Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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

“The Bleachers are Dead! Long Live the Stadium!”

May 10th, 2016

Ninety-five years ago today saw an impressive event at the University of Kansas. As summarized by an article by John H. McCool, “Chancellor Lindley declared May 10, 1921, to be Stadium Day and turned loose hundreds of male students and faculty who proceeded to physically tear down the [McCook Field] bleachers in only 78 minutes.”

Photograph of the KU v. MU football game at McCook field, 1910

The marching band playing at halftime of the KU v. MU football game, McCook Field, 1910.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/66/14 1910: Student Activities:
Sports: Football (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

McCook was KU’s “original outdoor athletic grounds,” and by 1920 the 25-year-old wooden bleachers were considered dilapidated, uncomfortable, and inadequate. According to McCool, “these conditions, coupled with a steady rise of alumni and student interest in KU football, made construction of a new, permanent stadium a top priority, and if it also served a commemorative function [to memorialize KU students, alumni, and faculty who had died in World War I], then so much the better.”

Photograph of McCook Field bleachers, 1920

McCook Field bleachers prior to demolition, 1920. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1920 Prints: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

The University Daily Kansan announced Stadium Day on May 9th with a front page article. “Each student will have his chance to show just what his true relations to his University and his feelings toward it really are,” it read, continuing:

The removal of the old bleachers is not such an event in itself. The participation in clearing the ground for the new structure is the big feature of the entire school year. The ground is to be broken for the new stadium. The old gives place to new and every one present will witness the beginning of the biggest building project that K. U. has to date hoped to attain…This is the one big day of the entire school year, the last all-university holiday and frolic. Tuesday is the day! McCook Field is the place! You are the individual responsible! Be there!!

Reporting on Stadium Day on May 11th, the Kansan proclaimed that it was “a grand and howling success.” Below are some photographs of the event, accompanied by further descriptions from the Kansan.

University Daily Kansan, May 11, 1921: “In alphabetical order, the workers gathered at various sections of the bleachers, and began their task of lifting planks, removing joists, and prying side-pieces. As soon as a swarm of students would remove the ancient timber, another group would begin to carry it off the field…While the bleachers were undergoing their last rites, an immense company of men was building portable bleachers to contain crowds at the two track meets to be held here yet this year. This bunch of men were aided by two power saws, and the short time consumed in the construction of these temporary stands was miraculous.”

Photograph of Stadium Day, bleachers being disassembled, 1921

Bleachers being disassembled, 8:30am on Stadium Day, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of Stadium Day, bleachers being disassembled, 1921

Stadium Day, south bleachers at 9:00am, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of Stadium Day, bleachers being disassembled, 1921

Stadium Day, north bleachers at 9:30am, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Stadium Day workers, 1921

Stadium Day workers, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of Stadium Day, men carrying logs, 1921

Students working on Stadium Day, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1921: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

University Daily Kansan, May 11, 1921: “Although by far the great majority of students turned out to assist in the destruction, a few sluggards stayed in their homes. Toward the censure of these, a personnel squad turned out, thirty-five strong, and made a tour of the Hill. Armed with paddles, the squad discovered sixty men, and the sixty were soon with the multitude of laborers.”

Photograph of the Stadium Day paddle squad, 1921

Stadium Day paddle squad, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

University Daily Kansan, May 11, 1921: “But work wasn’t the main pleasure of the day. Just after a bunch of Kansas City alumni and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce pulled up Illinois Avenue headed by a band, fifteen ‘chow’ lines were put into motion, and 4,000 persons were fed in less than an hour. The fifteen lines proceeded past tables which were presided over by ten or twelve University women. Heaped upon these tables were thousands upon thousands of sandwiches – peanut butter, pimento cheese, and freshly barbecued beef, giant quantities of beans, pickles, innumerable ice cream cones, and gallon after gallon of steaming coffee. An orderly crowd then took plates to the cars and curbings on Illinois street, and was soon stuffed. ‘Seconds’ were allowed those who came back for more. Never before in the history of the University had such a feed been held, and never before anywhere had 4,000 appetites been so thoroughly satisfied.””

Photogrpah of Stadium Day barbecue, 1921

Stadium Day barbecue, 1921. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints: Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

University Daily Kansan, May 11, 1921: “A pushball contest was announced, the thousands adjourning to Hamilton Field. After this sport had resulted in countless bruises and boundless enthusiasm, the last scheduled event of the celebration took place.”

Phototograph of Stadium Day pushball contest, 1921

Stadium Day pushball contest, 1921. Many of the day’s activities were
filmed by a Pathé News cameraman. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints: Campus:
Buildings: McCook Field (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

University Daily Kansan, May 11, 1921: “Clad in overalls, Chancellor Lindley plowed a straight furrow across McCook Field. The ground for a new half-million dollar project was broken. The bleachers are dead! Long live the Stadium!” Earlier in the day, Lindley had “sounded the keynote of the holiday in a short speech. ‘The students of Kansas deserve everything that is given to the students at Princeton, Yale, and Harvard,’ he said, ‘and they are going to have it.'”

Photograph of Chancellor Lindley at Stadium Day, 1921

Chancellor Ernest Lindley (left, hat in hand) at Stadium Day, 1921.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/47 1921 Prints:
Campus: Buildings: McCook Field (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Construction of the new Memorial Stadium began on July 16, 1921. But, as John H. McCool wrote, “with only a quarter-million in the bank, the Memorial Corporation could only pay for the east and west sides; rounding off the U would not be possible until 1927 (when full capacity reached 38,000), and only then after raising ticket prices and floating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bonds.”

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Commons Fire Edition

March 3rd, 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 23,200 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

A dramatic event occurred at KU just after 7:00pm on this date in 1943: the Commons – a one-story frame building located at the southwest corner of Jayhawk Boulevard and Sunflower Road, neighboring Watson Library – burned to the ground.

An article on the front page of March 4th University Daily Kansan reported that “firemen, aided by sailors, fought to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the campus by the high southeast wind.” According to the UDK, “a bus driver reported last night that the blaze from the burning building could be seen as far as Tonganoxie. Citizens and farmers from miles around got into their cars and headed for the campus.”

Photograph of the Commons fire, 1943

The Commons on fire, March 3, 1943. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/12 1943 Negatives: Campus: Buildings: Commons (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Aerial photograph of the Commons, 1940s

The Commons in the 1940s; Watson Library is located just off the left side of the photo.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/12 1940s Negatives: Campus: Buildings:
Commons (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

According to an article about “lost” campus buildings in the March 1982 issue of Kansas Alumni, the Commons housed a cafeteria from 1921 until 1927, when the Kansas Union’s first cafeteria opened. The building then was then home to offices for the Jayhawker yearbook and the Stenographic Bureau, and the University Orchestra had a practice room. The Anatomy department established offices and began holding classes in the building in 1932.

The University Daily Kansan reported on the Commons fire for at least two days. Here are excerpts from the paper’s coverage.

March 4th: “The officer of the day at the Naval Training school turned in the fire alarm. The fire was reported to him by Tom Lydon, yeoman third class, who was in charge of the gangway desk. The alarm was turned in at 7:05 and according to Lydon the first fire truck arrived at 7:15 and the second at 7:20…By the time the fire trucks had arrived the fire was out of control.”

March 4th: “The greatest loss of an individual probably was suffered by Dr. H. C. Tracy, professor of anatomy, who lost much of his life work, and nearly all of his personal library, one of the finest medical libraries in the world. This loss of books is irreplaceable.”

March 4th: “Because much of the valuable equipment had been placed in the fire-proof vault the damage was not nearly as high as it could have been. Nearly all of the department’s microscopes had been placed in the vault, along with priceless slides, drawings, instruments, and models.”

March 4th: “Medical students stood guard last night over the still-steaming vault where equipment valued at thousands of dollars was stored. Upon examination this morning the equipment was found to be intact.”

March 4th:”The cadavers on the main floor of the building have been moved to the basement of Lindley hall. Workmen are cleaning the wreckage that is covering the tanks in which approximately fifty cadavers are supposedly in excellent condition. These cadavers have not been used by medical students and were being stored in these underground tanks. As soon as the wreckage is removed the bodies will be moved to the basement of Lindley hall.”

March 4th: “Of the 225 University Library books in the medical library in the Anatomy building, only 12 were salvaged this morning, according to Charles M. Baker, director of University libraries. The loss of over 200 anatomy books in the fire was estimated by Mr. Baker to be at least $3000. Many of these books which were lost cannot be replaced now.”

March 5: “Snow and cold weather have stopped workmen from completing the job of removing debris from the ruins of the Anatomy building.”

March 5th: “A further search through the ruins raised the total damage nearer to $50,000 than the $35,000 first reported.”

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Throwback Thursday: Be Royal Edition

October 2nd, 2014

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 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We here at Spencer Research Library are very excited that the Kansas City Royals are in the playoffs this year, so it seems fitting that this week’s picture dates from the team’s last postseason run.

Image of the University Daily Kansan, October 17, 1985

Front page of the University Daily Kansan from October 17, 1985, the day after the Royals
defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series.
The Royals went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

“Students Take News in Grim Disbelief”

November 22nd, 2013

“The President is Dead” was the oversize headline on the front page of the University Daily Kansan on Friday, November 22, 1963. As the nation and world commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, here is a glimpse at how the KU campus community reacted to news of the event.

Image of the University Daily Kansan, November 23, 1963

Single-page Special Edition of the University Daily Kansan, published on November 23, 1963.
University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 69/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

Image of the first page of "The Tragedy," Jayhawker Magazine Yearbook, Winter 1964 Image of the second page of "The Tragedy," Jayhawker Magazine Yearbook, Winter 1964 Image of the third page of "The Tragedy," Jayhawker Magazine Yearbook, Winter 1964

 Two speeches given at the convocation for President Kennedy – those by John Stuckey,
Chairman of the All-Student Council, and Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe – were reprinted in the
Winter 1964 volume of the Jayhawker Magazine Yearbook. University Archives.
Call Number: LD 2697 .J3 1964. Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services