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R. Steve Dick/University Relations

Kerry Lippincott and Helen Krische of Watkins Community Museum of History, examine the display "Kanzas Nebraska" at KU's Spencer Research Library. The book, important to Kansas' status as a free state, is on display through Feb. 16.

Book vital to Kansas' 'free state' status on display at Spencer

In celebration of Kansas Day 2007, KU's Spencer Research Library mounted an exhibit of a book important to the process by which Kansas became a free state. The library hosted a public reception to thank the donors of the book.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the book Kanzas and Nebraska: the History, Geographical and Physical Characteristics, and Political Position of Those Territories. The book, written by Edward Everett Hale, was published in Boston in 1854, the year that Kansas became a Territory. This copy 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 of Spencer Research Library by The Historic Mount Oread Fund, with additional support from 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."

With selected closely related items, the book is on exhibit through Feb. 16 in the Spencer Research Library.

On Kansas Day, KU hosted a public reception to thank the donors.

The book is described in "Territorial Kansas Online," a joint venture of KU and the Kansas State Historical Society.

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February 5, 2007 : Vol. 31, No. 10

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