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Personal papers of Sandy Mason

Call Number: PP 640


This collection contains the personal papers of Alexandra "Sandy" Mason, head of Special Collections at the University of Kansas (KU), later at the dedicated building for the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, from 1963 to 1999. The collection includes records documenting Mason's personal education and research, her work in cataloging standards, and her work within the Independent Research Library Association (IRLA) and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association (ALA). The collection also includes records documenting various conferences and other professional development opportunities and Mason's work with Special Collections at KU.


  • Creation: 1931 - 2007


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Alexandra "Sandy" Mason (1931-2011)

Alexandra "Sandy" Mason was born to Herbert E. and Anna E. Thorndike Mason in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1931. Mason went on to study at Mount Holyoke College, where she first met her lifelong companion, Ann Hyde. Mason graduated from Mount Holyoke with a Bachelor of Arts in Greek in 1952. She then earned a Master of Library Science in 1955 from the Carnegie Library School. After obtaining her degree, Mason completed post-graduate work at Durham University and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Upon graduation, Mason worked as a reference librarian for the World Book Encyclopedia in Chicago until moving to Lawrence, Kansas a year later in 1957.

Mason started as a Special Collections cataloger at the University of Kansas, and along with visiting professor Bertram Colgrave and Ann Hyde, discovered and deciphered leaves from two different 11th century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts used as padding in a 17th century book's binding. One of her earliest contributions to the Spencer Research Library, Mason would go on to play a significant role in building renowned collections at KU and the Spencer Research Library.

Mason became the head of Special Collections at KU in 1963, later becoming the Spencer Librarian at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library on KU's campus after the new research library was built in 1968. During her long career at KU, Mason was an inductee in the University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame in 1980 and the first recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Librarianship Award in 1990. Mason also became a member of the KU graduate faculty and served as a courtesy professor in the English Department, as well as becoming a mentor in the University Scholars program. Mason authored and co-authored 4 books, 17 articles, and over a dozen scholarly papers, as well as serving in leadership positions in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association.

Sandy Mason retired from KU in 1999 after 42 years of service. She passed away in 2011 and left a large estate gift from her retirment account to benefit the Spencer Research Library and establish the Ann Hyde Fellowship for Medieval and Early Modern British and European Manuscripts in honor of Ann Hyde.


12.5 Linear Feet (14 boxes + 2 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection has been organized into four series: personal records, records related to Mason's work in cataloging, records related to Mason's professional development, and records related to Mason's work in Special Collections at KU. Series titles were taken from recurring topics and general organization in the collection as it came to Spencer Research Library. Spencer processing staff did light reorganization of some materials to better match "unsorted records" to their respective series. Original folder titles were kept. Staff physically separated oversize materials from the rest of the collection and described those materials at the end of their respective series. Duplicative materials may remain in the collection, and materials related to a particular topic may appear in more than one location in the collection.

The collection includes records documenting Mason's education and personal life, such as photographs, school memorabilia and work, and correspondence. The collection also includes records of Mason's research into cataloging standards and technology, as well records documenting Mason's professional development and involvement with various professional library science organizations. Lastly, the collection includes records documenting Mason's work and early cataloging practices within Special Collections at KU and the Spencer Research Library.

Physical Location

PP 640

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Barbara Braa on behalf of the Sandy Mason estate, 2012.

Separated Materials

Artifacts have been separated from the rest of the collection and are available in University Archives.

Guide to the Sandy Mason Collection
Personal papers of Sandy Mason
Finding aid prepared by cmp, 2022. Finding aid encoded by cmp, 2022. Finding aid revised by 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 Sandy Mason, PP 640, 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