March Winds But No April Showers

The year was 1935.  Southwest Kansas was in the midst of the Great Depression but it was also suffering from a multi-year drought.  Rainfall in southwest Kansas was never plentiful but it normally averaged around 18 inches per year in western Kansas.  Between 1930 and 1940, the average was 15.25 inches with the lowest rainfall during that time period occurring in 1934 with an average of 11.14 inches.  Because of the prolonged drought, conditions were extremely dry and western Kansas suffered horrific dust storms in late March and April in 1935. It is difficult to imagine the intensity of these storms but, fortunately, photos and postcards of these clouds of dust have been preserved.  While most of the storms occurred in western Kansas, some of them reached eastern Kansas.

Lillian Foster kept a scrapbook that contains postcards, photos, newspaper clipping, and her own accounts of her experiences with dust storms in Ness City, Kansas.  The content of the scrapbook gives an excellent overview of the impact of the dust storms.  Lillian Foster scrapbook

The Kansas Emergency Relief Committee (KERC) was established to provide work relief in Kansas.  They undertook a number of projects across the state including a number of water conservation efforts.  The KERC produced an accomplishments movie that included footage of dust storms.  This film is available at KERC Accomplishments Film, segment 11.  A large population of jack rabbits created problems by eating the sparse vegetation so drives were organized to try to control them as illustrated in segment 10 of the KERC video.

Residents of western Kansas had to deal with the dust storms and their results.  Many people wore masks to keep from breathing in the dust and farmers had to deal with drifts of fine dust all over their farms.  Those who endured the dust storms and remained in western Kansas experienced a period of ample rainfall and prosperity during the 1940s.  We hope the current drought in western Kansas is broken long before dust clouds can be formed.


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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

You never know what you will find in a collection of records. The Menninger Archives has a group of records called the Historic Psychiatry collection.  Within that group of records are three letters that relate to Dr. Karl Menninger receiving an autographed copy of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” originally written in 1922.  In a note written September 1, 1959, Dr. Karl explained how he came by the autographed copy of the poem.  He had shared a room with Dr. Merrill Moore at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in May 1940.  Dr. Moore was a well-known psychiatrist but also a poet.  Dr. Karl and Dr. Moore were sharing a room because the hotel was full.  Moore recited the Frost poem and Dr. Karl wrote that he “was entranced.”  Apparently, Dr. Karl wrote Dr. Moore after the conference.  On June 6, 1940, after sharing niceties, Dr. Moore responded that “Oddly enough the day your letter came Robert Frost was in my office consulting me so as he left I asked him to sign this poem for you.  Needless to say, he was delighted to do it.”  Enclosed with the letter was a typewritten copy of the poem with Robert Frost’s autograph.  He also wrote:  “To Dr. Karl Menninger of Topeka Kansas through the thoughtfulness of Dr. Merrill Moore of Boston, 1940.”

 [Post written by Pat Michaelis (Research Collections Division Director)]

Karl Menninger



A Farnsworth Thanksgiving

Here is another glimpse into the life of Martha Farnsworth, through her diary entries.  Her Halloween entry for 1918 indicated that her “boys” were serving in armed forces during World War I.  Martha and her husband had taught a class of boys at their church and they advanced with the boys each year until they were teaching young men.  Martha always refers to these young men as “our boys.”

Thurs. 31 Cold today. Writing letters all day- I wish I could write with both hands at once. Nancy Boone and Lillian Larson called early in evening and Luther Davis. Helen Campbell, Millard Stowell and Miss Bush came in for the evening. I have always had a Halloween Party for the Boys, but they are all away to War now.

However, her emotions had changed drastically by Thanksgiving because the war had ended.  The armistice ending hostilities with Germany was signed on November 11, 1918.  Thanksgiving Day in 1918 was November 28.  Martha’s entry for that day starts out with a description of the snow and then Martha shares her gratitude that peace has arrived.

November 1918

“Thanksgiving Day”

Thurs. 28  Snowing when we awakened this morning, but by noon the sun was shining bright and warm and beautiful and took all the exquisite beauty from the trees, fences and shrubs—everything was covered deep with soft, feathery snow, this morning and so wonderfully beautiful, I hated to see the sun come out and spoil it.

Thanksgiving Day and what a Day—While it is wholly an American day, yet today the whole wide world should celebrate it with us, for the most brutally fiendish, of all the Wars of the Ages, has come to an end, and we have Peace—great glorious, Peace, for which we thank God with all our very, being.  Some way, I am dumb with thankfulness.  I am so thankful, I cannot find words, to express myself.  This evening, Edwin Jones, John Keating and their friend Kenneth Corbett, Robt. Sympson-Helen Leeper, John Carlson-Dorothy Leeper, Shelley Monroe and Sallie Slaughter came in for short calls.

I roasted a fine young goose, ($2.80) and made pumpkin pies.

Martha’s eloquent thankfulness for peace reminds us that war is always traumatic on both the battlefield and the home front.

[Post written by Pat Michaelis (Research Collections Division Director)]

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Why I Hate Museums

By Mary Madden, Kansas Historical Society


As a teacher, do you ever feel this way?  Are you disappointed when you take a field trip with your students?  That the effort is not worth the return?  You aren’t alone. This was the title of a recent article published on August 22 on the CNN Travel website. In this case the author was describing museums as places were curator’s “collect and cage” artifacts and then expect the visitor to be as excited about the item but with only a minimum of information.

When you take your class to a museum you should expect more.  Your visit should engage your students.  They should be involved in learning and not listening passively to a walking lecture.  They should experience learning by doing with hands-on objects, investigating higher-order questions that require analysis and evaluation, and exploring topics that make them the expert (that they share with other students back in class).

How do you get this type of visit?  First visit the museum’s website to see what they provide.  If you don’t see it, request it. Museums today should be very interactive—especially with students.  To provide the best experience for your students, all museum educators should adhere to this maxim when creating student programs, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” 

At the Kansas Museum of History,, we offer a number of interactive, engaging tours.  Your students can work on the railroad, investigate Indian homes, journey on the Oregon Trail, and explore the lives of Kansans in the Civil War. 

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Anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid

August 21, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederate guerilla William Quantrill’s devastating raid on Lawrence.  The raid took 150 lives and left 80 women widows.  Even the most ardent Kansas State fans would have to agree that it was a horrible and despicable deed.

Quantrill’s raid was not an act of war but an act of terrorism carried out on innocent civilians. Every day newspapers provide stories about current terrorist atrocities around the world and at home.  The recent heinous Boston Bombing would make a good discussion “bridge” from the present to the past.  Why do people make war on civilians? What is the perspective of the terrorist versus the victim?  What can be done to stop this type of warfare?

The Kansas Historical Society has a Read Kansas! lesson that addresses two different perspectives on the 1863 raid.  “The Civil War Comes to Kansas: Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence” (M-16) is available on the website,  It is already aligned to the new Kansas Standards for History, Government, and Social Studies as well as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. 

When you are in Topeka be sure to stop by the Kansas Museum of History to see the other “survivors” of the raid.  Burned musical instruments, melted glass, and a charred Bible speak volumes about the personal devastation of terrorism.

Mary Madden

Kansas Historical Society

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HGSS + KCCRS = Integrated Lessons

I spent last Friday at a workshop in Salina with a group of fifty dedicated teachers learning how to implement the new History, Government, and Social Studies standards in their districts.  It was “training the trainers” as districts look at writing curriculum and implementing best practices, literacy expectations, standards and benchmarks.  Don Gifford, Education Program Consultant for History, Government, and Social Studies for the KSDE, began with a PowerPoint presentation on the new standards.  I highly recommend you take a look and then share it with your fellow teachers.  It is highly informative and has just the right amount of entertainment, a Jay Leno “Jaywalking” clip and, my favorite, the woman trying to ignore the nail in her head— change is hard and usually unwelcome. Here’s the link: http://hgss_implementation_workshop_june_21_2013_salina

Beth Ratway, Senior Consultant at American Institutes for Research, spent the rest of the day sharing training modules from her Building the Bridge website  As stated on the website: “This site was created to facilitate professional development focused on the instructional shifts that Social Studies teachers will need to understand to effectively implement the Common Core Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts. Each Shift will be addressed through this professional development effort and links to examples and resources will be provided.”  The modules will give you tons of great ways to get students “doing” history, government, geography, and economics.

As we prepare to celebrate America’s 237th birthday next week, don’t forget to include a museum visit as part of your holiday tradition.  Your support is necessary to keep these institutions alive and working to preserve and interpret our nation’s cultural history.

Mary Madden

Kansas Historical Society

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Museum Geek

By Mary Madden, director of education, Kansas Historical Society

I am a museum geek.  I grew up going to museums in Chicago, part of our annual trip to see my grandparents. That, plus my love of American history, led me to the museum field and teaching with artifacts.  Nothing can bring history to life like the things left behind.  Don’t believe me? Check out the German U-boat, the U505, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  Or examine the pike at the Kansas Museum of History, one of the actual pikes John Brown purchased and shipped to Harper’s Ferry to start a slave insurrection. Looking at the pike you can’t help but ask yourself “Who used it?  What happened to that person? Why did he buy pikes and not rifles?  Why did the revolt fail?” This is why I love artifacts.  You automatically start asking questions and looking for answers. This is why I am so excited about the state’s new History, Government, and Social Studies standards.  They encourage teachers to use objects, and other primary sources from the past, to engage students in learning history. 

I will be writing more about teaching with primary sources and materials available to teachers from the Kansas Historical Society.  For now, here are two activities that you can use with young students to help them cross over from “reading” history to “doing” history.

Introduction to Reading Historical Documents

1.      Ask students to bring in a document or photograph from home to share with the class.  This item should be something that is from the past, something they saved.  It could be a photograph of when they were babies, a birthday card, their birth certificate, a newspaper article, an award certificate, etc. 

  1. During your turn in class, present your document providing the following information:
    1. What type of document is this?
    2. What is the date of the document?
    3. Who created the document?
    4. How does the document relate to you?
  2. Consider, for your document and the documents of your classmates, responses to the following questions:
    1. What does the existence of this document say about whoever created it?
    2. What does the existence of this document say about whoever saved it?
    3. What does the existence of this document say about American life in this era?

4.      Is there a comparable item from 100 years ago?  If so, how is it the same or different?

a.       What does that say about American life 100 years ago?


Introduction to Analyzing Objects


1.      Analyze objects in your classroom, such as a desk, chair, table, computer, etc.

2.      Describe or draw the object. What is it made of? 

3.      How is it made? Is it made by hand? In a factory?  Is it the only one of its kind or are there many?

4.      How is it used?

5.      Who uses it?

6.      What does this object say about schooling in the United States today?

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Worrall’s guitar music revived

Lawrence, Kansas, guitarist Brian Baggett is bringing the music of Henry Worrall to life through interpretive performances of Worrall’s original music manuscripts held by the Kansas Historical Society (KSHS). Video and audio recordings of Baggett’s performances are now available on


Henry Worrall moved to Topeka, Kansas, in 1868 and became widely known for his illustrations of the American west. But decades earlier in Cincinnati, Ohio, Worrall was a musician and composer of popular guitar instrumentals. Worrall’s “Sebastopol” and “Spanish Fandango” were widely published as parlor guitar music promoted primarily to young women. They also became standard pieces in many self-instruction manuals for the guitar through the early Twentieth Century.


Through these compositions, Worrall’s open-tuned, finger-picked style of guitar playing influenced guitar players for many decades. Some contemporary musicians and music historians think Worrall’s compositions provided the foundation for the development of nascent country and blues guitar styles in the American rural south in the last century.


The wife of Henry Worrall’s grandson, Anton Worrall, donated Henry Worrall’s personal music collection to the Kansas Historical Society in 1968. The collection remained unknown for nearly forty years. Then, in 2007, a researcher from Atlanta, Georgia, helped explain why the collection is important to understanding the development of early country and blues music. KSHS described the collection and published it on the same year. Since then, the collection’s availability online has led to a renewed interest in Worrall’s compositions and their influence on popular music in the Twentieth Century.


Baggett is focusing on Worrall’s original manuscripts because they likely document the way Worrall actually performed the pieces. Published sheet music was often simplified to make it accessible to a broader public. Baggett has interpreted “Sebastopol” and “Carmencita” from original, undated manuscripts in the Worrall collection. Sebastopol is Worrall’s most famous composition and was published in Ohio as early as 1856. By contrast, Carmencita appears to be a later composition, the only known printed copy having been published in 1896 by E. B. Guild in Topeka, Kansas.

Recordings of Baggett’s performances are now available on For more information, or to contact Brian Baggett, see his website at . More information on the Worrall collection is available on the KSHS website at Henry Worrall Collection. View Henry Worrall materials on Kansas Memory by selecting the category People - Notable Kansans - Worrall, Henry, 1825-1902.

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Menninger Historic Psychiatry Collection

Posted by Jocelyn Wehr (Digital Archivist), Kansas Memory,  on Mar 15, 2013

The Menninger Historic Psychiatry Collection includes many notable individuals in the field of psychology and psychiatry. Other individuals such as King George III (right) are included for being famously “mad”. The material found in this collection was donated to or collected by members of the Menninger family. The activities and achievements of the following individuals are highlighted in this collection.

Lucio Bini discovered electro-convulsive shock therapy, aided by fellow Italian Ugo Cerletti, in 1938. Anton Boisen headed the clinical pastoral education movement which taught the benefits of having hospital chaplains and theology in the mental health setting. Dorothea Dix was a mental health advocate and activist for designated mental health facilities and asylums dedicated to the treatment of those suffering from a mental illness. Henry Havelock Ellis was a British psychologist who studied human sexuality. Anna Freud and her father, Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, often corresponded with members of the Menninger family. This photograph (below) shows Anna Freud meeting Dr. Karl Menninger and Dr. Bob Menninger. Harry Guntrip was a psychoanalyst who published several works relating to the development of the psyche based on one’s environment. William James was an American psychologist and philosopher. Herman S. Major operated a psychiatric facility devoted to the treatment of alcoholics in Kansas City, Missouri. Silas Weir Mitchell was an American physician who specialized in neurology and authored many poems and short stories. Florence Nightingale pioneered the field of nursing in the 19th Century. Nina Ridenour authored a fifty year history of mental health in the United States, as well as many other publications. Benjamin Rush, in addition to being a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, is known as the “Father of American Psychology.” Elmer Ernest Southard directed the Boston Psychopathic Hospital and mentored Dr. Karl Menninger. Frankwood E. Williams directed the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. Walker Winslow authored a biography about the Menninger family. 

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Lincoln conspirator gallows section

Lincoln conspirator gallows section

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