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Artificial non-Kansas photographs collection

Call Number: RH PH 539


This artificial collection was assembled by putting together smaller sets of purchased photographs from various photographic dealers on a variety of subjects outside the state of Kansas in the United States and Canada. Many of the purchases were selected by Spencer Research Library's Kansas Collection photoarchivist during the 1980s and 1990s. The collection consists of real photographic postcards, lithographic print postcards, mounted and unmounted prints, stereoviews, glass plate negatives, and other visually-based formats of towns, cities, townships, and other locations in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and other states and provinces in the Great Plains and Midwest.


  • Creation: approximately 1867-1954 (bulk 1900s-1920s)

Conditions Governing Access

Glass plate and flexible negative originals are only issued if the curator or head of Public Services gives permission.

Conditions Governing Use

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


5.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders, 5 boxes of 140 glass plate negatives)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of images purchased or otherwise received by the Kenneth Spencer Research Library's Kansas Collection, typically from dealers specializing in photography. Kansas Collection staff picked these images for their content and subjects. While the bulk of this collection's formats consist of real photographic and lithographic print postcards, also in the collection are 20th century prints, glass plate negatives, and some mounted and unmounted prints.

The bulk of the collection consists of images of places in Missouri (notably Kansas City), Nebraska, and Iowa. Other states represented in the collection include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, and an image from Alberta, Canada. There are very few images from most of these other states, at times only one or two prints. There are enough images from Kansas City, Missouri that those folders have been organized topically within the city.

Typically images are of exteriors of buildings, unless the description notes that it is an interior. Subjects of the images include street scenes and aerial views; churches; schools and public buildings; agricultural scenes; residences; fraternal organizations and other societies and clubs; hotels and storefronts; industrial scenes; landscapes and nature scenes; individuals in athletic uniforms; exaggeration postcards, or postcards that enlarge animals, insects, or crops for humorous effect; and other related subjects.

Individual images within folders are described, the photographer noted when possible. Many postcards were sent via the mail and may have messages written on the back. When a description was provided on the image, this is used for describing the item in the inventory. If no description was provided, or if a description appears to have been provided by the dealer rather than a person contemporaneously, processing staff have written a description [in brackets]. Processing staff have sometimes included additional description when it appeared necessary or useful, again [in brackets]. Descriptions provided frequently make use of acronyms, particularly for specific religious denominations, such as M.E. for Methodist Episcopal; Cong. for Congregational; U.B. for United Brethren, etc., as well as St. for Street. Terms and language used is representative of when the images were created and has been replicated in this finding aid only when directly quoting from captions.

Dating for many of the items in this collection has been approximated by when a postcard was postmarked and mailed. Location has sometimes been approximated by where the photographer was located or by where a postcard was postmarked.


This collection is organized alphabetically by state or province name and then alphabetically by name of town or other political border within the state. Images that are associated with a state but not with a more specific location appear first within that series. The last series in this collection consists of unidentified locations, and these images are organized alphabetically by subject of the image.

The bulk of the collection is located at RH PH 539. Oversize images have been physically separated and are at RH PH 539(f) and RH PH 539(ff). Oversize items are described at the end of each relevant series; most oversize items are mounted prints. Glass plate negatives, mostly in the topical series, have also been described at the end of the series.

Physical Location

RH PH 539

Physical Location

RH PH 539(f)

Physical Location

RH PH 539(ff)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchases, Frank Wood, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008; Don Ulrich, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997; Ruth S. Klopp, 1996; Roger York, 2003; Western Exchange & Gifts, 2003; Dennis Coffey, 2003, 2004, 2006.

Related Materials

Consult reference staff for information about other photographic collections in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library that may be relevant.

Purchased photographs for Kansas places are located at RH PH 535, Artificial Kansas-Based photographs collection. Purchased portraits, i.e. photographs focused solely on an individual or group of people and often taken in photographic studios or other formal settings, have also been separated from the Kansas-based collection and are located at RH PH 540, Artificial Portraits collection.

Guide to the Artificial Non-Kansas Photographs Collection
Artificial non-Kansas Based photographs collection
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2021, 2022, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Artificial non-Kansas photographs collection, RH PH 539, 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