Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Happy Birthday, Wilt Chamberlain!

August 21st, 2018

Welcome back, Jayhawks! August 21 not only marks the beginnings of the new school year; today it’s also Wilt Chamberlain’s 82nd birthday. Did you know that, in addition to playing basketball, he was also on the Track & Field team while at KU? It’s true! He was and we’ve got the footage to prove it.

While inspecting some reels of film from the 1957 Kansas Relays, we happened upon some footage of a man with a dapper-looking red and black plaid hat. It was none other than Wilt Chamberlain.

Film still of Wilt Chamberlain in the triple jump event at the Kansas Relays, 1957

Wilt Chamberlain in the triple jump event at the Kansas Relays, 1957.
University Archives. Call Number: UA 12994. Click film still to enlarge.

Film still showing the triple jump standings at the Kansas Relays, 1957

Triple jump (then called the hop, step, and jump) standings at the Kansas Relays, 1957.
University Archives. Call Number: UA 12994. Click film still to enlarge.

Film still of Wilt Chamberlain in the high jump event at the Kansas Relays, 1957

Wilt Chamberlain in the high jump event at the Kansas Relays, 1957.
I don’t know how he did it, but his hat stayed on during the jump.
University Archives. Call Number: UA 12994. Click film still to enlarge.

Film still of the high jump standings at the Kansas Relays, 1957

High jump standings at the Kansas Relays, 1957.
University Archives. Call Number: UA 12994. Click film still to enlarge.

Although Wilt didn’t win these events, his athleticism is undeniable.

Happy birthday, Wilt!

Chris Banuelos
Audiovisual Preservation Specialist
Conservation Services

Throwback Thursday: Wilt Chamberlain Edition

December 15th, 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 33,500 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Photograph of Wilt Chamberlain and John Traylor, December 1955

KU athletes Wilt Chamberlain and John Traylor, December 1955.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG LJW 66/13 Chamberlain, Wilt: Athletic Department: Basketball:
Players (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

This photograph appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World on Monday, December 19, 1955. The caption read as follows:

Two Reasons for the Party’s Success

Saturday afternoon’s Christmas party for about 30 youngsters at the Leavenworth Guardian Angel Home, a Catholic-operated orphan institution, was a raging success primarily because of the appearance of seven-foot Wilt Chamberlain, K. U. freshman basketball star, and John Traylor, 155-pound sophomore halfback for the 1955 Jayhawker football team. Basil Green, Lawrence contractor, planned the party and presented the kiddies with gifts, as well as arranging for the Kansas athletes to be on hand to present the group with some athletic gear. Left to right here are six-year-old Eddie Penrice, Chamberlain, Traylor, and four-year-old Paul Wiley. The youngsters were quick to befriend the two distinguished visitors and soon were bombarding them with all sorts of questions.

According to Lyanne Candy Ruff’s dissertation, Thrown on the Cold Charity of the World: Kansas Cares for Its Orphans, 1859-1919, the Guardian Angel Home was the oldest Catholic orphanage for African American children west of the Mississippi River (pp. 189-208).

You can see additional pictures of Wilt Chamberlain and John Traylor at the Guardian Angel Home Christmas party via Spencer’s online collection of University Archives photographs.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants