Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

The Search for Women’s Suffrage: Re-Discovering Letters from Susan B. Anthony

September 3rd, 2019

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment (which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to U.S. citizens on the basis of sex), the Public Services staff at Kenneth Spencer Research Library are exploring the collections to create a list of materials in our holdings related to this historic event.

This summer, I served as a temporary Reference Specialist in Public Services. One of my primary projects in this role was to seek out women’s suffrage-related materials specifically within the University Archives division of the Library, which documents the history of the University of Kansas and its people.

This project required a good deal of patience and persistence, as it is not always clear whether a collection contains suffrage materials based solely on its title or even on its digital finding aid. As a result, often the best way to be certain of a potentially-promising collection’s contents was to go through them folder by folder, item by item.

My most exciting find came from the Kate Stephens Collection (PP 43). In Box 2, I came across seven letters written to Stephens by noted women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884
A letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, May 12, 1884. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

Stephens, a Professor of Greek at KU in the late 1870s and 1880s, was the first woman to serve as the Chair of a department at the university. Stephens was asked to resign from her position in 1885, a decision she appears to have attributed to her gender, her lack of religious affiliation, or possibly the recent death of her father, a prominent lawyer and judge. However, Stephens went on to become a prolific writer, editor, and proponent of women’s equality in higher education.

Top: A portrait of Kate Stephens taken during her Greek professorship at KU, 1880s. Bottom: A portrait of Stephens, undated. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Stephens, Kate (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Box 2 of Stephens’ collection contains correspondence, though further details (such as dates or senders of this correspondence) were not previously provided in the collection’s finding aid. As such, I was surprised and thrilled to find the box contained letters from Susan B. Anthony.

Written on letterhead for the “National Woman Suffrage Association” and dated between 1884 and 1888, the letters build on an existing relationship between the two women that appears to have begun years earlier when Stephens served as a translator for Anthony’s lectures in Berlin, Germany. In some instances, Anthony’s writing is social, such discussions regarding shared acquaintances or regarding Anthony’s niece, who she hoped to persuade to attend KU.

In other instances, the contents of Anthony’s letters relate directly to the fight for women’s right to vote. For instance, Anthony asks Stephens to write a chapter in the forthcoming third volume of History of Woman Suffrage (a task Stephens attempted but was not able to complete) and to help organize a Women’s Suffrage Convention in Lawrence (which was held on November 1-2, 1886).

Anthony’s letters also demonstrate her interest in Stephens’ career, expressing congratulations when Stephens becomes a full professor and speculating on the motivations for Stephens later being asked to resign. As to this last event, Anthony wrote to Stephens on June 28, 1887:

The wonder is that a woman was ever appointed & that she remained in that honored & […] office so long as she did – not that when your noble & politically powerful father was gone the woman was dropped – I have no doubt – no matter how many other pretexts were devised – that at the bottom & most pottent of all influences – was the disabling facts – that the woman was not a voter and hence had no political power […]

Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
Image of a letter from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887
A letter from Susan B. Antony to Kate Stephens, June 28, 1887. Call Number: PP 43, Box 2, Folder A-F. Click images to enlarge.

As these letters from Anthony to Stephens were undocumented in the collection’s finding aid, there was previously no definitive way to learn of their existence. Their re-discovery has been noteworthy, not only for the commemoration of women’s suffrage, but also for prompting a revision of the collection’s cataloguing to help ensure future researchers can find and access them in years to come.

Sarah E. Polo
Reference Specialist
Public Services

Exploring the Life and Labor of Edwin M. Hopkins, KU English Professor

January 11th, 2019

Among the personal papers of faculty, staff, and students contained in Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s University Archives are materials connected to the life of KU Professor Edwin Mortimer Hopkins (1862-1946). These materials include photographs, his personal diaries (which span sixty-five years), three paintings, and much more. Hopkins taught at the University of Kansas for his entire career, beginning in 1889 and ending with his retirement in 1937.

A portrait of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated A portrait of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated

Two portraits of Edwin M. Hopkins, undated. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty: Hopkins, Edwin M. (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Hopkins most frequently taught courses in rhetoric, literature, and composition, though he also taught the University’s first journalism course. The work of two of his “Advanced English Composition” students, Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen, are featured in a temporary exhibit at Spencer Research Library from December 2018 to January 2019. (Hopkins co-taught the course alongside Professor Raphael Dorman O’Leary.)

 

Photograph of a KU classroom, 1890s

A KU classroom, 1890s. Hopkins is pictured on the far left. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 17/25 1890s Prints: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:
Department of English (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins is an important figure in the field of rhetoric and composition. He was a founding member and early president of the National Council of Teachers of English, as well as a founder of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English. At KU, Hopkins was the head of the English Department from 1902 to 1909.

 

Image of a portion of Edwin M. Hopkins' resume, 1922

A portion of Edwin M. Hopkins’ resume showcases some of his
achievements, 1922. University Archives. Call Number:
Biographical File, Edwin M. Hopkins. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins is likewise often cited for his labor activism, as he advocated throughout his career for fair teaching loads and working conditions for writing teachers. His empirical study, The Labor and Cost of the Teaching of English in College and Secondary Schools with Especial Reference to English Composition — which scholar Randall Popken calls the “first of its kind in composition history” — was the result of fifteen years of survey-taking and data interpretation (Popken, “The WPA,” pages 7-11).

 

Title page of "The Labor Cost of the Teaching of English" by Edwin M. Hopkins, 1923

Hopkins’ extensive study of labor conditions yielded this report,
pictured here in its sixteenth edition. University Archives. Call Number:
RG 41/ Faculty publications: Hopkins, Edwin M. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins’ contributions to KU and higher education were not confined to the classroom alone. Hopkins’ personal diaries, which span from 1873 to 1939, help document his highly busy and productive career. For instance, Hopkins frequently recorded playing the organ for the university chapel within his diary entries.

 

Photograph of pages in a diary kept by KU English Professor Edwin M. Hopkins

One of Hopkins’ diaries is currently on display in Spencer Research Library’s
“Writing within Required Genres” exhibit. Call Number: PP 73. Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins also served as KU’s first football coach in 1891. Though he had never played football himself (but had seen it played in the East), he led KU to an undefeated season.

 

Photograph of the KU football team, 1891

The KU football team, 1891. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/14 1891
Team Prints: Athletic Department: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Hopkins also helped found numerous other KU organizations, including the University Daily Kansan student newspaper, the Department of Journalism, and the University’s first literary society, the Quill Club.

 

Cover of the KU Graduate Magazine, December 1939

This December 1939 edition of KU’s Graduate Magazine featured a
cover photo and story on Hopkins. University Archives.
Call Number: LH 1 .K3 G73 1939. Click image to enlarge.

Be sure to stop by Spencer Research Library to view the exhibit showcasing the writings of Hopkins’ students, Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen, from their 1899 and 1900 composition courses! It is on display at the two entrances to Spencer Research Library’s North Gallery until the end of January 2019.

Works Consulted and Further Reading

Popken, Randall. “Edwin Hopkins and the Costly Labor of Composition Teaching.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 55, no.4, 2004, pp. 618-641.

Popken, Randall. “The WPA as Publishing Scholar: Edwin Hopkins and the Labor and Cost of the Teaching of English.” Historical Studies of Writing Program Administration: Individuals, Communities, and the Formation of a Discipline. Edited by Barbara L’Eplattenier and Lisa Mistrangelo, 2004, pp. 5-22. KU Libraries Call Number: PE1405.U6 H55 2004.

Sarah E. Polo
KU Doctoral Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition
Spencer Research Library Student Assistant

December-January Exhibit: Women Students’ Writings in KU’s Department of English, 1899-1900

December 11th, 2018

A new temporary exhibit is currently on display at the entrances to the North Gallery at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. This exhibit is titled “Writing within Required Genres: Women Students’ Writings in KU’s Department of English, 1899-1900” and showcases many of the materials that serve as the basis of my dissertation work in the Department of English’s Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. program.

Photograph of the east side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

Photograph of the temporary exhibit case on the east side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

The temporary exhibit case on the east side of Spencer’s North Gallery.
Click images to enlarge.

Throughout its history, the Department of English at the University of Kansas has experienced many changes in its structure, policies, and approaches to the teaching of writing. In this exhibit, materials from KU’s University Archives at Kenneth Spencer Research Library help narrate a snapshot of time in that history—the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, and a course titled “Advanced English Composition.”

This exhibit provides information about the Department of English, its teachers, and this particular course. Moreover, it showcases the importance of examining the writings of individual students and their unique responses to the writing instruction they received.

Exhibit Case 1 is located at the west entrance to the North Gallery. It contains materials that help contextualize “Advanced English Composition” and the student writings produced for it. Included are course catalogues, photographs, English Department publications, and more.

Photograph of the temporary exhibit case on the west side of Spencer Research Library's North Gallery

Exhibit Case 1 seeks to contextualize the writings of students
Margaret Kane and Kate Hansen. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of pages in a diary kept by KU English Professor Edwin M. Hopkins

A sample item on display in Exhibit Case 1: a diary of KU English Professor
Edwin M. Hopkins. Call Number: PP 73. Click image to enlarge.

Exhibit Case 2 is located at the east entrance to the North Gallery. It contains the actual writings produced by two women students for “Advanced English Composition”: the 1899 course notes of Margaret Kane (PP 23) and the 1900 course papers of Kate Hansen (PP 19). These texts were required for the successful completion of their courses. They show instances of Margaret and Kate writing within, pushing against, and even occasionally even moving beyond the expectations of these genres. These writings stress the importance of viewing students—those in the past and in the present—as unique individuals, not a homogeneous group.

Phtoograph of selected writings of Margaret Kane

Exhibit Case 2 highlights information from life of student
Margaret Kane and features her notebook and course notes.
Call Number: PP 23. Click image to enlarge.

Photographs of Kate Hansen

Exhibit Case 2 likewise highlights information about the life of student
Kate Hansen, including these two photographs taken during and
shortly after her time at KU. Call Number: PP 19. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of "Description of a Library Chair" by Kate Hansen

Among Kate Hansen’s featured papers is her essay providing a
“Description of a Library Chair.” Call Number: PP 19. Click image to enlarge.

Curating this exhibit has been a joy. It has provided an opportunity to share my research with a more public audience, a feature that dissertations and the academic publications that stem from them too often lack. I’m extremely grateful to the staff at Kenneth Spencer Research Library—particularly those in public services, conservation, and University Archives—for assisting me with this process.

Sarah E. Polo
KU Doctoral Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition
Public Services Student Assistant

The Hippie Cookbook

April 20th, 2018

Just when you might think you have a solid understanding of the range of materials in the holdings at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, they surprise you. A recent addition to the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements, which brings together U.S. political literature and documents, is a terrific (and somewhat humorous) example: The Hippie Cookbook, or, Don’t Eat Your Food Stamps was authored by Gordon and Phyllis Grabe and published in 1970 by the Paisley Shawl Publishing Company of Forestville, California.

Image of the cover of The Hippie Cookbook, 1970

Cover of The Hippie Cookbook, or, Don’t Eat Your Food Stamps, 1970.
Call Number: RH WL AK105. Click image to enlarge.

Recipes in The Hippie Cookbook range from average fare such as cheesecake (page 25) and stuffed bell peppers (page 57) to hippie lifestyle-specific dishes such as “Paddy Wagon Rice Patties,” which are “good hot or cold and can be carried with you as quick snacks for emergency eating” (page 11). Other dishes are unremarkable in their ingredients but have intriguing titles such as “Peace Pancakes” (page 14) and “Good Karma Casserole” (page 67).

Image of a recipe for peace pancakes in The Hippie Cookbook, 1970

Recipe for peace pancakes in The Hippie Cookbook. Call Number: RH WL AK105.
Click image to enlarge.

Included in The Hippie Cookbook are sections offering advice on hippie food preparation, including “Brown Bagging for Peace Marches” (page 10), “Cooking in the Nude” (page 24), and “Presentation and Composition of Care Package Requests from the Folks” (page 2).

Image showing information about care packages in The Hippie Cookbook, 1970

Instructions for requesting and receiving care packages “from the folks”
in The Hippie Cookbook. Call Number: RH WL AK105. Click image to enlarge.

In addition, shorter “hippie hints” are included throughout the text. As an example, Hippie Hint No. 9 advises that “if you burn your dinner put butter on it” (page 90).

But perhaps my favorite feature is the book’s dedication, which reads: “TO PEACHES: A four ton African elephant at the San Diego Zoo who has so far eaten a pair of glasses, two sweaters and a raincoat and is still grooving.”

Image of the dedication in The Hippie Cookbook, 1970

The dedication to Peaches in The Hippie Cookbook. Call Number: RH WL AK105.
Click image to enlarge.

Sarah Polo
Public Services Student Assistant