Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991


August 17, 1991


Here you have a sword that belonged to Kansas University's second chancellor. And there's vintage film footage of Phog Allen and James Naismith tossing a basketball around.

The sword and film are just two pieces of history that have found their way to KU's attic, otherwise known as KU Archives.

Run by a staff of three, the archives is a collective storehouse of the university's memories, most of it in the form of papers from various administration offices.

Located on the top floor of Spencer Research Library, the KU Archives has formally been in existence since the spring of 1969, a semester after Spencer first opened, said John Nugent, archives director.

Nugent and Ned Kehde are the librarians. And Barry Bunch is the third staffer.

Each year loads of files from KU's various schools and departments, along with countless photographs, are brought into the archives to be stored for posterity, Nugent said.

MOST OF the material now in the archives was first located in a small area in Watson Library.

"They tried to collect some archival material, but they didn't have the staff and they didn't have the space," Nugent said. "So mostly what they did was try to collect student publications and faculty publications and they did some newspapers clippings and put together some scrapbooks."

But it wasn't until the current location was established that the official records for university offices were deposited.

Official records are the non-current files of university offices.

"FOR A WHILE, those files may have administrative value because the office may have to consult the files," he said. "What's deposited in the university archives belongs to them. And they can come over and pull a folder any time they want and take it back to their offices."

But the records are closed to the public, he said.

"After a certain length of time 30 to 35 years they could be open to qualified researchers, people who are doing serious research on a department or a school," Nugent said.

He said the archives staff also tries to encourage student organizations to deposit their minutes, newsletters or photographs.

Individual faculty and staff information is sent over from the Office of University Relations, which keeps a current folder on each faculty and staff member.

"WHEN THEY DIE, retire or move on, University Relations sends that folder over to us," he said.

Historical papers related to the university, such as histories of departments or schools, or organizations, also are housed in the archives, he said.

The archives also is a repository for old photographs, slides, negatives, audio-visual material and microfilm along with cartographic material and blueprints, he said.

"We do get all the Jayhawker photographs from the yearbook," he said.

KU's Athletic Department also has sent over its old films and video tapes of KU's football and basketball games, he said.

HE SAID the archives often gets requests for information from people working on research, he said.

"We have a lady in from Wichita who is doing research on a faculty member who was here in the 1880s," he said. "We always get inquiries about basketball and about Phog Allen and Dr. Naismith sometimes from overseas . . . ."

He said the staff also helps area journalists who are researching topics ranging from homecoming to the Kansas Relays to the Rock Chalk Revue.

He said the archives has slowly been using up its space. But it currently came into some more storage space when KU's map library and government documents area moved out of the basement of Spencer into the old science library of Malott Hall.

"WE GOT HALF of it. So we're moving some little used materials down there and shifting up here," he said. "So we're all right for now."

In the early 1970s, KU's athletic department decided to store its game films at the archives, he said.

"Old Ted Owens (a former KU basketball coach) had the reels of old basketball games thrown on the floor of a closet," Nugent said. "We pulled them out. The earliest thing we've got on basketball is about 1939. It's old Phog Allen and Dr. Naismith throwing a basketball at a peach basket in old Robinson."

They also have a sword with an inscription dated 1862 that belonged to John Fraser, KU's second chancellor, a Union Army general who spent time in a Confederate Army prison camp.

The archives also has Fraser's diary, which details deplorable conditions in the prison camp, Nugent said.

"Nothing can be replaced because everything is unique," he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.