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University Relations

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Jan. 23, 2007
Contact: Sheryl Williams, Spencer Research Library, (785) 864-4334.

Historic book is centerpiece of Spencer Research Library exhibit

Eli Thayer

LAWRENCE — The Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas will celebrate Kansas Day with an exhibit that features a book instrumental in Kansas becoming a free state and a reception in honor of those who donated the historic work.

The book, “Kanzas and Nebraska: the History, Geographical and Physical Characteristics, and Political Position of Those Territories,” was written by Edward Everett Hale. It was published in Boston in 1854, the year Kansas became a territory.

The reception will be at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at the Spencer Research Library. With selected closely related items, the book is on exhibit through Feb. 16 in the library.

This copy of the book is especially prized because it was inscribed by the author: “To Eli Thayer Esq./The founder of Kanzas/with the regards of/E.E. Hale.” Thayer was a central figure in the New England Emigrant Aid Society, which led the efforts to ensure that Kansas would become the “Free State.” This copy also once was part of the collections of the Oread Collegiate Institute of Worcester, Mass.

W.B. Spooner (for whom KU’s Spooner Hall is named and who was a director of the New England Emigrant Aid Society) described Thayer as “the getter-up and the life, body and soul” of the society’s work.

The book was donated to the Kansas Collection at the Spencer Research Library by the Historic Mount Oread Fund, with additional support from Lawrence community members Karl Gridley, Katie and Kenneth Armitage, Marilyn and Roy Gridley and Jeffrey Thomas.

“In a real sense, this precious book is doubly valued as it comes to Kansas and Mount Oread,” said Lorraine Haricombe, dean of libraries, in accepting the gift. “We are indebted to the Historic Mount Oread Fund and to several especially generous Kansans who care about the history of their state and university.”

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