1462, KC AV 55)

C.Y. Thomas collection, 1887-1981 (bulk 1940s-1970s) (RH MS 539, RH MS Q437, RH MF 192)

Nathaniel Sawyer family papers, circa 1880-2012 (bulk 1950s-1990s) (RH MS 1460, RH MS-P 1460, RH MS R437)

John Fowler collection, 1965-2015 (MS 344, MS Q76)

Personal papers of David Guth, 2013-2015 (PP 603, UA AV 5)

Personal papers of Margaret L. Anderson, 1963-1972 (PP 602)

Personal papers of Richard Dyer MacCann, May 1999 (PP 601)

Harold Covington collection, 1980-2011 (RH WL MS 52)

Funeral service programs from the Topeka, Kansas-based African American community, 1956, 1962, 1964 (RH MS P961)

Hutchinson, KS NAACP collection, 1982-2017 (RH MS 1457, RH MS-P 1457(ff))

Rhoda Louise Meredith’s “Book of Stunts and Frolics,” circa 1929-1937, 1977 (RH MS BK8)

“Shawnee Indian History, 1688-1832” manuscript, undated [not before 1832] (RH MS P385)

Richard B. Sheridan papers, 1906-2005 (RH MS 1468, RH MS-P 1468, RH MS-P 1468(f), RH MS R439)

Voth, Unruh, & Banman families collection, 1865-2009 (RH MS 1455, RH MS-P 1455, RH MS-P 1455(f), RH MS Q441, RH MS R434, RH MS R435)

North family papers, approximately 1250-1856 (bulk 1500-1797) (MS 240A, MS D128, MS Q5, MS Q17, MS Q75, MS Qa1:5-6, MS Qa14)

Personal papers of Arthur Binion Amerson, Jr., 1961-1962 (PP 605)

Personal papers of Kristine McCusker, 1990s (PP 604)

Post by
Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Genealogy Hunts in Processing

September 4th, 2018

Manuscripts processing staff try to provide contextual information when creating finding aids to help researchers discover what we have in our collections. Some of the most important contextual information we can provide concerns biographical information for individuals (e.g. when a person was born, what s/he did during his/her life, and whether s/he had children) or administrative information for organizations, businesses, and government agencies (e.g. when an organization was created, what its function was, and what happened to it – did it merge with another organization or fade into obscurity, or is it still going strong). Without that kind of information, it can be difficult for a researcher to evaluate a collection and determine whether or not it is of interest to their research.

When we’re lucky, we’re provided this information in the collection itself or in material provided by the donor when the curator picks up the collection. Sometimes, though, the donor doesn’t necessarily have information about a collection—maybe its something they found in their house or something a family member gave them years ago and for which they never got the story.

In these situations, processing can be a detective game of following clues and performing dogged research.

Take, for example, the Hungate family papers. We had very little information in the accession file about this collection; the accession itself was called “Housemother in Kansas.” (Accessioning in the cultural heritage domain is the act of transferring ownership from one owner to another—i.e. from a donor to the cultural institution, such as Spencer Research Library.)

Upon review, it was found that this collection is a mix of textual and photographic material, the photographs dating back to what I suspect are the 1860s up to 1958, and the textual materials mostly dating from 1945 to 1947.

Photograph of the Hungate family letters while being processed

Hungate family letters during processing.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

It was immediately obvious why the collection was initially called “Housemother in Kansas”: on top of the stacked material in the box was a scrapbook for Ida B. Patterson’s retirement as a house mother at Goffe House at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearby was a marriage certificate (shown below) for Ida B. Devaney to Frank P. Patterson in Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri.

Photograph of the Hungate family papers guestbook

Photograph of a Hungate family marriage certificate

The inside first page to the guest book (cover shown, top) states it was for
“Mother, when she left Art Institute as house mother 1950,” with some items inside
addressed to Mrs. Patterson. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

However, the bulk of the collection was Hungate family material, much of which were photographs that were remarkably well identified, including late 19th century cabinet cards.

Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate Photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife, Essie Smith Hungate

The front (left) and back (right) of a photograph of James Gunther Hungate and his wife Essie Smith Hungate,
one of several identified family photos in the collection. Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click images to enlarge.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection was to Dr. Carroll Paul Hungate, a medical doctor serving in the Naval Reserves in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1945, or to his daughter Mary Agnes Hungate from Brazilian penpals. By quickly skimming some of the letters and reading the backs of some of the identified photographs, I was able to start piecing together family connections.

Photograph of Carroll Paul Hungate

Caroll Paul Hungate.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

Both Mary Agnes Hungate (writing to her husband “my darling Carroll”) and her daughters Mary Agnes and Annabel (writing to their father “Daddy”) several times mentioned going to the lake with the Pattersons. In one letter, Mary Agnes Sr. mentioned that Donald Patterson called, telling her “Aunt Maude” had died of cancer.

Image of a letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, October 5, 1945

A letter from Mary Agnes Hungate to her husband Carroll, writing
about the children going to the movies with the Pattersons, October 5, 1945.
Call Number: RH MS 1420. Click image to enlarge.

The clues in the collection itself led to online researches on genealogical websites. HeritageQuest (available for free through KU Libraries), Find a Grave, and other websites all aided in tracking down Hungate and Patterson family members. I finally discovered the connection between these two families: Ida B. Patterson was Mary Agnes (Patterson) Hungate’s mother. Ida’s husband Frank died in 1908, after they had been married for just ten years. According to the 1910 U.S. census, the widowed Ida was left to care for her two children, Howard and his younger sister Mary Agnes.

Screenshot of the 1910 United States federal census record for Ida B. Patterson

A screenshot of the transcribed entry for Ida B. Patterson in the
1910 United States federal census. From Ancestry.com. Click image to enlarge.

Sometimes, processing detective work pays off.

Pro Tip

If you reside in Kansas and want to look up information in Kansas newspapers prior to 1923—even later for some content—including birth announcements and obituaries, you can go to the Kansas Historical Society’s website, provide your name, date of birth, and Kansas driver’s license number, and have free access to thousands of images of digitized Kansas newspapers on Newspapers.com. Very helpful when confirming birth dates found in other sources!

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

New Finding Aids, December 2017-June 2018

July 17th, 2018

Interested in what’s become recently available for research amongst the archival materials at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library? Then you’ve come to the right place! Below is the listing of finding aids newly published in the past several months.

For those of you of with an artistic or musical bent, here are a few images to whet your appetite:

A thank you poem from Leonard Bernstein, in the Joyce Castle collection

A thank you poem from Leonard Bernstein in the Joyce Castle collection.
Call Number: RH MS 1441, Box 1, Folder 30. Click image to enlarge.

Still image of Marya Ouspenskaya from an American Laboratory Theatre production (Three Sisters?) Photographer: Maurice Goldberg

Still image of Marya Ouspenskaya from an American Laboratory Theatre
production (Three Sisters?). Photographer: Maurice Goldberg.
American Laboratory Theatre Collection. Call Number: MS 338, Box 4, Folder 78.
Click image to enlarge.

First page of sheet music from Laurel Everette Anderson’s “Quartet in C Minor for Strings” (Fourth Movement, Introduction and Allegro)

First page of sheet music from Laurel Everette Anderson’s “Quartet in C Minor for Strings”
(Fourth Movement, Introduction and Allegro). Personal Papers of Laurel Anderson.
Call Number: PP 587, Box 1, Folder 1. Click image to enlarge.

If that has piqued your interest, here is the full list of new finding aids:

Merrill Ross collection, approximately 1944-1977 (RH MS P558, RH MS-P P558)

University of Kansas publication photographs, 1970-1990 (RH PH 176)

African American World War II oral history collections, 1940s, 2010-2013 (RH MS 1439, RH MS-P 1439, KC AV 26, KC AV 29)

A River Running West literary archive, [before 2001] (RH MS 981, RH MS Q249, RH MS R201)

Denise Low papers, 1970-2013 (MS 334, MS Qa19)

American Laboratory Theatre records, 1923-1982 (bulk 1925-1930) (MS 338, MS Q73, MS Qa20, MS K33, MS E278)

Alexander L. Boyle artworks, 1965-1992 (PP 548)

Personal papers of John Macauley, 1960s-1980s (PP 464)

Community Mercantile oral history transcripts, 1996-2001 (RH MS 570)

Senator Fred Kerr papers, 1976-1992 (bulk 1988-1992) (RH MS 544)

Gordon Parks clippings and obituary materials, 1969, 1991, 2006 (RH MS P884, RH MS R277)

Personal papers of Laurel Anderson, circa 1935-1986 (PP 587)

Polly Lovitt biography, 2012 (PP 584, UA AV 1)

Personal papers of Russell Mesler, 1949-1992 (PP 582)

Personal papers of Glenn Parker, 1902-1955 (PP 586)

Personal papers of Ray J. Stanclift, Jr., 1941-1954, 1990 (PP 585)

J. Collins letter regarding the Pony Express route, September 10, 1951 (RH MS P703)

Ida Mae Newsom collection, 1930s-1980s (RH MS P593, RH MS-P 593)

Miscellaneous Kansas photographers collection, 1886, 1894, undated (RH PH 165)

Portraits and activities of African Americans in Kansas City, KS, approximately 1955-1988 (RH PH 174)

Photographic collection of portraits, landscapes, and buildings and structures, interiors, etc., approximately 1910-1950 (RH PH 11)

John Scoville collection, 1934, 1947, 1960, 1962-2003 (RH WL MS 48, RH WL MS Q6, RH WL MS R4)

William H. Morrison’s letters from the Nebraska Territory, 1864-1865 (RH MS P923)

Ole J. Olsen photographs, approximately 1900-1910? (RH PH 83)

Mrs. Oscar Polk photographs, approximately 1912-1919 (RH PH 102)

Nancy Porter photographs, approximately 1896-1958 (RH PH 62)

Seelander & Swanson Sign Company photographs, approximately 1940s-1960s? (RH PH 138)

David Stout’s ration book, October 1943 (RH MS P924)

Modern homes and other scenes of Lawrence, KS, 1970s? (KC AV 28)

Warner-Johnson Photographic Studio collection, 1893-1987 (RH MS 1440, RH MS-P 1440, RH MS-P 1440(f))

John C. Tibbetts portraits collection, 1981-2016 (MS Q74, MS Qa23)

Natural History Art and Illustration by D. D. Tyler, 1971-2014 (MS 337, MS Q72, MS Qa22, MS R19)

Personal papers of Roger Martin, 1980-2015 (PP 588, UA AV 2, UA AV 3)

Personal papers of Charles Stansifer, 1963-2012 (PP 589)

Personal papers of Jack Brooking (Beach), 1956-1974 (PP 590)

Warren Corman architectural drawings, bulk 1950s-1960s (PP 592)

Personal papers of Morton Green, 1939-2003 (PP 591)

John Lee papers, 1989-1996 (RH MS 1428, RH AD 11, RH MS R425)

O’Dell-Wilson family photographs, circa 1890-1930 (RH PH 63)

George Pollock photograph collection, approximately 1890s (RH PH P2821, RH PH 101)

Savage-Alford families photographs, approximately 1860-1916 (RH PH 59)

Geraldine Slater photograph collection, 1920s (RH PH P2830, RH PH 52)

Argentine River Improvement stock certificate, 1887 (RH MS P952)

Joyce Castle collection, 1843, 1903, 1953-2014 (RH MS 1441, RH MS Q434, KC AV 35)

Jane Wofford Malin collection, 1860s, 1890s-2016 (bulk 1926-2016) (RH MS 1444, RH MS R429, RH MS-P 1444, RH MS-P 1444(f), KC AV 44)

Jesse T. Roberts land certificate, 1854 (RH MS Q436)

David Samuels postcards collection, approximately 1900-1950s (RH PH 65, RH MS DK2)

Unidentified couple carte de visite, approximately 1880-1900 (RH PH P2829)

Moseley & Company photographs of Kansas City buildings, approximately 1920s-1969 (RH PH 135, RH PH 135(f))

H. Mulch collection, approximately 1908-1982 (RH PH 117, RH Cassette Tape 5)

Nebraska State Penitentiary photographs, approximately 1870 and 1910 (RH PH 129, RH PH 129(f))

Willard G. Ransom photographs, approximately 1900-1940 (RH PH 54)

Reuter Organ Company photographs, approximately 1917-1940s (RH PH 68)

Kenison family photographs, approximately 1890-1905 (RH PH 97)

Stanley Schmidt papers, 1976-2013 (MS 341)

Stanley, Kansas photograph album, approximately 1920s (RH PH 123)

Personal papers of Marlin D. Harmony, 1960-1998 (PP 593)

Personal papers of Roger L. Kaesler, 1961-2003 (PP 594)

Personal papers of Robert W. Wilson, 1937-2003 (PP 596)

Robert Hess collection, 1945-2013 (RH AD 10, RH MS 1415, RH MS R413)

Kansas State Seals collection, [not before 1867 – approximately 1900?] (RH MS Q428, RH MS R430)

Elizabeth Stephens collection, 1942-2002 (RH MS 1448, RH MS Q438, KC AV 47)

Vogel family collection, 1952-2015 (RH MS 1446, KC AV 46)

Hornbooks collection, 17 and 18th centuries (MS C315)

Melvin Landsberg papers: Correspondence with and about John Dos Passos, 1956-1970 (MS 342)

Marcella Huggard
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator