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Personal papers of Marilyn Stokstad

Call Number: PP 470


Marilyn Stokstad joined the Art History faculty at the University of Kansas in 1958 and led the department in several roles before earning emerita status as the Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor of Art History. This collection of her papers includes notes, chapters, and proofs for the textbook Art History, family history and photographs, personal and professional correspondence, and reports and notes related to the University of Kansas.


  • Creation: 1929 - 2020


Language of Materials

The bulk of the collection is in English; however, there are also materials in Spanish; Chinese; German; Italian; Latin; and Norwegian.

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Audio visual 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) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audio visual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Biography of Marilyn Stokstad (1929-2016)

Born February 16th, 1929, in Lansing, Michigan, Marilyn Jane Stoksad earned her B.A. from Carleton College in 1950, her M.A. from Michigan State University in 1953, and her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1957.

Stokstad joined the Art History faculty at the University of Kansas in 1958, spending her entire teaching career at KU, and led the department in several roles before earning emerita status as the Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor of Art History. She served as Director of the Spencer Museum of Art from 1961-1968, was a member of the "February Sisters" feminist group at KU who organized a sit-in of the East Asian Studies Building in 1972, and held the office of President of the College Art Association (CAA) from 1978-1980.

An expert in Medieval and Spanish art, Stokstad published the seminal textbook Art History in 1995. The volume has been re-published in subsequent editions. Late in her career, Stokstad donated generously to many causes and served as a paid lecturer on a wide variety of cruise ships.

Marilyn Stokstad died March 4th, 2016, in Lawrence, Kansas.


36.75 Linear Feet (38 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 3 audiovisual items)

Scope and Contents

This collection of Marilyn Stokstad's papers includes records, correspondence, photographs, and other materials regarding both her professional career and personal life. It includes reference materials and notes she gathered for publications, classroom lectures, and other scholarly activities; drafts of publications and other materials related to the publication process; materials related to exhibits Stokstad curated and more generally to her professional work and service; and correspondence, photographs, travel information, and other personal materials.

In addition to her doctoral dissertation research in Spain on Santiago de Compostela, Stokstad used a Fulbright Fellowship to Norway in 1951-52 to research and write her master's thesis on Norwegian mural painting. In all her travels, for schooling and research, she wrote home to her parents regularly, and those letters are preserved in this collection. These letters are both insightful and funny, revealing much about life and culture, including difficulties traveling to and from Carleton College due to a nationwide coal strike disabling local train service to Northfield, Minnesota. Some of the letters were numbered to establish sequence, but it is not known by whom, or when, and some of the numbers seem to have been duplicated.

Stokstad was a steadfast feminist, and her papers reveal key moments in that career in school as a student, as one of the February Sisters at the University of Kansas, as President of the College Art Association, and as someone who personally rewrote the canon of Western art history with an eye toward uncovering the contributions of women artists.

Because she was a lifelong student of art history,and lectured well past normal retirement age, research notes can be found in more than one series in this collection. Some reflect her own education. Many were part of her comprehensive study of art history for the 5 editions of her textbook, as well as for other books written previously.

Oversize and audiovisual materials have been physically separated and are described at the end of this finding aid.

Physical Location

PP 470

Physical Location


Physical Location

A/V items at Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Marilyn Stokstad, 2007; transfers from Spencer Museum of Art, 2016; 2020.

Guide to the Marilyn Stokstad Collection
Personal papers of Marilyn Stokstad
Finding aid prepared by pb,dd, 2008. Finding aid encoded by pb, dd, 2008. Finding aid revised by lmb, 2009, 2018; mmj, 2022; mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Marilyn Stokstad, PP 470, 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