Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Spencer Public Services Working from Home

July 14th, 2020

Spencer Research Library has been closed since March due to the coronavirus, with in-person services unavailable and staff members working from home with little or no access to physical collection materials. So, what do librarians in a unit with “public” in it’s title do when the building is closed to the public? The answer is to continue serving patrons remotely as best as we can while working on myriad behind-the-scenes projects that will hopefully benefit users long after the current pandemic.

Even though we have not been able to interact with our library patrons face-to-face for several months, our underlying purpose remains the same: providing high-quality services that encourage and welcome users to engage with Spencer librarians and collections in ways they find interesting, exciting, thought-provoking, and meaningful.

Read on to see what each member of the Public Services team has been working on from home.

Caitlin Donnelly Klepper, Head of Public Services

What have you been working on?

Since March, I have taken over the daily monitoring of Spencer’s reference email account (ksrlref@ku.edu), answering some research queries and forwarding others to colleagues. Like my coworkers, I’ve also attended a good number of KU, KU Libraries, and Spencer Research Library meetings, town halls, and virtual updates. While some are new since covid-19, most others are Zoom and phone versions of the in-person meetings I would normally attend.

My other projects have included cleaning up statistics and corresponding reports, updating the Spencer website, catching up on a backlog of professional reading, and clearing out my email inbox. I’ve also attended many webinars and other online professional development opportunities. This month, much of my focus has shifted toward working with colleagues to develop plans for reopening Spencer’s Reading Room and providing instruction this fall.

Why is this work important to the library?

Much of my work at home has directly or indirectly helped maintain some of Spencer’s core operations; other projects have contributed to new initiatives at the Libraries and improved my personal ability to better serve our users.

What will you miss about working from home when we return to Spencer?

My husband and I purchased our first home in early March, and despite the current circumstances I’ve appreciated getting to spend so much time enjoying our new space. I’ll miss things being able to do things like eating at my desk and taking periodic breaks throughout the day to tackle some housework or walk on the treadmill.

Photograph of the view from Caitlin's home workspace
The view from Caitlin’s home workspace. Click image to enlarge.

Meredith Phares, Spencer Research Library Operations Manager

What have you been working on?

I have been working on a legacy project of our individual photo collections in the Kansas Collection. There are roughly 2,500 images that do not have a finding aid or catalog record. Patrons can only access these photos by reviewing a three-inch three-ring binder full of dividers and charts that is located in our Reading Room. I’ve been entering the details about these images into our ArchivesSpace database; from there, Manuscripts Coordinator Marcella Huggard and her team can take the information and create finding aids and catalog records. 

When I have had enough of data entry, I have been working on a training manual for our Public Services student assistants, along with data cleanup in our Aeon system, which tracks the circulation of Spencer materials. 

Since late April, I have been able to work in Spencer a couple of hours each week. I have kept up on my temperature and relative humidity monitoring of the stacks and have been able to get some stacks projects accomplished.

Why is this work important to the library?

Entering our individual photo collections into ArchivesSpace gets us a step closer to having our photograph collections more accessible. Data cleanup in Aeon allows me to be sure everything has been re-shelved correctly after it’s been used by researchers and staff members. Regular monitoring of our stacks environment is essential for the safety and preservation of our collections.

What will you miss about working from home when we return to Spencer?

I commute from Topeka, so I will miss the quick commute to my living room, the flexible work schedule, and spending time with my newly-adopted dog Edgar. He has been my companion and entertainment since March. 

Photograph of Meredith with her dog Edgar
Meredith with her dog Edgar. Click image to enlarge.

Emily Beran, Library Assistant

What have you been working on?

While Spencer Research Library has been closed, I have had the opportunity to work on projects that I normally would not have time to do. One of the most notable ones has been creating transcriptions for some materials in our manuscript collections. Transcriptions are typed copies of handwritten documents. Currently, my favorite transcription I am working on is for the diary of New York suffragist Lillian North. The diary covers her daily life from 1915 into 1917; it not only provides great insight into her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement but also gives readers such a fun look at her life and what she considered important.

Why is this work important to the library?

While our manuscript collections are invaluable sources of information, some of them can be hard for researchers to read and work with because the documents are handwritten. Transcriptions provide a more readable version of these handwritten documents, making the information more accessible for researchers. Additionally, by having transcriptions, we can utilize these documents for more activities (classes, tours, etc.) where being able to read something quickly is necessary because time is limited.

What will you miss about working from home when we return to Spencer?

I am not a morning person so the ability to sleep in and start working later in the day has been great for me. Also, the schedule flexibility really has allowed me to work on projects when I can be the most productive and focused – evenings, weekends, when I can’t sleep, etc. So while I am excited to be back in Spencer, I will miss the extra sleep and that scheduling freedom!

A portion of Emily's transcription project
A portion of Emily’s transcription project. Click image to enlarge.

Kathy Lafferty, Copy Services Manager

What have you been working on?

Since Spencer closed in March, I’ve processed fifty-six copy requests submitted by patron and fourteen inter-library loan requests by going in to the library building once, and sometimes twice, each week.

Additionally, I created an online version of “The 1918 Influenza Epidemic at KU,” which began as a temporary exhibit in Spencer’s North Gallery. I was able to add a lot more information because I had more space and time to do extensive online research. I have also written two blog posts, one for Mother’s Day and another for Father’s Day. For the Father’s Day blog, I used photographs from the Joseph Pennell Collection that are available online and did some online research to find out more information about the subjects in the photographs.

Up next is completing a new online version of the Library’s twenty-fifth anniversary exhibit catalog.

Why is this work important to the library?

The Libraries are trying hard to minimize obstructions to research support and provide access to library materials during the pandemic shutdown. By working from home and going in when I can, I am doing my part to contribute to that effort.

What will you miss about working from home when we return to Spencer?

I will miss my cat, Knick, snuggling next to me while I work. I will also miss eating at my desk and setting my own schedule. I will miss working from home, but it will be good to be back in the library full-time.

Photograph of Kathy and her cat Buzz
Kathy and her cat Buzz. Click image to enlarge.

Shelby Schellenger, Reference Coordinator

What have you been working on?

I’ve been working on all sorts of things…which is largely part of my job in any case. I’ve been working with digital reference, reviewing training documents, watching professional development webinars, and more. One of the things I do now that I don’t enjoy is telling people that we’ll be later than usual in getting their research questions answered due to decreased access to the physical collections. 

Why is this work important to the library? 

This work is important to the library because serving the research and reference needs of students, faculty, and the public is an integral part of library operations. What I’m doing from home is that reference or working to improve our ability to do that reference. 

What will you miss about working from home when we return to Spencer?

I think I will miss being able to do my daily work with music playing. I like being able to play music to match my mood/activities and that isn’t practical in the quiet Reading Room environment! 

Photograph of Shelby's at-home coworkers Nikolai and Wallace
Shelby’s at-home coworkers Nikolai and Wallace. Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: Epilogue

April 15th, 2019

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

We have reached the last of Milo’s letters. According to U.S. Army Transport Service passenger lists, he boarded the ship Mobile and sailed from Brest, France, on April 13, 1919. He arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, ten days later and was home in Argonia on May 12. Milo’s wartime experience was over.

Hoff & Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, August 28, 1919

Hoff & Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, August 28, 1919.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo quickly settled into civilian life. On June 5, the Argonia Argosy reported he had accepted a position in J. W. Achelpohl’s store, where he had worked before the war. One month later, on July 3, the newspaper reported that

I. G. David, who has conducted the Globe Store in the Newby building the past year, has sold the business to Geo. Hoff and Milo Main. They are now busy invoicing the stock. These gentlemen are both well known here, and are well qualified to handle the business having been employed by J. W. Achelpohl for several years.

Milo was employed as a merchant for at least the next several decades, although the 1940 census listed his occupation as a farmer. During this time, Milo was also a long-time member of the Methodist church, the American Legion, and the Masonic Lodge of Argonia.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, August 10, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, August 10, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, November 16, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, November 16, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

Milo Main advertisement in the Argonia Argosy newspaper, November 30, 1922

Milo’s business advertisement in the Argonia Argosy, November 30, 1922.
Image via Newspapers.com. Click image to enlarge.

In 1927, Milo married Ruth Hill (born 1897) in Jackson County, Missouri. She may be the “Miss Hill” Milo mentioned in his letter of February 8, 1919: “You mentioned Miss Hills name again thru Elmer Bringer. You folks apparently, take the case more seriously than I. Quite true she is a nice girl, but Old Mike has not lost any girl, nor is he looking for any.”

After his wife’s death in 1957, Milo married Idella Martin Lane (1909-1983) in Oklahoma the following year. The couple settled in Lockwood, Missouri, located about fifty miles northwest of Springfield. Milo lived there the rest of his life; he died in Lockwood on December 11, 1979.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: March 11-24, 1919

March 18th, 2019

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In his letter of March 16th, Milo writes about having “a light touch of the” flu, driving across France to his new post, and “renting a furnished room with two big feather beds and a stove.”

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, March 16, 1919

M. Main.
Bat. F. 130 F.A.
35 Divn. A.E.F.

March 16th 1919.
Bonnetable, France.

Dear Father and Sisters:-

Have recieved four letters from you during the past week.

Well, we are here in southern France, but have not gone thru the classification camp at Le Mons yet. It will probably be our next move as it is only 40 kilometers from here.

Will be at least 30 days before we get out of this Frog eating Land of France.

Yes, I had a light touch of the “Flu” but, I took the champagne in time to prevent any serious illness. Sure am feeling fine now. Have seen all the boys here recently and all are well.

I was quite fortunate in my trip from Ernecourt to Bonnetable. Came overland in the 130 F.A. Auto Convoy. Four days in making the trip. Sure saw all the best wheat and wine districts of France. We ate and slept in good hotels thru-out the journey. Four days making the trip, always stopped in a good city for the nite. Saw more keen women those four days than ever before except in Paris.

Have the Col.’s mess, (10 officers, staff) in a French home here. The madam is cooking. The best mess ever. I am a there on putting away this real food. I even serve it Frog style now. Sure a fine home we have mess in. Also a fair daughter of 22 yrs.

Will enclose a card of one of the better lookers.

Three of we O.M. boys rented a furnished room with two big feather beds and a stove in it. Gas light too. Col. ordered all men in Bat. [Battalion] not to room out like this. But we are not under the direct command of anyone so are keeping it quiet. The officers wanted me to wait table every day, but no, I convinced them that I would not be able to care for everything properly alone so they retained my side pal from Texas who takes it day about yet with me. Not much to do in dining room for 10, but I don’t like to work any more. My day off, I lie in the feathers, (not hay), until 10:A.M.

Will close by assuring you not to take any stock in Gov. Allen, nor any of his newspapers,

I am
Your son,
Milo Main.

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Seedy Business: History of the Barteldes Seed Company

February 26th, 2019

 ‘Barteldes’ stands for quality and we spare no expense or labor to keep up this high standard of quality.
1912 Barteldes seed catalog

In 1860, six years after the first settlers arrived in Lawrence, Friedo Barteldes was the proprietor of a small grocery business on Massachusetts Street. He added a few seed packets to his inventory, and this aspect of his business grew rapidly. It became the Kansas Seed House, the largest seed firm west of the Mississippi. The business employed four salesman on the road, plus fifteen to twenty employees who worked at the House, cleaning and shipping seeds.

Photograph of the Barteldes Groceries & Provisions and Seed Store, 1864

Barteldes Groceries & Provisions and Seed Store, 1864. Douglas County Historical Society
Manuscript Collections. Call Number: Call Number: RH MS-P 1435. Click image to enlarge.

Friedo’s nephew F. W. Barteldes joined the business in 1874. Upon Friedo’s death in 1887, F. W. Barteldes and Max Wilhelmi became the company’s proprietors. In 1906, the Kansas Seed House was incorporated as the Barteldes Seed Company. It expanded that same year, adding locations in Denver and Oklahoma City. The company’s headquarters moved to Denver in 1961.

Cover of the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1897 Page from the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1897

Pages from the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1897. F. W. Barteldes published his company’s first
seed catalog in 1876. He took them along as he traveled during the summer months, taking seed orders
that he filled once he returned to Lawrence. Call Number: RH C4970. Click images to enlarge.

Cover of the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1901 Page from the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1901

Pages from the Kansas Seed House catalog, 1901. Call Number: RH C4971. Click images to enlarge.

Cover of the Barteldes seed catalog, 1915 Page from the Barteldes seed catalog, 1915

Pages from the Barteldes seed catalog, 1915. Call Number: RH Ser C1257. Click images to enlarge.

Barteldes Seed Company was located at 804 Massachusetts Street. Its warehouses – where seeds were stored and tested for germination – were located at 805-811 New Hampshire Street. The store was connected to the warehouses by a walkway over the alley. In 1999, the steel beam walkway was still visible. Today, 804 Massachusetts Street is occupied by Sunflower Bike Shop.

Photograph of the Kansas Seed House storefront, 1886

Kansas Seed House storefront at 804 Massachusetts Street, 1886. Owner F. W.
Barteldes is in the middle, wearing a hat. Douglas County Historical Society Manuscript
Collections. Call Number: Call Number: RH MS-P 1435. Click image to enlarge.

Fire was a persistent concern for the Barteldes Seed Company. The first fire occurred in 1863 during Quantrill’s Raid. Friedo Barteldes was the first shop owner to rebuild and accounts state that the work was completed within seven days. Fire struck again in 1904, and the two-story building was rebuilt with a third floor. As a result of these incidents, the warehouses were reconstructed with fire safety in mind. Seeds were stored in steel cabinets with wire trays. All the doors and walls were fireproofed, and at least some of the ceiling and floors were glass. Each floor was equipped with a large fire hose, and each aisle had a fire extinguisher.

At times during the twentieth century, Barteldes sold more than seeds. In December, the basement of Warehouse A was used to store Christmas trees, and nearly all of the Christmas trees in Lawrence were from Barteldes. For many years, Barteldes also processed and marketed popcorn under their registered name TNT Food Products, Inc., which was formed in 1952.

Meredith Huff
Public Services

World War I Letters of Milo H. Main: February 18-24, 1919

February 18th, 2019

In honor of the centennial of World War I, this is the second series in which we follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-five year old Milo H. Main, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. On Mondays we’ll post a new entry featuring selected letters from Milo to his family from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Milo Hugh Main was born in or near Pittsfield, Illinois, on November 21, 1892 to William and Rose Ella Henry Main. The family moved to Argonia, Sumner County, Kansas, in 1901. After his mother died in 1906, Milo remained in Argonia with his father and his two sisters Gladys (b. 1890) and June (b. 1899). His youngest sister Fern (b. 1905) was sent to live with relatives in Illinois.

As Milo reported to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1919, after graduating from high school he worked as a store clerk. He resigned in July 1917 and took a position at Standard Oil Company, possibly co-managing a gas station in Argonia.

Milo entered into military service on September 21, 1917. He served as a wagoner – a person who drives a wagon or transports goods by wagon – in Battery F, 130th Field Artillery. He was stationed at Camp Funston (September-October 1917) and Camp Doniphan (October 1917-May 1918). On May 19, 1918, he boarded the ship Ceramic in New York City and departed for Europe.

In this letter, Milo discusses a harrowing experience he had in battle the previous September. “About 4 A.M. [the Germans] put over a real barrage,” he writes. “It was then I found partial safty [safety] from flying fragments in an old gun position. Had I staid out as Randall did I would no doubt of got mine.”

Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 18, 1919 Image of Milo H. Main's letter to his family, February 18, 1919

2/18 1919
Ernecourt, France.

Dear Father and All:-

Your letter of 1/26 rec’d [received] yesterday evening. Cannot understand about our home-going mail. Some have not heard from the A.E.F. for three weeks. Possibly due to Christmas mail in States.

Also received clippings about 35th Divn [Division]. Gov. Allen has some poor line of dope [information] on us, especially the 60th Brigade of Artillery. We can tell the truth about the Argonne if we ever come home (1).

Yes, I remember Gov. Allen, he “mootched a square [meal]” off the mess next day after we left the big push.

Yesterday the 35th division passed in review before Gen. Pershing and Prince of Wales. To be sure Gen. complimented all the troops. He only wants a Presidental vote from us in 1920. But he will be S.O.L.

Will close, promising to write before we leave for Russia.

I am your son,
Mike

(1) One of the clippings may have been a lengthy January 14th article from the Wellington Daily News that reported on a talk given by Governor Allen in Topeka the same day. Allen talked about “the experiences of the Thirty-fifth and Eighty-first divisions” based on his time with the units while he was in France with the Red Cross. “Quite informally and in his inimitable style,” the article stated, “Governor Allen began his story of the deeds of Kansas men in the great war for humanity…The story held the audience almost breathless at times. At other moments they cheered or laughed. It was a story that Kansas had been waiting for.”

Feb. 20th 1919
Ernecourt, France.

Dear Father and Sisters:

Last night I received one letter from you under date of 1/24, also one from W.E. Hankins (1), and Roy McClure (2). Roy’s address is Rumelange, Luxembourg.

The clipping you enclosed about the return of the 35th and 89th divisions is quite true. Don’t think we will leave here until Mar. 15th now.

Mrs. J.W. Reams (3) surely was getting very old and feeble. Fine old lady to be sure.

The article about Ralph Randall is quite true, I can vouch for his statement, for I was Johnny on the spot. It was about 4 o’clock on the morning of Sept. 24th after our arrival late the night evening before. Ammution [ammunition] trucks had been bringing up high explosives all night and Jerry [Germans] had been sending us a few reminders of war all night, but about 4 A.M. he put over a real barrage, it was then I found partial safty from flying fragments in an old gun position. Had I staid out as Randall did I would no doubt of got mine. After the boy was shot up he was brought in this old gun position for 1st aid and it was there that I gave the Lt. Dr. and Red Cross boys one of my blankets to wrap him in. He was rushed to hospital soon, same as several others were that morning. It was early that night that I was sent to mud hole by one of the Hun’s [Germans’] big shells. Some concussion I witnessed.

How is Genevieve getting along? Bet she is some girl now.

Will close for now, only hoping you have received some of the many letters I have written since returning from Paris.

Assuring you I am well and have any kind of a tonic here in this cafe necessary for perfect health and happiness.

I remain
Yours truly,
Milo H. Main.

(1) Born in Missouri around 1870, W. E. Hankins was living in Sumner County by 1895. He was a longtime resident of Argonia.

(2) Milo has mentioned Roy McClure in several previous letters. Biographical information about Roy can be found in the blog post featuring Milo’s letter of July 24, 1918.

(3) The Argonia Argosy reported on January 23, 1919, that “Mrs. Rebeccah A. Ream, aged 78 years old, who has been living alone on her farm 9 miles southeast of Argonia since the death of her husband about four years ago, was found dead, Tuesday morning by Emery Young, a neighbor, who had gone to her home to see her about a colt she had asked him to break for her. When Mr. Young knocked on the door it swung back and he saw Mrs. Ream sitting in a chair by the stove dead.”

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant