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Personal papers of Charles A. Siler

Call Number: PP 595


This collection contains family photo albums, notes and journals from Charles Siler's time in China, and memorabilia from his time playing basketball for James Naismith at the University of Kansas, as well as other Siler family memorabilia. A number of color photographic slides are part of the collection, displaying Siler's travels to China as part of the YMCA Missionary.


  • 1890 - 1982


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 Charles A. Siler

Charles Arthur Siler was born October 3, 1883 in Sarcoxie township, Jefferson County, Kansas. He was a middle son of Augustus Charles and Elizabeth (Snite) Siler, whose other children included Edward Henry, Frank William, Cora, Lillie Agnes, Nora Emma, and George Albert. Siler attended the University of Kansas, earning a Ba and medicine degree before further pursuing a degree in Physical Education through the Young Men's Christian Association (Ymca) in 1912. Siler attended KU while James Naismith was there and, with his interest in sports, became involved in the early days of basketball, playing with Phog Allen himself. Siler took an intenstive two-year language training course in Chinese after arriving in China to work with the Ymca Ministry. He traveled to many cities, teaching classes and basketball/refereeing during his time in the country. In 1912, Siler met and started corresponding with Marion Louise Pierce, who had been born in 1888 in Chicago, Il, before he left for China. After she graduated in 1916 from Rush Medical School, she traveled to Japan to meet Siler. They married there in June 1916. Their first two children, George Bensley and Marion Louise, were born in China, after which in 1919 the Silers returned to the United States for their children's education, living in Chicago. They had Charles Abbott in Chicago, and their last two children, David and Margaret, were born in China after the family returned in 1922. After returning to China, Charles Siler opened his own medical practice and played on the civilian basketball league team from 1922 to 1928. The family returned to the United States in 1928 and took up residence in Oak Park, Illinois.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes + 2 oversize boxes)

Scope and Contents

Most of the collection came to Spencer Research Library organized in binders by the family members; this organization has for the most part been maintained. The collection includes copies of records related to Charles' and Marion's education and marriage, information about their children and other Siler family members, photographs, correspondence, and other materials related to Charles Siler's education and work while in China. The collection includes 73 glass slides and later plastic slide copies of images Siler took in China while working with the Ymca Ministry in the 1910s, as well as some books related to Siler's time in China. Family members annotated several items with contextual information and made handwritten or typed transcriptions of original documents; these items also remain in the collection. Throughout the finding aid and in the collection, the Ymca and the Young Women's Christian Association may be shortenened as "Ym" and "Yw" or simply "Y." Additionally, Charles Arthur Siler may be referred to as "Cas" or C. A. Siler.

Physical Location

PP 595

Guide to the Charles A. Siler Collection
Personal papers of Charles A. Siler
Finding aid prepared by rmk. Finding aid encoded by rmk.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Charles A. Siler, PP 595, 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