Featured Items from the Collections

Feature for the month of December




Woodrow Wilson Scrapbook

Sir Orville Watson Mosher, Compiler

Circa 1909-1963

Click on pictures to magnify!


At the time of his death, Sir Orville Watson Mosher (1885-1971) was probably the only Kansan in history to have received the "medaille d'Honneur Academique avec le titre 'Chevalier Lancier d'Honneur" from the French academie - and it was ESU's President King who knighted Sir Orville!

Mosher, History faculty at the Kansas State Normal School (later the Kansas State Teachers College, and ultimately Emporia State University) and one of the principal founders of the Lyon County Historical Society, had lived in Emporia since 1929, but he had arrived here after having spent several years teaching in the United States and in France. Mosher graduated in 1909 from Princeton University, where he had studied jurisprudence under then Princeton-President Woodrow Wilson. He later completed a Law degree at Harvard, before earning his doctorate in History in France.

Throughout his life, Mosher collected his and his Princeton classmates' recollections of Woodrow Wilson, which he compiled into a scrapbook in the mid-1960s. Like most scrapbooks, Mosher's was made of acidic materials that did not stand the test of time. In order to preserve the contents of the scrapbook for the benefit of future generations of researchers, ESU Archives had the scrapbook professionally conserved between 2006 and 2009.

The "before" and "after" images of the scrapbook's treatment, above, reveal the drastic measures that were taken to stabilize the scrapbook, which is available now for researchers to use by appointment only.

Please contact ESU Special Collections and Archives at 620-341-6431 or archives@emporia.edu for more information or to schedule a research appointment.

Feature for the month of September

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, 1812-1870
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

Henry Wadsworth

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882
Edward VII, King of Great Britain, 1841-1910

Alfred Tenyson

Alfred Tennyson, Baron Tennyson, 1809-1892
Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901

Wax sealing bearing the impression of the Coat of Arms of Great Britain

Wax seal bearing the impression of the Coat of Arms of Great Britain
Penny plain, decorated by John Hugh Lockhart, 1821-1831


May Hughes Scrapbook

Compiled by Mrs. John Shute Duncan

and Miss Agnes Duncan for Mary “May” Hughes, 1876.

ESU Archives NA1964.0002


A Small World

For the mathematically inclined among us, here is a challenge: In how few “degrees of separation” can one connect Sir Walter Scott and Mahatma Gandhi? Or, try to connect Rugby, TN, Christian Socialism and Great Britain's Queen Victoria. Then, add early 19 th Century British theater to the equation. Now, take all of these together, and connect them to Emporia State University. If you're looking for a single, primary source that helps to document all of these relationships within, at most, three degrees of separation, then do we ever have the source for you: the May Hughes Scrapbook!


The May Hughes Scrapbook consists of approximately 183 separate items that largely reflect the people with whom May's father, Thomas Hughes, maintained contact throughout his life in both personal and professional capacities.


May Hughes was born February 29, 1860, in London, England. May became a member of the local Board of Governors in 1892; this group was in charge of the local workhouse. She joined the Stepney Board of Governors and worked with a local Children's Home. Following World War I she became a Labour borough councilor for Stepney, a Justice of the Peace for the Tower Division with specialization in rates and educational cases, and joined the Society of Friends (Quaker) church. She left the Labour Party in 1926 to become a Communist. That year she also bought an old public house and, in a pun on the phrase “Do Drop In,” named it The Dewdrop Inn: For Education and Joy. May moved into the home and it became a refuge for London's poor and needy. She met, at his insistence, Mahatma Gandhi in 1931. May passed away on April 2, 1941.


Included in the scrapbook are Hughes family members, personal friends and influences, authors, artists, politicians, and prominent families in Great Britain and the United States of America. The items representing each individual are generally arranged on the same page. Letters by W. Holman Hunt and John Bright and a photograph of James Russell Lowell contain notations that they are provided specifically for May. Also included is a poem written to Thomas Hughes by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Seals representing in part royalty, castles, initials, businesses, and schools are impressed into the stationery of many of the letters. Three letters are written in French. A highlight of the scrapbook is three pages featuring photographs and letters by Queen Victoria, her husband Edward Albert, and each of their children; this section includes a wax seal.

This collection also includes 5 pictures decorated by John Hugh Lockhart, grandson of Sir Walter Scott; this boy was the inspiration for Tales of a Grandfather; Being Stories Taken from Scottish History: Humbly Inscribed to Hugh Littlejohn, Esq . John only lived to be 10 years old (1821-1831) and at an unknown time created these pictures; using an art technique known as “tinseling” he painted and embellished the drawn characters with fabric, colored metal, mesh, and metal decorations. Such pictures were called "penny plains" and were sold in London for a penny each to children.


The May Hughes Scrapbook may be accessed for research by appointment only; contact the Special Collections and Archives at 620-341-6431 or archives@emporia.edu for additional information.


Feature for the month of August

The Butterfly Babies Book


The Butterfly Babies' Book, by Elizabeth Gordon
Illustrated by M. T. "Penny" Ross
Published by Rand McNally & Company, 1914
Historic Children's Literature Collection, X P G65b


As our Kansas gardens become crowded with Admirals, Emperors, Snouts and True Brushfoots, we take a moment to share the butterflies' beauty in an unusual way.

Nearly as scarce as the human/butterfly amalgamations depicted in its illustrations, The Butterfly Babies' Book features clever poems and vibrant, detailed, color illustrations that were designed to teach children to identify butterflies in nature. The book's illustrator, "Penny" Ross (1881-1937), had been an early co-worker of Walt Disney, and a co-creator of the Buster Brown comic book series. Ross, as well as the book's author, Elizabeth Gordon (1866-1922), was prolific in his art form, and both seemed to specialize in the production of colorful books about mythical beings that were one with nature.

The book itself exists in only 19 libraries worldwide, including Emporia State University Libraries and Archives. It first came to our attention as we attempted to help a distant patron who had requested the book through Interlibrary Loan. Although the Archives' policy prohibits us from lending our rare, fragile and often one-of-a-kind archival resources, in this case, we were very happy to digitize the book in its entirety in order to supply the patron with a facsimile edition of the book. This request was the beginning of our newest, often demanded service in University Archives: the digitization-on-demand of books in our collection (but only if the book is no longer copyright protected, and if the original book would not be harmed by the digitization process).

The Butterfly Babies' Book , in addition to being a remarkable item in itself, further inspired the Archives' crew to develop a new service for our patrons. Such patrons may view this special book, or other items in the Historic Children's Literature Collection, in person by appointment only; please contact 620-341-5034 for further information. Additionally, many of our rare and archival materials may be custom digitized; for more information regarding this service, please contact archives@emporia.edu or 620-341-6431.

The Butterfly Babies' Book may be downloaded in its entirety from this page.

Feature for the month of July


Star Stripes





Bloomer Helmet


Stars Stripes


Pilot Helmet and Flight Jacket


William A. “Art” Bloomer was born on January 23, 1933, in Bellaire, Kansas, and attended Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia from 1951 to 1955. While in college in Emporia, Bloomer majored in mathematics and physics. He was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity, and was a varsity letterman in the K-Club for four years in both football and basketball. Bloomer's career in the Marine Corps started as an attempt to avoid having to leave college for active duty service by enlisting in a commissioning program for reserve officers. Upon his graduation in 1955, Bloomer was commissioned a 2 nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and began what was presumed to be a temporary period of active duty.


Bloomer discovered that the Marine Corps offered him a good career opportunity, and he eventually spent 31 years on active duty. During that time Bloomer became a pilot and served as a flight instructor and as a test pilot. He flew reconnaissance aircraft and served a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968/1969 that included 330 combat missions. His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” and 17 air medals. In 1975 he was aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway and participated in the evacuation of Saigon. In the later years of his Marine career Bloomer served as an assistant to two Secretaries of the Navy, and eventually retired as a Brigadier General.


In 1985 Emporia State University Alumni Association named Bloomer a Distinguished Alumnus. Besides his various business activities, Bloomer has continued to be involved with Emporia State University by serving on the Board of Directors of the ESU Foundation. Bloomer was a featured speaker at ESU's 2009 Commencement.


Brigadier General Bloomer's pilot helmet and flight jacket are just a small sample of the artifacts and historical records available in the Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Collection at ESU Archives. They represent yet another member of the ESU community serving with distinction in our armed forces to preserve and protect America.


The Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Collection is available for study through research service; please contact 620-341-6431 or archives@emporia.edu for further information. Additional items from the Bloomer Collection may be viewed on-line at http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/archives/Gallery/gallery_two.htm.

Feature for the month of June

Potter Figures

Figurines based on Beatrix Potter's storybook characters
Beswick, England
Circa 1954-1974

In recent years, a rumor had begun to circulate that the Potter figurines at ESU Archives were once the property of William Allen White's daughter, Mary White, who had died tragically in 1921. By researching the history of Beswick pottery and scouring through unprocessed records of past library directors, Archives staff has reaffirmed that it is essential to validate stories that people tell us, no matter how trust-worthy the source.

ESU Archives' collection of twenty-six adorable ceramic figurines - six of which are shown above - were manufactured between 1954-1974 (long after Mary's death) by Beswick Pottery in England, and were purchased in 1967 or 1968 by a past librarian, Miss Ruth Hanson, specifically to decorate the children's library that used to be housed in room 119 of the William Allen White Library - formerly known as The Mary White Room.

The figurines may be found today in room 308B of the White Library. Anyone interested in viewing the figurines is enthusiastically encouraged to schedule an appointment to do so by calling the Special Collections and Archives at 620-341-6431 or by e-mail at archives@emporia.edu

Feature for the month of May


Ceiling-sculpture of Taurus The Bull, 1933
Artist: Eric Gugler (1889-1974)

In 1969, Eric Gugler reminisced that when they were roughly the age of an average college sophomore or junior, May Massee had secured his promise to design an office for her should she ever become a publishing executive.   Soon after becoming children's book editor at Viking Press in 1933, Massee called in Gugler's promise. 

Carved expressly for May Massee, this ceiling-sculpture captures the spirit of May Massee, a woman who - having been born in the month of May and named for her birth-month - identified strongly with her astrological symbol, Taurus the Bull.  Given the small stature of the mid-town Manhattan, NY office space that Gugler had to work with, the ceiling seemed like the prime spot to introduce a distinctive artistic element.  Gugler first sculpted the bull in a plasteline model; once approved by Massee and her employers, Gugler hired a wood carver to translate his design into an "elliptical 'bowl-like' element, the carved bull housed in the bowl, carved from one integral log of white pine." 

Upon viewing the bull, artist Paul Manship told Gugler that the knees and ankles were not anatomically correct.  Gugler planned to correct his mistakes with wooden plugs in the pine, but Manship stopped him from doing so, stating, "Let's forget correctedness.  Maybe it's better modeling and better sculpture the way it is." 

Gugler never told Massee that the bull was flawed.  Keeping his youthful promise to Massee, Gugler completed the installation of her wood paneled office, crowned by Taurus the Bull, in 1934.  At that time, Gugler was working on his greatest architectural accomplishment: a commission from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for what would become today's Oval Office at the White House.

Gugler's Taurus, and May Massee's Office, may be visited by appointment.  Contact Ashley Todd-Diaz, Curator of the Special Collections and Archives, at 620-341-5034 for further information.

Feature for the month of April

The Institute for Pi Research

Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas: Channel 8 Productions, 1982.
Dr. Sam Dicks, Producer

This 25-minute film caused a sensation when it debuted in 1982. Beginning with a scholarly discussion between the late Dr. Joe Fisher and Dr. Sam Dicks, Professor Emeritus at ESU, The Institute for Pi Research took its cue from debates regarding the scientific foundation of Creationism, and endeavored to represent the Biblical notion that Pi = 3 (rather than 3.14…) as scientific fact. ESU faculty members from several disciplines participated in the spoof. Following the release of the series on Channel 8 television, a regional PBS affiliate began to broadcast the program, national newspapers picked up the story, and, ultimately, the Institute for Pi Research became known in scholarly and religious circles worldwide. The film continues to be referenced occasionally in discussions regarding Creationism.