As Big As You Think

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Tall-Tale Postcards of Dad Martin and Pop Conard” by Erika Nelson.

Tall Tale Exaggerated Postcard

Bumper cabbage crop “tall-tale” postcard by William H. “Dad” Martin, 1908.
Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Kansas—As Big As You Think: We’re talking massive trout, humungous rabbits, and cabbage heads the size of your cousin’s Ford Fiesta.

From the early 1900s through 1940, two early pioneers of trick photography and printing, William H. “Dad” Martin and Frank D. “Pop” Conard, found inspiration in the bugs, crops, and industry of Kansas. In her Speakers Bureau talk, Erika Nelson discusses their carefully crafted “tall-tale” postcards that promoted Kansas as a land where ears of corn grew so large that farmers used logging saws to slice them and monster grasshoppers could stop a train in its tracks.

Erika Nelson

Erika Nelson

Nelson is an independent artist, educator, and director of the World’s Largest Things, Inc.  She rides the range researching roadside attractions and outsider art environments, searching for the odd and unique in her mobile museum, the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.

Bring Erika Nelson’s “The Tall-Tale Postcards of Dad Martin and Pop Conard” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

Work for Food

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Work Culture of Food in Early Kansas” by M. J. Morgan.

tomato canning

Tomato canning in Wabaunsee County, 1913.
Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Looking at Flint Hills communities founded before 1900, M. J. Morgan discusses early food production, preservation, and preparation in her Speakers Bureau presentation. Food culture was shaped by familial roles, the influences of Old World traditions brought by immigrant settlers, and food labor practices that were adapted to a new environment. Surviving ice houses, spring houses, common pastures, community slaughterhouses, and whole-community canning events illustrate the rich food culture of early Kansas.

“A lot of attention was paid to recipes,” said Morgan. “Cookbooks emphasize a distinct food culture of the prairies and the homesteading frontier. I am intrigued by the kind of work people did to produce and preserve food, and not just agriculture. Rural Kansans were filled with ingenuity, Old World practices, and communal approaches. The Traveling Distillers of the Northern Tier make up just one fascinating story!”

MJ Morgan

M. J. Morgan

M. J. Morgan is the director of research at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at Kansas State University. Her specialty is the reconstruction of lost landscapes and environments as well as research into cultures and peoples whose voices do not often appear in standard histories.

Bring M. J. Morgan’s “The Work Culture of Food in Early 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

Putting Roads on the Map

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Converting Pasture Paths to Public Roads” by Joan Nothern.

road building

Road construction in Beloit, 1914.
Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

The transition from local and county roads to state and interstate highways required vision, energy, and collaboration. In her Speakers Bureau talk, Joan Nothern discusses the early years of the state’s roadway system when Kansas farmers cleaned and maintained the roads that crossed their properties and early travelers had a unique culture of collaboration and adventure.

Nothern is president of the Solomon Valley–Highway 24–Heritage Alliance and has coordinated historical research projects, organized symposiums, and assisted in the creation of 24 interpretive community kiosks. Her interest in sustaining rural Kansas communities has earned her awards from the Kansas Sampler Foundation and the UFM Community Learning Center.

Joan Nothern

Joan Nothern

Her topic details the work and planning by farmers, bankers, and town boosters, which made Kansas public road construction a dramatic story. “Roads played a defining role in a town’s future,” she said. “Location was critical. How these decisions were made is a fascinating part of Kansas history.”

Bring Joan Nothern’s “Converting Pasture Paths to Public Roads” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

Ready for Their Closeup

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Kansas Working Women in the Movies” by Eric Monder.

Kansas women’s work took place both in front of and behind the cameras of the film industry. This unique presentation will explore the impact that many key women had on the development of the medium. Using rare and historic film footage, Eric Monder’s talk reveals how talented women battled against studio bosses and the conventions of the day in order to pursue their dreams. Major topics include the mainstream cinema’s depiction of women’s work across class and race, the lost women pioneers of silent cinema, and the contributions beyond Hollywood of such filmmakers as adventurer Osa Johnson of Chanute, Kansas. Below is an excerpt from Osa and Martin Johnson’s film, Simba:

Eric Monder is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and a teacher/lecturer at both Bethany College and McPherson College. He has lectured on film and the arts and produced events at the Salina Art Cinema, the Junction City Opera House, the Oscar Micheaux Festival in Great Bend, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.

Bring Eric Monder’s “Kansas Working Women in the Movies” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

House Mother

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Serving the Needs of New American Workers: Chicago’s Hull House” by Abby Pierron.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams
Photo by Lewis Wickes Hines via Library of Congress

In 1889 two Chicago women set out to educate their less fortunate neighbors in art and literature. This simple mission quickly led Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr to a lifetime of pioneering advocacy in the rights of women, the poor, industrial workers, and children. Addams would go on to be the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her Speakers Bureau talk, Abby Pierron discusses how Addams and Starr opened Hull House, a “settlement house” designed to serve the needs of their neighborhood’s immigrant residents and to ease the social, cultural, and educational deficiencies they faced in their new world.

“The settlement house movement, though it began in England, for me represents some of the finest aspirations for American society: providing essential resources to those in need of aid so that they may be able to succeed on their own,” said Pierron, the education and programs coordinator at the Watkins Community Museum in Lawrence. “This presentation examines the ways in which Jane Addams and other early social workers affected the lives of workers in some of America’s immigrant communities.”

Abby Pierron

Bring Abby Pierron’s “Serving the Needs of New American Workers: Chicago’s Hull House” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

 

Support the Poet Laureate Program

A gift in support of the Kansas Humanities Council’s Poet Laureate of
Kansas program helps promote the humanities as a public resource for all
Kansans with meaningful conversations and shared experiences through
poetry.

There are two ways to donate to the Poet Laureate program:

Online

Click here to donate safely and securely via the Network for Good giving
site. Type “Poet Laureate” in the Designation field.

By Mail

Click here to download a giving form to send to KHC via mail. Write “Poet
Laureate” on the form.

Life Amid Conflict

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Bushwhackin’ the Jayhawks along a Civil War Border” by Brian Craig Miller.

7th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry

Soldiers from the 7th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, 1863.
Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

As the nation commemorates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, Kansans have the opportunity to explore what life was like along the Kansas-Missouri border between 1861 and 1865. Letters and diary entries tell how residents lived, dressed, prepared for battle, and worked on a daily basis during the Civil War. Although the war dominated the lives of those living along the border, the residents continued to live as normally as possible, farming, building communities, and rebuilding their shattered lives once the war ended, whether they were Missouri bushwhackers or Kansas jayhawkers.

“The American Civil War dominated the lives of Missourians and Kansans living along a border engulfed in conflict,” said Miller. “Yet they tried to live their lives as normally as possible. I wondered how Kansans and Missourians coped with the war and then dealt with the ramifications once the guns went silent. This presentation explores how those living along the border worked and survived our defining chapter in American history.”

Brian Craig Miller

Brian Craig Miller

Brian Craig Miller is an assistant professor of history at Emporia State University. He has researched, published, and lectured extensively about the public memory of the Civil War and serves as associate editor for the journal Civil War History.

Bring Brian Craig Miller’s “Bushwhackin’ the Jayhawks along a Civil War Border” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

You Be the Judge

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “You Be the Judge: The United States Supreme Court in Review” by Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Jr.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.
Image via Library of Congress

Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court impact citizens throughout the nation, but the proceedings, decisions, and legal jargon are often mystifying to those of us without law degrees. In his Speakers Bureau talk, Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Jr., leads the audience in a re-creation of actual Supreme Court cases, with the participants playing the roles of the litigants, lawyers, and judges, leading to a greater understanding of the work of the judicial branch.

Pierron has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 1990 and enjoys sharing the drama of the legal process with Kansans, young and old.

“The United States Supreme Court has had a tremendous impact on the history of the United States and the lives of its people,” shared Pierron. “The presentation gives citizens a chance to better understand how the court works.”

Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Jr.

Audiences members do not need to prepare for the program, although a minimum audience of 50 is required. This program is offered in cooperation with the Kansas Judiciary and the Kansas Bar Association.

Bring Judge Pierron’s “You Be the Judge: The United States Supreme Court in Review” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

Call for Applications: Poet Laureate of Kansas

The Kansas Humanities Council invites Kansas poets with a strong interest in public engagement to apply to serve as the 2013-2015 Poet Laureate of Kansas. A new program for the KHC, the position of Poet Laureate will help promote the humanities as a public resource for all Kansans.

The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term beginning in April 2013. Activities will include audience discussions, special engagements, and a statewide project of his or her design that advances the reach and impact of poetry in Kansas.

Deadline Extended: Completed applications are due in the KHC office by 5:00 PM Monday, February 25, 2013.

Click here for eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Share the Poet Laureate Call for Applications by downloading a flyer to post in your community.

Contact Leslie Von Holten, Program Officer, leslie(at)kansashumanities.org or (785) 357-0359, for more information about the Poet Laureate of Kansas.

Click here to find out how you can support the Poet Laureate of Kansas program.

Kansas Women at Work

Each day, KHC features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “19th-Century Rural Kansas Women at Work” by Isaias J. McCaffery.

Carrying milk

Dorothy Robbins Wick and Jessie Robbins Akers carry milk cans at their farm near Topeka, c. 1890.
Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Although most Kansas women in the 1800s tended children and managed the homestead, some also supplemented the family income by bartering agricultural products in nearby towns. In his Speakers Bureau presentation, McCaffery discusses these women as well as others who worked as domestics in the city or taught in the one-room schoolhouses that dotted the prairie.

“The sheer physical endurance and the range of skills that rural women needed in order to fulfill their daily obligations was phenomenal, but often taken for granted,” McCaffery noted. “My appreciation of my mother and grandmother’s versatility and expertise continues to grow, as does my realization of how easy and pampered our modern lives have become in comparison.”

Isaias J. McCaffery

Isaias J. McCaffery is a history professor at Independence Community College and is past president of the Kansas Association of Historians. His collection of 909 Mennonite Low German Proverbs from Kansas was published in 2008.

Bring Isaias J. McCaffery’s “19th-Century Rural Kansas Women at Work” 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, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.