Browse Exhibits (41 total)

Meet the Spencers: A Marriage of Arts & Sciences

No major city street is named for Kenneth or Helen Spencer in the greater Kansas City area. No statues can be found in parks for these two individuals. But if you visit many institutions in eastern Kansas and western Missouri, you might start noticing their names memorialized on plaques on buildings, in acquisition information for works of art, and in portraits on walls. Who were the people behind these names? Drawing on available materials at Spencer Research Library and other institutions, this exhibit provides a personal view of Kenneth and Helen Spencer.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library from January through June 2019. The exhibit was created by Caitlin Donnelly Klepper, Head of Public Services, and Marcella Huggard, Archives and Manuscripts Processing Coordinator.


The George Jenks Map Collection at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library

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Professor George F. Jenks taught cartography for the University of Kansas from 1949-1986. During his tenure, Jenks established an internationally renowned cartography program which helped push the boundaries of cartographic research and design. Jenks' personal map collection contains hundreds of maps, graphics, and associated artwork that he produced for publication and in support of his research. This small exhibit highlights a few items from the collection to illustrate the scope of Jenks' career.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library from June through July 2018. The exhibit was created by Travis M. White, Special Collections Cartography Intern and 2018 KU graduate (Ph.D., Geography). For more information or questions, contact


The Art of Nature: Natural History Art and Illustration by D.D. Tyler


Diana Dee (McAbee) Tyler was born in 1947 in Salina, Kansas. Her family has deep Kansas roots: her great grandfather was a buffalo hunter who later settled in Kansas. Her grandfather, born in a sod house in Mitchell County, Kansas in 1878, earned a degree from the Kansas State Normal School (later Emporia State University) and ran 16 small newspapers in the Emporia area. He also studied art in New York City, taught school in the Philippines, and traveled to China.

Although Tyler spent her early childhood years in Salina and Emporia, her home from 1952-1970 was in Topeka, where she attended Washburn University for two years following her 1965 graduation from Shawnee Heights High School. After transferring to the University of Kansas in 1966, she received her bachelor of fine arts degree in 1970.

The pioneer spirit of her Kansas forebears is reflected in the manner Tyler pursued her lifelong interests in nature, art, and world cultures. Early jobs at the Seamammal Motivational Institute (1970-1971) and as staff artist of the Maine Times (1971-1972) were followed by a horizon-broadening, low-budget backpacking trip around the world (1972-1974) traveling in Europe, North Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

After marrying in Bali, Indonesia in 1973, she and Harry R. (Hank) Tyler, Jr. settled in his native state of Maine. While living on Westport Island (1974-1979), D. D. illustrated newspaper center spreads about nature, some written by Hank Tyler, for the Maine Times. She began producing illustrations for books and also created limited-edition prints and commissioned paintings, mainly depicting the wildlife of the region.

Subsequently Tyler diversified her artistic output while living in Augusta from 1979-1983 and Hallowell from 1983-2014 with her husband and two children. In addition to her illustrations for children's books, Tyler Publishing (established 1977) has produced natural-history prints, posters, cards and, from 1989-2014, designs for t-shirts for Liberty Graphics. Tyler Publishing maintained a booth at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Common Ground Fair for 29 years. Tyler's Liberty Graphics t-shirts were marketed in museums, aquaria, zoos, catalogues, and shops in the United States and also internationally in Japan, Germany, England, France (one outlet in the Louvre), and other countries She created exclusive designs for Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, the Smithsonian, the Nature Company, the Discovery Channel, and others.

Over the years the continuing desire to travel was satisfied by trips to Japan, France, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China. During the 1990s Tyler also led natural-history tours in Costa Rica and Ecuador (Galapagos). This year, 2018, after a four year lapse, Tyler will be designing for Liberty Graphics again. The Tylers live in Kansas and Australia.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library from May through August 2018. The exhibit was created by Karen S. Cook, Special Collections Librarian. Email Karen S. Cook.


Women's Athletics at KU

This exhibit is an attempt to highlight aspects of the history of women’s athletics at the University of Kansas, 1892-2015, and how despite the lack of funding and formal recognition early on, women’s athletics has been transformed, and athletes have excelled, regardless of the ebb and flow of achieving equal status if not full equality.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, January through April of 2018. The exhibit was created by Letha E. Johnson, Associate Archivist, University Archives.


Histories of the English Language


From the Old English of Beowulf to the Middle English of Chaucer to the many dialects that make up our modern tongue, the history of English is a history of change. Featuring materials from KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library, this exhibition explores English as embodied in the writings of its practitioners, whether celebrated authors, such as John Milton and Toni Morrison, or scholars, lexicographers, and  grammarians, such as Elizabeth Elstob, Samuel Johnson,  Noah Webster, and Robert Lowth or anonymous and little-known writers of “everyday” English. In manuscripts and books dating from 1000 CE to the present, readers will encounter the varied forces at work growing, standardizing, governing, describing, reforming, and reinventing English.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, May through August of 2017. The exhibit was created by Elspeth Healey, Special Collections Librarian.


To Make the World Safe for Democracy: Kansas and the Great War


With the declaration of war on Germany, in April, 1917, Kansas and Kansans joined the rest of the nation in mobilizing troops, providing military training and education, and engaging in home front activities in support of food production, food conservation, fund raising, and comfort for soldiers, families, and Allies.

Kansas exceeded its quota of numbers of enlistments in the military, and established training camps, such as Camp Funston, at Fort Riley, to prepare new soldiers for military services. Kansas wheat became a precious commodity, needed worldwide, with corn becoming an important substitution for those at home. High school students and women at home joined in to help with the harvests. Kansans were encouraged to use less sugar, and the institution of “meatless” days and “wheatless" days was common. Women knitted garments for soldiers and orphans overseas, sewed bandages and provided medical supplies, and raised money through the sale and purchase of Liberty Bonds. 

As patriotism fervor swept the nation, and the state, some Kansans grew increasingly critical of those from different backgrounds. Pacifists, many of whom came from Mennonite communities and had German speaking backgrounds, were regarded with suspicion and subjected to public ridicule and vandalism of their property. German Americans’ loyalty to the United States was suspect. There was a consistent program in Kansas to suppress the German language.  

The University of Kansas was impacted by the war as well, with students and faculty leaving to serve in the military. The university community supported the war effort through conservation activities, fund raising for war relief efforts, and community involvement. 

The “war to end all wars” concluded with the signing of an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, and slowly soldiers began returning home. Kansas lost some 2,500 men in the line of duty. 

Included in this exhibition are items drawn from the Kansas Collection and University Archives that illustrate life on the home front, the soldier’s experience, and the university’s response to a war no one expected would be repeated.    

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, August of 2017 through January of 2018 . The exhibit was created by Sheryl Williams, emeritus curator of the Kansas Collectin, and Rebecca Schulte, University Archivist. For more information, contact


Education: The Mightiest Weapon

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"Education is the mightiest weapon you can use to fight your way through." From a letter written by Fred Scott, published in The American Citizen, June 28, 1889, Osage City, Kansas.

AFRICAN AMERICANS HAVE ALWAYS PLACED A HIGH VALUE ON EDUCATION.  For more than three centuries, schools have served as their leading choice of weapon against chattel slavery and legal racial segregation, as well as, a means of self-determination and group advancement. 

 A desire for schooling helped spark their migration to Kansas during the Civil War. Unlike the South, Kansas white public opinion generally accepted their having access to schools, but not racially integrated schools. Not deterred, African Americans found ways to pursue their educational aspirations in Kansas.  They opened up schools in their homes, built the first school in Graham County, Kansas and flocked to charity and public schools that were available to them.

Whether or not African American students enjoyed equal access to elementary public schools in Kansas depended on where they lived. In 1879, Kansas law allowed racially segregated elementary schools in Leavenworth, Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita, but not in places where the population was less than 10,000. Except for Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas law prohibited separate schools for African American high school students. Through petitions, protests, and litigation, including eleven court cases that reached the Kansas Supreme Court between 1881 and 1949, African Americans in Kansas sought to exercise their citizenship right to have equal access to public schools. Their efforts paid off. From 1890 to 1930, the percentage of African Americans in Kansas who could read and write increased from 67.2% to 91.2%.

This exhibition features materials from the African American Experience Collections in Kenneth Spencer Research Library that highlight the active role African Americans in Kansas played in our nation’s past struggle with laws and practices of racial segregation in public schools.  It emphasizes the leadership role Kansas African American communities played in resisting and navigating around barriers imposed on them in their effort to gain equal access to public schools. The exhibit concludes with the participation of Kansas African American parents and community activists in the five legal cases addressed in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka U.S. Court Supreme Court, which revolutionized the legal framework for race relations, sparked the Modern Civil Rights Movement and inspired struggles for freedom and equality around the world.  

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, January through April of 2017. The exhibit was created by Deborah Dandridge, Associate Librarian for the Kansas Collection.


A Reflection of Genocide in Africa: Rwanda and the Herero

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This exhibit is an exposition of the history, planning, development, and execution of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the 1904 genocide against the Nama and Herero people of present day Namibia. The exhibit also clearly reveals the impact that these two genocides have had on the lives of survivors, perpetrators, and their families and communities.


In the Shadow of Cortés: From Veracruz to Mexico City


In Fall 2016, KU Libraries partnered with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) to bring the traveling exhibit In the Shadow of Cortés: From Veracruz to Mexico City to Spencer Research Library. The photographic exhibition was designed and prepared by Indiana University Professor Kathleen Ann Myers, with photographs by fellow Indiana University professor and renowned National Geographic photographer Steve Raymer

The traveling exhibition contained thirty photographs interspersed with seven text panels of contextual information. English and Spanish exhibit handouts showed thumbnails of the photographs with captions. These three documents are reproduced, with permission from their author Kathleen Ann Myers, in the Traveling Exhibition section of this online exhibit.

In conjunction with the traveling exhibition, Spencer Research Library showcased original books and maps, including some modern editions and facsimiles, related to Cortés and the conquest. These are the materials reproduced here, with their exhibit labels.

Additional online information about this exhibit includes the IU press release, the KU Libraries press release, and KU Libraries Flickr albums showing photographs of the exhibit reception at Spencer and of the Aztec dance group Huitzilopochtli on campus.

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, August 2016 through January 2017. The exhibit was created by Caitlin Donnelly Klepper and Kathy Lafferty, Public Services.
Contact Caitlin or Kathy for questions.

Funding for this exhibit came from the Moveable Feast of the Arts Program at Indiana University Bloomington. Created through a generous gift from the Lilly Endowment Inc., the program was initiated by the IU Office of the President with oversight provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.


Easter 1916: Rebellion and Memory in Ireland


On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, armed nationalists occupied sites around Dublin and proclaimed the establishment of an Irish Republic independent from England. Outgunned by incoming Crown forces, the rebels surrendered within a week. The rising’s leaders were quickly executed and many others interned. With over 400 dead and prominent Dublin thoroughfares damaged by shelling and artillery fire, the debates over Easter week’s legacies began. Was the rising a heroic sacrifice in the name of Irish independence, or treasonous and needless bloodshed in a time of world war, or something more complex? In his poem “Easter, 1916,” W. B. Yeats famously wrote of the rebellion and its executed leaders, “A terrible beauty is born.” One hundred years later, this exhibition returns to that fraught week to explore its place in the history of Irish independence. 

This is an online version of a physical exhibit that was on display in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, January through April of 2016. The exhibit was created by Elspeth Healey, Special Collections Librarian.