Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Nightshirt Parade Edition

August 29th, 2019

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!

We’re looking forward to the first home game of the KU football season on Saturday. During the first half of the twentieth century, that event would have been celebrated with a Nightshirt Parade tomorrow night.

Photograph of the KU Nightshirt Parade, 1951
KU students in the Nightshirt Parade, 1951. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/17 1951 Negatives: Student Activities: Nightshirt Parade (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The article “Nighty Night for the Nightshirt Parades” on the KU history website describes the event.

Nightshirt Parades became a venerable KU tradition. Typically, on the night before the first home game of the season, hundreds of students wearing nightshirts (usually over top of their clothing) would make their way north through campus to Sixth Street, then march east along Sixth until they reached Massachusetts Street. At this point, students would form “into one continuous serpentine line,” which amounted to a fair approximation of a conga line. Single file and holding the person in front of them, the students would weave their way down Massachusetts until they reached South Park where a bonfire would be held in anticipation of the next day’s game. At other times, the route was essentially reversed, with the procession beginning in the park and winding its way onto campus…

The onset of World War II marked the beginning of the end for the traditional Nightshirt Parade. Student enrollments dropped, and the annual procession filled in the depleted ranks by including coeds for the first time. When enrollments revived in the post-war years, the student body contained many veterans attending on the GI Bill. Serious, older, and less impressionable, these students were ill inclined to participate in or otherwise put up with anything they considered collegiate foolishness. They brought an end to the freshman cap tradition at KU, and saw little reason to don pajamas for a public event. Nonetheless, a version of the Nightshirt Parade continued well into the 1950s. However, the event had lost much of its original spontaneity and student enthusiasm for it dwindled.

The last Nightshirt Parade took place in 1957, replaced the following year with a “Traditions Rally.”

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Student Election Edition, Part II

April 13th, 2017

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 34,500 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

With Student Senate elections taking place today, this week’s photograph highlights the election for class officers that took place at KU during the fall semester in 1919.

Photograph of student election posters, 1919

Student election posters, 1919. Strong Hall is
in the background. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1911 Prints: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

An advertisement for the Loyalty ticket ran in the Daily Kansan student newspaper on October 16, the day before the election: “Loyalty stands for class spirit, student government, faculty student cooperation, [and] better athletic support.”

On October 18, 1919, the day after the election, the Lawrence Daily Journal-World reported the results in a story entitled “Big Vote Was Out at Hill Election.”

The “Status Quo” Senior ticket at K. U., meaning “As It Was Before the War” went “over the top” in the class elections yesterday. Wint Smith being elected president of the senior class with a majority of twenty-five votes over Basil T. Church. Both are Lawrence men. Smith’s whole ticket carried, Eileen Van Sandt of Chanute for secretary running high with 200 votes. Fred Pausch was elected vice-president on the ticket and Warren Blazier of Lawton, Okla., was elected treasurer…

A larger per cent of the students voted in the elections Friday than in any previous year and showed a great amount of interest where there was a contest. Of 350 seniors 320 voted…

In 1947, senior class president Wint Smith was elected to represent Kansas’s (now obsolete) 6th Congressional District. Voters sent Smith to Congress for six more consecutive terms, and he served until 1961.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Girlfriends Edition

July 28th, 2016

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 28,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Earlier this summer we shared a photograph of five KU students hanging out in Neodesha, Kansas, in June 1918. This week we have another photo of a group of female Kansas students, in honor of National Girlfriends Day on Monday.

Photograph of a group of girls posing, 1930-1939

Group of girls posing, possibly in front of Bailey Hall, 1930-1939.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/0 1930s Prints: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

 

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Dandelion Days Edition

April 21st, 2016

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 27,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

If you’ve seen the recent proliferation of dandelions on Mount Oread, you might think KU needs to bring back a short-lived springtime event from the 1940s: Dandelion Days.

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions on lawn in front of Old Fraser Hall, 1940s

Several people pulling dandelions on the lawn in front of Old Fraser Hall, 1940s.
Seen in the photo are Dyche Hall and, beyond, the Union. Kansas Alumni photo.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Prints: Student Activities:
Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions in front of Strong Hall, 1940s

Pulling dandelions in front of Strong Hall, 1940s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives: Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of several people pulling dandelions in grove of trees, 1940s

Pulling dandelions in a grove of trees, 1940s. Green Hall (now Lippincott) is
seen in the background. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives:
Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

An article in Kansas Alumni (1999, volume 97, number 3) describes what Dandelion Days were all about:

The University’s first Dandelion Day took place April 23, 1941, amid the hype of reporters and photographers, students and University dignitaries. The mission? Eradicating the pernicious yellow pests that littered the Hill and kept Buildings and Grounds workers fighting a losing battle for green grass. In all, 3,400 students and faculty, including Chancellor Deane Malott and his wife, Eleanor, turned out to battle the baneful blossoms, collecting 93,000 pounds of dandelion debris in a mere three hours. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that “it was a total war against the yellow flower with a hey-nonny-nonny and a rah-rah-rah.”

Despite the roaring success of the first Dandelion Day, which was sponsored by the Men’s Student Council and featured picking teams, carnival concessions and a street dance, the day’s durability was doomed. Within months, Pearl Harbor was attacked and World War II enveloped KU. In 1946, Dandelion Day was resurrected, complete with a Dandelion King and Queen and photographers from Life and Look magazines on hand to capture the merry moments of postwar college life. However, the return of the fight against the yellow flowers was short-lived. The next years were ruined by bad weather and, by 1949, the erstwhile diggers had so thoroughly eliminated the difficult dandelions that the day was declared defunct (60).

Check out more Dandelion Days photographs online.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Liberal Arts Education: The Key to a Happy Valentine’s Day?

February 15th, 2014

The value of a liberal arts education is – and has long been – a topic of substantial discussion. With Valentine’s Day upon us, we wanted to highlight a perhaps little-known benefit of liberal arts courses and majors: they can help you attract or catch a love interest. Such was the “tongue-in-cheek” argument of a pictorial feature that appeared in the April 1970 edition of Kansas Alumni. Seven photographs told a story that unfolded throughout the publication, accompanied by captions extolling the benefits of a liberal arts education that were taken from “none other than” the Catalog of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Prints of six of the images – the first six pictures below – are held within University Archives as part of its collection of Student Activities records and photographs (Record Group 71).

Photograph of a female KU student reading anthropology, 1970

The introduction to “Pictorial: The Liberal Arts” from Kansas Alumni, April 1970.
University Archives. Call Number: RG UA Ser 64/0/2. Click any image to enlarge.

Photograph of a female KU student reading book about voodoo, 1970

While the lower right corner was cropped out of the published picture, the
original print shows that KU Libraries can also help you catch the
object of your affection! University Archives. Call Number: RG 71/0/1969-1970
Prints: Student Activities (Photos). This citation applies to all images in this
post unless otherwise noted.

Photograph of a  female KU student reading about spells, potions, and enchantments, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student with an offering, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student mixing a love potion, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student using love potion, 1970

Photograph of a female KU student with the object of her affection behind a stack of books, 1970

The caption for the final image in the story – as it appeared in
Kansas Alumni
– doesn’t seem to bode well for the guy behind the books!
University Archives. Call Number: RG UA Ser 64/0/2.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Student Activities Photographs RG 71/0 1969/1970 Prints