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Mary Elsie Rose Kirby papers

Call Number: RH MS 286


This collection includes the personal and professional papers of Mary Elsie (Rose) Kirby, a school teacher and administrator who lived in several areas of Kansas throughout her life. The collection also includes some family photographs and papers.


  • Creation: 1871 - 1972


Conditions Governing Access

Literary rights in unpublished manuscripts or materials are retained by the University of Kansas.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies of unpublished materials in the papers made by xerox or other mechanical methods of reproduction may be made only for the purposes of scholary research. Contact staff at or (785) 864-4334 for assistance or with questions.

Biography of Mary Elsie Rose Kirby (1892-1978)

Mary Elsie Rose, daughter of Charles Edward Rose and Mary Virginia (McKee) Rose, was born in Spring Hill, Kansas in May 1892. Soon thereafter, the Rose family relocated to Paola, also in Miami County in eastern Kansas. After graduating from Kansas State Agriculture College in Manhattan, Kansas, she embarked upon a lifelong career in teaching and education spanning the years 1911 to 1962. In 1916, at the age of 24, she married Buford Varble Kirby, employed in the grain business. Five years later, in Conception Junction, Missouri, she gave birth to a daughter, Mary Madge Kirby.

Kirby taught in several Kansas communities, including Chiles, Bucyrus, Lawrence, Olathe, and Stillwell. In the latter two locales she rose to the administrative level of principal (1940s-1950s). By the time she settled in Lawrence, Kansas, the community in which she eventually retired, she was considered too old to serve in an administrative capacity, but she continued teaching second grade at Woodlawn School, plus teaching night classes at the high school. Kirby also fostered her own professional development by acquiring a Master of Arts degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1952.

In 1962 Mary Rose Kirby officially retired from her teaching/education career, remaining in Lawrence, Kansas, until her death on October 21, 1978.


5.75 Linear Feet (12 document cases + 2 oversize folders, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The papers of Mary Elsie Rose Kirby were given to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library by her daughter, Mary Madge (Kirby) Nelson. The papers, for the most part, span the years 1908 to 1972; however, a large gap does appear in the personal correspondence files during the decade of the 1930s. Also included in the collection are the correspondence of her parents (1901-1952); newspaper clippings (mostly 1960s); material relating to Kirby's lifelong teaching career (1911-1962); and a variety of miscellaneous personal and business related items.

The collection includes family photographs and postcards depicting scenes in eastern Kansas, located at RH PH 29. Oversize materials have also been physically separated and are located at RH MS R31; oversize photographs are at RH PH 29(f).

Physical Location

RH MS 286

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH PH 29

Physical Location

RH PH 29(f)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Mary Madge (Kirby) Nelson, October 1979; Marla (Nelson) Smith, 2012.

Guide to the Mary Elsie Rose Kirby Collection
Mary Elsie Rose Kirby papers
Finding aid prepared by js, 1980. Finding aid encoded by amh, 2004 and rw, 2008. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2020 and cmp, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Mary Elsie Rose Kirby collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 286, 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