Eugene “Gene” DeGruson was the curator for the Special Collections and University Archives at Pittsburg State University from 1968 until his death in 1997. He was born in Girard, Kansas on October 10, 1932, and in 1949 graduated from Crawford County High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in education from the Kansas State Teacher’s College of Pittsburg (now Pittsburg State University) in 1954, and later a master’s degree from the same institution. After teaching high school in Topeka, Kansas, DeGruson joined the faculty of the English Department at the Kansas State College of Pittsburg in 1960 as an instructor of communications and worked as such until 1968, when he was named the curator of Special Collections in Porter Library at the school. Along with his service to Pittsburg State University, DeGruson served as president of the Little Balkans Foundation from 1987-1990; secretary of the Little Balkans Heritage Preservation Guild in 1970; Bookman’s lecture chair for the Kansas Library Association in 1969 and 1973; and secretary of the Crawford County Historical Society from 1965-1968 and 1970-1974. He was also a board member for the Kansas Folklife Committee of the Kansas State Historical Society from 1976-1988, and he was a member of the Kansas 125th Anniversary Education Committee from 1985-1986. During this time he emerged as the pre-eminent historian of Southeast Kansas, becoming an expert particularly in the mining and socialist history of the region.
DeGruson was the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including the bibliographies, Kansas Authors of Best Sellers and Bibliography of American Literature. He also published a book of poetry,Goat’s House in 1986. In 1988 he rose to national attention when he edited and published The Lost First Edition of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which he pieced together from the version of the novel published in the Appeal to Reason newspaper prior to the release of the novel in book form. DeGruson also served as editor of The Little Balkans Review, a literary magazine. Eugene DeGruson died on June 18, 1997 at the age of 64.
The photographs in the Gene DeGruson Photograph Collection show DeGruson in various points of his life and career, with an emphasis on his years at Pittsburg State University.