The Way We Worked in Kansas

“This exhibition documents the lives of ordinary working Americans.”
—Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States

The Way We Worked in Kansas was a statewide initiative in 2012 and 2013 featuring a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition and partner site projects. 57,475 people participated in The Way We Worked activities. Click here for tour statistics and an infographic.

With their hands and minds hard at work and sweat on their brows, American workers perform a diverse array of jobs to power our society. Whether we work for professional satisfaction and personal growth or to ensure the well-being of ourselves and our families, work is a part of nearly every American’s life. Office workers, factory workers, homemakers, truckers, and the millions more who keep the nation going through their work make great contributions not only to industry, but to American culture.

The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock down barriers in the professional world. And, finally, the exhibition shows how we identify with work – as individuals and as communities. Whether you live in “Steel Town, USA” or wear a uniform each day, work assigns cultural meanings and puts us and our communities in a larger context.

The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, explores how work became a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell a compelling story.

Impact of The Way We Worked

The Way We Worked tour and activities wrapped up in June 2013. Click here for statistics and an infographic showing the impact of The Way We Worked in Kansas.

Tour Schedule

The Way We Worked will travel to Lyons, Hugoton, Goodland, Concordia, Baldwin City, and Franklin in 2012 and 2013. Click here for the complete tour schedule.

The Way We Worked Partner Sites

15 organizations around the state are conducting projects and programs about work and working. You can view a list of partner sites and projects here.

Audio Tours

Unique, local stories about work and working from the six host communities.

The Boeing Oral History Project

A project supported by the Library of Congress to preserve stories of workers at Wichita’s Boeing plant. A partnership of KHC and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

The Way We Worked Speakers Bureau

The Way We Worked Speakers Bureau features presentations and discussions examining the theme of work and working in Kansas and how these stories define us. Click here to learn more.

All Kansas Reads

A statewide reading and discussion project sponsored by the State Library of Kansas in partnership with the Kansas Humanities Council’s The Way We Worked initiative. The 2013 All Kansas Reads selection is Then We Came to the End: A Novel by Joshua Ferris. Click here for more information.

The Way We Worked Media Kit

Download logos, images, and press releases for The Way We Worked.

Tour Sponsors

The Way We Worked Kansas tour is made possible with support from:

  • The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
  • Douglas County Community Foundation
  • Jostens
  • Ross & Marianna Beach Foundation
  • Western Kansas Community Foundation
  • Friends of the Humanities




The Kansas Humanities Council presents The Way We Worked in Kansas through a partnership with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street initiative