KHC Awards Five Spring Grants

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks

KHC recently awarded $26,078 in Heritage and Humanities Grants to five organizations. Local contributions to the projects are estimated at $53,177.

Nemaha County Historical Society, Seneca ($3,500)
Strathman Photography Glass Plate Negative Collection

A project to preserve, organize, and digitize 300 glass-plate negatives from the studio of F.J. Strathman, an early twentieth-century photographer in Nemaha County. Diane Rottinghaus, project director.

Chisholm Trail Museum, Wellington ($3,487)
Chisholm Trail Museum Archives Preservation Grant

This preservation project will index, catalog, and rehouse much of the museum’s photograph and document collections in an effort to make for improved research and public accessbility. James Bales, project director.

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society, Wellington ($3,500)
SCHGS Cataloguing & Preservation Grant

A preservation project to catalogue the historical society’s document and book holdings, and to provide online access to an index. Jarrod Kline, project director.

Bowlus Fine Arts Center, Iola ($5,609)
Keaton & the Marx Brothers Celebrating American Laughter

The 22nd Annual Buster Keaton Celebration is a film discussion event that illustrates how comedic actors Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers helped pioneer a new kind of humor in early film. Susan Raines, project director.

Kansas State University, Department of Research, Manhattan ($9,982)
Gordon Parks Digital Collection: The Learning Tree Module

A project to establish an online digital resource that features the work of noted photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks, and examines his 1964 novel, The Learning Tree. Katherine Karlin, project director.

For more information about KHC Heritage and Humanities grants, click here.

Worthy of Promotion

This year, KHC features weekly posts related to the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Hometown Teams, currently touring Kansas.                                                            

Photo courtesy of: Douglas County Historical Society Collection, Watkins Community Museum of History

Lawrence Promoters. Photo courtesy of: Douglas County Historical Society Collection, Watkins Community Museum of History

Many sports rivalries burn so bright that players on opposing teams can’t imagine sharing words with a rival player, let alone a meal.

But that’s just what players on The Promoters, the entirely African American high school basketball team that played in Lawrence between the 1920s and 1950, had to do during away games, since many local restaurants wouldn’t serve black diners.

According to interviews collected by the Lawrence/Douglas County African American Oral History Centennial Project, players would “always make sure one of the parents would feed us….That’s where we would eat, in the parents’ houses.”

It was just one challenge that Promoters players faced. There weren’t enough black students in the high school to make up a full roster, so the Promoters had to use junior high students to round out the team. The high school wouldn’t allow black students to practice on their courts during the day, and if white students wanted the court during the Promoters’ designated hours of 7 to 9 p.m., the Promoters had to leave. African American players couldn’t use the school’s basketballs.

They weren’t even allowed to have an “L” (for Lawrence) on their jerseys as white teams could. In fact, their jerseys didn’t even feature their actual team name. Instead of “Promoters,” the team’s white and gold jerseys proclaimed them “Oilers.”

Despite those challenges, the Promoters played against other African American teams in the Lawrence and Kansas City area for more than two decades, even winning a few championships along the way. They tied for first place in their league in 1936 and 1938 before becoming sole league champions in 1940.

The Promoters broke up in 1950 when Lawrence’s high school basketball team, the Lawrence Lions, was integrated. The school itself was already integrated, and segregation in other sports had ended in previous years. According to former Promoters players, the basketball team held out until 1950 because of the degree of physical closeness between black and white players; sports like track had long been integrated, they said, because “You didn’t touch nobody in that game.”

The Promoters players and coaches who took the court for over 20 years left behind a lasting legacy of excellence in the face of racism and tremendous odds.

To learn more about the history of the Lawrence Promoters, mark your calendars for a panel discussion at the Watkins Community Museum of History on April 23rd at 7:00pm. KU American Studies professor William Tuttle will moderate. This discussion is a part of “Of Two Minds: The Conventional and Unconventional Sides of Lawrence Sports,” a series of public events. For more information, click here.

 

Humanities Happenings: 03/27-03/29

This weekend boasts an impressive host of humanities events throughout Kansas. Read on to find out what, when, and where they are!

Wichita: “Black and White Remember Together”

The public is invited to “Black and White Remember Together: The Troubled Second Half of the Sixties,” an event that highlights an oral history project exploring the memories of black and white students who experiences life in Wichita during the turbulent years of the late 1960s. March 27th at The Kansas African American Museum at 6:00pm. Click here for details.

Michael J. Zogry

Michael J. Zogry

Hays: “Polo on the Plains”

The public is invited to the opening of “Polo on the Plains.” Hays’ Hometown Teams partner site exhibition explores polo’s history in Victoria, a community settled by British immigrants in 1872.

Also, hear Michael Zogry, University of Kansas Professor of Indigenous Studies, present “Sports as Religion: Fact or Fiction?”

Are there any sports or athletic games in the world that are considered religious? Have there ever been any? Can sports such as basketball, football, or soccer be religions for players or spectators? Zogry will provide an introduction to these questions by surveying several examples from different cultures and time periods, as well as selected scholarly interpretations. March 28th at Ellis County Historical Society Museum at 2:00pm. Click here for details.

Louise M. Hanson

Louise M. Hanson

Dodge City: Food for Thought

Community cookbooks have carried the stories of Kansas women over the years, sharing sentiments of home, family, and faith. Louise M. Hanson, Speakers Bureau, provides a survey of Kansas cookbooks from 1874 to the present, which reveal not only changes in foodways but also poems, prayers, personal reflections, and histories. These humble publications show that food, home, community, and faith were the foundation upon which Kansas women constructed their lives. March 28th at Boot Hill Museum at 2:00pm. Click here for details.

 

Phil S. Dixon

Phil S. Dixon

Concordia: Trailblazers on the Diamond

Formed in 1920, the Kansas City Monarchs revolutionized baseball: not only were they charter members of the Negro National League and the first professional team to use outdoor lighting, the Monarchs also sent more players to the major leagues than any other Negro League franchise. Phil S. Dixon’s Speakers Bureau presentation explores the exciting early barnstorming days of the Monarchs, highlights great players such as Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson who wore the uniform, and connects the spirit of the Monarchs to the many Kansas communities in which they played. Where possible, specific games and players from your community will be discussed. March 28th at Cloud County Historical Society Museum at 1:30pm. Click here for details.

Michaeline Chance-Reay

Michaeline Chance-Reay

Mount Hope: The All-True Travels & Adventures of Lidie Newton

Jane Smiley’s book, set mostly in the Kansas Territory shortly before the Civil War, follows narrator Lydia “Lidie” Harkness as she recounts her adventures while disguised as a boy, reporting for a proslavery newspaper, and helping a woman escape a plantation. 452 pp. Michaeline Chance-Reay leads the TALK book discussion March 28th at Mount Hope Public Library at 9:00am. Click here for details.

 

 

 

Deborah Divine

Deborah Divine

Elkhart: Hands-on History

In the early 20th century, Emporia was home to a group of innovative quilters that included Rose Kretsinger, Charlotte Whitehill, and Hannah Haynes Headlee. Today their quilts are housed in art museums and revered internationally. Learn about Kansas quilts from this time period and the unique collaborations that sparked “the Emporia, Kansas phenomenon” and some of the finest quilts of the 20th century. Deborah Divine, Speakers Bureau, will give a lecture and lead a brief discussion. Then, participants will make a Kretsinger-inspired quilt square of their own. March 28th at Morton County Historical Society Museum at 10:00am. Click here for details.

 

 

 

Hometown Teams_Title Treatment_color_FNLGoodland: Hometown Teams Day Camp

Hometown Teams Day Camp invites kids to make the connection between sports and healthy behaviors with sports and exercise demonstrations and the opportunity to cook and enjoy a healthy meal with Extension Agent Karen Jones. March 28th at High Plains Museum. Click here for details.

 

Thomas Prasch

Thomas Prasch

Garden City: An Artist of the Floating World

Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel brings the world of mid-20th century Japan to life. The story follows an artist, Masuji Ono, through his early years in the pre-war teahouse culture, his growing support of wartime militarism, and finally his postwar confrontations with that legacy and its consequences for his family. 206 pp. Thomas Prasch leads the TALK book discussion March 28th at Finney County Public Library at 11:00am. Click here for details.

 

 

Isaias J. McCaffery

Isaias J. McCaffery

Park City: Between Two Worlds

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the children of Kansas immigrants lived with their feet planted in two distinct worlds. Immersed in the traditions of their transplanted parents, many young ethnic community members also came to see themselves as authentic Americans–at least to varying degrees. Many children became entirely comfortable in “American settings,” completely familiar with the language and culture of mainstream life on the southern Plains. Isaias J. McCaffery, Speakers Bureau, explores how these children often felt pulled between two identities–with two languages, two behavior patterns, and often two names–not entirely rooted in either camp. March 28th at Park City Public Library at 7:00pm. Click here for details.

John K. Burchill

John K. Burchill

Kinsley: Prairie Lawmen

Kansas was once the center of operations for many organized bands of horse thieves. In reaction, many independent anti-horse thief societies were formed, with the national Anti-Horse Thief Association especially strong in Kansas. John K. Burchill, Speakers Bureau, discusses how, by 1910, Kansas held the most members, was home to The Anti-Horse Thief Weekly News, and consistently had residents hold offices in the national order. So effective were these organizations that local law enforcement were often the first to join, and the Kansas Bank Commissioner called for their assistance to help fight bank robberies that plagued the state. March 29th at Edwards County 4-H Building at 5:00pm. Click here for details.

D.W. Carter

D.W. Carter

Wichita: “Fire From the Kansas Sky”

On a cold Saturday morning in 1965, an Air Force KC-135 tanker carrying 31,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into a congested African-American neighborhood in Wichita. When the fire subsided, 47 people, mostly children, were dead or injured, several homes were destroyed, and families were splintered–and that was just the beginning of the nightmare. D.W. Carter, Speakers Bureau, explores why the plane crashed, how the community responded, and how race relations in Wichita were further strained because of the disaster. March 29th at Rockwell Branch, Wichita Public Library at 2:30pm. Click here for details.

 

Whitney Baker

Whitney Baker

Leavenworth: “The Things They Carried Home” 

This public workshop is led by Whitney Baker, a conservator at University of Kansas Libraries. “The Things They Carried Home” preservation workshop is aimed at helping veterans and their families preserve material related to military service. March 29th at Leavenworth Public Library at 2:00pm. Click here for details.

 

 

 

For more information about KHC events in 2015, visit the calendar on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

#HealthySelfie: Celebrate National Day of Walking with KHC

Healthy Selfie

It’s widely know that April 1st is April Fool’s Day, but did you also know that it’s the National Day of Walking? It’s no joke that walking for even 30 minutes a day yields significant health benefits for men and women. In honor of the National Day of Walking and our “Hometown Teams” initiative, join KHC on April 1st by taking a “Healthy Selfie.” Snap a photo of yourself on your walk, your walking shoes, the view from your walk, your walking buddy, your pedometer, etc., to post on Instagram. It’s easy:

1. Follow KHC on Instagram at @kshumanities

2. Snap a Healthy Selfie and post it to your Instagram. Be sure to include #healthyselfie, #hometownteamsks, and tag @kshumanities in the caption.

3. KHC will share your Healthy Selfie on our Instagram feed: www.instagram.com/kshumanities

4. No Instagram account? No problem. Send your Healthy Selfie to tracy(at)kansashumanities.org and KHC will post it on Instagram.

Moving on Down the (Red) Line

This year, KHC features weekly posts related to the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Hometown Teams, currently touring Kansas.

Glasco's 1915 Red Line Basket Ball Team went undefeated while traveling the Red Line portion of the Midland Trail painting telephone poles.  Photo Courtesy Glasco Community Foundation.

Glasco’s 1915 Red Line Basket Ball Team went undefeated while traveling the Red Line portion of the Midland Trail painting telephone poles. Photo Courtesy Glasco Community Foundation.

Telephone pole painters by day, basketball players by night.

That combination made for an interesting resume for members of the 1915 Red Line Basket Ball Team, a group of men from the north-central Kansas town of Glasco charged with marking the Red Line route so that transcontinental travelers could find their way across the country.

The Midland Trail Association was scouting Kansas routes to join up for a road that would connect Washington, D.C., to San Francisco.

The Red Line won out, officially becoming the Red Line Division of the Midland Trail, and the basketball team hit the road.

In January and February of 1915, the Red Line players braved the Kansas cold and snow while painting red bands around the telephone poles that lined the route stretching from Kansas City to Denver, Colorado. At night, the men played games against local teams from whatever town they were in that day, using the money generated by the game to cover their expenses and pay for the paint.

It might sound like an odd plan, but it was incredibly successful: Glasco won every game they played on the tour.

The Red Line Basket Ball Team was so successful, in fact, that they opted to keep playing well after they were done painting telephone poles. Even Wesleyan College wanted to test themselves against the increasingly famous Red Line. The two teams scheduled a game for March 1915, but it was canceled, according to one source, because Wesleyan was afraid playing Glasco would mean losing their standing in the league.

It’s the kind of story that attracts attention to other local sports and transportation history, said Joan Nothern, Glasco Community Foundation’s Hometown Teams Partner Site Project Director. She hopes the “romantic, unusual aspect of the Red Line” will build momentum for a National Highway 24 Museum and will be a way for area residents to recall and celebrate other Glasco teams, too.

“Glasco: A Triple Threat on the Diamond, Field, and Court” will be on display March 1 through June 1 at The Corner Store (129 E. Main Street, Glasco, Kansas). For more information, visit www.glascokansas.org, or contact (785) 568-0120.

Humanities Happenings: 03/20-03/22

Celebrate the first weekend of spring by participating in one of these fabulous KHC events!

glasco_redline
Glasco: Hometown Teams Local Exhibition & Community Play Day

Glasco’s Hometown Teams partner site exhibition, “A Triple Threat on the Diamond, Field, and Court,” explores the sports heritage of Glasco, which includes the tradition of women’s town team baseball and the story of the Red Liners, an exhibition team that painted telephone poles by day and played basketball at night in the early 20th century.

Join the residents of Glasco for the exhibition opening and the “Community Play Day.” The public is invited to participate in alumni basketball, work-up clinic, and putt-putt golf. March 21st at Glasco Community Foundation. Click here for details.

Sara Jane Richter

Sara Jane Richter

Belleville: Something Out of Nothing

During the bleak days of the Dust Bowl, women used their green thumbs and gardening skills to extend their daily menus, earn money, and even beautify their dreary environs. Drawing from first-hand accounts, Sara Jane Richter’s Speakers Bureau presentation, “Grandmother’s Dust Bowl Garden,” explores the vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs these women cultivated within the harshest conditions during the Great Depression. By experimenting with and cultivating hardy breeds many women were able to augment their families’ menu, larder, meals, and mood. March 21st at 2:00pm at Belleville Public Library. Click here for details.

 

 

goodland_womens_bowling

Goodland: Hometown Teams Opening Reception

Join the High Plains Museum for the opening of the “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition and “The Goal of Sports: How Goodland Comes Together” local exhibition is also on display. Both exhibitions are on display through May 3rd. Click here for details.

During the opening reception, Kelly Werts, a folk singer who specializes in songs from the Midland Trail and sports, will talk about the role basketball played in the marking of the trail. Audiences will also learn about the Goodland basketball team that played along the Midland Trail 100 years ago. March 21st at 1:00pm at the High Plains Museum. Click here for details.

Hays: “Polo on the Plains” 

This Hometown Teams partner site exhibition highlights polo’s history in Victoria, a community settled by British immigrants in 1872. March 21st at Ellis County Historical Society. Click here for details. For a trading card image of “polo on the plains,” check out our Instagram profile here.

 

Photo courtesy of: The Newton Kansan

Photo courtesy of: The Newton Kansan

Newton: A Pillar of the Community

This exhibit explores the 50-year history of the Harvey County Courthouse. The exhibit features stories collected as part of a community oral history project. March 21st at Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Click here for details.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Bergner/The Newton Kansan

Photo courtesy of: Ashley Bergner/The Newton Kansan

North Newton: Race Representations

Beverly Rodgers, Dean of Arts & Sciences at Ottawa University, explores how words, phrases, and visual representations in current use are still stereotyping Native Peoples living in what is now the United States.

“Stereotypes & Realities of the 21st Century Indian in the US” supports “Sorting Out Race,” a special exhibit that uses thrift store race-related objects as a starting point for conversations about race and racial identify. March 22nd at 3:00pm at Kauffman Museum. Click here for details.

 

Elkhart: The (Other) Forgotten War

"Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe," c. 1840. Image courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

“Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe,” c. 1840. Image courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

During the Civil War, events at both ends of the Santa Fe Trail contributed to the war’s outcome while another war in the middle–the Plains Indian Wars–grew in intensity and eventually resulted in removal of the Plains tribes from Kansas. Leo E. Oliva’s Speakers Bureau presentation, “The Santa Fe Trail and the Civil War,” introduces key conflicts along the Santa Fe Trail, including significant but largely forgotten battles in New Mexico and the period of accelerated conflict that ended with the destruction of Plains tribes as they had existed for over a century. March 21st at 12:00pm at Morton County Historical SocietyClick here for details.

 

 

As always, we encourage you to peruse KHC’s calendar for upcoming humanities events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Potluck

1

Bring a poem to share to KHC’s “Poetry Potluck,” our virtual get-together to celebrate April’s National Poetry Month. Kansans are invited to participate in this year’s easy, free statewide Pin-Up Poetry project by writing, reading, and sharing poetry about food, family, special occasions, casual picnics, strange salads, and hearty casseroles.

How it works

1. Print postcard templates and writing prompts, beginning April 1.
2. Share poetry – original and by others – on the postcards.
3. Scan & Email postcards to leslie(at)kansashumanities.org.
4. Visit KHC’s Pinterest page to see your Pin-Up Poetry!

Need inspiration? Click here for samples.

KHC_FINAL_LOGOS-04Promote Pin-Up Poetry

Want to promote Pin-Up Poetry at your organization?

  • Download this pdf version of the Pin-Up Poetry promotional postcard.
  • Displaying the Poetry Potluck poem postcards at your library? Download this KHC Logo Poster to hang alongside them.

The project begins April 1. Questions? Contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.

Following in Their Footsteps: Sports Rituals in Goodland

This year, KHC features weekly posts related to the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Hometown Teams, currently touring Kansas.

The Goodland High School pep club's uniforms have changed since this photo was taken, but their traditions live on in the GHS Bleacher Creatures.  Photo Courtesy High Plains Museum.

The Goodland High School pep club’s uniforms have changed since this photo was taken, but their traditions live on in the GHS Bleacher Creatures. Photo Courtesy High Plains Museum.

The rituals that surround athletics are almost as much a part of sports as the games themselves.

It’s not just the athletes who take part in these rituals, either. For many fans, it’s the rituals that go along with sports that really define the experience of loving a team.

Goodland, Kansas, a town of about 4500 people in the northwest corner of the state, is no different.

Goodland loves its sports: the high school Cowboys and Cowgirls compete in football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, wrestling, golf, cross country, track and cheerleading. And the school and town are invested in supporting their student athletes, creating and taking part in rituals old and new.

“Ritual” can seem like a heavy word, but really, it’s just a way of talking about actions that help create a sense of identity.

“Sports are a vital part of our community that bind people together,” said Sami Philbrick, Goodland’s High Plains Museum Hometown Teams Project Director. “Rituals are such a part of our sports lives in Goodland that, when [you] think of sports…you cannot not think about our rituals.”

Goodland’s sports rituals run the gamut from light-hearted to serious, commonplace to unique. Some, like singing the school song at games and burning the rival school’s mascot before Homecoming, take place at schools across the country. Others are more Goodland-specific.

The “Jumping Juniors” are just one example of a fun Goodland ritual that helps create bonds among classmates. Every year, girls in the junior class perform a choreographed dance at Homecoming while wearing decorated pillowcases, knee socks, sneakers and a borrowed letterman’s jacket tied around their waists.

And while rituals are, by nature, repeated, that doesn’t mean they never change with the times. The Goodland pep club was originally girls-only, but as more girls began to participate in organized sports at the school, the pep club opened membership up to boys, too. Instead of the original pep club’s “uniform” (a skirt, turtleneck and gold vest with badges), the new Bleacher Creatures sported matching t-shirts while they sat in the student section to cheer on the Cowboys and Cowgirls.

Goodland High School’s sports rituals often involve reaching out to former GHS students. Each year’s Homecoming parade ends at the high school, where former a class of Cowboys and Cowgirls is honored, and former Homecoming and Snoball Winter Formal Kings and Queens return each year to crown the new court.

Some Goodland rituals affect the community in particular meaningful ways. For several years, the Homecoming Queen received a scholarship in memory of a former GHS Homecoming Queen, Tanya Armstrong, who died of breast cancer.  These kinds of rituals are a way of showing community values, Philbrick said, like supporting one another in good times and bad.

Maintaining an emphasis on reaching out to former Goodland students also helps keep the community involved in its local teams.

Sports rituals are “a way of tying the past to the present and show[ing] the aspects Goodland people think of as ‘ours’ will remain,” Philbrick added.

“We may have different backgrounds and live in different places, but our common history is something that will bind us.”

Both the Hometown Teams traveling Smithsonian exhibition and Goodland’s exhibition about local sports will be on display at the High Plains Museum from March 21 to May 3. For more information, contact (785) 890-4595.

 

Humanities Happenings 3/13-3/15

Warm up to weekend humanities events that will have you thinking, sharing, and cheering.

ellinwood_smithsonian waveEllinwood: The Final Inning

It’s your last chance to see the Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition at the Ellinwood School and Community Library before the exhibition closes in Ellinwood on March 15th. You’ll also have a chance to see local exhibitions about Ellinwood’s sport history, including Heroes on the Sideline. Click here for details.

 

TTTCHFort Scott: The Things They Carried Home

Veterans and their families learn how to preserve materials related to military service at The Things They Carried Home Preservation Workshop. This public workshop is led by Deborah White, digital librarian at Axe Library, Pittsburg State University. March 14th at 2:00 PM at Fort Scott National Historic Site. Click here for details.

 

Deborah Divine

Deborah Divine

Gridley: Sharing Patterns

In the early 20th century, Emporia was home to a group of innovative quilters that included Rose Kretsinger, Charlotte Whitehall, and Hannah Hayes Headlee. Today their quilts are housed in art museums and revered internationally. In Deborah Divine’s “Sharing Patterns, Sharing Lives: Kansas Quilt Workshop” Speakers Bureau presentation, participants will learn about Kansas quilts from this time period and the unique collaborations that sparked “the Emporia, Kansas phenomenon” and some of the finest quilts of the 20th century. Following a brief lecture and discussion, participants will make a Kretsinger-inspired quilt square of their own. March 14th at 11:00 AM at Gridley Branch of Coffey County Library. Click here for details.

 

Bonner Springs: The Power of Persuasion

Lorraine Madway

Lorraine Madway

When the United States entered World War I in the spring of 1917, the civilian population was aware of the high casualty rates from trench warfare and the resulting low morale. It was necessary to inspire and inform people in ways that were both heroic and practical. Lorraine Madway’s Speakers Bureau presentation “World War I on the Homefront: Persuasion and Propaganda” highlights posters, pamphlets, and sheet music that encouraged Americans to buy Liberty Bonds; raise, conserve, and send food to Europe; and promote the importance of books and libraries as a vital component of democracy.  March 14th at 2:00 PM at Wyandotte County Historical Museum. Click here for details.

 

 

 

Leo E. Oliva

Leo E. Oliva

Pratt: A Trail Between Two Wars

During the Civil War, events at both ends of the Santa Fe Trail contributed to the war’s outcome while another war in the middle — the Plains Indian Wars — grew in intensity and eventually resulted in removal of the Plains tribes from Kansas. Leo E. Oliva’s Speakers Bureau presentation “The Santa Fe Trail and the Civil War” introduces key conflicts along the Santa Fe Trail, including significant but largely forgotten battles in New Mexico and the period of accelerated conflict that ended with the destruction of Plains tribes as they had existed for over a century. March 15th at 2:00 PM at Pratt County Historical Society Museum. Click here for details.

There are even more humanities events happening this month. Visit KHC’s Calendar of Events for a full list of speakers, book discussions, museum exhibitions, preservation workshops, and much more.

High Heels at High Altitudes

Elizabeth Main Le Blond carted a camera with her whenever she went mountain climbing, documenting the many expeditions she led.  Image Courtesy the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum.

Elizabeth Main Le Blond carted a camera with her whenever she went mountain climbing, documenting the many expeditions she led. Image Courtesy the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum.

This year, KHC features weekly posts related to the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Hometown Teams, currently touring Kansas.

Ginger Rogers, cartoonist Bob Thaves once said, did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.

Although her name isn’t particularly well known to most Kansans, something similar could be said about Elizabeth Main Le Blond: she did everything male mountain-climbers did, all while wearing floor-length skirts and heeled boots.

Le Blond was a pioneer in women’s mountaineering between 1881 and 1903. She devoted much of her life to battling the prejudice facing women climbers.

She was pretty successful, too, leading the first “man-less” summit of the Alps, defying the conventional wisdom that women were too weak to be mountaineers. In fact, according to the Women’ s Museum of Ireland, Le Blond’s home country, the all-male Alpine Club would eventually declare that her abilities were “‘never surpassed…in any mountaineer, professional or amateur, of the so-called stronger sex.’”

Her passion for climbing led to an interest in photography, too. Wanting to share her beloved sport with the world, Le Blond soon began hauling a camera up the mountains with her, producing thousands of photographs documenting the beauty of the high-altitude landscapes she loved.

Although Le Blond climbed year-round, she was best known as a winter alpinist. Living much of her adult life in Scandinavia, she developed interests in other winter sports, too, and became the world’s first sports filmmaker—female or male—when she produced 10 films covering the topics of bobsledding, figure skating, hockey, and tobogganing.

The films, sadly, seem to have been lost to time, but Kansans interested in learning more about Le Blond can plan a visit to the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute, which houses a collection of more than 2,000 of Le Blond’s photographs and personal archives. Some of the photos can be seen in Queen of the Mountain, a gallery dedicated to Le Blond’s mountaineering adventures.