Makayla Hipke
Dole Institute of Politics

Dole Institute to display letters between Phog Allen, Bob Dole

Mon, 02/08/2016

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics announced today a special exhibit featuring letters between legendary KU basketball coach Phog Allen and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole. The exhibit, “Letters from a Leader: Phog Allen to Bob Dole, 1938-1939,” will be on display to the public in the Darby Gallery at the Dole Institute through April 15.

Dated between 1938 and 1939, the letters document the beginning of the relationship between Coach Allen and a young Bobby Dole, just 14 years old in 1938. In them, Allen, a recruiter and mentor, affirms Dole’s potential, ambition and call to public service, anticipating his success in national leadership by several decades.

“As a young man, Dole was dazzled to receive a letter from Coach Allen,” said Dole Institute Assistant Director and Senior Archivist Audrey Coleman. “Reading the advice and encouragement Dole receives from the coaching legend reminds us how crucial it is to engage and support young people, to cultivate our next generation of leaders.”

Dole, later a KU student, earned a spot on the freshman basketball team in 1941 and made the varsity cut a year later.

All letters are from the collection of the University of Kansas University Archives, KU Libraries.

The exhibit coincides with ongoing KU 150 celebrations and the anticipated March opening of the DeBruce Center, home to James Naismith’s Rules of Basketball. The KU Libraries, home to the University Archives, are launching a fundraising campaign to digitize the complete collection of the Phog Allen papers.

“Preserving the Phog” is an effort to fund the digitization of more than 66,000 documents, photos and Phog memorabilia housed in the University Archives. Documents include blueprints of an experimental backboard, scripts of Allen’s radio program and his correspondence featuring a set of letters between Allen and a very young Bob Dole. Unfortunately, these historically insightful materials are at risk of deterioration. Funds donated will support the digitization and preservation of Phog Allen materials, making these invaluable documents accessible online. Funds will also help with outreach, connecting alumni and friends of KU to the digitized collection through national events. Learn more at

The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics.  It is located on KU’s west campus and, in addition to being home to the Robert J. Dole Archive & Special Collections, offers free public programming with world-renowned guest speakers on a variety of topics that intersect politics, as well as research and educational opportunities for students of all ages and professionals.

More information on all programs, as well as ongoing additions to the schedule, can be found on the Dole Institute’s website,

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