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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

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Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

Throwback Thursday: Freshman Toss Edition

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!

One of the fun topics you can learn about in University Archives is the history of traditions at KU, especially those observed during the university’s early decades but no longer practiced today.

One contentious custom required all freshmen to wear tiny caps (beanies) and to tip it before the school flag, faculty members, and seniors. According to an article on the KU History website, the punishments for not doing so included “a severe paddling, an involuntary dip in Potter Lake, or having oneself tossed repeatedly into the air from huge canvas blankets, held by members of the Men’s Student Council and the K-Club, which was composed of lettermen from all University sports.”

Photograph of a group of men tossing a freshman caught without his cap, 1914

Photograph of a group of men tossing a freshman caught without his cap, 1914

Freshmen being tossed in the air after being caught without a cap, 1914.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/66/14 1914 Prints:
Student Activities: Sports: Football (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Both of the above photos were taken in 1914 during KU football games at McCook Field, located roughly where Memorial Stadium now stands. The opponents were the College of Emporia (October 10, top) and the University of Missouri (November 21, bottom).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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