Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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

Throwback Thursday: Robert F. Kennedy Edition

June 7th, 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!

In April we shared a photograph of KU students in front of Strong Hall honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after his assassination in 1968. This week’s photograph commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of a second assassination: that of Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968.

Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on March 16, 1968. He launched his campaign two days later with speeches at Kansas State University and KU.

Photograph of Robert F. Kennedy speaking in Allen Fieldhouse, March 18, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy speaking in Allen Fieldhouse, March 18, 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/19 Robert F. Kennedy 1968: University General: Visitors (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Kennedy’s speech in Allen Fieldhouse began at 1:30pm, and KU classes scheduled at that time were cancelled. “I don’t know whether you’re going to like what I’m going to say today but I just want you to remember, as you look back upon this day, and when it comes to a question of who you’re going to support – that it was a Kennedy who got you out of class,” he joked. The University Daily Kansan reported that the speech lasted sixty-five minutes; Kennedy apparently spent half that time delivering prepared remarks and the other half answering questions from students, who submitted them in writing to ushers they entered the Fieldhouse.

According to the Kansan, an estimated 20,000 people attended the event. (Approximately 15,800 students were enrolled on the Lawrence campus in Fall 1967.)

Instead of going directly to the podium [when he arrived at the Fieldhouse] Kennedy wandered around the basketball court shaking hands and waving to the students. It was a full minute-and-a-half before the initial applause faded out and he took his seat…

Kennedy’s normally flat, laconic speaking tone raised and nearly broke at times, as he spoke of his convictions concerning America’s problems and tried to battle the surges of applause, foot-stamping and screaming…

His final words were drowned by roars from the crowd as students surged toward him…

“It was the largest crowd we’ve ever had in Allen Field House,” said James E. Gunn, administrative assistant to the chancellor.

 

Photograph of Robert F. Kennedy with KU students outside Allen Fieldhouse, March 18, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy with KU students outside Allen Fieldhouse, March 18, 1968.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG LJW 0/19 Robert F. Kennedy 1968: University General:
Visitors (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The Kansan also described the scene as Kennedy departed.

By the time the senator tried to make his exit it seemed likely that KU’s enthusiasm would pull him apart. Throughout the speech the audience had crept closer to Kennedy like rising floodwater. Then, when he tried to make his exit, he discovered that he would haave to fight his way through 500 feet of human barricades…

East exits from the Field House were blocked by an estimated 20,000 people, as the Senator wedged his way through a screaming, solidly-packed mob.

Additional information about Kennedy’s KU visit are available online, including photographs (KU Libraries), a transcript of the speech (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum), and an audio recording of the speech (YouTube).

Film footage of the speech can also be viewed as part of the permanent exhibit in Spencer’s North Gallery.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

KU’s Danforth Chapel

May 18th, 2018

Photograph of Danforth Chapel, 1971

Danforth Chapel, 1971. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/14 1971: Campus: Buildings: Danforth Chapel (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

In 1927, William H. Danforth, founder of the Ralston-Purina Company in St. Louis, Missouri, created the Danforth Foundation. It provided college scholarships, supported revitalization projects in St. Louis, and funded the Danforth Chapel Program. Danforth recognized the need for a place of spiritual meditation on college campuses. The Chapel Program funded twenty-four chapels around the country, fifteen of those on college campuses. A few still stand today, including the one at the University of Kansas. The architect for KU’s Chapel was Edward W. Tanner, who declined payment for his work. Tanner also designed The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Photograph of William H. Danforth and Chancellor Deane W. Malott at the Danforth Chapel dedication, 1946

William H. Danforth (left) and KU Chancellor Deane W. Malott (right)
at the dedication of Danforth Chapel, 1946. University Archives.
Call Number: RG 0/22/14/i 1950s Prints: Campus: Buildings: Danforth Chapel (Photos).
Click on image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Image of a Daily Kansan article about the dedication of Danforth Chapel, April 2 1946

Article about the dedication of Danforth Chapel in the
University Daily Kansan student newspaper, April 2, 1946.
University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

Danforth Chapel was constructed during World War II. Locally imprisoned German POWs did much of the labor. The contractors in charge of the building project hired them and paid them for their work. They worked eight hours a day, six days a week. Part of the labor agreement stipulated that the POWs would work on the chapel only when not needed by local farmers or industry. They worked under guard and returned to their barracks at the end of each workday. They wore denim jackets and t-shirts with the letters “PW” boldly printed on them. Once completed, the chapel furnishings were acquired with money raised by the campus Danforth Chapel Committee. One of the members of this committee was Forrest C. “Phog” Allen, the legendary basketball coach. Donations came from faculty, staff and students.

Photograph of Danforth Chapel under construction, 1942

Danforth Chapel under construction, 1942. University Archives.
Call Number: RG 0/22/14 1942: Campus: Buildings: Danforth Chapel (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Today Danforth Chapel remains nondenominational. Renovated and re-dedicated in 2007, it still provides a quiet place for individual prayer and meditation, weddings, christenings, memorials and student activities.

Image of Daily Kansan article about the first wedding in Danforth Chapel, March 20 1946

University Daily Kansan article about the first wedding
in Danforth Chapel, March 20, 1946. University Archives.
Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of a a wedding at Danforth Chapel, circa 1953

A wedding at Danforth Chapel, circa 1953. University Archives.
Call Number: RG 0/22/14 circa 1950s: Campus: Buildings: Danforth Chapel (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: “Hill Climbing Not Healthful” Edition

February 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!

In conducting research for Tuesday’s blog post about large ice jams along the Kansas River near Lawrence in January 1910, my colleague Meredith Huff discovered this fun article that appeared on the front page of the University Daily Kansan (then called The Kansan) on January 25, 1910.

Image of a Daily Kansan article, "Hill Climbing Not Healthful," January 25, 1910

“Hill Climbing Not Healthful” article in The Kansan,
January 25, 1910. University Archives.
Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Naismith‘s comments may have been precipitated by news – reported in The Kansan on January 4th – that winter weather had delayed work on the new campus streetcar line. According to the earlier article,

The students who had fond hopes of riding up to the University on the street cars after the holidays, returned to find their dreams faded. And the manager of the Lawrence car line this morning sentenced the whole student body to walk up and down the hill all the rest of the winter.

In addition to coaching basketball, Dr. Naismith’s other roles at KU included Professor of Physical Education, Director of Robinson Gymnasium, and Chapel Director. His hygiene class was required of all freshman; here is how it was described in the 1909-1910 KU Annual Catalogue:

One hour, first semester, men, Monday; women, Thursday. Lectures designed to help the students to maintain health, dealing with food, clothing, exercise, conditions conducive to study, prophylactic treatment, especially in regard to infectious and contagious diseases.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: War Declaration Edition

April 6th, 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!

The United States entered World War I on this date one hundred years ago by declaring war on Germany. Shown here is the front page of the University Daily Kansan from April 4, 1917. This was two days before the declaration, but war seemed imminent.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, as well as its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurred two days later (U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian).

Front page of the University Daily Kansan, April 4, 1917

Front page of the University Daily Kansan, April 4, 1917.
Note other headlines unrelated to the war,
like “No More Paddling of Freshman, Says Senate.”
University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1.
Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants