Handling the scrapbook with extra care, Rebekah Curry, public services supervisor of the Emporia State Special Collections and Archives, barely let her fingertips touch the dark tan page of William Allen White scrapbook. The newspaper articles, which had faded to a light orange, were from another time.
Compiled by Sallie Lindsay, White’s wife, the scrapbook and its contents were from White’s 1924 run for governor in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. The six-week campaign ran 2700 miles with around 104 speeches given, all on a $500 budget, according to Curry.
That campaign is the focus of the event “William Allen White and the KKK in Kansas: A Real American Goes Hunting.” The event is sponsored by the archives and featuring Beverly Buller, lecturer in the School of Library and Information Management.
In an email, Buller explained that she used the archives in her research. “I spent a day there in December…what I needed was fresh information on his gubernatorial race, and I found it at the archives,” Buller said.
The archives main goal is to preserve the lives of White and others, according to Shari Scribner, director of university archives.“We’re not just concerned about having the materials,” Scribner said. “We’re also interested in the context in which they were created and used, the stories that go along with why they even exist.”
All of the materials about White and his history were given from the White family, according to Curry. “The family still owns the materials,” Curry said. “We just keep them here and have permission to use them.”
The archives are a service provided by the university. “Anyone can view the materials without permission,” Curry said. “(But) in the past when we’ve had people who wanted to publish photos from the collection, they did have to get permission from the family for that.”
The objects in the archives are handled with extra care, according to Curry. Paper is not normally handled with gloves unless given a professional exception, according to Scribner. Frequent handwashing is enough to prevent extensive damage to paper, but all photographs are handled with gloves.
“(Touching the photo without protection) will immediately have an impact,” Scribner said. “But it would be really hard to delicately turn those pages (of the Bible) if I were wearing a glove.”
Curry said that the conditions in which items are stored affect their shelf life. The room in which the special collections are stored is temperature and humidity controlled. Acid-free boxes and paper help with preserving the items as well, according to Curry.
“Our aim is basically that the item is preserved forever,” Curry said. The event hosted by Buller about White’s run for governor will be at 7 p.m. next Monday outside room 119 in the William Allen White library.