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Exhibition commemorating Quantrill’s Raid to open Aug. 22

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Lawrence after the raid (Kansas Collection)
Survivors of Quantrill's Raid (Kansas Collection)
Courtesy of the Kansas Collection,
Kenneth Spencer Research Library

KU Libraries will host a special exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid. “Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence: Stories of Loss, Destruction and Survival,” opens Aug. 22 with a reception at Spencer Research Library. Featured will be documents on display from the Kansas Collection as well as a presentation by Sherry Williams, curator of collections at KU Libraries.

Williams will discuss the infamous raid both from a historical perspective and within the context of resources in the libraries’ Kansas Collection. Housed in the Spencer Research Library, this collection preserves extensive materials and documents from the state’s history, much of which pertains to the mid-nineteenth century when Kansas was transitioning from a territory to a free state. The exhibition will display materials from the Kansas Collection, including photographs and accounts of the raid’s victims as well as letters written by Quantrill himself.

The event is open to the public and will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by Williams’ presentation at 6:30 p.m. Those who plan to attend should RSVP to Rachel Karwas at 785-864-8961 or

This exhibition will be up through early November and is a part of 1863 Commemorate Lawrence, a citywide initiative to recognize and honor Lawrence history surrounding Quantrill’s Raid. In the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 1863, Confederate guerilla William Quantrill led a cavalry of hundreds with the intent to “plunder and destroy” Lawrence. Prior to the attack, Lawrence had become an anti-slavery stronghold at the dawn of the Civil War and during the early statehood of Kansas, which itself became a free state in 1861. Clashing ideologies sparked violent conflict on the border with Missouri, which was recognized as a Confederate state the same year. In retaliation for attacks in pro-slavery territory, Quantrill and his raiders ambushed Lawrence that day, burning nearly all its buildings and killing more than 150 men and boys. Following the city’s recovery, Quantrill’s Raid became a central piece of Lawrence history as a symbol of the community’s strength and resilience.

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