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.