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John and Frances Peterson collection

Call Number: RH MS 1330


John Malcolm and Frances Peterson lived in the Lawrence, Kansas area from 1974-2007. They were deeply involved in local historical societies and took many trips worldwide. The collection includes Peterson family materials dating back to 1879; letters, documents, photographs and clippings; and a large amount of local historical photographs, newspaper clippings, articles and other related materials. Also included in the collection are a large number of slides and oversize maps kept from trips around the United States and the world.


  • Creation: 1879 - 2006


Language of Materials

English; Swedish

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of John and Frances Peterson

John Malcolm Peterson was born in 1921 in Hays, Ellis County, Kansas, growing up in Logan County and attending Page City High School. He attended the University of Kansas as a Summerfield Scholar and graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business.

After serving in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942-1945, Peterson returned to KU for his master's degree in political science, which he earned in 1947. He moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the United States Treasury and Defense Departments, meeting Frances Bailey in the process.

Frances Bailey Peterson was born in Mansfield, Texas in 1917. She worked for the Treasury Department in Washington. She married John Peterson in 1952. They retired in 1974 and moved to rural Douglas County, Kansas, moving into the city of Lawrence in 1992.

John Peterson was heavily involved in local history and archaeology, volunteering for the Douglas County Historical Society and authoring several articles for the Kansas History Quarterly. He was a volunteer archivist and curator at the Watkins Community Museum of History. John Peterson also wrote a book about John G. Haskell, one of the University of Kansas' early architects.

Frances Peterson participated in many local organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, League of Women Voters, Zodiac Club and Watkins Community Museum of History. In their personal lives, the Petersons were avid gardeners and bird watchers. The two traveled the United States and the world extensively.

The Petersons moved to Cedar Hill, Texas in 2007. John Peterson died in 2009 and Frances died in 2012. Their will bequeathed a $1.2 million gift of farmland and cash to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Music, and the School of Dance at the University of Kansas.


13.5 Linear Feet (14 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 34 oversize folders, 2 volumes)

Scope and Contents

This collection includes a large number of travel maps and slides of photographs taken on worldwide trips. Local history regarding Douglas County, Kansas and archaeology is strongly represented. Extensive material concerns the Peterson family, both John Malcolm Peterson's immediate family and the genealogical line. Peterson family letters include stamps from many different countries.

While slides from the Petersons' trips have been separated out under call number RH MS-P 1330, photographs have remained with the textual items in the collection. Oversize items have been removed to appropriate storage, but the locations from which items were taken away have been noted in order to preserve context. Two photograph albums of the Peterson family from Logan County, Kansas have also been physically separated and are located at RH MS CK30.

Physical Location

RH MS 1330

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1330

Physical Location

RH MS Q387

Physical Location

RH MS R358

Physical Location

RH MS R359

Physical Location


Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 2012.

Related Materials

Minnie Mischke Peterson collection, RH MS P426, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Guide to the John Malcolm Peterson Collection
John and Frances Peterson collection
Finding aid prepared by hc, 2014. Finding aid encoded by hc, 2014. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
John and Frances Peterson collection, RH MS 1330, 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