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Rare items documenting early KU history on exhibit in Spencer Research Library

Monday, October 5, 2015

The University of Kansas Libraries will host an exhibit in the Kenneth Spencer Research library, developed in conjunction with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the University.

The Achievement of a Dream: The Birth of the University of Kansas will be on display through December. The exhibit highlights original documents, photographs and memorabilia telling the story of the early years of KU from its beginnings in 1865 to the turn of the twentieth century. Exhibition items culled from the holdings of the University Archives include Chancellor John Fraser’s Civil War-era Union  uniform and sword,  the 1873 diploma of KU’s first graduate and valedictorian, Flora Richardson, a football from the 1910 game with Washburn, and glass bottles and tubes from Professor E.H.S. Bailey’s laboratory circa 1915.

“As I planned for the exhibit, I discovered the address Solon O. Thacher made on the occasion of the opening of the University of Kansas on September 12, 1866,” said Becky Schulte, university archivist. “’Every enterprise has its epochs--resting points whence the past, with its triumph or defeat, may be contemplated, and the future, bright or shadowy, be dwelt upon.’  The unique items in this exhibit, rarely seen on display, represent but fraction of the historically rich materials held by the University Archives documenting KU’s early history.”

The Libraries will host a public reception in November to celebrate KU 150 and the exhibit. For those unable to visit the exhibit in person, the digital version of the exhibit can be viewed online.

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