Holiday Office Hours

The KHC office will be closed December 24, 2012 – January 1, 2013 and will re-open on January 2, 2013.

Succeeding Generations

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Succeeding Generations: African American Agriculture in Kansas” by Anne Hawkins.

Family in front of home

Kansas farm family, late 1800s.
Photo from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Our state’s deep agricultural roots and pioneer history are familiar to most Kansans. Less known, however, is the history of thousands of African American pioneers who settled to farm, such as Junius Groves. Born into slavery, Groves became a millionaire in Kansas agriculture and the nation’s wealthiest black farmer of his era. By 1910, black Kansans farmed a greater average acreage and enjoyed a higher average farm value than farmers of any race in the American South and other African American farmers in most states. In her Speakers Bureau presentation, Anne Hawkins discusses how many of these agricultural operations endure today.

“When people thing of Kansas pioneers, they tend to think of Little House on the Prairie,” said Hawkins. “But what most people don’t know is that the Ingalls had black neighbors, Bennet and Mary Tann. African American farmers are as central to the story of Kansas pioneering as white American or European immigrant settlers.”

Anne Hawkins

Anne Hawkins

Anne Hawkins teaches history at Washburn University and for home-educated youth ages 7-17 across northeast Kansas. She has published numerous writings on state history, including “Hoeing Their Own Roe: Black Agriculture and the Agrarian Ideal in Kansas, 1880-1920,” in Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.

Bring Anne Hawkins’ “Succeeding Generations: African American Agriculture in Kansas” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

Poetry at Work

Susan Rieke

Susan Rieke

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “How a Poet Works” by Susan Rieke

In his beloved poem “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman describes the work of a poet who activates the subtle machinations of the mind, heart, and soul. We may see the poet chewing grass, lost in a Kansas field, studying Lewis and Clark’s impressions of the Missouri River, or addressing a legislative committee. In “How a Poet Works,” Susan Rieke explores notions of work, the relevance of poetry, the “busy” life of a person who appears “lazy,” and the importance of art to the soul of a nation.

“Audiences often have either inflated or weird images of a poet,” said Rieke, a professor at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth. “Really, we are people who mull more than others perhaps and also love words and their sounds.”

Rieke’s academic writing has focused on the poets Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, and she has also published two books of her own poetry, Small Indulgences and From the Tower.

Bring Susan Rieke’s “How a Poet Works” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

 

Dream Jobs

What’s your dream job? Are you working at it, working toward it, or retired from it? Is it still only a dream? What do our dream jobs say about us — our hopes, goals, and sense of self? The High Plains Museum in Goodland recently asked participants at the annual Flatlander’s Festival about their dream jobs and made a short film with the results:

Learn more about jobs — dreams and otherwise — while The Way We Worked is at the High Plains Museum  through January 27, 2013. While you’re in northwest Kansas, make time to visit The Way We Work in Trego County, an exhibit at the Trego County Historical Museum, sponsored by the Trego Hospital Endowment in WaKeeney. Save the date for High and Dry: Farming in Western Kansas!, an agriculture and agribusiness exhibit opening April 18 at the Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby.

Dust Bowl in Kansas

Dust Bowl, a Ken Burns documentary supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, chronicles the ecological disaster on the Great Plains in the 1930s. Kansas stories feature prominently in the documentary, most notably those of the Coen brothers of Morton County. Learn more about the documentary in the article “Children of the Dust” by James Williford from the November/December issue of NEH’s Humanities magazine.

A Bullwhacker’s Life

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “A Bullwhacker’s Life Freighting Supplies over the Plains” by Jim Gray.

Arrival of caravans at Santa Fe

Arrival of the caravans at Santa Fe, 1840s.
Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Bullwhackers traveled the Kansas frontier freighting supplies and shaping a profession akin to today’s long-haul truck drivers. Traveling the Santa Fe, California-Oregon, and Smoky Hill Trails, commercial and independent bullwhackers walked beside their ox-drawn wagons, courting danger with every trip. In “A Bullwhacker’s Life Freighting Supplies over the Plains,” Jim Gray discusses how fortunes could be won or lost and how bullwhackers tested their skills at peaceful negotiation as they passed through lands controlled by prairie bands of Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche peoples.

“In the popular culture of the Old West most ‘wagon train’ stories are of immigrants traveling west in search of a better life. For some reason the commercial freighting operations have been largely forgotten,” Gray observed. “I felt that the bullwhacker deserved his place in Kansas history.”

Jim Gray

Jim Gray

Jim Gray is a sixth-generation Kansan who co-founded the COWBOY (Cockeyed Old West Band of Yahoos) Society to promote and preserve Kansas’s cowboy heritage through the bi-monthly newspaper, Kansas Cowboy. He is the author of Desperate Seed: Ellsworth Kansas on the Violent Frontier and writes the newspaper column “The Way West.”

Bring Jim Gray’s “A Bullwhacker’s Life Freighting Supplies over the Plains,” his other presentation, “Frontier Kansas Cattle Towns,” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

Less Corn, More Hell

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Kansas Politics Working for Change, 1880-1920” by Randy Roberts.

Mary Elizabeth Lease

Mary Elizabeth Lease of the People’s (Populist) Party reportedly said farmers should raise “less corn and more hell.”
Photo from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Between 1880 and 1920, Kansas was strife with political, social, and economic change. Randy Roberts’ Speakers Bureau topic explores the lasting legacies of prohibition, populist, socialist, and progressive Republican parties as they developed during this volatile time period. Many changes, such as women’s suffrage, workman’s compensation, and the 8-hour workday, remain a part of the Kansas work landscape today.

Roberts is a curator of special collections and an archivist at Pittsburg State University, where he also teaches Kansas history.

“At first, many Kansans are skeptical when you tell them our state was once at the forefront of these changes in the United States,” said Roberts. “William Allen White, Carry A. Nation, Mary Elizabeth Lease, Alex Howat, and many other Kansans worked for real change during those years.”

Randy Roberts

Randy Roberts

Bring Randy Roberts’ “Kansas Politics Working for Change, 1880-1920” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

Law Review

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “150 Years in Kansas Law” by Leon B. Graves.

District Court, Santa Fe, KS, 1912

Haskell County District Court in Santa Fe, KS, 1912. Photo by F. M. Steele.
Kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Lawyers arrived in Kansas Territory shortly after it was created by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Most of the territory’s early lawyers had received training in law offices, although the  quality of that training varied. Law school graduates were scarce on the frontier, but with the establishment of law schools at the University of Kansas and Washburn University, formal education became the preferred, and eventually exclusive, means of preparation for a law career. In “150 Years in Kansas Law,” Leon Graves, a lawyer and independent scholar of early Kansas legal history, discusses how social, economic, and technological advances continue to change the work of lawyers and judges today.

Leon Graves

Leon Graves

“In Kansas, the practice of law has changed in response to changes in the economy, changes wrought by technology, and changes in public policy,” said Graves. “Adaptation of the law to changing conditions has made possible transactions involving billions of dollars, with relatively few of them coming to the attention of the courts. I have seen much change since my admission to the bar, and I anticipate more to come.”

Graves’ research interests include the lives of Arthur Capper and other U.S. Senators from Kansas and school segregation in Kansas before the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Bring Leon Graves’ “150 Years in Kansas Law” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

Flour Power

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Millers of Kansas” by Norman E. Saul.

Flour mill, Ottawa

Flour mill in Ottawa.
Photo from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Flour milling was one of the major economic enterprises in Kansas from the 1880s into the 1950s. Mills were often the foundation of many Kansas towns and provided the basis for community life, attracting workers, post offices, railroads, and schools. In his Speakers Bureau talk, Norman Saul discusses the lives of mill workers, the impact milling had on communities, and how those communities coped when mills began closing after World War II.

Saul is a retired professor of Russian history at the University of Kansas. The major focus of his research has been Russian-American relations, with special emphasis on the Volga German and Mennonite emigration from Russia to the Great Plains.

Norman Saul

Norman Saul

“Kansas is famous for its legendary ‘cow towns,’ yet these existed only a few years,” said Saul. “Those communities, from Wichita to Abilene and many others, really survived as mill towns, as flourishing centers of a major flour industry.”

Kansas earned its reputation as the breadbasket to the world not only by its wheat production, but also its milling. “Kansas provided at one time fifteen percent of the world’s bread flour.”

Bring Norman Saul’s “The Millers of Kansas” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.

 

 

Goodland’s Flying Doctor

Dr. Renner

Dr. Renner

When Marion J. Renner of Goodland made house calls, he took his doctor’s bag and his pilot’s license. From the 1930s through the 1960s, “The Flying Doctor” served the remote areas of northwest Kansas, sometimes flying 50 miles each day to check on a heart patient or up to 300 miles for an emergency at an isolated ranch. For many northwest Kansans in the mid-twentieth century, Dr. Renner’s flying house calls were often the difference between life and death.

“An airplane is a pair of seven-league boots to a country doctor,” observed “Doc” Renner. His airplane aided him in difficult calls, including flying over 15 miles of flooded roads to deliver several babies or landing between snow drifts to fly a desperate patient to the hospital.

“Goodland has had many visionaries who served as leaders for the development of community,” observed Karen Anderson, director of the High Plains Museum. “A fine example is Dr. Renner. A man invested in his community, he sought to increase the capacity and growth of Goodland through his particular skill set: his flying capabilities and his medical knowledge. He provided health care and made key connections outside the community to boost Goodland’s growth and place in Kansas and the United States.”

Dr. Renner’s work stories and the stories of other northwest Kansas workers will be on display in 125 Years of Work, the High Plains Museum’s companion exhibition to The Way We Worked Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. Both exhibitions are on display at the High Plains Museum in Goodland December 15, 2012 through January 27, 2013. Click here for events, dates, locations, and times.