Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Thanksgiving on the Post: Images from the Pennell Collection

The following images were taken by Joseph Judd Pennell, a professional photographer in Junction City, Kansas, from 1888 to 1923. The images in the collection represent a comprehensive record of life in a turn-of-the-century small Kansas town and the nearby army post of Fort Riley.

Photograph of a football team on Thanksgiving Day, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1896

Football team on Thanksgiving Day, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1896.
Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

A major U.S. Army post, Fort Riley was the site of a light artillery unit; several cavalry units, including the 9th and 10th black cavalry troops; one of the best cavalry schools in the world; and Camp Funston, a major army induction center during World War I.

Photograph of 20th Battery Dining Hall prepared for Thanksgiving meal, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1904

Kitchen staff in the 20th Battery Dining Hall prepared for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley,
Kansas, 1904. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of soldiers in the 20th Battery Dining Hall for Thanksgiving meal, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1904

Soldiers gathered in the 20th Battery Dining Hall for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley,
Kansas, 1904. Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Although primarily a studio portrait photographer, Pennell also went out into the community to photograph. He recorded business, social, church, and school activities; people’s prized moments and possessions; and events that touched everyone’s lives, such as floods, parades, President Theodore Roosevelt‘s visit, the racket nine-cent sale, polo games, and Chautauqua. Revealed within the photographs is the detail and complexity of rural and urban life. The collection as a whole shows how a town and its people changed over time, evidenced in things like the styles of fashion and consumer goods, the appearance of new buildings as the town grew, and the entrance of technology into everyday life. One of the most notable technological changes that Pennell documented was the gradual movement from horse to automobile power.

Photograph of a dining room set for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1905

Dining room set for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1905.
Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of the 6th Band dining room set for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1913

6th Band dining room set for Thanksgiving dinner, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1913.
Joseph Judd Pennell Photograph Collection. Call Number: RH PH Pennell.
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Spencer’s Pennell collection consists of approximately 30,000 glass plate negatives, 6,074 contact prints (some dry-mounted on boards), 302 original Pennell photographs, and ten studio register books containing Pennell’s negative identification system. The glass plate negatives vary in size from 4″ x 5″ to 12″ x 20″, with the bulk of the collection in the 5″ x 7″ format. There are also a small number of flexible negatives and forty-six large panoramic negatives.

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

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