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KU working to preserve former students' scrapbooks

Posted at 2:58 PM, Jul 11, 2016

In the basement of KU's library, Noah Smutz works to preserve the school's history. As the school's conservation intern, he's spending his summer of 2016 looking through stories of years past, all told in 41 scrapbooks of former KU students.

"Seeing campus life from college students 100 years ago," said Smutz.  "And seeing the both the very strong differences but also similarities to college life today."

The scrapbooks were put together by students from the 1880s to the 1940s, telling stories of young love to youthful indiscretions.
    
"They have a picture of a group of guys in their dorm room posing with a stolen street sign," said Smutz of a picture in one of the books.

One book reveals artifacts from a long forgotten campus activity - a student-run circus.

"They just put on very different acts and plays and had some acrobats and things like that," said Letha Johnson, KU's assistant archivist.

Another book even includes a 100-year-old cracker.

Most of the books were donated to the school over the years by the students' families.

With many of the books in bad shape, Smutz works to preserve them by meticulously repairing tears in the books' pages. Once his his work is complete, some books will go back into storage, others will head to the classroom, to teach the students of the future about the students of the past.

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Justin Wilfon can be reached at justin.wilfon@kshb.com.

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