Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Let’s Do This Edition

March 21st, 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!

Good luck, Jayhawks, in today’s tournament game against Northeastern. We hope the fun continues with a second-round game this weekend!

Photograph of Phog Allen with the KU men's basketball team, 1935-1936

Phog Allen with the KU men’s basketball team, 1935-1936. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/13 1935/1936 Team: Athletic Department: Basketball (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Jayhawk Travel Edition

March 7th, 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!

Happy Spring Break, Jayhawks! We hope your time off next week is fun and relaxing.

Photograph of a KU student boarding a train, 1944-1945

A KU student boarding a train, 1944-1945. Note the Jayhawk on her suitcase.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/0 1944/1945 Negatives:
Student Activities (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Today in the Lab, Installment 1

March 5th, 2019

There is a hashtag – #todayinthelab – that conservation and preservation professionals on social media attach to posts that allow followers to look over the conservator’s shoulder at what they are working on at the moment. My post today is in this vein, taking a look at and around my workbench to see the materials from Spencer’s collections that are currently awaiting or undergoing treatment. I hope to make this a semi-regular feature, since the supply of wonderful Spencer materials crossing my bench is constantly changing.

Items from Spencer Research Library awaiting treatment on the special collections conservator's bench.

My newest “patients,” materials picked up from the Processing department, with notes from archivists and catalogers indicating problems they have identified. Click image to enlarge.

A few times a week, I will make the rounds of Spencer to collect items that have been identified as needing conservation treatment or assessment. Spencer staff will deposit fragile or damaged materials in a designated area, along with a slip on which they will note each item’s condition issue. Sometimes staff will email conservators with information about materials that need attention, or they will hand-deliver them to the lab. In any case, I record basic information about all items that come to my bench on a paper log. We have a number of spreadsheets and databases where we document our treatments, but for my day-to-day purposes, I love my low-tech list!

Truck at the special collections conservator's bench, with items awaiting return to stacks after treatment and boxing.

A truck at my bench loaded with completed items awaiting return (top) and a stack of materials being prepared for a document rehousing project. Click image to enlarge.

Behind my workbench I keep my brand-new but already-beloved green truck. It is rarely empty! Today its top shelf holds recently treated materials, beautifully boxed and labeled by our student employees, that I need to check off my log and return to either Processing or the stacks, as the case may be. Below are some materials I am preparing for a small but delicate rehousing project – I am making flat, safe enclosures for a group of medieval parchment documents with large seals. After working out some logistics with the curators and manuscripts processing coordinator, I have begun to pre-cut and stage as many of the components as can be prepared ahead of time in order to streamline assembly of the enclosures.

A newly acquired scrapbook awaits treatment; archival folders are kept at hand for rehousing collections.

A drawer in my workbench cabinet containing archival folders and a scrapbook that is awaiting treatment. Virginia Lucas Rogers scrapbook, call number RG 71/99/43. Click image to enlarge.

There is so much to love about our new lab space, but I am especially fond of our big workbench cabinets. These feature shelves on the top half, and an assortment of shallow and deep drawers below. Most of the drawers in my cabinet hold supplies, but I keep two in reserve for materials that I am treating. I am in the midst of a months-long project to mitigate (old, not active!) mold on a large archival collection. As I treat each box, I am replacing the old boxes and folders, so I keep a stock of fresh folders available. The folders are sharing the drawer with a scrapbook (made by a KU student prior to her time at KU) that awaits treatment.

Six boxes of material at the special collections conservator's bench await return to Processing.

Underneath my press table are six boxes of material almost ready to be returned. John C. Tibbetts Portrait Collection. Call number: MS Q74. Click image to enlarge.

Next to my workbench I have a beautiful press table, with two spacious shelves below. These currently hold six boxes of material from the recently acquired John C. Tibbetts Portraits Collection. The gouache paintings in this collection had been matted and framed, and I have been working to remove the mats prior to processing. I have just about completed the work on this third phase of the acquisition and look forward to having clear shelves again, if only until the next treatment comes along.

The special collections conservator's cabinet contains materials from Spencer collections before and during treatment.

The upper section of my cabinet, which contains materials from across Spencer’s collections in various stages of treatment. Click image to enlarge.

Finally, here are the upper shelves of my cabinet. Among the materials currently under my care, there are items from Special Collections (rare books, artists’ books, parchment manuscript documents), Kansas Collection (a Socialist newspaper from the Wilcox collection, a rolled and torn certificate), and University Archives (so many student scrapbooks!). There are also a few enclosure models that I’ve been working on (I’m in the process of writing up instructions for an enclosure I’ve modified, so that I can share it with other conservators), as well as diagrams and notes on other enclosures that I haven’t made often enough to have memorized yet.

Thank you for visiting my workbench!

Throwback Thursday: Early Campus View Edition

February 28th, 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 view of the KU campus, 1890s

View of campus looking south along Oread Avenue, 1890s. University Archives
Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/P 1890s Prints: Campus: Panoramas (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

From left to right are Spooner Hall, Old Blake Hall, Old Fraser Hall (roughly where modern Fraser Hall is located), and Old Snow Hall. Also visible is Marvin Grove – the area of trees on the right side of the photo. The empty area on the right is where Dyche Hall and the Kansas Union now stand.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Spring Preview Edition

February 21st, 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!

The first day of spring is less than one month away! Who’s ready for some warmer weather?

Photograph of women students in a car talking to an officer, 1940-1949

Women students in a car on Jayhawk Boulevard, 1940-1949.
Bailey Hall is visible in the background. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1940s Negatives: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services