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TBT of student rooms about 1911

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thanks, Spencer Archives, for the look at the way we were:

Throwback Thursday: Student Room Edition

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 28,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Student housing at KU sure has changed in one hundred years!

Photograph of a KU student room, 1912

Female students in their room, 1912. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1912 Prints: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of a KU student room, 1911

A KU student’s decorated room, 1911. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/0 1911 Negatives: Student Activities (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

This week’s photos were likely taken at Lawrence rooming-houses or private residences, as Corbin Hall, the first dormitory on campus, did not open until 1923. A KU History article about the residence hall summarizes the housing situation KU students encountered in the early decades of the university’s history.

While it’s hard to imagine now, originally there were no University-owned dormitories for students at the University of Kansas. During KU’s early years, housing was catch-as-catch-can, with many of the students in attendance usually hailing from the surrounding area. As such, many lived at home, or with faculty, or in other private residences.

But by the turn of the twentieth century, with more out-of-towners descending on Lawrence every year, the KU housing situation was becoming increasingly dire. This was particularly the case for women students. (Men generally had an easier time finding and retaining residential quarters since it was widely surmised male students had no need of “creature comforts,” and could stay more or less anywhere.)

Forced to fend for themselves when it came to securing room and board, KU women students met with opposition from boardinghouse owners, parents, and others overly concerned about the special issues that women faced in terms of the moral and social order. As such, women were put in the position of securing quarters that were acceptable not only to themselves, but also to their parents or guardians.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants



New Stouffer Place Apartments open 2018!
More than $200,000 in annual scholarships to returning residents
Academic success: More than 94 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen in student housing enroll for the next semester
5,100 residents choose student housing each year
Residence hall rates are almost $2,000 less per year than the national average for public schools
— College Board
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