Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Wayback Wednesday: Thanksgiving Touchdown Edition

November 27th, 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!

Photograph of a KU touchdown during a football game against the University of Missouri, 1910
KU players scoring a touchdown during the annual Thanksgiving football game against the University of Missouri, November 24, 1910. At the time, a touchdown was five points. The game ended in a 5-5 tie, and KU ended the season with a record of 6-1-1. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/14 1910 Prints: Athletic Department: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Cover of the KU football souvenir program, November 24, 1910
The cover of the KU football souvenir program for the game against Missouri, November 24, 1910. Call Number: RG 66/14/1. Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

The Vacant Chair: Thanksgiving 1861

November 20th, 2018

The Carl N. and Dorothy H. Shull Collection of Hymnals and Music Books, housed in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, includes bound volumes of sheet music. One of those songs is “The Vacant Chair,” with lyrics written by poet Henry Stevenson Washburn (H.S.W.), and set to music by George F. Root.

Image of the cover page for the sheet music of The Vacant Chair

Root, Geo. F. and H.S.W. “The Vacant Chair, or, We Shall Meet, but We Shall Miss Him: (Thanksgiving, 1861).”
Chicago: Root & Cady, 1861. KSRL call number: Shull Score E45, item 14

 

Henry Stevenson Washburn was born on June 10, 1813. He spent his childhood in Kingston, Massachusetts. Throughout his career, he was in manufacturing, was president of Union Mutual Life Insurance Company, and served as both a state representative and state senator. Best remembered for his poetry, he published a book of his collected works in 1895, at the age of 82.

Detail from the Frontispiece Portrait of Henry S. Washburn from his poetry collection, The Vacant Chair (1895)
Washburn, Henry S. The Vacant Chair and Other Poems.
New York: Silver, Burdett and Company, 1895, frontispiece portrait detail.
Image from copy obtained via InterLibrary Loan.

Washburn wrote “The Vacant Chair” in 1861 during the first year of the American Civil War, to memorialize the death of John William Grout, known as Willie, an eighteen-year-old lieutenant in the Union Army from Massachusetts. In his book, The Vacant Chair and Other Poems, Washburn tells the story of how Grout lost his life, selflessly helping his men retreat across the Potomac river under heavy enemy fire at the battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia, on October 21st in that first year of war. Mortally wounded, his body, and those of the men who fell with him, floated down river. He was not found until November 5th, identified by his clothing and the letters in his pockets. He was returned to his family, and was buried on November 12th, shortly before the nation, and Willie’s own family, observed Thanksgiving on the 28th. The song became popular throughout the remainder of the war, as many families would experience a “vacant chair.”

Carte de Visite showing "Lt J. W. Grout" in uniform, August 1961
John William “Willie” Grout, 1843-1861, 15th Massachusetts Regiment, Albumen carte-de-visite
by C.R.B. Claflin, Worcester, August 1861. American Antiquarian Society.
Image included in Almanac: American Antiquarian Society Newsletter. No. 81 (March 2011), p. 6.

Recording artist, Kathy Mattea, recorded her version of “The Vacant Chair,” and it is available for listening on You Tube.


The Vacant Chair

We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair;
We shall linger to caress him when we breathe our evening prayer.
When a year ago we gathered, joy was in his mild blue eye,
But a golden cord is severed, and our hopes in ruin lie.

We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair;
We shall linger to caress him when we breathe our evening prayer.

At our fireside, sad and lonely, often will the bosom swell
At remembrance of the story how our noble Willie fell;
How he strove to bear our banner thro’ the thickest of the fight,
And uphold our country’s honor, in the strength of manhood’s might.

We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair;
We shall linger to caress him when we breathe our evening prayer.

True they tell us wreaths of glory ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only sweeping o’er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, o early fallen, in thy green and narrow bed,
Dirges from the pine and cypress mingle with the tears we shed.

We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair;
We shall linger to caress him when we breathe our evening prayer.

 

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Home for Thanksgiving

November 21st, 2017

Happy (early) Thanksgiving, everyone! We hope you all get the chance to enjoy a relaxing few days with your loved ones over the holiday! Please remember that the Spencer Research Library will be closed from Thursday to Sunday this week.

We invite you to take a moment and reflect on this thoughtful and introspective poem by award-winning poet, Linda Pastan. Entitled Home for Thanksgiving, the poem comes from her book, Setting the Table.

Poem "Home For Thanksgiving" by Linda Pastan

Cover of Linda Pastan's Setting the Table: Poems

“Home for Thanksgiving” by Linda Pastan from her collection, Setting the Table: Poems. Washington, D.C. ; San Francisco: Dryad Press, [©1980]. Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Call #: C9301. Click images to enlarge.

Emily Beran
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: (Thanksgiving) Dinner Edition

November 24th, 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 31,400 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you get to enjoy a delicious dinner with your loved ones, much like the group shown in this week’s photos (although we don’t have any evidence that they specifically show a Thanksgiving meal).

Please remember that Spencer Research Library will be closed today through Sunday, November 27th, for the holiday.

Photograph of a dinner on campus, 1941-1942

Photograph of a dinner on campus, 1941-1942

Two photographs from a series showing a dinner on campus, 1941-1942.
The group is assembled on the north side of Stauffer-Flint Hall
(then the Fowler Shops), shown on the right side of the top image.
The Commons, Old Fraser Hall, and Watson Library can be seen
in the background of each picture. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1941/1942 Negatives: Student Activities (Photos).
Click images to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

 

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Wayback Wednesday: Turkey Edition

November 25th, 2015

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 11,400 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of the KU football team posing with turkeys, 1946

The KU football team posing with turkeys, Wednesday, November 27, 1946.
The image was printed in the Kansas City Star.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 66/14 1946 Team Prints:
Athletic Department: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

According to newspaper clippings in a University Archives Athletics Department scrapbook (volume 4, pages 36 and 42), the photograph shown above was taken when the Jayhawks stopped in Kansas City en route to play the University of Missouri in Columbia. The game was the final one of the season and a Thanksgiving Day showdown.

Players, coaches, and cheerleaders were guests of KU alumnus Bill Anthony, who was a member of the 1922 football squad. Anthony was inspired to host the event earlier in November when the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma in dramatic fashion. According to one article,

Bill had for years taken the jibes of his employees, an astonishing number of them being Missourians, anent the impotencies of Jayhawker football teams.

The man had suffered in silence, waiting for that day when more encouraging reports would emanate from Mount Oread.

“I will do something nice for the first Kansas team that goes into this game against Missouri with at least an even chance,” he resolved.

And so to the home of each member of the squad he sent a turkey. But the stunt, if it had stopped there, would have lacked the flair Bill thought it needed and besides he wanted a picture of the boys holding his turkeys in front of his manufacturing company at 201 West Gregory.

It was arranged for the Jayhawkers to be taken from the Union Station this morning to the Anthony Manufacturing Company. Turkeys were unloaded and passed out one to a customer, the boys were lined up and a battery of cameramen loaded their instruments.

To make the scene even more realistic the Kansas cheerleaders, their cheeks made pink by the sharp wind, were brought into the picture.

The gridiron stalwarts seems to be a little out of their element as they stood first on one foot and then on the other while they clung desperately to the huge birds.

Quite a crowd of curious collected to witness the unveiling of Bill’s dream.

According to another article, “the live turkeys [were] only props for the photographers because the birds [that] grace[d] the tables of the footballers and their coaches [had] already been killed and oven-dressed; full-breasted turkeys, totaling 691 pounds of white and dark meat, [were] frozen and shipped to the boys at their Lawrence addresses.”

The event was deemed a “crowning success,” and all players and turkeys survived the ceremony without incident or injury. Moreover, KU won the game against Missouri the next day, 20-19, spoiling Homecoming for the Tigers and their fans. The Jayhawks finished the season 7-2-1.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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