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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: Maypole 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!

Photograph of people gathered for the May Day Fete, 1908

KU’s first May (or May Day) Fete, May 23, 1908. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/10 1908: Student Activities: May Day (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

This photo appears to have been taken from Old Green (now Lippincott) Hall, looking south/southeast. Part of Old Fraser Hall – located approximately where modern Fraser Hall now stands – is visible on the right; Old Blake Hall is in the middle of the background.

Two days before the Fete, the University Daily Kansan student newspaper reported that the participants were ready for the event “after weeks of drill and elaborate preparations.”

In describing the Fete after its conclusion, the Kansan asserted that the maypole dances were “the prettiest part of the performance.” Specifically, “four poles representing the sororities of the school [Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Chi Omega] and one for the University were wound with ribbon by a crowd of girls. The dancing around the poles and the effect of the many colored ribbons made a decidedly pleasing sight.”

Article about the May Fete in the University Daily Kansan, 1908

An article about the May Fete in the University Daily Kansan,
May 23, 1908. Image via Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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