This is a photo of Picken Hall in 1908 shortly after the two wings were added. This is looking at it from the southwest. Martin Allen Hall, which was the gymnasium at the time, is seen in the background. 

An auditorium was in the south wing of the Academic or Administration Building, as it was called at that time. The library had been in the north wing for a short amount of time before moving over to the gymnasium after Sheridan Coliseum was built. The Administration Building was named Picken Hall in 1909 after faculty voted to recommend the name change to the Board of Regents. The Board approved and on May 28, 1909, a bronze plaque with the new name and date was placed in a corridor of the first floor. 

Information from “A History of Fort Hays Kansas State College 1902-1961″ written by Lyman Dwight Wooster, President Emeritus.


August 11, 2014 marks a new beginning for Forsyth Library with Mrs. Deborah Ludwig becoming our new director. Her title is Dean of Forsyth Library and she will report to the Provost, as well as serve on the President’s Cabinet. The library staff is very pleased to have her here, and we are looking forward to working with her.

While this may be a new position for Deb, she has a familiarity with Forsyth Library and FHSU because of her job here in 1988-1990. She was hired as a Catalog Librarian for a grant-funded project to finish up the implementation for NOTIS. Locally, the system was called TOPCAT, and it was the first automated online catalog system in the library. When she left FHSU, she went to work at the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library where they were implementing a similar automation project. A few years later, she worked at Johnson County Community College, and then went to the University of Kansas where she worked for over 12 years. The following is from a news release from KU Libraries dated Friday, July 18: Lorraine J. Haricombe, dean of KU Libraries – “During her tenure, Deb exhibited strong leadership and vision, launching the Center for Digital Scholarship and blazing a trail that ensured our strong position in this area today. She was instrumental in establishing the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, an ever-evolving partnership with KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.” The last year Deb was at KU, she was the Assistant Dean of Innovation & Strategy.

Libraries are evolving to include more physical study spaces and provide opportunities to create virtual spaces. As Dean of Forsyth Library, Deb is wanting to explore what we can do to help students and faculty be successful throughout their time here at FHSU. She wants the library to be a space that is inviting and makes you want to stay awhile as you use its facilities for research and study.

When asked what kind of changes she has seen here at FHSU since 1990, Deb stated that the expansion of the Virtual College was one of the biggest changes. Another change is obviously the technology that FHSU has instituted through the years within the classrooms, meeting spaces, and the library.

The job of Catalog Librarian at FHSU was Deb’s first job after receiving her Master’s Degree in Library Science. She says that she feels like she has come back home and that her career has come full circle. Welcome back, Mrs. Ludwig!




Harvest Time

The Kansas wheat harvest this year is disappointing, but there is always next year! This photograph of a wheat harvest crew was taken in Stafford County, Kansas on July 4, 1920 – 94 years ago. From the W. R. Gray Studio Photographs Collection – http://contentcat.fhsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/stafford

Harvest crew

Harvest crew in Stafford County – July 4, 1920

The Cecil B. and Laura G. Currey Archive of Military History, located in the Special Collections, has many interesting files, records, memorabilia, photographs and uniforms. Among the items is a pebble from the beaches of Normandy, Utah Beach, France. It was given to Dr. Currey by Robert Fernandez on April 22, 1997. The note with the pebble says “scene of D-Day”, so this probably was not picked up from the beach that day.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia. http://www.dday.org/

Thank you to the brave men who stormed the beaches seventy years ago and may we always remember the ultimate sacrifice of 9,000+ Allied soldiers.


160 Years Ago

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. The act repealed the Missouri Compromise which had created an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory that established a boundary of free and slave regions. The Kansas-Nebraska Act made it possible for settlers of a territory to decide whether to have slavery or not have slavery within the borders of a new state. As a result of this act, conflicts between pro-slavery settlers and anti-slavery settlers contributed to a violent period of time called Bleeding Kansas in the Kansas Territory and its neighboring state of Missouri. This led to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The following page of a letter is from the Historical Kansas Collection within the Special Collections. It was written by Henry Shaw to his cousin Thomas Shaw on November 22, 1857. Henry was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas and Thomas lived in Norwich, New York. Most of the letter gives details about living in Kansas because Henry was trying to get his cousin to come here to farm. There is mention on one of the pages about Lawrence and how it had burned once. It appears that Henry was a free stater.

“Lawrence is a nice town for one so young & so much to contend with being burned once & trouble the most of the time for here has been the centre of all their black damning deeds if I may be allowed the expression. But it is peaceable times here now & we or free state men carried the election without trouble & she is bound to be free or the soil of Kansas will drink the blood of thousands of free men for the majority will hardly submit to a minority so trivial as this Terr. presents. You can buy at the stores here all the comforts that you could in Norw. I belive there is four churches & over than twenty stores & filled to the roof (More at the top of the page)- Now you don’t put off writing & never answer this. My best regards to your wife and the best wishes of your cousin Henry B. Shaw.”


105 Years Ago Today

105 years ago today, May 28, 1909, the Administration Building was renamed Picken Hall. William C. Picken was the first administrator of the campus – he served as Principal for the Western Branch of the Kansas State Normal School from 1902-1914.

Students and Faculty at Fort Hays Kansas State College were preparing for the last days of classes before finals began during the week of May 20 in 1951. The evening of May 22 changed their lives forever when Big Creek, which flowed through the campus, flooded the campus and the southern part of the city of Hays. Many homes and businesses, including the Post Office and the campus, sustained damage from the flood waters. Three people died when their car was swept off the highway west of Hays – 18 year old Gerald Gipson of Napa, Idaho, 19 year old Joanne Donham and her sister, 17 year old Treva, both from WaKeeney. Robert Ripperteau, the 14 year old stepson of President Emeritus L. D. Wooster, was killed in the basement of his home after a wall collapsed when the water broke through. Dr. C. F. Wiest, 75 year old retired faculty member, was also killed in his home. Hays resident June Bissing Herman, 24 years old, was killed when a tree came through the wall of her basement apartment allowing water to come into the basement.

From the book written by Dr. Wooster titled “A History of Fort Hays Kansas State College 1902-1961″, he writes The campus was inundated, and damage to the buildings and campus made it impossible to continue with classes or to house the students. The college year ended without the usual final examinations and commencement. Faculty members prepared grades for students, degrees were granted in absentia, and the graduates were honored at summer school commencement. (pg. 144) Little did they know that one month later, on June 21, another flood would hit the area and do some more damage. The only good news was there was no loss of life from the second flood.

There is now a 1.8 mile levee between Big Creek and the campus which has served its purpose well up to the present day.

Forsyth Library’s front doors the day after the flood. Today this is McCartney Hall.

Looking at the Cody Commons from Picken Hall the day after the flood. Cody Commons was located where the south part of the Memorial Union now stands.




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