Rebecca Smith
KU Libraries

Collection gift broadens Latin American collections at KU Libraries

Wed, 09/21/2011
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LAWRENCE — An extensive gift of more than 20,000 Latin American books, pamphlets and papers from a KU emeritus professor will serve to deepen an already substantial collection that he helped to create.

Charles Stansifer, professor emeritus of history and a former director of the KU Center of Latin American Studies, has donated his personal collection and papers, including items from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay and other Central and South American countries. Some books will go to the Latin American collection in Watson Library; the rarer books, papers, pamphlets and other ephemera will go to Spencer Research Library. The collection, which Stansifer built over more than five decades, contains thousands of items.

The gift is the capstone of Stansifer’s long-standing efforts on behalf of the Latin American collection at KU Libraries. He served on the committee that selected and purchased the core collection in the ‘60s, a time when there were few sources of books from Central and South America in the United States. Collection-building meant traveling to those regions and bringing back the books.

“I remember going to Costa Rica with him,” said Jana Krentz, KU librarian and head of KU Libraries’ International Area Studies department. “He would pack suitcases inside suitcases for the trip down, and fill them all with books for the trip back. It was just incredible.”

Krentz admired the results, too.

“Charley brought back some of our really great collections at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, including the Lines Collection, the Casement Collection, the Zuñiga Montúfar Collection. We went together to purchase the Flores Andino Collection,” Krentz said. “We were only able to do that because of Charley’s contacts.”

“Dr. Stansifer is a noted Central American historian, but his interests go well beyond Central America,” said Melissa Birch, associate professor of business, who worked with Stansifer in the Center of Latin American Studies, where he served as director for many years. “Charley was instrumental in the University’s acquisition of the Natalicio Gonzalez collection and in encouraging many scholars to come use the materials. Always a Jayhawk, Charley devotes incredible energy to building bridges between Kansas, its people and its academic institutions, and all of Latin America.”

Stansifer explained how his 42-year career at KU led him to make the gift.

“During my time at KU, I have become very aware of the outstanding Latin American resources and collections held within KU Libraries,” said Stansifer. “I hope this gift will make this collection even stronger, because the libraries and its resources are vital to research, teaching and learning at KU.”

Stansifer will be honored for his contributions at a reception in Watson Library on Thursday, Sept. 22. For more information, visit

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