Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kansas Day 2011

Some KANSAS DAY Resources

Though we're still in December Kansas Day 2011 is just around the corner. With that in mind we're providing a list of some resources here on Kansas Day in the hopes of helping out librarians, teachers, students and others in preparing for the upcoming festivities.

A cooperative effort involving many different state agencies, organizations and individuals, "this website gives Kansans an opportunity to share their talents with others, find valuable cultural resources to bring to their community, and promote hometown events, projects, and programs."

Some resources from our State Historical Society
KANSAS DAY pages at

"In honor of the milestone anniversary of Kansas statehood a special Kansas Day program will be held at the Capitol on Friday, January 28, 2011. Due to construction on the building and limited access to the program location, this 30-minute program will be live streamed over the Internet. We encourage all schools to take advantage of this unique opportunity to celebrate Kansas Day. The Kansas Department of Education is developing civics lessons for grades K-12 to use with the program that will be available online in early January."

"[The Kansas Historical Society] offers a variety of resources for those unable to join us for Kansas Day at the Museum in Topeka or a State Historic Site]

"... taken from an article originally published in the January 1932 issue of The Kansas Teacher and Western School Journal. The article "The Origin of Kansas Day" was written by Esther Clark Hill, Kansas Historical Society"

"This Kansas Day toolkit is designed as a general guide to planning a large public event."

A special exhibit at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, January 28-December 31, 2011, which will feature 150 objects, images, and documents about Kansas


In keeping with our books focus, the State Library plans to compile a list of 150 books that Kansans love. Nominations and votes were compiled throughout much of 2010. The list will be announced in January 2011.

550 pieces of Kansas history, culture, people and geographical wonders gathered into a box ready for you to put together! Monies raised by sales go to support the Kansas Center for the Book.
(Article on the puzzle with a link to retail outlets selling the puzzles)
(Large puzzle graphic)

Yessiree, friends and neighbors... this blog is part of the Kansas 15oth celebration! Begun in January, 2010, it will continue through December 2011 providing information on the history, people, culture, geography and nooks and crannies of the Sunflower State.


Today in History: January 29th
(Some Kansas History Resources From the Library of Congress)

Kansas Information for Students & Researchers
(Links to Kansas history, statistics, facts, etc.)

Kansas State Symbols (State Library of Kansas)
(Links to information on Kansas state symbols)

(An online encyclopedia of Kansas history provided by the Kansas Historical Society)

Kansas Memory
(Excellent online resources on Kansas history provided by the Kansas State Historical Society)

The Kansas Collection
(An online collection of books, articles and graphics on Kansas history)

Map of Kansas Literature
(Washburn University)

Territorial Kansas Timeline leading up to Kansas Day, 1861
(From Territorial Kansas website)

Kansas History Resources

Kansas Heritage Group
(online archives devoted to digitally preserving Kansas' past)

Kansas Sampler Foundation
(Information on Kansas architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people)

Poetry of Kansas
(A growing collection of poetry on Kansas)

Kansas Center for the Book
( The mission of the Kansas Center for the Book is to stimulate public interest in the educational and cultural role of the book; authorship and writing; literacy; and the promotion of reading and libraries.)

Kansas Governors' Messages, 1861-2008
(State Library of Kansas. Read Kansas history in the speeches of its governors)

Kansas Legislators Past and Present
(State Library of Kansas. Basic information on more than 8,000 men and women who've served in the State Legislature.)

Natural Kansas
(Come see the natural beauty of Kansas)

Request a copy of the Kansas Visitor's Guide
(Full of pictures, maps and information on Kansas. Provided by Kansas Travel & Tourism, Kansas Dept. of Commerce)

Check out the ATLAS Catalog for other resources:

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kansas State Seal

This week’s Kansas 150 blog provides links to information about the State Seal of Kansas.

For the first fifty years of statehood, Kansas only had two symbols: the sunflower and the state seal. Since then, these symbols have been joined by other statutory symbols such as the Cottonwood, the Western Meadowlark and the Ornate Box Turtle.

Our State Seal is provided for by the Kansas Constitution, article 1, section 9: “There shall be a seal of the state, which shall be kept by the governor, and used by him officially, and which shall be the great seal of Kansas. All commissions shall be issued in the name of the state of Kansas; and shall be signed by the governor, countersigned by the secretary of state, and sealed with the great seal.”

But why have a seal? Why would a governing body need this colorful graphic?

Frank Blackmar in his 1912 book, Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history..., tells us that “from the earliest period of history the seal has been used 'by individuals, corporate bodies and states, for making impressions on instruments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity.' Every civilized country has its great seal, …. Prior to the Revolution, each of the American colonies had its seal, which in most instances, with some modifications, became the seal of state after the formation of the Federal Union. And almost the first act of every state, upon its admission into the Union, has been to adopt by suitable legislation a design for a great seal of state. Even before admission, and while under a temporary government as an organized territory, a seal has been found necessary as a testimony of official sanction or authority.”

Throughout its history Kansas has always had an official seal. During the territorial period a Seal was designed featuring a pioneer holding a rifle and hatchet opposite the goddess of agriculture, Ceres, encircled with a Latin motto translated as “Born by the voice of the people” or “Born of the popular will”. Encircling the border were the words: “Seal of the Territory of Kansas, Erected May 30, 1854." The Territorial Seal was designed by Governor Andrew Reeder and now resides at the Kansas Museum of History.

The Wyandotte Constitution of 1859, which was eventually adopted as the State Constitution, required that "There shall be a seal of state, which shall be kept by the governor, and used by him officially; and which shall be the great seal of Kansas."

In Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history Blackmar related the adoption of the State Seal as one of the first actions of state government soon after Kansas entered the Union:

"In his first message to the new State Legislature in 1861, Governor Charles Robinson called attention to the requirement for a seal. A committee was soon appointed and it drafted a resolution and the legislature approved a resolution which described the newly designed seal: 'The east is represented by a rising sun on the right hand corner of the seal; to the left of it, commerce is represented by a river and a steamboat; in the foreground, agriculture is represented as the basis of the future prosperity of the state, by a settler's cabin and a man plowing with a pair of horses; beyond this, is a train of ox wagons going west; in the background is seen a herd of buffalo, retreating, pursued by two Indians on horseback; around the top is the motto: 'Ad astra per aspera'—and beneath a cluster of 34 stars; the circle is surrounded by the words 'Great Seal of the State of Kansas, January 29, 1861'”. (General Laws of the State of Kansas. 1861, ch.78. )

John J. Ingalls is credited with being instrumental in designing the State Seal and is largely credited with choosing the motto, Ad astra per aspera. Suggestions for mottos that were not accepted: “We will”, countered with “We won’t”.

In 1927 a state flag was established with the seal as a basic element of the flag.

Often the term “Great Seal” is confused with the “State Seal”. The Great Seal is used only by the governor, is encircled by a double rope border with the date January 29, 1861, the date on which Kansas became the 34th state and includes the words “The Great Seal of the State of Kansas”. Other usage of the seal should not include the rope border with the described text.


In an address before the Kansas Historical Society on Jan. 17, 1883, Robert Hay said: “All the seal is historic, but suggestive of a fact that will be true forever, that the conquest of difficulties is the way to moral as well as to political success.”

“There’s No Place Like Home: Symbols and Images of Kansas”
(magazine article : Kansas History, vol. 8, no. 3 (Autumn, 1985), p. 138-161)
(An excellent article by James Nottage and Floyd R. Thomas, Jr. on Kansas symbols which can be purchased from the Kansas State Historical Society or requested via interlibrary loan from the State Library of Kansas.)

A picture of the Great Seal, suitable for coloring, can be found on the Secretary of State’s web site.

A detailed description on each of the elements found on the Seal and their meaning is provided on the Governor's website.

Kansas Statute Annotated 75-201 - 203
(The legal description of the State Seal)

Article by: Cindy Roupe
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Korean War

Sometimes known as the "Forgotten War," the Korean War was a military conflict fought on the Korean Peninsula in the early 1950s (1950-1953 armistice). It marked the first major armed conflict of the Cold War involving the world's superpowers as well as the United Nations. Never fully resolved, it is still felt in heated actions and words on the Korean Peninsula today.

During the war many Kansans served as soldiers, sailors, airmen, medical staff, military chaplains and in other capacities. Casualties were heavy. Over 400 Kansas military personnel lost their lives with many more sustaining serious injuries.

There has been an increased interest in the Korean War within the past decade. Memorials, monuments and ceremonies have honored the men and women who participated in this conflict. Below are links to some Kansas information as well as a few general sites on the War and its aftermath.

Kansas Casualties in the Korean War, 1950-53
Kansas State Historical Society
Kansas Adjutant General's Department

Military Records: Korean War
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas Memory
Military - Wars - Korean War
Military - Wars - Cold War
(Check out original source material at the Kansas State Historical Society's Kansas Memory website)

Korean War Commemoration, 1953-2003
(Kansas Adjutant General's Department)

Cool Things: Korean War Anniversary
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas Korean War Memorials in Kansas
(Korean War Veterans Association)

Korean War Memorial, Wichita, Kansas

Korean War Memorial, University of Kansas

Northeast Kansas Korean War Memorial, Topeka

Korean War Memorial, Overland Park

Korean Vietnam War Memorial, Kansas City, Kansas

Kansas Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients
(Kansas State Historical Society. Includes information on Stanley T. Adams who served during the Korean War)

Korean War Service Medal Information
(Kansas Adjutant General's Department)

Emil Kapaun
(Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest and US Army chaplain, was born near Pilsen, Kansas, and died a prisoner of war in Korea in 1951. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in Korea and is being promoted for both the Medal of Honor as well as canonization within the Roman Catholic Church)

Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
(Truman was president during much of the Korean War. The Presidential Museum and Library, located in Independence, Missouri, has a wealth of information on the Korean War during his administration. Do a search for Korean or Korea in the upper left search box to get an idea of what is available there. Or search the National Archives search page for the library's holdings)

Center for the Study of the Korean War
(Located in Independence, Missouri)

Dwight D. Eisenhower Library & Museum
(President Eisenhower worked to achieve an armistice in 1953. The Presidential Library and Museum, located in Abilene, Kansas, also has information on the Korean War during his administration. Search the National Archives search page for the library's holdings)

Korean War Educator

Korean War National Museum

United States Forces Korea
(Official page on the current presence of U.S. Military in South Korea)

60th Anniversary of the Korean War
(United States Forces Korea)

Korean War Historical Information
(U.S. Army Website)

Timeline of Korean War
Wichita Eagle
US Army Website

Korean War Images
(Wichita Eagle)

Understanding Is Better Than Remembering: The Korean War, 1945-1954, by Allan Millett
(The Dwight D. Eisenhower Lectures in War & Peace, no. 7 -- Kansas State University, 1995)

Material on Korea and the Korean War found in the Topeka Libraries ATLAS Catalog:


Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kansas Railroad History

The plow and the rail were two important tools employed in developing the early economy of Kansas. The plow opened up the rich prairie soil to new possibilities for thousands of land-hungry settlers while the laying of rails across Kansas opened up these lands for the establishment of farms, ranches and towns.

Our state's history is in many ways the history of the railroad in settling and developing the Great Plains. Lacking major highways or deep rivers much of Kansas' commerce depended heavily on the presence of nearby railway transportation. This made railroad companies a powerful force in Kansas politics, economic development and daily life. Communities thrived or died depending on access to railway traffic.

The links below are a small sampling of resources available on the history of railroads in the Sunflower State.

Railroads in Kansas
(Articles on the history of railroads in Kansas from

History of Kansas Railroads
(A time line provided by the Kansas Department of Transportation. The Department also has a page on railroad terms as well as a listing of current railroads in Kansas)

Digitized Kansas Maps
(Provided by Special Collections at Wichita State University. This page is a search result display showing historic Kansas maps which include railroad routes)

Railroads of Kansas, compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser
(From the Legends of Kansas website)

List of Kansas Railroads
(Wikipedia article listing past and present railroads in Kansas)

Territorial Kansas website
(Digitized items pertaining to the early development of railroads in Kansas, 1854-1861)
Immigration and railroads
Railroad companies
Railroad conventions
Railroad land grants
Railroad legislation
Railroad promotion
Railroads design and construction
Railroads economic aspects
Railroads finance

Kansas Memory website
(Kansas primary sources from the Kansas State Historical Society. The categories below bring up huge numbers of hits but check out the menu on the left side for subcategories)
Business and Industry -- Railroad
Transportation - Railroads
Transportation -- Railroads -- Depots

A Few Online Articles on Kansas Railroad History

"The Birth of The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad," by Joseph W. Snell and Don W. Wilson
Kansas Historical Quarterly
Summer, 1968 (Vol. 34, No. 2), pages 113 to 142.
Autumn, 1968 (Vol. 34, No. 3), pages 325 to 356

"The Building of the First Kansas Railroad South of the Kaw River," by Harold J. Henderson
Kansas Historical Quarterly
August 1947 (Vol. 15, No. 3), pages 225-239

"Thomas Ewing, Jr., and the Origins of the Kansas Pacific Railway Company," by David G. Taylor
Kansas Historical Quarterly
Summer 1976 (Vol. 42, No. 2), pages 155 to 179

"Trains," by Elfriede Fischer Rowe
Lawrence Journal-World, December 16, 1970
(One of a series of articles titled "Wonderful Old Lawrence," originally published in the Lawrence Journal-World)

Titles found in the Topeka Libraries ATLAS Catalog
(Subject search results)
Railroads -- Kansas
Railroads -- Kansas -- History
Street Railroads -- Kansas

Museums, Associations, Depots, Historic Sites

(This is a very short list of railroad-related locations in Kansas today)

Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad
(Abilene, Kansas)

Ellis Railroad Museum
(Ellis, Kansas)

Great Overland Station
(Topeka, Kansas)

Great Plains Transportation Museum
(Wichita, Kansas)

Halstead Heritage Musem & Depot
(Halstead, Kansas)

Heart of the Heartlands, Inc.
(Scammon, Kansas)

Historic Downs Depot
(Downs, Kansas)

Midland Railway Historic Association
(Baldwin City, Kansas)

National Orphan Train Complex
(Former Union Pacific Railroad Depot in Concordia, Kansas)

Rock Island Depot
(Liberal, Kansas)
Take a YouTube Video Tour of the building
Depot Jubilee Article

Santa Fe Depot Foundation
(Kingman, Kansas)

Union Station, Kansas City Mo

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Home On The Range

In 1947 the Kansas State Legislature adopted "Home On The Range" as the official state song of Kansas. Known around the world the song had become popular as a "cowboy ballad" promoting a simpler life in the American West. Its mention of Kansas place names, Beaver Creek and the Solomon River Valley, made it a good choice as music representing the Sunflower State.

The words, written by Dr. Brewster Higley in 1872 as a poem titled "My Western Home," described a land of blue skies and natural beauty set out on the banks of Beaver Creek in Smith County, Kansas, where Higley was living at the time. The poem had been set to music by Higley's neighbor, Dan Kelley, and within several years become popular in the West. The words had often been changed to reflect the locale wherein the song was sung but retained their original intent of a peaceful life where "the sky is not clouded all day."

There had been some controversy over the song's origins in the 1930s but the text, discovered in an 1876 issue of The Kirwin (Kansas) Chief determined that the words were Higley's. Though the words, home on the range, never appeared in Higley's original poem that title stuck and has remained as the song's official name.

Below are resources on "Home on the Range" including links to different audio versions of the song and the official words of the Kansas state version.


Home on the Range
(Provided by National Public Radio, this web page offers a short history of the song and different audio versions. Some broken links)

Roam Is Where The Heart Is
(From Kansas History Online)

Home On The Range
(KTWU public television Sunflower Journeys program transcript)

An Anthem
(Provided by Discovering Lewis & Clark)

The History of the State Song
(Kansas State Historical Society)

"State Song of Kansas..."
(A short article appearing on the Kansas State University's Media Relations website)

The Off-Key Story of a Song
(The controversy continues for some on the origins of the song)


Tales Out of School
(Center for Great Plains Studies)

Read Kansas! - Fourth Grade
(Provided by the Kansas State Historical Society's Read Kansas! Program. This lesson teaches the history of the state song, “Home on the Range,” through expository text and a time line)


Brewster Higley VI
(Wikipedia article)

Brewster Higley Historical Marker, Rutland, Ohio

Historical Background of “Home on the Range”
(Written by Russell K. Hickman. Contains a lot of biographical information on Brewster Higley)

Brewster Higley's Gravesite
(Provided at Find A Grave)

Daniel E. Kelley

(Wikipedia article)


The Official Kansas State Song
(Quoted from the 1947 Session Law)

Home on the Range: Classic Cowboy Poetry
(The original poem, the first version of the song and Lomax versions)

Three versions of the text on Wikipedia
(Higley, Goodwin and Lomax)


Nomination Form for "Home On The Range" cabin
(Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas US Hwy 281
(General information on Smith County which is also the location of the center of the 48 contiguous states)

Smith County KSGenweb
(Provided by the Kansas Genweb Project)

Smith County at Blue Skways
(Provided by the State Library of Kansas)

YouTube Video

View a YouTube audio of "Home on the Range" featuring versions by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry:

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kansas Insects, Spiders & Other Arthropods

Image from KSU Insect Photo Gallery
EEK! A bug! Get it!

Wait... What sort of "bug" are you looking at? Do you see six legs, eight legs or too many legs to count? Will it wing, sting, sing or spring if you try to step on it? Just what are you threatening with your shoe?

Wiktionary defines bug as "a colloquial name for any insect, arachnid or other terrestrial arthropod." With this in mind most of us use the word, "bug," as a catch-all term for a large number of different creatures, most all of them members of a phylum (i.e. descriptive animal grouping) called Arthropoda or Arthropods. Spiders, ticks, centipedes and all insects are all arthropods. The phylum also includes aquatic animals such as crabs, shrimp and crayfish.

Terrestrial or air-breathing arthropods account for over 80% of all known living animal species. Kansas and the Great Plains are home to thousands of different varieties. They are both a bane and blessing to us. Some, notably the grasshopper, have in part fashioned our human history in the Sunflower State. Even today arthropods such as the bedbug, monarch butterfly, mosquito and tick can be news makers.

Below is a small selection of links to resources on insects, arachnids and other arthropods in Kansas and the Great Plains as well as some links to general information for students, teachers and the naturally curious. Bugs are a part of our daily lives on the prairie and getting a better idea of what they are and how they live is important.


Entomology for Kids
(Resources provided by the Kansas State University Libraries)

Entomology: K-12 Recommended Resources
(An excellent list of resources available for studying insects, etc. Provided by Iowa State University)

Collecting and Preserving Insects and Mites
(So you'd rather display bugs than step on them? This website provided by the US Department of Agriculture offers you the tools and techniques in creating your own bug museum)

Iowa Insects, Spiders, and Other Invertebrates
(Though you're not in Kansas any more this guide provides excellent, easy to understand descriptions of the major groups of "bugs")
(An online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures)

Fossil Insects
(Arthropods have been around for millions of years. Here's a short presentation provided by the Kansas Geological Survey on insect remains preserved in fossils)


Checklist of Kansas Insects
(From the book Insects in Kansas)

Kansas Insects
(From the Great Plains Nature Center website)

Insects of the Konza Prairie
(A long-term program at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) to study insect diversity in a natural tallgrass prairie ecosystem began in 2001. The goal is to develop baseline survey information on selected insect groups, to develop the holdings of the Kansas State University Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research (KSU-MEPAR), and to make specimens, taxon names, and associated information for insect groups collected available to the scientific community)

The Kansas School Naturalist
(An excellent source of information on nature in Kansas, especially for students. Many of the issues are now online. Quite a few issues cover Kansas spiders, insects and invertebrates. Provided by the Department of Biological Sciences at Emporia State University)

K-State Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research
(A research collection of about 824,000 specimens housed at Kansas State University)

The Insect Zoo
(Located next to the K-State Gardens at Kansas State University. Open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-6:00pm and by appointment)

University of Kansas Division of Entomology
(Includes a searchable specimen database of Division collections, Insect videos and information on the University's Bee Collection)


Introduction to the Identification of Insects and Related Arthropods
(An excellent identification guide with some really cool black and white drawings. By P.M. Choate)

Kansas Insect Diagnostician
(Working through your local county extension office you can find out just what sort of bug you've got in that mayonnaise jar. Provided as a service by the Kansas State University's Department of Entomology. There is also an online pamphlet explaining instructions for submitting insect samples)

Insect Photo Gallery
(Provided by the Kansas State University Department of Entomology. Many of the graphics are of agricultural and gardening insect pests)

Facts & Information on Household Pests
(Identification of the bugs people like to swat provided by the Kansas State University Department of Entomology)


(The Kansas State Insect. Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center)

Butterflies in Kansas
(Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center)

Butterfly Links
(Provided by the South Dakota Department of Education)

(Also known colloquially as harvestflies or incorrectly as locusts. Provided by the Great Plains Nature Center. Listen to the call of a cicada in this YouTube video)

Common Spiders
(A guide to common spiders in Kansas provided by Kansas State University Research and Extension)

Checklist of Kansas Orbweaving Spiders
(Article from Kansas School Naturalist. Includes a page with great images of spiders)

Checklist of Kansas Jumping Spiders
(Article from Kansas School Naturalist. Includes a page with great images of spiders)

An Historic Look At Grasshoppers
(Kansas Memory provides some original source material on the perennial battle between Kansans and the grasshopper)

Bed Bugs
(The latest bug in the news, this short page provides basic information on bed bugs which are making their presence known in Kansas homes and businesses. The University of Kansas' Student Health Services also provides a pamphlet on bed bugs)

(Much of this material can be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the State Library or other holding libraries in the ATLAS library consortium. The Kansas State Historical Society, a research library, does not lend out its books)

Insects -- Kansas
Spiders -- Kansas
Cicadas -- Kansas
Grasshoppers -- Kansas
Bees -- Kansas
Bee culture

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kansas Quilters and Kansas Quilts

As pioneers came west to homestead and create new cities and states, they brought their lives with them. That included their quilts, patterns, needlework and history. So it’s only natural that some of their legacy can be woven together by researching and documenting their quilts.

A number of contemporary Kansas authors and quilters have done just that over the last quarter century. In addition, 20th and 21st century quilters have paid homage to their foremothers by either recreating the quilts from early Kansas statehood days and the Civil War or by using those earlier quilts as inspiration for new quilts.

Women have used needlearts and crafts through the centuries to express their views, their feelings, and to support political movements and ideas. It should come as no surprise that they created quilts to accomplish those very things.

Today reproduction fabrics, patterns, classes and tools allow 21st century quilters to explore creating quilts that harken back to the last half of the 19th century. Lawrence, KS is home to several quilt historians and researchers – and also to a collection of historic quilts (held at Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas).

These local quilters are nationally renowned and recognized for their research and writings.

One of them is Barbara Brackman
Brackman’s publications include:

--Quilts from the Civil War

--Civil War Women: Their quilts, their roles, activities for re-enactors (2000)

--Kansas Quilts & Quilters (1993) - The findings of the Kansas Quilt Project
collected into a book that gives the history, not only of Kansas quilts, but of
quiltmaking in general.

The Underground Railroad is a popular area of research and study, and quilts made to remember both the path to freedom in the North and the sympathizers and former slaves are still being created. One recent book by Brackman attempts to put to rest the myths and legends surrounding quilts and the Underground Railroad, and focus on historic facts, pattern histories, and fabric dating to shed light on the true role played by quilts and quilters in this historic era.

Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the Story of Quilts and Slavery (2006)
A fundamental source of information and inspiration for contemporary quilters interested in quilt history is the book “Hearts and Hands: The influence of women & quilts on American Society” (1987), published by the Quilt Digest Press. One quilt in particular in that book (pp 70-71) distills and illustrates the deep influence and meaning that quilts played both in political movements and the lives of those affected.

The quilt pictured in the photo is an unknown pattern (but could be Birds in the Air). It was made by Deborah Coates, Lancaster County, PA, ca. 1840-1850, pieced silks with stamp work. Here’s the story of that one quilt, and how it continues its influence today (excerpted from the book “Hearts and Hands”):

The Coates family of Lancaster County, Penn. Was well-known in the early part of the nineteenth century. Lindley Caotes was documented by traditional history as he was a prominent and active abolitionist, a Quaker who was among the organizers of the Anti-Slavery Society (1833) and who preceeded William Lloyd Garrison as president of the AASA in 1840.

What we know of Coates’s wife’s role and her abolitionist sentiments has been recorded in a very subtle, indeed fragile, manner: it has come to us quietly and directly, sewn into the center of her elegant quilt. Were it not for a family what has kept the oral history of the quilt alive, we might have missed Deborah Coates’s message altogether. According to the family, two granddaughters of the maker could not agree on who should inherit the precious quilt, and so, with the Quaker sense of equality, it was decided to cut the quilt exactly in half.

When the raw edges were bound over, the small central image was almost totally obscured. All that remained to be seen were a tiny foot on one quilt half and the edge of an arm on the other. Finally, the two halves came down together to a single descendant, along with the story of what lay within the seams. Recently, under the direction of a conservator, the bindings were opened and the fractured image was brought together for the photograph. In researching family history related to the quilt, a descendant has recently discovered that Lindley and Deborah Coates’s home in Sadsbury, Lancaster County, Penn. was Station #5 on one of the many routes of the Underground Railroad. This was clearly a family which found a variety of ways to express a strong moral commitment to justice and the emancipation of slaves.

“Deliver me from the oppression of man.” The image of the bound slave was inked onto a triangle near the center of this amazing quilt.

The quilt below was recreated, using cotton fabrics, in a wall sized reproduction for the book Quilts from the Civil War. The quilt hangs in the Northeast Kansas Library System offices in Lawrence, KS on loan from maker Patti Wiggins Mersmann Butcher.


Heartland quilt network (great resource to find quilters and organizations)

Quilters who blog

Barbara Brackman

Deb Rowden

Linda Frost

Ruth Powers

Alma Allen and Barb Adams


Terry Clothier Thompson

Sue Spargo

Jan Patek

Kansas quilters organization




Kansas City

by Patti Butcher, Lawrence KS

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kansas State Capitol

The Kansas State Capitol, also known as the Statehouse, has been a fixture on the Topeka landscape for over 140 years. Construction began in 1866 and continued for 37 years until the structure was completed around the turn of the last century.

At one time or another the Capitol has provided meeting spaces and offices for all three branches of state government. It has also been a focal point for state and national events and activities. Speeches, demonstrations, celebrations, performances and memorial observances have been held inside and outside on the grounds. The artwork and architectural beauty of the building have attracted many and sometimes angered some. Motion pictures have used the Capitol as a setting and artists have spent hours sketching, photographing and painting views of its interior and exterior. In many ways the Capitol and its grounds have served as our state's "town square" where the day-to-day life of our state is viewed in the actions of government as well as other Kansas citizens.

Ten years ago the State Legislature voted to begin the process of renovating the Capitol refurbishing the building as well as updating it for use as a vital center of government in the 21st century.

Renovation of the Kansas State Capitol continues. Recently the street just to the west of the Statehouse grounds was partially closed in order to set up a 340 foot high crane which will soon loom over the building. Workers will use the crane for exterior masonry restoration. Work on the building should continue for several more years and should when completed provide an open, accessible setting that will prominently display the beauty of the past mixed with the technology of the present.

We've assembled here some links to resources on the State Capitol, past and present with a glimpse into the planned future.


Kansas State Capitol
(Information from the Kansas State Historical Society)
--What you'll see
--Find out about our history
--Take an Online Tour
--Take a Historic Tour
--Take a School Tour
--Stories from the Capitol
--Real People. Real Stories
--Just for kids
--Just for teachers
--Guides to the Capitol
--Construction update

Capitol Tours
(Tour schedules and contacts)

Guide to the Kansas State Capital
(A wonderful publication available online from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Kansas State Capitol Guide For Young People
(Great guide for school children from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Capitol Building
(Graphics showing original documents and pictures at Kansas Memory)

Kansas State Capitol
(Information and photos from Kansas Travel and Tourism. Note the photo of the glass floor in the State Library, a favorite "walk over" by tours. The Library's site in the Capitol is currently closed for renovation but should reopen in 2012. In the meantime the Library has been relocated to a portable unit on the southwest corner of the Capitol)

Topeka Photo Tour
(Includes some good photos of the Capitol)


John Steuart Curry
(An interesting look at the artist who painted several murals in the Capitol and felt the ire of some Kansans because of his work. From PBS website)

The Dome
(From Kansas Travel and Tourism. Tours of the Dome have been suspended during renovation but you can see some great photos here)

Ad Astra Statue
(Articles from the Topeka Capital Journal about the placing of a statue on top of the dome)

Abraham Lincoln (seated) Sculpture - "Man Of Sorrow"
--Picture (photo by Carol Yoho)

Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial
--Information from Kansas Peace Officers Association
--Information from Kansas State Historical Society

Statue of Liberty Replica
(An article from the Topeka Capital Journal about a Boy Scout's work in restoring the wall under the statue on the Capitol grounds)

Peter F. Felten, Jr. Statuary
(Hays artist, Peter "Fritz" Felten, Jr. sculpted four statues of famous statues which grace the inside of the Capitol)


Capitol Renovation
(Information at the Kansas State Historical Society's website)

Kansas State Capitol Renovation
(Information from the architectural firm working on the Capitol)

Renovation History
(Information at the Kansas State Historical Society's website)

JE Dunn Portfolio: Kansas State House
(Primary building company)

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The Kansas Statutes, in designating the sunflower as our state flower, states:

"WHEREAS, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay."

Sunflowers are grown in Kansas gardens, appear in Kansas architecture and show up on Kansas-related websites as iconic symbols of our state. Kansans sing, quilt, paint and wax poetic about Helianthus Annuus. And woe betide any state that considers declaring our much loved symbol a noxious weed!

So let's get out a couple lawn chairs, stroll out into a field of wild sunflowers (bug spray optional!), sit back and ponder this symbol of perpetual optimism as it faces its namesake's journey across the summer sky.


Kansas State Flower (Florapedia)

Sunflower: An American Native (Missouri Extension)


Kansas Wildflowers website
--Common Sunflower (Kansas state flower)
--Ashy Sunflower
--Hairy Sunflower
--Maximilian Sunflower
--Plains Sunflower
--Stiff Sunflower
--Sawtooth Sunflower
--Tickseed Sunflower
--Willow-Leaf Sunflower
--Other Kansas wild flowers in the sunflower family

Kansas Sunflowers and Prairie Skies


Selections from Poetry of Kansas
--The Maverick
--The Nodding Sunflowers
--An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower
--Serenade Of The Sunflowers
--Sunflower Fields
--The Sunflower Of Kansas
--When The Sunflowers Bloom
--Ah! Sunflower!


My First Garden
(University of Illinois at Urbana)

The Sunflower Story: Teacher's Guide
(Oklahoma State University)

Sunflowers: A Gift of Joy in the Garden
(University of California at Davis)

Gardening With Wildflowers
(Kansas Wildflower Society)


"Flowers Of The Sun" / by Lorraine J. Kaufman
(magazine article : Kansas wildlife & parks. Vol. 57, no. 5 (Sep./Oct. 2000), p 20-25)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Icons
Topeka, KS : KTWU/Channel 11 Television, c2005
[30 minute videorecording]
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Katie: A Sunflower Tale / by Jerri Garretson
(children's book : Manhattan, Kan. : Ravenstone Press, 2000)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Kansas Sunflowers / by H.A. Stephens
(booklet : Emporia, Kansas : Emporia State University, Department of Biology, 1981)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Sunflower / by Miela Ford ; pictures by Sally Noll
(children's book : New York : Greenwillow Books, 1995)
ATLAS Catalog Record

(picture book : Philadelphia : Courage Books, 2004)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Sunflowers: The Secret History ; The Unauthorized Biography of the World's Most Beloved Weed / by Joe Pappalardo
(book ; New York : Overlook Press, 2007)
ATLAS Catalog Record

"'There's No Place Like Home' : Symbols And Images of Kansas" / by James H. Nottage and Floyd R. Thomas, Jr
(magazine article : Kansas History, vol. 8, no. 3 (Autumn, 1985), p. 138-161)
ATLAS Catalog Record

This Is The Sunflower / by Lola M. Schaefer ; pictures by Donald Crews
(children's book : New York : Greenwillow Books, 2000)
ATLAS Catalog Record

To Live In Symbols / by Neil Byer, et al.
(booklet : Emporia, Kan. : Kansas State Teachers College, Dept. of English, 1957)
ATLAS Catalog Record

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brown v. Board of Education

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision ruling that "separate but equal" public school segregation was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, was an important first step in ending a long established practice in some states of forcing minority children (primarily African American) to attend substandard public schools in the same community where white students often received a more advantageous education at separate schools.

But the Court went a step further than pointing out financial differences in the segregated educational systems in the country as a reason for overturning "separate but equal." It also noted that even if racially segregated schools were on an equal fiscal plane the whole concept of using laws to separate children by race within a government supported system such as the public schools was wrong:

"Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system...

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."
(from: Opinion of the Court delivered by Chief Justice Warren)

Brown v. Board was an important milestone in the long struggle for equality in the United States. The fact that it is fairly recent history and was well documented means that there is a wealth of resources on it. Below you will find some basic resources on Brown v. Board, the National Historic Site in Topeka and the Topeka parents and children who took a courageous stand against school segregation in our state.

Brown v. Board of Education
National Historic Site, Topeka, Kansas
(Established in Topeka, Kansas, on October 26, 1992, by the United States Congress to commemorate the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision aimed at ending racial segregation in public schools)
--Operating Hours & Seasons
--Fees & Reservations
--Schedule a School Field Trip
--Special Events
--Special Exhibits
--2009-2010 Program Schedule
--Centennial Initiative 2016

Brown Foundation For Educational Equality
(The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research was established in 1988 as a living tribute to the attorneys and plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 Brown v. Board of Education)

Photo Tour of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site
(From the Brown Foundation for Educational Equality)

Brown v. Board of Education (KSHS)
(Information supplied by and through the Kansas State Historical Society)

Brown v. Board of Education (Kansas Memory)
(Primary sources on Brown v. Board and school segregation in Kansas from the Kansas Memory website)

Kansas Memory Podcast
(Listen to interviews with Kansas participants in Brown v. Board)
--Charles I. Baston and Fred Rausch, Jr.
--Christina Jackson
--Maurita Davis
--Judge Robert Lee Carter

Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Era Bibliography
(Further reources from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Interview with Linda Brown Smith
(Text of a 1985 interview with Linda Brown Smith, the daughter of Oliver Brown)

Eisenhower Presidential Library
Abiline, Kansas (Resources available from the Library)

Brown vs. Board
(Archived articles from the Topeka Capital Journal)

Looking Back: Brown v. Board of Education
(From National Public Radio)

Brown @ 50
(Howard University Law School website commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board in 2004)

"With an Even Hand"... Brown v. Board at Fifty
(An online presentation of an exhibit held at the Library of Congress in 2004)

Brown v. Board of Education
(An excellent Wikipedia article on Brown v. Board)

Brown v. Board:
Five Communities That Changed America
("Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans" presented by the National Park Service)

Teaching With Documents:
Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
(From the National Archives)

Related Materials from the Library of Congress
(This presentation by the Library of Congress explores the question, What historical events led to the Supreme Court decision of 1954? by providing access to selected digitized historical information that enhances an existing research tool. Note! The photos at the top are no longer directly linked)

Article by: Bill Sowers
Please use the "Comments" link/box below for questions and comments.