Alicia Marksberry
KU Libraries

KU Libraries announce 2022 Alyce Hunley Whayne Visiting Researchers

Thu, 03/31/2022

LAWRENCE — KU Libraries have announced the recipients of the 2022 Alyce Hunley Whayne Visiting Researchers Travel Award. Kristin Schodorf, Sedan, and Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Chicago, were selected for their interest in furthering their study of the history of the African American experience in Kansas.

The Whayne Scholars Program supports visiting scholars and researchers from across the country conducting research requiring the use of Spencer Research Library’s African American Experience materials in the Kansas Collection. The African American Experience holds a significant number of historical materials, including books, images, personal papers and government documents. The Whayne Scholars Program funds travel expenses for researchers to stay in Lawrence as they explore the materials at Spencer.

“This program is an effort to give opportunity for research for both students and faculty to focus on African American studies,” said Deborah Dandridge, field archivist and curator at the Spencer Research Library. 

Schodorf, the director of the Little House on the Prairie Museum, will be studying the Verlean Tidwell Family Papers Collection and will research the Black churches in and around Independence. She will present her research findings at the end of her stay in a public presentation at 2 p.m. April 7 in the Johnson Room at Spencer Research Library.

“It was clear that Schodorf had a tremendous amount of material that she wanted to consult,” said Beth Whittaker, KU Libraries associate dean and director of Spencer Research Library. “When a scholar has a large research project that requires consulting a lot of material, funds such as this are very useful, since it’s difficult to do that work remotely. The scope of her project helped make it worthy of being funded.”

Jackson-Opoku is an award-winning author whose works often focus on the African diaspora. She will visit Spencer Library in the fall to research the Black Exoduster experience in Kansas for her novel “Black Rice,” which is grounded in historical resources. The novel will explore connections between China and people of African descent along with 19th century Kansas and anti-immigrant hysteria that came with the Chinese Exclusion Act. The date of her visit is not yet determined and will be announced at a later time. 

The Whayne Scholars Program is made possible by generous support from Sandra Gautt, KU professor emerita, in honor of her mother, Alyce Hunley Whayne. 

More information about KU Libraries’ travel awards can be found online here.

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