Humanities Happenings 4/29-5/1


Rainy weekend? Keep your mind active with book and film discussions — both on-air and in person.

Garden City: Radio Readers On-Air Book Discussion

High Plains Public Radio’s three-month Spring Read wraps up with an on-air book discussion exploring sense of place in “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf, “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S.C. Gwynne, and “A Strong West Wind” by Gail Caldwell. Supported by a KHC Humanities grant. May 1. Details here. 

Lucas: Paper Moon

Portions of the 1973 film “Paper Moon” were filmed in Ellis and Russell Counties. This panel discussion features David Silverman, film scholar and communications professor at Wesleyan University, and locals who worked as extras and behind the scenes in the film. Sponsored by Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce. April 30 at 2:00 PM at Lucas Area Community Theater. Details here.

Stafford: Waterlily

Written in the 1940s by Ella Cara Deloria, a Sioux Indian and ethnologist, and now published for the first time, Waterlily presents an authoritative account of Sioux beliefs, social conventions, and ceremonies though the life of a young girl named Waterlily. Denise Low leads the TALK book discussion on May 1 at 1:30 PM at Stafford County Historical & Genealogical Society. Details here. 

Find more humanities events on KHC’s Calendar of Events.

When the Well Runs Dry

“When the well runs dry we shall know the value of water.”
–Benjamin Franklin

Ask a Kansan — any Kansan — about water and they’ll have plenty to say. When the Well Runs Dry, a documentary short film supported by a KHC Humanities grant, explores regional and national water issues through the perspectives of the residents of the southeast Kansas community of Florence.

Filmmaker Stever Lerner teamed up with the award-winning documentary filmmaker Ruben Aronson and the Florence Historical Society to capture the vital connection that rural Kansans have with water. Lerner hopes the film will spark a discussion among all Kansans. “Even though most of Kansas is out of drought we are in a time where water is a great issue both regionally and nationally,” he said.

Watch the 60 second trailer for When the Well Runs Dry:


Screenings of When the Well Runs Dry are being held across the state. Visit the When the Well Runs Dry Facebook page or KHC’s Calendar of Events for updates.

Archiver Podcast

logoOnce upon a time in Kansas, a man known as the “Goat Gland Doctor” ran for governor, a scandal changed the way Kansas picks judges, and a visit to Kansas impacted a Kennedy’s presidential campaign.

The 20th century political scene in Kansas was full of colorful characters and pivotal events that still resonate today. These are the kinds of important Kansas stories that the Archiver podcast is capturing with the support of a KHC Humanities grant. The Archiver podcast is produced by Do Good Productions, Inc.

Using archival tape, Archiver host Sam Zeff pulls listeners into the world of 20th century Kansas politics and explains how these events still affect us today.

Listen to all three podcasts:

The Sudden Need to Run

911kennedyTwo days after announcing his presidential bid, Robert Kennedy spoke at three Kansas colleges: the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and Haskell Indian Junior College (now Haskell Indian Nations University). Kennedy’s primary opponent, Senator Eugene McCarthy, had already tapped into the youth culture of the 1960s. Kennedy knew he need the same base and his speeches at Kansas universities signaled the direction of his campaign. Click here to listen to the podcast. 



Goat Glands, Radio Waves, and the Governorship

brinkleyArayThink Donald Trump was the first “quirky millionaire” to fun for high office? Nope. John Brinkley, a wealthy quack medical doctor from Milford, Kansas, ran a long-shot but nearly successful write-in campaign for Kansas governor. The podcast includes recordings from Brinkley’s highly popular radio station. Click here to listen to the podcast. 



TV, The Triple Play, and the Man from Dodge

hall_fredToday you can’t imagine politics without television. But, a little known, one-term governor from Dodge City was a pioneer in that regard. Fred Hall is best known for the Triple Play judicial scandal that changed the way Kansas picks judges. But his early use of TV is fascinating as he helped move politics from radio to television. Click here to listen to the podcast.


Click here for more information about the Archiver podcast.

Randy Used the Word

It’s the last week of National Poetry Month and time for the final poem from Odd Evening, the new book of poetry from Eric McHenry, Poet Laureate of Kansas™.

Randy Used the Word

April is not over yet! See Eric McHenry at three events this week, including an Odd Evening Book Release on April 28th in Topeka.

Humanities Happenings 4/22-4/24

Photo courtesy of Anderson McConnell

Still photo from “When the Well Runs Dry.” Photo courtesy of Anderson McConnell

April showers bring… many humanities events to bloom in Kansas. Find an event near you.

Hays: When the Well Runs Dry

In this short documentary film, ranchers, farmers, and residents of small Kansas towns tell their heartfelt stories about water, the one resource upon which their lives and livelihoods most depend. “When the Well Runs Dry” is supported by a KHC Humanities grant. This event is part of the Great Plains Conference on Animals and Environment. Saturday, April 23 at 2:00 PM at Forsyth Library at Fort Hays State University. Details here.

Basehor: Beloved

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. J. Edgar Tidwell leads this TALK book discussion of Toni Morrison’s novel. April 22 at 10 AM at Basehor Community Library. Details here.

Overland Park: Peril and Promise (1980-2000)

Peter Haney, of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas, leads a discussion of “Peril and Promise (1980-2000).” The film takes viewers through the past 30 years, with a second wave of Cubans in Miami during the Mariel exodus  and with hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Guatemalans fleeing civil wars, death squads, and unrest to go north into a new land — transforming the United States along the way. A writing workshop led by the Latino Writers Collective will help participants write and tell their own story. Part of Latino Americans: 500 Years of History. Sponsored by Johnson County Community College. Saturday, April 23 at 10:00 AM at Johnson County Library, Central Resource Location. Details here.

Garden City: Great Expectations

Orphaned Pip cultivates the rich Mrs. Havisham and beautiful Estella, and dreams that someday he’ll become a gentlemen. An escaped convict threatens to shatter dreams — or are his adventures just beginning? Margy Stewart leads this TALK book discussion of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. Saturday, April 23 at 11:00 AM at Finney County Public Library. Details here.

Glasco: Soda Fountains of Kansas

Relive the glory days of the soda fountain where tonics and curatives evolved into refreshments like the Brown Cow, the Mudslide, and the Egg Cream. Government regulations, World War I luxury taxes, and bottled soda pop prompted Kansas pharmacists to make more ice cream concoctions to keep their evolving fountain sideline business profitable. Cindy Higgins’ Speakers Bureau presentation also explores soda fountains in Kansas today and the revival of soda fountains throughout the nation. Sunday, April 24 at 2:00 PM at Glasco Community Foundation. Details here.

Lawrence: Third Annual Poetry Fair

Poet Laureate of Kansas™ Eric McHenry and Megan Kaminski headline a day of poets and poetry at the Lawrence Arts Center. Sponsored by the Lawrence Arts Center. Sunday, April 24 at 2:00 PM at the Lawrence Arts Center.  Details here.

There are more humanities happenings on KHC’s Calendar of Events.

First Responder by Eric McHenry

The third week of National Poetry Month bring us “First Responder” by Eric McHenry, Poet Laureate of Kansas™.

First responder

Eric will be presenting at the Kinsley Public Library on Tuesday, April 19. Find more Poet Laureate of Kansas™ events on KHC’s Calendar of Events.

Humanities Happenings 4/15-4/17


One weekend, many stories. Which humanities event will you choose to explore the stories that carry our culture?

Arkansas City: Community Cookbooks of Kansas

Community cookbooks have carried the stories of Kansas women over the years, sharing sentiments of home, family, and faith. Louise M. Hanson’s Speakers Bureau presentation 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. Saturday, April 16 at 1:00 PM at Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum. Details here.

Dodge City: Cowboys and Clerics

In the days when Wild Bill Hickok might ride his horse into your church service — it happened in Junction City — the life of a minister was a rowdy affair. John Burchill’s Speakers Bureau presentation looks into the early years of Kansas clergy and the colorful characters that made up our early faith communities, such as Pastor Gay of Mulvane who faced a gunman in church — and then converted him. Saturday, April 16 at 2:00 PM at Boot Hill Museum. Details here.

Rose Hill: Head ‘Em Up & Move ‘Em Out

The early days of ranching and trail driving required stamina and determination. The drover of yesteryear had little choice but to face the elements placed before him if he was to get his wild cattle to market. A thousand miles on the trail brought him into contact with all that nature could throw at him: lightning, flooded rivers, hail, tornadoes, and stampeding cattle were constant challenges. Jim Gray’s Speakers Bureau presentation looks at how today’s massive beef industry owes its beginnings to the men and women who were bold enough to “head ’em up and move ’em out.” Saturday, April 16 at 5:00 PM at Rose Hill Historical Society. Details here.

Wellington: Children of the Promised Land

Nicodemus, a small unincorporated town in Graham County, is the only remaining western town that was established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. Angela O. Bates’ Speakers Bureau presentation explores the unique experiences of the children of Nicodemus who were the first members of their families born free from the physical and psychological effects of slavery. Saturday at 1:00 PM at Wellington Public Library. Sponsored by the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society. Details here.

Winchester: Sharing Patterns, Sharing Lives: Kansas Quilt Workshop

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. Deborah Divine’s Speakers Bureau presentation looks at 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. Participants will make a Kretsinger-inspired quilt square of their own and should bring a thimble, needles, thread, fabric, scissors, and straight pins. Saturday, April 16 at 1:00 PM at Winchester Public Library. Details here.

Newton: Prejudice and Pride (1965-1980)

The Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives hosts a film screening and discussion of “Prejudice and Pride (1965-1980), part of Latino Americans: 500 Years of History. The film looks at the year 1965-1980 when Latino Americans, frustrated by persistent discrimination, organized labor and fashioned a “Chicano” identity with the hopes of gaining political equality. Valerie Mendoza leads a post-film discussion that addresses the story of Newton High School’s Azteca Dancers. Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 PM at Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Details here.

Explore more stories on KHC’s Calendar of Events.

Photo credits:, Kansas Historical Society; American Library Association; Angela O. Bates. 

KHC Awards Seven Grants

spring grant image for blogKHC recently awarded $36,941 in Humanities and Heritage grants to seven Kansas organizations. Local contributions to the projects are estimated at $147,165.

Bowlus Fine Arts Center, Iola ($2,835)
“Keaton and the Wild West”
The annual Buster Keaton Celebration features public programs exploring depictions of the American West in films by Keaton and his contemporaries. Susan Raines, project director.

Douglas County Heritage Conservation Office, Lawrence ($5,010)
“Populating Douglas County: Pressures of Migration and Politics”
A traveling exhibition and public programs examining the impact of migration and politics in Douglas County. Jan Shupert-Arick, project director.

El Centro, Inc., Kansas City ($3,300)
“Nuestra Historia: Latino Immigration”
An oral history project documenting the political, social, and economic context of Latino immigration to the United States in the 1990s. Aaron Margolis, project director.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Overland Park ($3,475)
“Russian Orthodox Registers and Ledgers”
A project to translate and preserve the early twentieth century parish registers, ledgers, and records of Russian Immigrants. Vera Kononova Brown, project director

Lone Chimney Films, Wichita ($10,000)
“Home on the Range”
A documentary film that tells the story of “Home on the Range” and the preservation of the landmark cabin where the song was written. Ken Spurgeon, project director.

Mid-America All-Indian Center, Wichita ($4,068)
“Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site”
Interpretive signage connecting the ecological and botanical elements of the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site with the culture and history of American Indians. Marcus Petty, project director.

Santa Fe Trail Center, Larned ($8,253)
“Rendezvous 2016”
Speakers and presentations look at life on the Santa Fe Trail through the perspective of women. Becca Hiller, project director.

The next deadline for Humanities and Heritage grants is May 18, 2016. For more information, contact Murl Riedel, director of grants, at murl(at)



The Latino Americans: 500 Years of History initiative supports cultural heritage projects exploring Latino in Dodge City, Emporia, Newton, and Overland Park. Here, Miguel Morales of the Billington Library at Johnson County Community College reflects on the initiatives impact in Overland Park.

The fall focus for the Latino Americans project at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park centered on education.

Partnering with the college’s annual Diversidad Conference, the Billington Library screened an episode of the PBS documentary, “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History.”

Peter Haney, Assistant Director for the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas, moderated the post-screening discussion.

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History is part of an NEH initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which is designed to demonstrate the critical role humanities scholarship can play in our public life. The nationwide public programming initiative supports the exploration of the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become, with more than 50 million people, the country’s largest minority group.

The screening and discussion served as a starting point for all the conference workshops and the keynote speaker’s presentation.

The Billington Library’s initiative also supports an oral history project. Two of the conference participants shared their experiences as educators living in the Midwest.

Art Gutierrez

Art Gutierrez

Art Gutierrez, a member of the Emporia Board of Education, spoke about the pride he feels as an educator and as a Latino at the spring graduation ceremony. He reflected on the significance of the ceremony when he, a Latino school board member, shakes the hands of a Latino graduate.

“I think it’s important for them to see another Hispanic member on that stage to know that’s possible, to encourage them and inspire them,” he said, “it’s how I give back to my people.”

Gutierrez also spoke of the growing presence of Latinos in the Midwest

“We’re everywhere and I think if you have the chance to be everywhere, that’s great,” Gutierrez said, “but if you’re looking for a place [to settle] the Midwest is a great place to be. I would encourage anybody, especially Hispanic people, to investigate it.”

Elva Medina, counselor at Shawnee Mission North High School, decided to go to college after going to work with her father on ‘Take Your Daughter to Work’ day. Her father was a farm laborer.

“I remember my dad waking me up at 4:30 in the morning to get in a van,” She said. “I didn’t make it through the whole day because it was too hot.”

Medina said she made up her mind that day to finish high school and to go to college.

The stories collected and shared would not have been possible without the support and guidance from the Kansas Humanities Council.

For the next Latino Americans screening in April, the Billington Library will partner with the Johnson County Library and the Latino Writers Collective. After the screening and discussion, members of the Latino Writers Collective will help participants document their own stories. Emphasis will be on collecting stories from and about the 1951 flood that devastated the Latino community in Kansas.

The Latino Americans: 500 Years of History initiative is supported by a grant KHC received from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

It Takes a Village in Dodge City

Louie Sanchez grew up in the Village and went on to become Dodge City's mayor. Photo courtesy of "A Reminiscence: Teaching in Dodge City's Mexican Village" by Lola Adams Crum.

Louie Sanchez grew up in the Village and went on to become Dodge City’s mayor. Photo courtesy of “A Reminiscence: Teaching in Dodge City’s Mexican Village” by Lola Adams Crum.

The Latino Americans: 500 Years of History initiative supports cultural heritage projects exploring Latino in Dodge City, Emporia, Newton, and Overland Park. Here, Cathy Reeves of the Dodge City Public Library reflects on the initiatives impact in Dodge City.

The Dodge City area is rich in Latino history from the influence of Coronado and the conquistadores to the establishment of the Mexican Village.

In the early 1900s the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway constructed housing for their Mexican employees in the railroad yard near the depot. Those who came north from Mexico included men either single or some who were working to make money to send for their families. Some brought their families with them. This settlement known as the Mexican Village lasted for almost 50 years

Most of the first homes in the Village were constructed of railroad ties and discarded lumber. In 1913 Santa Fe constructed a new roundhouse and the village location was relocated to a new site. The homes were devoid of paint with wooden or dirt floors and tar paper on the roofs. The only furniture was a few chairs and beds. There was no indoor plumbing and water was carried from two hydrants. Families planted gardens and raised chickens and made rent or lease payments to the railroad.

The Village was a community in itself complete with its own grocery store, a dance hall, pool hall, and later a church and school. Though there was no formal government, there were members of the community who were looked upon as leaders. The men worked on the railroad then socialized in the Village meeting place. The women tended to the domestic chores and cared for their family. When the children were old enough they attended school. In 1955 the village was dismantled and many families moved to the east side of Dodge City.

One noted resident who grew up in the Village was Louie Sanchez. He worked for the railroad and then the power company. Louie was not only involved with activities in the Village but also with the city. He served as a city commissioner for four years and was Dodge City’s mayor from April 1984 to April 1985.

Today, nothing is left of the Village. An information board by the depot tells of the history of the Village and more information is being planned for a display inside the depot. Several publications tell about the history and some of the residents still reside in Dodge City. On April 21 the library will host a program presented by those who grew up in the Village. This is one way we can help inform everyone about the influence the Village had on Dodge City.

The Latino Americans: 500 Years of History initiative is supported by a grant KHC received from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.