The Emporia State University (ESU) Special Collections and Archives collects, preserves and provides access to materials that document the history of the University, as well as materials that support scholarship in any discipline. Our strongest collecting areas relate to the history of ESU (formerly known as the Kansas State Normal School, the Kansas State Teachers College, and Emporia Kansas State College); the history of Kansas (often represented in the greater context of US and World history) and children’s book publishing.
We house the institutional records of Emporia State University from its founding in 1863 to the present and collections from many diverse sources that reflect the university’s place in the community and in the lives of the students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Additionally, the ESU Special Collections and Archives administers the personal papers of two-time-Pulitzer prize winning journalist William Allen White and houses the May Massee Memorial Collection, which pays tribute to the woman who created two of the first three children’s book divisions in American publishing houses. This collection reveals the book-making process, from a core idea to dummy draft, through the editing and layout process, on to illustration, and then to final print, distribution, and translations into many foreign languages. Original works of art by 57 artists, correspondence with hundreds of authors and artists from the 1920s-1960s, books, scrapbooks, and even a wood paneled office built for May Massee by renowned architect Eric Gugler (best known for designing the Oval Office in the White House) are included in the collection.
Other collections include an interesting set of documents and photographs showcasing the development of the Christian-Socialist movement in 19th century England, a scrapbook that offers an insider’s view of Woodrow Wilson’s career prior to his becoming US President, Rare Books dating back to 1493, and rare Children's Books.
We serve approximately 600 researchers each year.