Humanities Happenings 5/20-5/22

City Drug Store, Fredonia, 1930s., Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Cindy Higgins talks about the glory days of the soda fountain this Saturday in Greensburg. Pictured: City Drug Store, Fredonia, 1930s., Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

This almost-summer weekend features events covering classic summertime topics like baseball and soda fountains, plus cowboys and Thomas Hardy. Explore this weekend’s Humanities Happenings:

Garden City: Far From the Madding Crowd

Gabriel Oak watches Bathsheba, the impulsive young mistress of Weatherby Farm, enter into an unhappy marriage — as unaware as she that fate will finally bring them together. Jennifer Jo Krisuk leads a TALK book discussion of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel on Saturday, May 21 at 11:00 AM at Finney County Public Library. 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, May 21 at 2:00 PM at Boot Hill Museum. Details here.

Greensburg: 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 and add food to keep their evolving fountain sideline businesses profitable. Cindy Higgins’ Speakers Bureau presentation also explores soda fountains in Kansas today and their revival throughout the nation. Saturday, May 21 at 3:00 PM at Kiowa County Historical Museum & Soda Fountain. Details here. 

Junction City: The Kansas City Monarchs in Our Hometown

Formed in 1922, 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 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 were wore the uniform, and connects the spirit of the Monarchs to the many Kansas communities in which they played. Sunday, May 22 at 1:30 PM at Dorothy Bramlage Public Library. Details here.

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

Las Colonias de Emporia: Stories from the Latino Community

Simon Rodriguez and granddaughter Natalie Rodriguez in front of the family's restaurant in Emporia.

Simon Rodriguez and granddaughter Natalie Rodriguez in front of the family’s restaurant in Emporia.

The Latino Americans: 500 Years of History initiative supports cultural heritage projects exploring Latino in Dodge City, Emporia, Newton, and Overland Park. Here, Lisa Soller of the Lyon County History Center reflects on the initiative’s impact in Emporia.

Latino immigrants traveling to Emporia, Kansas, didn’t come by way of New York City and the Statue of Liberty. No, the first Latino immigrants were predominantly from Mexico. They were greeted in El Paso, Texas, by railroad employment agents with promises of money, lodging and transportation to the work site. For them it was a chance to escape from poverty and the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution.

The Emporia Gazette first mentions Mexican laborers working for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1904. These first immigrants lived an area just west of the roundhouse known as “Little Mexico.” Early day housing consisted of bunk cars made from boxcars and buildings made from railroad ties. Sometime later permanent housing was available in the area and was known as, “La Colonia” (The Colony) and “Las Casitas” (Little Houses).

The second wave of Latino immigrants to move to Emporia began toward the end of the 1960s. Armour Packing Company opened a meatpacking plant in 1964, but sold it to Nebraska based-company Iowa Beef Packers in 1967. In the years following the purchase, I.B.P. expanded its operations and employed as many as 1,600 employees. Many of these new employees were Latino immigrants recruited from San Antonio and Laredo, Texas.

Project manager and Curator, Lisa Soller says, “The Latino immigrant story begins like any other immigrant group looking for a better life in America, yet many barriers prevented a complete assimilation into the Emporia community for decades. This initiative is an excellent opportunity to explore those barriers, but also highlight the contributions of the Latino community.”

Until recently the story of the Latino community in Emporia has been largely untold. The Lyon County History Center is hoping to change that by working with local organizations; Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow (HOTT) and two Emporia State University organizations: Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) and the Spanish Club.

Through this initiative LCHC hopes to increase the number of oral histories from the Latino community and create an exhibit that will highlight the history of Latinos in the area. At present Emporia’s Latino population represents over 25 percent of the total population. The LCHC believes this initiative will also serve as a springboard for future Latino programming in their new location, a move that will happen later this summer.

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.

Humanities Happenings, 10/23-10/25

The Wichita Bull Stockings vintage base ball team. Photo courtesy of Aaron Staab/Topeka Westerns.

The Wichita Bull Stockings vintage base ball team heads to Humboldt this weekend. Photo courtesy of Aaron Staab/Topeka Westerns.

National Arts and Humanities Month continues with a full lineup of humanities events.

Humboldt: Party Like It’s 1885

The Wichita Bull Stockings take on the Olympics of Lincoln, Nebraska, in a vintage rules “base ball” game straight out of the 19th century as part of Hometown Teams in Humboldt. October 24th at 11:00 AM at George Sweatt Field and 2:00 PM at Walter Johnson Field. After the game, be sure to check out the Hometown Teams Smithsonian exhibition on exhibit at Humboldt City Hall and be sure to come back on Sunday for Rich Hughes’ “Netting Out Basketball Presentation” at 1:00 PM on October 25th.

Fort Scott: Digitizing the Learning Tree

Katherine Karlin, professor of English at Kansas State University, presents on KSU’s online digital resource that features the work of late photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks. Parks’ 1964 novel, “The Learning Tree,” will also be discussed. October 23rd at 1:30 PM at Gordon Parks Museum/Center for Cultural Diversity. Click here for details.

Independence: Sports as Religion: Fact or Fiction?

Tour Scholar Michael J. Zogry makes unexpected connections between the worlds of sports and religion in this Hometown Teams presentation. Drawing on different cultures and historical periods, Zogry highlights several examples when athletic games and religion cross paths. October 24 at 2:00 PM at Independence Public Library. Click here for details.

Riley: The Things They Carried Home

Cynthia Harris, archivist at Hale Library, Kansas State University, leads a preservation workshop aimed at helping veterans and their families preserve materials related to military service. October 24th at 2:00 PM at Riley Community Center and sponsored by the Solomon Valley-Hwy 24-Heritage Alliance. Click here for details.

Speakers Bureau

There are lots of Speakers Bureau presentations to choose from this weekend. On October 24th Jordan Poland discusses “The Common and Quirky Mascots of Kansas” in Garnett, Joan Nothern talks about how “The Humanities Combat Rural Decline” in Harper, Lorraine Madway looks at “World War I on the Homefront: Persuasion and Propaganda” in McPherson, D. W. Carter revisits “Fire From the Kansas Sky: The Piatt Street Plane Crash of 1965” in Park City, and Aaron Barnhart explores “How Kansas Mennonites Changed Mental Health Care” in Wichita. On October 25th Jim Hoy presents “Singing the Cattle North” in Scott City.

Plus, many more events. Visit KHC’s Calendar of Events for a full listing.


Hello from Tokyo


Hello from Tokyo, Japan! Kansans have walked 12,962 miles on our quest to circle the globe for Hometown Teams. We’ve reached Tokyo, home of two great spectator sports: baseball and sumo wrestling. American Horace Wilson is credited with introducing baseball to Japan in the 1870s and today it’s one of the most popular sports in the nation. Tokyo boasts two baseball teams, the Yomiuri Giants, who play in the Tokyo Dome, and the Yakuit Swallows. And then there’s sumo, the 1,500 year-old form of wrestling. Tokyo hosts three sumo tournaments each year, each lasting for 15 consecutive days.

How did we take a virtual walk to Tokyo from Kansas? Kansans tracked their steps when they took walks, went on runs, or just went about their daily routine. KHC collected the step totals and converted them into miles and began mapping our progress around the globe. The best part? You can join us! You can track your minutes exercised on a Walking Scorecard. You can even pick up a pedometer to count your steps at the Hometown Teams Smithsonian exhibition in Perry (on display through September 27) and Humboldt (opening October 3), and at participating Hometown Teams partner sites.

Where will we go next week? Follow KHC’s walking progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for most Postcards from the Road.

Wyatt Townley final event as Poet Laureate of Kansas

Wyatt Townley Photo by: Terry Weckbaugh

Wyatt Townley
Photo by: Terry Weckbaugh

The Kansas Humanities Council (KHC) announced that Wyatt Townley will be presenting her final presentation as Poet Laureate of Kansas at the Koester House Museum in Marysville on Thursday, April 30. The event, “Coming Home to Poetry,” will begin at 7 PM.

Townley began her two-year term as Poet Laureate of Kansas in 2013. In this role, she has promoted the humanities as a public resource for all Kansans through public presentations and discussions about poetry in communities across the state and a statewide newspaper column. She lives in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

“When Wyatt was chosen as Poet Laureate of Kansas, the selection committee knew her talents and charismatic presence. What we didn’t fully realized was Wyatt’s passion for the position and her devotion to sharing poetry with Kansans statewide,” said Julie Mulvihill, KHC Executive Director. “While the humanities connect us to the larger human experience, her poetry magnified it. The Kansas Humanities Council is grateful for this gift Wyatt shared with all of us.”

As Poet Laureate, Townley presented “Coming Home to Poetry” and poetry readings to 68 organizations across Kansas. Her newspaper column, “HomeWords,” was published for 53 weeks and featured 105 cinquain poems written by Kansans—a number that reflects the 105 counties of the state.

“The laureateship itself was a poem for me,” Townley said. “What an honor and delight traveling Kansas and connecting with people about things that matter—love, death, and Poetry!

“We laughed, we cried, we got chills. We put over 10,000 miles on our 16-year-old van, never breaking down and managing to dodge all blizzards and tornados,” Townley said. “Internally, I found a path from private to public that I could travel, and made new friends along the way. It was all poetry, all the way down.”

A widely published poet, Townley looks forward to more time in her writer’s studio when a new poet laureate is named. Her next collection, Rewriting the Body, will soon be published. Other projects are also percolating. “Possibly a memoir that centers on the laureateship and the great leap for an introvert from solitary practitioner to ambassador,” she adds. “There are some juicy book projects I’ve put on hold, and some life projects as well—singing, drawing, and teaching Yoganetics. But first: a vacation!”

Support for the Poet Laureate of Kansas has been provided by the Friends of the Humanities.

The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community-based cultural programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities. For more information or to donate to the Poet Laureate of Kansas program, contact Leslie Von Holten, Director of Programs, at leslie(at), or visit

#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:

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

Humanities Happenings: 03/20-03/22

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

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: 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, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

“Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe,” c. 1840. Image courtesy of, 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.










Humanities Happenings — 01/16-01/18

Keep reading for exciting Humanities Happenings to kick off 2015:

Human(ities) and Nature:

Come to Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum for the opening reception of Drift and Drag: Reflections on Water, an exhibit that explores the political, economic, cultural, and intellectual issues surrounding water. Components of the exhibit explore our earth’s most precious resource through multiple mediums including dance, photographs, videos, and a community engagement project. Over the next few months, Washburn University will also host several events related to the exhibit. The university’s Drift and Drag exhibit is funded in part by a KHC Humanities Grant. Reception begins at 6:00pm and admission is free.

Donald J. Blakeslee

Donald J. Blakeslee

Greensburg: Prehistoric Plains

This presentation looks at Kansas in the era before Columbus. Consider what was not here: no cities, no roads, no mechanization, no domestic animals other than the dog. It is easy to imagine that the small human communities that occupied Kansas for thousands of years would have existed in relative isolation, focused on hand-to-mouth existence–but nothing could be further from the truth. The prehistoric inhabitants of Kansas traveled widely, even to central Mexico; traded with the Pueblo people of the Southwest; and included people interested in such arcane subjects as meteors and meteorites and were part of a continent-wide intellectual tradition. January 17 at 6:30pm at Scout Cabin in Greensburg. Click here for details.

John K. Burchill

John K. Burchill

Stockton: Patrolling the Prairie

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. 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. January 18 at 2:00pm at Rooks County Historical Society and Museum. Click here for details.




KHC Awards Veterans Grants to 17 Organizations

DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, U.S. Air Force. Source.

DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, U.S. Air Force. Source.

KHC recently awarded $14,420 in The Things They Carried Home grants to 17 organizations. Local contributions to the projects are estimated at $25,803.

Four organizations received Preservation Project Grants to preserve, document, and create access to military artifacts and archival materials:

RezVets, Leawood ($3,000)
“Writing My Way Back Home”
Writers’ workshops offer military veterans and their families an opportunity to document the veterans’ experience. Cindy McDermott, project director.

RSVP Four County, Independence ($2,988)
“The 1011th – A Story of Service Throughout the Years”
A project to collect and preserve the images of veterans who served with the 1011th Quartermaster Company Army Reserve during deployments in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Kathy Shephard, project director.



Solomon Valley–Highway 24–Heritage Alliance, Glasco ($2,950)
“World War II Veterans Memorial Highway: A Tour of Remembrance, A Corridor of Service”
A project to inventory veterans memorials and collections of veterans artifacts in museums located along the route of US 24 designated as the World War II Veterans Memorial Highway. Joan Nothern, project director.

Wamego Public Library ($1,582)
“Veterans Oral History Project Conversion”
The library will digitize and preserve over 50 oral history interviews of Pottawatomie County veterans. Kelley Nordberg, project director.

Thirteen organizations received $300 grants to host public community workshops, led by a preservation consultant, to help veterans and their families preserve uniforms, medals, letters, photographs, email correspondence, and other important items that soldiers carried home:

Abilene Public Library: Kristine Sommers, project director
Belleville Public Library: Leah Krotz, project director
Brown County Historical Society, Hiawatha: Eric Oldham, project director
Emporia Public Library: Lynette Olson, project director
Friends of Fort Scott National Historic Site: Reed Hartford, project director
Friends of the Valley Center Library, Inc.: Janice Sharp, project director
Kinsley Library: Joan K. Weaver, project director
Leavenworth Public Library: Kim Turner, project director
Lebo Branch of Coffey County Public Library: Mary Davies, project director
Mary Cotton Public Library, Sabetha: Kim Priest, project director
Overland Park Historical Society: Pat Crabtree, project director
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library: Donna Rae Pearson, project director
Watkins Museum of History, Lawrence: Jan Shupert-Arick, project director


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation Grant Supports Hometown Teams

Hometown Teams_Title Treatment_color_FNLKHC is kicking off a Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America statewide initiative in 2015 thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation. Anchored by a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition of the same name, Hometown Teams promotes healthy behaviors through exhibitions and public programs about sports and fitness activities. The exhibition will visit six locations from January through November 2015, with an additional 16 partner sites participating in programs and activities to extend the conversation on sports and fitness to a total of 22 communities.

Using the popular topic of sports and engaging local and national exhibitions as a gateway, Hometown Teams encourages Kansans to get moving through eight “Minute for Movement” activity stations in the Smithsonian exhibition, and fitness and walking activities in all 22 communities.

Click here to read the full press release. Contact Tracy Quillin, associate director, at tracy(at) or (785) 357-0359 with any questions.