University Libraries unveils 2 millionth volume
Donald Gilstrap, dean of University Libraries at Wichita State University, surprised the crowd gathered at Ablah Library recently (Sept. 11) with the unveiling of the 2 millionth volume added to its collections.
This is no ordinary volume. Rather, it is an original broadside printing of the Wyandotte Constitution for the state of Kansas. The Wyandotte Constitution, named for the city where it was adopted, was the legal instrument under which Kansas Territory was admitted to the Union as a free state on Jan. 29, 1861, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
As one of three research universities in Kansas, the addition of the 2 millionth volume in the WSU Libraries highlights the university’s significant progress at the national level. During the past few years, the WSU Libraries has expanded its scholarly digital resources significantly and has implemented state-of-the-art technologies to help students prepare for competition in the global workforce.
During the celebration, Wichita State President John Bardo noted that a well-equipped research library helps students improve their education, ultimately strengthening the citizenry of the state of Kansas.
The addition of this 2 millionth volume is an important and symbolic representation of WSU’s history within the state, according to Gilstrap. Although the handwritten Constitution of the state of Kansas is held by the Kansas State Historical Society, this rare broadside, printed by the State Register Office in Leavenworth, Kan., is one of very few known copies to exist in the United States.
The Newberry Library in Chicago and Harvard University Libraries in Cambridge, Mass., each owns other printings. During the middle of the 19th century, many Kansans would have read the Wyandotte Constitution in this broadside format.
“We are delighted to bring one of the Wyandotte Constitutions back home to the state of Kansas and here to Wichita State University,” said Gilstrap.
Michael Heaston, a nationally known rare books dealer and resident of Eastborough, Kan., provided the funding for the WSU Libraries to acquire its 2 millionth volume.
“It is an extremely important day for Wichita State University,” said Heaston. “The Wyandotte Constitution is the most important state document an academic institution or museum can acquire, and it is the foundation for the great state of Kansas and the freedoms we know today.”