THE sixty-fourth annual meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society and board of directors was held in the rooms of the Society on October 17, 1939. The annual meeting of the board of directors was called to order by the president, Robert C. Rankin, at 10 a. m. First business was the reading of the annual report of the secretary.
The past year has shown a material growth in the number of persons using the resources of the Historical Society, as well as in the organization of our various collections. Our experience confirms reports from other societies that popular interest in local and state history is increasing. Many Schools in small towns and rural communities are asking for detailed information about their towns and counties. These demands on the staff do not leave as much time as we could wish for routine work. The supervision of federal projects also requires continuous attention. The work of cataloguing and otherwise organizing our books, relics, documents, pictures and newspapers is progressing, however, as will appear in the reports of the various departments.
Pres. Robert C. Rankin reappointed Justice John S. Dawson and T. M. Lillard to the executive committee, the members holding over being Thomas Amory Lee, Robert C. Rankin and Chester Woodward. At the first meeting of the committee following the annual meeting, Mr. Lee was reelected chairman.
The Society was fortunate enough to receive from the 1939 legislature the following, in addition to the regular appropriations: $15,000 toward the restoration of the north building at Old Shawnee mission; $3,000 for the erection of a cottage for the caretaker at First Capitol; $2,400 a year for the employment of a research director; $1,200 a year for the employment of an extra clerk; $1,350 for card catalogue cases; and $500 for microfilming. Too much credit cannot be given to the retiring president, Robert C. Rankin, for his assistance. AS representative from Douglas county and one of the most popular members in the house, Mr. Rankin's help was invaluable throughout the session.
Two of several work-relief projects submitted to the Society for sponsorship during the past few years have been accepted.
The Kansas section of the American Imprints Inventory was started under the Society's nominal Supervision on October 1, 1938. This nation-wide survey is directly supervised by Douglas C. McMurtrie, of Chicago, a widely known authority on imprints. The Kansas unit has employed an average of
twenty workers during the year. More than 40,000 items printed prior to 1877 have been listed, and the Kansas volume, to be published this year, will possibly exceed 350 pages, with at least 1,600 distinct KanSas titles. Many Kansas college and city libraries have cooperated, and their imprint holdings will be credited to them in this volume.
The Historical Records Survey, another national historical project operating in Kansas, came under the Society's nominal sponsorship September 1, 1939. Under this survey, inventories of county records are mimeographed, bound and issued as part of the nation-wide Inventory of the County Archives series. Inventories for seven Kansas counties have been published. First listing of records in fifty-five counties has been completed and the project is now operating in thirty-six counties.
Twelve to thirteen persons have been regularly employed in this building sixteen days a month on the Society's unit of the state-wide WPA museum projects. These workers are supervised by the Society's regular Staff members, and mention of their work assignments and accomplishments is made in departmental reports. Federal expenditures for the year from October 6, 1938, to October 5, 1939, were $9,901.34 for salaries. The Society's expenditures for the same period were approximately $300 for working materials.
The Society's NYA project, employing four young people eight days a month, was discontinued May 28. The federal government expended approximately $550 in its operation from October, 1938, to the close. One Washburn Student is being employed by the Society during the college term through the NYA college student employment program.
Appreciation is due Robert Beine, WPA supervisor assigned to the Society, and Mrs. Harrison Parkman, head of the Professional and Service division of WPA, for their cooperation. Project workers have been industrious and the quality of their work has been generally good.
During the past year the following have been subjects of serious research: Biography: Jerry Simpson; James H. Lane; William Allen White; Charles Robinson; Col. Alexander W. Doniphan; Samuel Gompers. County and town history: Social welfare Situation in Gray county; Abilene as a terminus of the cattle industry; history of Elk county; early history of Reno county; history of Ozawkie; Neosho valley history; early history of Abilene; countyseat fights; the writing of local history. Economics: Economic history of Anderson county; township budgets; economic history of Chanute; economic history of the Mennonites; study of bonds. Education: Historical outline of the state superintendency in Kansas; history of educational development in Pawnee county; seventy-five years of education in Kansas; Kingman county schools; history of education in territorial Kansas; history of normal schools; School history of Chanute; comparative study of school budgets. Indians: Osage Indians in Kansas; Indian war correspondents and the Medicine Lodge treaty; Kickapoo Indians. General: Border wars in Kansas, 1856-1859; survey of assessed valuation and population in sixty-three counties in Kansas, 1886-1936; history of railroads in Kansas; social history of the plains; history of trails; history of nursing in Kansas; early California history; comments of foreign travelers in the United States, 1789-1830; milling industry in Kansas prior to 1870; international relations; social conditions in central Kansas in the 1870's; cattle men and old cow trails; Missouri Fur
Company; troupers of the Rockies; social structure of a Kansas village; history of Kansas manufactures; Texas longhorns; relation of tariff to the settlement of the Alabama claims.
Our records show that reference work increased during the year and that we have had 2,277 requests for information on Kansas subjects; 1,034 requests for genealogy; and 512 requests for material on the West, American history and biography and Indians. From our loan file on Kansas subjects we have filled more than 500 requests, many times sending material on several subjects in answer to one request.
A list of Kansas legislators from 1855 through 1939 was compiled with the help of an NYA worker from Washburn College. Both an alphabetical list and a list by counties were compiled. Articles from Harper's Magazine from 1857 through 1875 were selected and marked for cataloguing, giving added material on early Kansas and the West.
Some 60,000 cards have been filed in the Library of Congress depository catalogue, an increase over the year before of about 10,000 cards. Through the WPA project, clippings have been remounted for the vertical biographical file and many have been remounted for binding for volumes of county history and other classified material. Indexing has been continued on the three-volume set of the North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register.
The Kansas Chapter of the Daughters of Colonial Wars presented to the library a copy of Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, by J. H. Gwathmey. This is a new book of great value for genealogical research.
When the list of Kansas imprints was completed under the direction of Douglas C. McMurtrie, national editor of the American Imprints Inventory, he wrote us that of the 1,600 Kansas imprints earlier than 1877, over 1,300 were found in this library and over 700 were located in no other library. Mr. McMurtrie said "This is a truly remarkable showing."
To make the material in the library readily accessible, much time is required in classifying and cataloguing. This applies not only to books and pamphlets but also to hundreds of clippings and many magazine articles. Such work must be continued to maintain our standard of efficiency, but since the cataloguers also do reference work, their time is divided to such an extent that another trained librarian is needed. The book fund, too, should be increased so that we can purchase more rare Western and genealogical books, if the library is to keep its high ranking.
More than 400 pictures have been catalogued and added to the picture collection in the past year. We have received a collection of twenty-nine pictures of Fort Leavenworth as it was in the early 1870'S; a collection of over fifty pictures of mills in Kansas; a collection of twelve pictures of Russell county scenes; several pictures taken at the seventieth anniversary celebration of Sharon Springs and many other pictures of KansaS people and scenes. Volumes of Harper's Magazine from 1857 through 1875 were catalogued for Kansas and Western pictures with NYA help, and 500 cards were added to the picture catalogue.
Eleven manuscript volumes and 686 individual items were added to the collections of the Society during the year.
Of particular interest among these accessions are letters of Charles Robinson and his wife, Sara T. D. Robinson, received from Miss Hannah Oliver, Lawrence. Thanks are due the Douglas County Historical Society, as well as Miss Oliver, for their cooperation in placing these valuable papers here. The manuscripts date from 1856 to 1901. There are ninety-three letters from Charles Robinson to his wife, 1856-1881, and approximately an equal number from Mrs. Robinson to Frank W. Blackmar, biographer of Charles Robinson. The latter relate mainly to Mr. Blackmar's work on Robinson.
The manuscript of his "History of Kansas Baptists" was received from the Rev. W. A. Seward Sharp a short time before his death. Records of various churches of the Kansas Baptist convention were received from that organization, a total of forty-six manuscripts and nine volumes.
The Dickinson County Historical Society has added fifty-five sketches to the collection of historical and biographical sketches of that county. This local group cooperates at all times with the Society, and an expression of appreciation is here made a matter of record.
Fifty-seven manuscripts from the papers of the Rev. J. J. Lutz, historian of Methodist missions in Kansas, were received from his niece, Dr. Anna B. Yoder, Smithville, Ohio.
A single item of interest is a letter by C. B. Lines, dated at New Haven, Conn., January 1. 1857. The letter relates in part to the affairs of the Connecticut Kansas colony and is written on the back of a plat of the colony's townsite at Wabaunsee.
Among the manuscript volumes are two letter books, 1859-1862, from the office of Theodore Hyatt. These contain many letters to his brother, Thaddeus Hyatt, Samuel Clarke Pomeroy and W. F. M. Amy about Kansas affairs and the imprisonment of Thaddeus Hyatt in Washington.
A manuscript, "Stories and Incidents in My Life," was received from the author, Mrs. Flora Vesta Menninger of Topeka. While the greater part of the manuscript deals with Mrs. Menninger's early life in Pennsylvania, it contains a section on her first years in Kansas. It is a document of unusual interest. Through the courtesy of the board of county commissioners of Doniphan county, the minutes of the commissioners' court of that county, 1855-1860, have been lent to the Society for copying.
Gifts were received from the following during the year: Edward Bumgardner; C. Q. Chandler and Mrs. Chandler; J. C. Denious; Mrs. Ida A. Doerk; Mary Cook Ellinger estate; Mrs. J. O. Faulkner; Ruth Marie Field; Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce; Blenda Palm Greenwood; Frank Heywood Hodder estate; Lester C. Hoppes; Kansas Baptist convention; Mrs. Cora G. Lewis; Mrs. Ora H. Hunter; Mrs. W. E. McDowell; T. A. McNeal; Mrs. Olive K. Maxwell; Mrs. Flora V. Menninger; Mrs. M. L. Mitchell; C. Clyde Myers; Hannah Oliver; Jennie Small Owen; Paul Parrish; G. A. Pierce; Mrs. A. B. Seelye, for Dickinson County Historical Society; W. A. Seward Sharp; Henry Stuart; Mrs. Elizabeth Swartz; Jessie Wiley Voiles; Edmund A. Whitman; Woman's Kansas Day Club; Sam F. Woolard ; Dr. Anna B. Yoder.
Accessions received by this division during the past year were limited to 71 manuscript volumes of corporation records from the office of the secretary of State. The Society has now received 181 volumes of this Series, covering the period 1863-1936. A total of 172,125 index cards have been prepared and filed with WPA assistance. During the past year 17,550 cards were added. These cards cover charters granted by law prior to 1863 as well as those issued by the secretary of state. Charters for the years 1855-1928 have now been indexed. These records provide a valuable source of information on social and economic development.
This division has had frequent calls during the year for information on United States military roads in Kansas, state and territorial highways, Oregon and Santa Fe trails and old express roads.
Much work has been done on the loose-leaf catalogue of old townsites, discontinued post offices and railroad stations throughout the state. The compilation now fills 26 volumes.
Requests come almost daily from welfare agencies for age verifications of individuals seeking aid. A total of 437 certifications were issued from this department during the year.
The index of the 1860 census of Kansas territory has been carried nearly to completion. Project workers have prepared and filed census cards for more than 100,000 residents. It is planned to omit for the present, at least, the index of census records for 1865 and 1870 and to work on the 1875 records. The latter will be of assistance in issuing age verifications.
Filing cabinets have been secured for both census and corporation index cards.
The employment of a new assistant on July 1, as authorized by the legislature, is helping to relieve congestion for the present in the newspaper division. The legislature also appropriated a small Sum of money for microphotography. This will be used in part to microfilm KansaS newspapers which the Society has been unable to secure and also to commence microfilming the papers in our own files that are most fragile and which cannot be replaced.
The newspapers of this Society are used rather extensively for research work by students of history and literature, and this division is serving an area far beyond the confines of the State. In the past year students of history and literature came here from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Nebraska University, Pennsylvania University, the University of Texas, Washington University of St. Louis, St. Louis University, Iowa State College, the University of Michigan, and from the cities of Great Falls, Mont.; Lamar, Colo.; Urbana, Ill.; Washington, D. C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.; Hamden and Westport, Conn. During the year 4,530 patrons were registered. They consulted 5,361 bound newspaper volumes and 18,357 unbound issues.
The newspaper division prepared two newspaper displays in the Memorial building during the year, one for the national convention of the American Association of Schools and Departments of Journalism, the other for the Kansas History Teachers Association.
The 1939 List of Kansas Newspapers and Periodicals was published in July. It differs from previous Lists in that it is arranged alphabetically by county and city of publication. Under each city or town the papers are arranged alphabetically by title, disregarding city name, frequency and time of day in the title. The List shows 749 newspapers and periodicals being received regularly for filing. Of these, 61 are dailies, one triweekly, 10 Semiweeklies, 495 weeklies, 30 fortnightlies, one trimonthly, 13 semimonthlies, 75 monthlies, 10 bimonthlies, 21 quarterlies, 29 occasionals, two semiannuals and one annual, coming from all the 105 KansaS counties. Of the 749 publications, 165 are listed Republican, 49 Democratic, 278 independent in politics, 93 school or college, 35 religious, 21 fraternal, 16 local and 92 miscellaneous (including four Negro publications).
On January 1, 1939, the Society's collection contained 45,835 bound volumes of Kansas newspapers, in addition to the more than 10,000 bound volumes of out-of-state newspapers from 1767 to date.
The year's extra accessions have again been valuable. Chief among them were the first ten volumes of the New York Weekly Tribune, starting with September 18, 1841, which is volume 1, number 1, to August 30, 1851. The Society now has a practically continuous run of the New York Tribune from 1841 to 1930, when it was replaced by the New York Times. The first volume of the Ottawa Triumph was secured, filling an important gap in the Society's file of this paper. Other papers acquired at this time include three volumes of the Christian Register, Boston, from August 30, 1834, to April 11, 1844; five volumes of the Connecticut Courant, Hartford, from August 11, 1834, to April 17, 1847, and the first volume of the Weekly Chronotype, Boston, from May 28, 1846, to May 20, 1848. Included in the ten bound volumes of the New York Tribune were many single issues of other papers, such as the Peoples Rights, New York, of September 21, 1844; the Buffalo Republic, Buffalo; N. Y., of August 15, 1848, and Le National of France, July 7, 1848. The twenty volumes just described, plus numerous single issues not here listed, were purchased by the Society for $50. Among the important newspapers given to the Society, the following were received from Mrs. F. H. Hodder: The Lawrence Gazette of July 11, 1889, the Weekly Kansas Herald of Lawrence, November 30, 1883, the Globe of the City of Washington, August 31, 1843, and February 29, 1844, the Press Tribune, Chicago, of July 30, 1860, and the New York Herald of May 20, 1875. The Kansas Pioneer, Kickapoo City, of February 28, 1855, was given to the Society by Floyd Shoemaker and Roy T. King of the Missouri State Historical Society, Columbia, Mo. Contributions of other single issues were made by Alma Lord of Rantool, Mrs. D. W. Whitney and Charles D. Yetter of Topeka.
The attendance in the museum for the year was 39,533, an increase of 5,896 over last year, and 44 objects were accessioned. Among the most interesting was a flag of 39 stars from L. R. Hershey, Olathe. Another is a headstone from the grave of Henry Roushi, of Illinois, who died of cholera, May 8, 1849, in Pottawatomie county, on the Oregon trail. It was donated by William Smith, Wamego. A revolver and holster used during the early days of Kansas by Hugh A. Cook, sheriff of Franklin county, and a dagger and scabbard carried
through the Civil War were presented by Mrs. Ida A. Doerk and Mrs. Olive Maxwell. A flag made by the women of Brown county during the Civil War, was given by Mrs. Daisy Halligan.
Total accessions to the Society's collection for the year ending June 30, 1939, were as follows:
These accessions bring the totals in the possession of the Society on June 30, 1939, to the following figures:
The Kansas Historical Quarterly is now in its eighth year, seven volumes already having been published. Much of the credit for the high standard the magazine has achieved among the state historical magazines of the country should go to Dr. James C. Malin, associate editor, who is professor of history at Kansas University. Doctor Malin's criticisms of articles submitted is invaluable. Nyle H. Miller, research director, deserves credit for his excellent work in checking all citations that appear in the magazine and preparing the manuscripts for the printer. The Quarterly is widely quoted by the newspapers of the state and is used in many Schools.
This year is the one-hundredth anniversary of the erection of the first brick building at Shawnee mission. In commemoration of the event the Society issued this month a book of one hundred twenty pages known as the Annals of Shawnee Methodist Mission and Indian Manual Labor School. It is a condensation of a manuscript of four hundred sixty-five pages compiled by Miss Martha Caldwell, a member of the staff of the Society. It is the result of fifteen months' research and represents the first attempt to bring together all available sources in the history of the mission.
The Society also produced a pageant of the mission in cooperation with the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Society, the Colonial Dames, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of 1812, and the Daughters of the American Colonists. Mrs. Lida Weed Myers was employed by the Society to write and direct the pageant and it was presented Saturday night, October 14, in the stadium of the Shawnee Mission Rural High School a few miles from the mission. More than two hundred persons took part in the pageant, including eighty Indians from Haskell Institute, and it was witnessed by more than two thousand persons.
Following the death last fall of Dr. T. J. Vernon, caretaker at the mission, Harry A. Hardy became caretaker January 1, 1939. He is doing good work in looking after these fine old buildings. Since the first of the year the exterior woodwork of the east and west buildings has been painted and much of the interior of the west building was redecorated. The drought damaged many of the trees at the mission and killed a great deal of the bluegrass. L. R. Quinlan, professor of landscape gardening at Kansas State College, Manhattan, made an inspection of the grounds in August. His recommendations for planting and improvements will be carried out so far as appropriations permit.
Work on the restoration of the north building, made possible by the appropriation of $15,000 by the 1939 legislature, will be Started this winter. Last year a request for a PWA project in the amount of $25,000 for this restoration was disapproved because the state's portion was contingent upon the possibility of securing an appropriation from the legislature. When the legislature appropriated the $15,000 the request for this project was renewed. It was impossible to begin the work until a decision was made by the government on the project proposal. This decision, which was received in September, was unfavorable. This accounts for the delay in beginning work under the legislative appropriation.
The first capital, on Highway 40 in the Fort Riley reservation, continues to attract many visitors. During the year ending October 1, 1939, 15,633 persons visited the building, about forty percent being from other states. This is an increase of 1,351 over the preceding year. The exterior woodwork of the building was painted last year and some improvements were made in the grounds. The state architect has prepared plans for the caretaker's cottage to be erected with money appropriated by the 1939 legislature. The first bids, which were opened early this month, had to be thrown out because they were too high. It is hoped that this work can be completed within the next few months.
The Historical Society, in cooperation with a special committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and State Highway Department, has been working on a plan to mark and map the principal historic sites in Kansas. The change in administration, followed by changes in the highway department, made it necessary to postpone this work, but we believe it will be possible to continue it by the first of the year.
The Society has collavborated with the highway department in publishing its weekly detour map. The back of this map carries sketches of a number of
historic sites and incidents, prepared by Mrs. Lela Barnes, a member of our staff. Two complete sets of Sketches have been furnished for these maps.
This report would be incomplete without mention of the members of the staff of the Society. The secretary is pleased to acknowledge his indebtedness to them for the accomplishments noted herein. Recently a splendid appreciation of their work and the resources of this Society came from J. Frank Dobie, professor of English at the University of Texas, and a nationally known writer and authority on the history of the Southwest. He wrote that the KansaS Society was the best state-maintained library in which he had ever worked. The Dallas News, September 10, published a signed article by Mr. Dobie under a three-column heading, in which he wrote in part:
"The trail I was following went on through Abilene to Topeka, the capital of Kansas, and right into the library of the Kansas State Historical Society. There are many, many tracks of Texas longhorns and of Texas cowboys in this Kansas collection.
It is, I believe, the best state library I have had the pleasure of working in. Last year while I was working in the wonderful Bancroft library of the University of California, I was-even in the happiness of work-filled with indignation that Texas has no library of Texas life and history comparable to this California collection. Nor does Texas have a collection of its own materials in print and in manuscript comparable, as respects availability and dignity of setting, to the Kansas collection.
"No, when I consider the wonderful state collections of California and Kansas, and when I consider the wealth of Texas, the boasted patriotism of Texas, . . . I am not proud of Texas.
In the Kansas newspaper collection I found a file of the Texas Live Stock Journal, I have long wished to see. In the file of a weekly newspaper of 1886, I found the serialed chronicle of a Texas cowboy that would make an excellent book. The files of newspapers in the Kansas collection are well bound and well kept. In the University of Texas library many of the old Texas newspapers are in tatters and are falling to pieces. We have plenty of money to bind richly books that nobody reads but none to bind the early Texas newspapers that students constantly consult.
"Go to Kansas to learn how a historical society representing Texas might be dignified. . . ."
Respectfully submitted, KIRKE MECHEM, Secretary.
At the conclusion of the secretary's report, James Malone moved that it be accepted. Motion was seconded by W. C. Simons.
Mr. Rankin then called for the report of the treasurer, Mrs. Mary Embree, which follows:
Interest from this fund of $1,000 is deposited in membership fee fund.
On motion of R. F. Brock the report was accepted.
The report of the executive committee on the treasurer's report was then called for and read by Thomas Amory Lee.
OCTOBER 17, 1939.
The executive committee being directed under the bylaws to check the accounts of the treasurer, states that the state accountant has audited the funds of the State Historical Society, the First Capitol of Kansas and the Old Shawnee Mission from the period August 21, 1938, to August 10, 1939, and that they are hereby approved.
THOMAS AMORY LEE, Member of the Executive Committee.
There being no objection, the report stood approved. The report of the nominating committee for officers of the Society was read by Thomas A. McNeal:
OCTOBER 17, 1939.
Your committee on nominations begs leave to submit the following report for officers of the Kansas State Historical Society:
For a one-year term: Thomas M. Lillard, Topeka, president; Dr. James C. Malin, Lawrence, first vice-president; Charles H. Browne, Horton, second vice-president.
T. A. McNEAL, Chairman,
The report was referred to the afternoon meeting of the board. There being no further business the meeting adjourned until the annual meeting of the Society at 2 p. m.
FROM time immemorial it has been the custom in nearly all organizations and societies I have had anything to do with, for the presidents to render to their respective annual meetings, a report of the year's activities. I have often wondered why.
Invariably, the membership has been kept well informed from time to time by the secretary's office.
In this Society it is provided that the secretary shall make a report of the year's activities, and those of you who were here for the meeting this morning know that has been most ably done.
Let me say to you at the outset that all the credit for whatever may have been accomplished during the past year is due to our very industrious and competent secretary, Kirke Mechem, and his staff of assistants. He has served you well, has served your president efficiently and deserves hearty commendation from both. Most of my predecessors in the office of president of your Society have been chosen from that privileged group of individuals who actually had a living part in the founding and building of our state. They told you some of their personal experiences as pioneers, recalling for you the perils of hardy adventure in their early days.
I was privileged, as a boy, to sit at my father's knee and listen to the telling of his early experiences, filled with excitement, and something of the part he played with other men of his time, who were both adventurers and idealists. I am still convinced that his was no small part in the winning of the West, although I realize now that he was only a young man among the many like him.
For my part, I propose to avail myself of the prerogatives of my office and deliver to you a few random thoughts which I think timely and vastly more important at the moment than any report or recitation I could give you of events in the early history of our state.
In Washington, D. C., there stands a building, one of those recently built in what is called the Triangle, a building that was long needed for the proper care and preservation of the records and documents of our official general government. This National Archives building was authorized by congress in 1913, but the World War caused delay and the first appropriation was not made for its construction until 1926. Ground was broken in 1931; President Hoover laid the cornerstone in 1933, and the building was occupied in 1935.
By an act passed in 1934 congress established the National Archives to administer the materials to be transferred to this building. It has two fundamental objectives: (1) The concentration and preservation in a central depository of the archives of the United States government. (2) The arrangement and administration of these archives so as to make them easily accessible to officials and students who desire to use them.
If you have not visited this building, I advise you to do so when in Washington. You will find it well worth-while just to see the two murals by Barry Faulkner, and meet the founders of our nation face to face.
The building faces south on Constitutional avenue. The broad steps leading up to the massive doorway are flanked by two pedestals supporting heroic size allegoric statues, "Guardianship" and "Heritage"; and carved below them is the significant inscription:
Eternal vigilance is
Under the other we read:
The Heritage of the past
The Kansas Historical Society, as you must know, was organized
at the annual convention, April 7, 1875, of the Kansas State Editorial Association held at Manhattan.
NOTE: Sixty years before the National Archives was organized.
The following were declared to be the objects of our Society: "To collect, embody, arrange and preserve a library of books, maps, charts, manuscripts, papers, paintings, statuary and other materials illustrative of the history and antiquities of the state; to rescue from oblivion the memory of its early pioneers, and to obtain and preserve narratives of their exploits, perils, hardy adventures and patriotic achievements; to exhibit faithfully the past and present condition and resources of Kansas, and to take proper steps to promote the study of history by lectures and other means for the diffusion of information relative to the history and resources of the state."
As early as 1876 the Society was made a public depository of documents published by the United States government.
The Society began as a voluntary association, without recognition by the state, but its collections were brought into the state house from the first. Soon the value of its work became recognized by the state; means were appropriated by the legislature for its support, and rooms in the capitol were designated for its use.
In 1879 a law was passed making the Society the trustee of the state, and defining its duties and its relation to the state. The law declares the collections of the Society to be the property of the state, and the Society has accepted the conditions imposed by this provision. The law broadened the scope of the work of the Society beyond that of a mere collection of Kansas historical materials, to that of making up a general library of reference, especially in the departments of history, science, sociology, and the useful arts.
Just why the general government at Washington was so long in providing for the proper care of what has become priceless material is not easy to explain here. We are told that they have found their materials in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, attics, cellars, warehouses and piled in vaults, damaged and much of it lost forever.
We are impressed more than ever with the foresight and vision of the men who founded this Society, when the state was young, memories fresh and a true picture the more easily painted.
The providing of this building was an evidence of the value and interest placed upon what had and could be done in preserving our records of the past for the future generations.
We have a great responsibility here to see that the work is carried on. The Society has many strong and influential members who are familiar with its work and responsibilities as even you who attend the meetings and carry on the work. You, I know, are all quite familiar with the virtues of our Society, what it contains, what it stands for, what it does for the state and its members, but does the average garden variety of lay citizen of this state know about it in the way he should? I am afraid he does not.
The younger generation of newspaper men know that we are on their free list, probably most of them know that we have the most complete newspaper files in the country.
The library contains one of the most complete collections of historical publications in the West. The museum is outstanding in its field and is visited by great numbers of people, but its fame may lead many to suppose that the Society is more or less a repository for relics of the past-a place only for curios and artifacts.
My experience last winter made me wonder. I found quite a number of the members of the legislature, representatives of the people of this state, who knew little or nothing at all about the Kansas State Historical Society and Department of Archives, not even its correct name, to say nothing of its functions. It was a surprised legislator who came over with a committee to inspect the building regarding needed repairs, and casually mentioned the fact that when they left the house a bill was under discussion regarding the registration and regulation of brands on livestock in the counties of the state.
He was asked if he would like to see some cattle brands that have been recorded and are in the files of the Society.
He said he was interested in the cattle business and had a brand; a quick reference and the attendant showed him the record and design of his brand. He was speechless from amazement. He then learned that we have here in the files over 17,000 brands used by the stockmen of the state, from early times. It is only one of the many valuable and interesting items the Society has in its collections, for the benefit of our citizens.
Our obligation to record and preserve the history of our state, from its very beginning presents an ever-broadening field which grows more interesting as the lights and shadows reflect upon our understanding of times and events.
The Society has just celebrated, on October 14 and 15, the one hundredth anniversary of Shawnee Methodist Mission and Indian
Manual Labor School founded by the Rev. Thomas Johnson. A pageant was presented with the help and cooperation of the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Society and other patriotic organizations. This property, now owned by the state, is under the direct charge and care of this Society. An appropriation was made by the present legislature for the restoration of the north building, one of the three original buildings now standing and possibly holding more of historic interest than the others.
There is a great amount of work to be done and many valuable historic resources will be lost if not properly cared for before it is too late.
Some historic "spots" have been placed under the care of the Society; the Pawnee capitol, Shawnee mission and Pike's Pawnee village are well known. The Oregon Trail Memorial Association, Inc., founded by Ezra Meeker, has a program to mark all historic trails in the West, particularly the Oregon trail and its branches, and the Pony Express. John G. Ellenbecker of Marysville is the regional director for Kansas, and has given much of his time to the undertaking. Other organizations have made their contribution by marking and preserving the memories of places and events. The marking of the Santa Fe trail was a major undertaking and well done. A few other local and small monuments have been placed.
The Kansas State Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the marking of historic places of interest on or contiguous to the state highways, that may attract tourists who pass this way. The Society has furnished a list of 100 places that are worthy of attention, and the highway department has agreed to erect and care for the markers. This is one of the things the directors and members of this Society should encourage and assist in promoting.
The monument in Gage park here in Topeka, just being completed, is erected to the fame and glory of the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. It tells the story from the meeting of the Indians by the Spanish explorers, then shows American scouts followed by emigrants and settlers, the first farmers, boys and girls, homemakers, founders of our schools, and our industry and commerce. This monument is perhaps the first of any real proportions yet erected in this state. A monument of outstanding beauty and size has been proposed to honor the memory of every pioneer of the state, to be erected on the campus of the University of Kansas. It has been endorsed and
sponsored by the Old Settlers Society and the Douglas County Historical Society, by the Board of Regents, and by many prominent citizens of the state. When this is built it will be worthy of our state and the men and women who made it. It should become a shrine known all over the land.
In a recent address Rolla Clymer, secretary of the newly-created Kansas Industrial Development Commission, said that one of the objectives of the commission would be the promotion of our recreational resources, the publicizing of our natural and historic places of interest to the tourists and the citizens of the state.
We as a Society can subscribe to that program fully. I am sure the commission will have our hearty cooperation in every way possible.
There are many places of natural interest that should be taken over by the state for preservation. They will become real assets to the people of the state when developed properly for their recreation.
The Kansas Academy of Science began a study in 1931 of certain areas in the state which, because of scenic beauty, geological interest and ecological reasons, should be preserved for posterity. Two years ago their committee reported on one place and urged the director of the United States National Park Service to recommend to the President that "Rock City," an area of giant concretions, approximately three miles southeast of Minneapolis in Ottawa county, be set aside as a national monument. The area is not only strikingly unique geologically, but is not duplicated anywhere else in the world. The academy issued a pamphlet setting forth a detailed description and a map, with a request for support from other organizations of the state. As far as I am able to learn, nothing has come of the request.
A Bulletin of the University of Kansas, entitled "Scenic Kansas," by Dr. Kenneth K. Landes, describes "Rock City" along with twelve other places of great interest and value, as recreational and historic centers if and when developed for that purpose. This bulletin came out in 1935 and I believe is still available. A joint resolution by the committee on state parks and memorials was introduced and passed by the house of representatives in the last session of the legislature, which provided that "Rock City" of Ottawa county, Monument Rocks, the Sphynx and Castle Rock in Gove county, and Natural Bridge in Barber county be placed under the care of the State Historical Society, whenever the areas named in the act should be deeded to the state without cost.
The measure failed in the senate because an estate holding title to "Rock City," would not accept the amount of money the citizens of Minneapolis had raised to pay for the land in order to present it to the state. All other areas were agreed upon without charge by the owners. The resolution came up so late in the session there was not time for the proponents of the measure to get the "Rock City" matter adjusted and it was lost in the senate committee.
I believe all these places and others should be taken over by the state for their protection and preservation because they have great value as recreational centers, and will attract many tourists and sight-seers to our state. They have an economic value for that reason. The chalky rocks of Gove and Logan counties are famous over the world for the fossils that have been found in them. They have been worked for many years without restriction and will become a total loss if not controlled.
It is my belief that the state should have a department of conservation to administer these and perhaps other historic places for the benefit of our future generations.
Now let me close by telling you that my tenure of office has been an interesting experience. I assure you I have appreciated the honor of being your president far more than I can tell you. I can only thank you and hope my successor will find it as enjoyable as I have.
An address by Henry J. Allen on "Propaganda in Posters" followed the address of the president. This was a discussion of the World War posters displayed in the lobby, a collection assembled by Mr. Allen during the period of his service in Europe and presented by him to the Society. The collection numbers 173 items and is one of the finest in the country.
Mr. Allen was in his best form as a public speaker and adroitly extended his subject to include pungent comment on current trends and the national outlook.
The report of the committee on nominations for directors was then called for:
OCTOBER 17, 1939.
Your committee on nominations begs leave to submit the following report and recommendations for directors of the Society for the term of three years ending October, 1942:
T. A. McNEAL, Chairman,
On unanimous vote of the members of the Society, the report of the committee was accepted and the members of the board were declared elected for the term ending October, 1942.
The reports of representatives of other societies were called for. Mrs. M. Y. Griffin, president of the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Society presented the report of that organization. The Rev. Angelus Lingenfelser, secretary of the Kansas Catholic Historical Society, presented the report of that society. The secretary reported the receipt by mail of the report of the Riley County Historical Society. He also spoke of the generally flourishing condition of local societies, mentioning in particular the Lyon County Chapter of the Kansas State Historical Society with more than 400 paid members.
John C. Nicholson, of Newton, reported on his effort to compile a list of settlers of Harvey county who arrived prior to 1877. There being no further business the annual meeting of the Society adjourned.
The afternoon meeting of the board of directors was then called to order by Mr. Rankin. He asked for a rereading of the report of the nominating committee for officers of the Society. On motion of James Malone, seconded by H. C. Raynesford, the following were unanimously elected:
For a one-year term: Thomas M. Lillard, president; Dr. James C. Malin, Lawrence, first vice-president; Charles H. Browne, Norton, second vice-president. There being no further business the meeting adjourned.