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How did KU adopt 'The Jayhawk'? A new book tells the mascot's story

A woman sits at a table with her hands folded in front of her. Beside her, on the table, stands a large, coffee-table book called "The Jayhawk, the Story of the University of Kansas's Beloved Mascot."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Rebecca Ozier Shulte is the former University of Kansas Archivist.

The Jayhawk has been the University of Kansas’s beloved mascot for more than a century. But what’s the story behind the mythical bird, and why has it endured?

In Rebecca Ozier Shulte’s new book "The Jayhawk," the author takes readers through the evolution of the iconic University of Kansas mascot.

The term "jayhawk" dates to pre-Civil War era Kansas and was adopted by the KU as the official mascot in the early 20th century. Its design has morphed over the years to the bird we know today.

"[The Jayhawk] represents the University as a whole," Shulte said. "A good mascot is one that can change itself to adapt to different circumstances. And that's one thing about the Jayhawk that I always really appreciated."

The book includes over 300 photographs from the University of Kansas archives, several of which have never been seen by the public.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Elizabeth Erb is a production intern for KCUR 89.3's Up To Date. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. You can email her at eerb@kcur.org.
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