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Personal papers of Esther Twente

Call Number: PP 100


Esther Twente joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1937 in the Department of Sociology. She was responsible for the organization of the Department of Social Work in 1946, and taught in and chaired the Department for 11 years. Her career interests focused on bringing social work to rural areas and later, care of the elderly. This collection consists of numerous clippings and remembrances; correspondence; School of Social Welfare programs and publications; project reports; and several undated manuscripts for Release of Human Potentialities in Small Communities.


  • Creation: 1937 - 1966


Conditions Governing Access

These materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) no less than three days in advance of a planned visit. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Esther Twente (1895-1971)

Esther Elizabeth Twente was born in 1895 and grew up on a rural farm in Missouri. After graduating from the University of Missouri in 1918, she travelled to New York City, where her long career in social work truly began at the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities. After a year, Twente left New York and moved to St. Louis. Several years later her rural background pulled her to Arkansas City, Kansas, where she began an organization that combined social work and the Red Cross. Later she began a similar organization in Dodge City.

In 1929 Twente became the director of Family Service in Kansas City. As the Depression worsened, she was named the Assistant Superintendent of Relief for the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee. A little over a year later she was named the Superintendent. In 1937 Twente left the Kerc to join the faculty of the Department of Sociology at KU. As she taught, Twente also worked on her Master's from the University of Chicago, which she completed in 1945. At the same time, Twente also dedicated herself to the founding of the Department of Social Work, which saw fruition in 1946. The program (now the School of Social Welfare) began as a two-year graduate course, which Twente taught in and chaired for 11 years. Even as she taught and oversaw all program administration, Twente worked tirelessly towards program accreditation. Twente also earned a Fulbright Scholarship in 1956-1957, which she spent researching and lecturing in Australia.

After her retirement in 1966, Twente continued her social work and research. She was named to numerous committees and councils, continued to publish articles and a book, Never Too Old, and earned several distinctions, including her selection to the KU Women's Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Distinguished Senior Citizen of Kansas in 1971. Twente died December 18, 1971.


1 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 100

Physical Location

Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Original gift date unknown; addition given by Shirley Patterson, 2005.

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Separated Materials

A tape recording of the School of Social Welfare tribute to Esther Twente is catalogued separately in University Archives and is available at call number T 1069.

Guide to the Esther E. Twente Collection
Personal papers of Esther Twente
Finding aid prepared by ad, 2006. Finding aid encoded by ad, 2006. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Esther E. Twente, University Archives, PP 100, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States