Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

November 8th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Fifty years ago today, the University of Kansas celebrated the dedication of the new Kenneth Spencer Research Library. It was the culmination of a project that had started over seven years earlier, and the result of a year of intensive planning by KU Libraries, multiple other campus units, KU Endowment, Helen Spencer, and the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation.

The dedication was comprised of four events:

Describing the dedication ceremony, the University Daily Kansan student newspaper reported on November 11th that “about 270 persons braved 35 degree weather Friday to watch” the event.

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe began the ceremony with introductory remarks. He later remembered that “a chill wind swept the terrace; the remarks were not brief because of it but because in moments of great meaning the heart speaks swiftly.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Next, Helen Spencer – speaking on behalf of the directors of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation – presented the library building to the University.

It is truly gratifying to be here for this dedication. I appreciate so many of my dear friends coming today to share with me what I consider a significant occasion.

If Kenneth were here, he would enthusiastically approve of this Library and the concept behind it —

Because this Library will serve the students, both graduate and undergraduate, of the State of Kansas, where he was born and reared and began his career;

Because it will serve this great University, which he loved and from which he was graduated in 1926;

Because it will serve the entire Middle Western area, of which he was always fiercely and justly proud;

Finally, he would have approved of this Research Library and the uses for which it is intended. As a business man and as a mining engineer, he was firmly convinced that growth of science-based industries in the Middle West could occur only with the aid of strong educational institutions capable of inspired teaching with facilities for forward-looking research in the sciences.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Helen Spencer speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Charles N. Cushing, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, replied and accepted the building on behalf of the Board of Regents and the University of Kansas.

I am deeply honored to accept this magnificent building from a generous and most gracious lady. We know there are people with means, but we also know there are few people with vision. So first of all, I would like to pay tribute to a person who has such vision and who is responsible for the reality we dedicate here today.

It is people like Helen Spencer who have made Kansas a great state. And it is generosity such as hers which has contributed immeasurably to the quality of this University she so deeply loves. And yet there is no person quite like Helen Spencer and, therefore, there is no gift quite like this one that has made this imposing structure possible.

We stand in awe here today of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Far more than any other building on this campus it represents creative imagination. From its first concept to its final completion, it carries the imprint of a lady whose impeccable taste can be seen throughout–from the largest design to the smallest detail. For this building typifies those very qualities so dear to Mrs. Spencer’s ideals.

It is only fitting and proper that this building bear the name of her late husband, the distinguished industrialist, Kenneth Spencer. A proud name for a proud building. And it will carry with it also the distinguishing characteristics of Kenneth Spencer’s life–quality–excellence–creativity. Through the years, the decades, and even the centuries to come, this building will long endure as a memorial–the building Helen Spencer built to honor her husband.

But we must remember it is more than just a memorial–it is a means. It is a tool by which we may open the door to both the past and the future. And it will benefit not only those who use it, but all who profit by new knowledge, and that is all of us–everyone. So it is today that everyone is indebted to you, Mrs. Spencer, and we thank you more than words can express.

English physicist, chemist, civil servant, and best-selling novelist Lord Charles Percy Snow followed with brief remarks. According to Joseph C. Shipman, Director of the Linda Hall Library, Snow was an excellent choice to speak because, in addition to being “a well-known name,” he “speaks and writes in such a fashion that his audiences are likely to relish and remember what he has said.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Lord C. P. Snow speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Earle B. Jewell concluded the ceremony by reminiscing about Kenneth Spencer and providing the benediction.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests entering the library after the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication
ceremony, November 8, 1968. This area is now the library’s Exhibit Space.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG LJW 32/37 1968: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Dedication Preparation Edition

November 1st, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Fifty years ago, Spencer Research Library was abuzz with activity and final preparations ahead of the November 8th dedication ceremony.

Helen Foresman Spencer – who, as president and director of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation, had donated funds to KU in January 1966 for the construction of the library in honor of her late husband Kenneth – was heavily involved in completing these finishing touches. The Kansas City Star noted in an undated 1968 article (“Spencer Library–A New Center for Research”) that

the hand of Mrs. Spencer can be seen in every aspect of the library, university officials agree. Almost every detail was her personal decision. She went over the plans with the architect and supervised the finishing of the building in its later stages and its furnishings.

Similarly, a story about Spencer Research Library in the December 1968/January 1969 Kansas Alumni magazine noted that

Mrs. Spencer waxed and polished the furnishings and the floor of the Spencer Room [memorial office] herself before the opening and created floral arrangements for many of the rooms” (12).

Photograph of Helen Foresman Spencer in the memorial office at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Photograph of Helen Spencer directing the placement of furniture at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Helen Spencer standing in the memorial office (top) and directing the placement of
furniture (bottom) at Spencer Research Library, 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/82/i 1968 Negatives: Campus: Buildings:
Spencer Research Library: Interior (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Countdown Edition

October 25th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Good luck, Jayhawks, in this Saturday’s game against TCU!

Photograph of two KU football players looking at a sign, 1951

Two KU football players looking at a sign, 1951. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/14 1951 Team Prints: Athletic Department: Football (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: S.A.T.C. Barracks Edition

October 18th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week’s photograph was taken one hundred years ago today: October 18, 1918.

Photograph of S.A.T.C. barracks under construction, 1918

Barracks for KU’s Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) under construction on Jayhawk
Boulevard, October 18, 1918. Marvin Hall is in the background; the barracks were
located roughly where Budig Hall stands today. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/89 1918 Prints: Campus: Buildings: S.A.T.C. Barracks (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

The Influenza Epidemic at KU, 100 Years Ago: October 1918

October 16th, 2018

In the fall of 1918, at the height of American involvement in World War I, the United States War Department established the Students’ Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.). The University of Kansas, along with colleges and universities across the country, contracted with the government to make its facilities available for officer training. KU agreed to provide education, food and housing for up to 2,500 men.

Photograph of members of KU's S.A.T.C. in front of Strong Hall, 1918

Members of KU’s S.A.T.C. in front of the Administration Building (Strong Hall), 1918.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 29/0/G 1918 Prints:
Military Service and ROTC (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Shortly after the first group of S.A.T.C. servicemen were sworn in on October 1st, the influenza epidemic that had been sweeping across the country and world arrived in Lawrence. In the S.A.T.C. barracks, where servicemen were living in very close quarters, the disease spread rapidly.

Photograph of KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918

KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918. Additional barracks were built between the
engineering buildings on the hill. Several of these temporary buildings were used as infirmaries
during the worst of the flu outbreak. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/89 1918 Prints:
Campus: Buildings: S.A.T.C. Barracks (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

The severity of the outbreak on campus, both in the S.A.T.C. barracks and throughout the university community, lead to the October 8th cancellation of all University activities and the quarantine of all students. By the time the epidemic subsided and the university re-opened five weeks later, on November 11th, it was estimated that there had been as many as 1,000 cases of flu on campus. As many as 750 had been ill all at once. Twenty-two students and ten members of the S.A.T.C. had died. Student enrollment was approximately 4,000 at the time.

Image of the front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918

Front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918. The student newspaper
announced the first closure of the university due to influenza. In an attempt to contain
the virus, a quarantine forbidding students from leaving campus was also imposed.
KU extended the closure and remained under quarantine for five weeks, finally reopening on
November 11th. University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 9/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

In an October 18th letter to his son Herbert, E.H.S. Bailey (KU Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Metallurgy, 1883-1933) describes efforts to treat influenza patients at the university.

Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918 Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918

E.H.S. Bailey’s letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918.
Call Number: PP 158. Click images to enlarge.

The letter reads in part:

We are certainly “in it” here now. The city is fairly free from Flu but there are occasional fatal cases. Dr. Jones has been quite sick for a week, but is resting a little better today, and taking a little food. He was worn out with too much medical work. At the Barracks Hospital, there have been 5 deaths, and everybody is as busy as he can be. Two of the women in my dept. are conducting the Dietary for 270 men in the hospital. New ones are constantly coming in and old patients are discharged. It is fine, the way in which everybody takes hold. We all send all the sheets, and pillows and pajamas that we can spare, and a lot of the college women are acting as red cross nurses.

The University did not start until Oct. 2, and then after 4 days a quarantine was declared, and now it has been extended until Oct. 28, so no Univ. classes until that time. The prompt action of all the state and Univ. authorities, has saved us a lot of danger, and many deaths, I feel sure.

These and other documents and photographs about the influenza epidemic at KU are currently on display in Spencer’s North Gallery. Be sure to stop by and explore them between now and the end of October!

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services