History of Kansas FFA, rural life being preserved with help of Kansas State University undergraduate researchers

The Chapman Center for Rural Studies, in Kansas State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $2,000 gift from the Kansas Association of the Future Farmers of America in recognition of the work of undergraduate student researchers about rural life in Kansas.

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Manhattan FFA members assisting with hybrid corn tests in 1944. From left are Bill Hosier, Wayne Roesener and Clifford Barry.

Katherine Sundgren, a junior in history, Leonardville, is digitally preserving a collection, including newspaper clippings, that documents the history of the FFA back to 1928 in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the organization.

Center director Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, associate professor of history, was first made aware of the collection in the spring and decided that it was the perfect project for a summer intern.

“The history of the FFA is integral to both the history of Kansas agriculture and Kansas State University,” Lynn-Sherow said. “The collection highlights the work of young adults dedicated to agricultural leadership, and whose stories feel simultaneously foreign and intimate to our current student interns.”

The Chapman Center provides undergraduates with hands-on training in valuable professional skills such as accessioning, digital preservation and even film editing.

The FFA hopes to make these digital resources openly available to the public through a web-based exhibit about the Kansas chapter.

“I was a part of my high school’s FFA program for four years,” Sundgren said. “It’s nice being able to help preserve a long tradition for future generations to enjoy the rich history that surrounds the FFA program. I’ve seen how important it is to many members of my community and I’m glad that my work here helps keep the tradition alive.”

“As we look forward to the 100th anniversary of FFA, the Kansas chapter is excited to partner with the Chapman Center for Rural Studies in collection and documentation of the rich history of agricultural education,” said Mary Kane, who is with the Kansas FFA Association.

The large collection includes hundreds of photos, handwritten and typewritten meeting notes, scrapbooks and even film reels that have not been seen for several decades.

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Nelson D. Galle, a Kansas State University alumnus and former chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, served as Kansas FFA President from 1953-1954.

“The partnership between Kansas FFA and the Chapman Center for Rural Studies is exciting as many of the foundational events of the association are due to the commitment of rural Kansas schools,” Kane said. “We are excited with the capacity of the center to make accessible the documents and archives of our history.”

The FFA’s partnership with the Chapman Center is the one of many digital projects the center is engaged in or has completed since 2007, including commercial collections, oral histories, museum collections, slide and film collections, postcard collections and several important family collections that Chapman students use in their published research.

“It’s definitely a win-win for everyone,” Lynn-Sherow said. “Organizations and individuals feel good about preserving the past, while our students gain an appreciation of our collective responsibility to share those stories. They learn to work with and rely on others for the greater good. I can’t imagine a better learning outcome than that.”

Written by

Katherine Sundgren
ksundgren@k-state.edu

Welcome our New Spring 2017 Interns

Join us in welcoming two new Spring 2017 interns to the Chapman Center for Rural Studies: Rachel Hein and Shaun Knipp!

Rachel Hein

Rachel Hein

Hello, my name is Rachel Hein. I am a junior at Kansas State University majoring in history and from a small town in Kansas by the name of Andale. It is in Sedgwick County, which is northwest of Wichita.

When it comes to books, movies, or television shows, I will read or watch almost anything. I’m an avid reader and Netflix watcher. I love how a person can get lost in a good book or TV show and – for a moment – feel like they too are a part of that scene.

I also like to travel to new places. My siblings and I like to travel to state and national parks around the United States. My favorite – at the moment – is Zion National Park in Utah.

My project will focus on the material history of artifacts from Diamond Springs, Morris County, Kansas. I will also do an oral history with a long ago resident of Diamond Springs and owner of the project artifacts.

After I graduate, I hope to move to graduate school and onto museum work, possibly as an archivist. I am stoked to be an intern for the Chapman Center for Rural Studies. I look forward to making new friends and gaining more knowledge of what it really takes to be a researcher.

Shaun Knipp

Shaun Knipp

Shaun Knipp is our next Chapman Center “first-semester intern.” He is a senior studying secondary education with an emphasis in social studies. He will student teach this Fall semester.

He will be working on a project detailing the history of a local ranch. Shaun will piece together the public records and genealogical ties related to the property and figure out the role the ranch played in the shaping of the Flint Hills community.

He will also conduct several interviews with people in the surrounding community. Shaun will also develop his skills with photography and drones as well as video editing. He will also learn to incorporate GIS information into the project.

He is extremely excited about this opportunity knowing he will employ this experience into his future classrooms!

You are welcome to drop in and meet the interns and staff of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies!

“Schoolmaster Stratton” and his scholars

Jacob Stratton

Jacob Stratton

Although he masqueraded as “Schoolmaster Stratton,” an early 20th Century one-room school teacher in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, Jacob Stratton was volunteering his talents as an elementary education major to rural Kansas students. 

As part of a celebration of the Flint Hills for Kansas Day 2017, Jacob taught a spelling lesson using nothing but a wooden pointer and large animal cards.  Each grade stood to recite, as they would have done 100 years ago. His students represented Kindergarten through 4th graders of Maple Hill Elementary as well as Alma Elementary School.

Jacob was happy to share his knowledge of rural Kansas and represent the Chapman Center for Rural Studies. He was a student in Dr. Morgan’s Fall 2016 Lost Kansas Communities class.

“It was exciting to have an opportunity to use what I learned in my Chapman course. And it was great to work with children on Kansas Day, especially with the focus on the Flint Hills.”

Some of the materials Jacob used were part of the “Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills” exhibit recently concluded at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. One-room schools of Wabaunsee County were represented in a detailed poster. Chalk Schoolhouse contributed mid-twentieth century activities and toys such as Jacob’s squirrel card.

“The squirrel was a hard one to spell,” he said, “but everyone did great with the bee!”

Brad & Lin’s Excellent Adventure

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Future, as stands at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Photo by Brad Galka

“What is past is prologue.”  – William Shakespeare

Located on the northeast corner of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., sits the sculpture, “Future,” with Shakespeare’s words inscribed on its foundation. This fall, Chapman Center for Rural Studies (CCRS) Editorial Assistant, Brad Galka, and CCRS Intern, Bo Lin, worked together to plan a research trip to the Archives and other resources in the Capitol. While there, Brad took the photo of “Future” at right.

It is unusual for a graduate student to collaborate on a research trip with an undergraduate student, but the Chapman Center has a history of fostering cooperative work as illustrated in the “Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills.”

Brad Galka in front of the White House. Photo by Bo Lin.

Brad Galka in front of the White House. Photo by Bo Lin.

Though Brad and Lin researched separate topics, they learned both needed to access information found only in the physical National Archives and – in Lin’s case – the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. While discussing their respective projects around the Chapman Center library table, they discovered each needed to travel to Washington, D.C. and decided to travel together. By joining forces, they ensured reliable traveling companionship and a colleague on-site to help strategize research, transportation, and dinner!

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Bo Lin in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Brad continues to refine his master’s thesis regarding fascism in America between World War I and World War II. Lin was finishing his discovery of primary sources concerning Carmelite priests who once lived in Scipio, Kansas.

Lin found three volumes of books which helped to flesh out the Carmelite history in Scipio, Kansas. “They included other versions of the story and were really helpful!” said Lin.

While Lin scoured the Carmelite archives, Brad dove into the National Archives looking for Congressional transcripts of testimonies from key public figures of the period between the Great Wars. Unlike Lin, Brad learned much of the primary texts he was hunting are not available. This has caused Brad to pivot towards new means of finding information to support his master’s thesis.

Though they enjoyed the good company of their shared fall research trip, both Lin and Brad recommend planning further than one month in advance to save expenses and avoid the challenges of arranging “last minute” research itineraries.

Chapman Center researchers are known to go to great lengths to find sources and verify their research. We trust the work Brad and Lin accomplished this fall semester will certainly serve as prologue to solid careers in History and the Humanities.

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Library of Congress, Photo by Brad Galka

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Arlington Cemetery, Thanksgiving morning 2016. Photo by Brad Galka

We’re bringing back “Share Your Story” mini-events to the Going Home exhibit

smaller-story-storeYou and a friend are invited to Share Your Story with the Chapman Center for Rural Studies Sunday, December 18; Saturday, December 31; Saturday, January 7; or Sunday, January 8.

Sign up for a 45-minute “interview.” Each designated “Share Your Story” day will include four interview options beginning each hour from 1 pm to 4 pm. Call 785.587.2784 to register or sign-up when you arrive at the Flint Hills Discovery Center, 315 South 3rd Street, Manhattan, Kansas.

Going Home exhibit curator, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, will be available to help start and keep the conversation going. Your interview will be recorded on the StoryCorps “StoryCorps.Me” application and made available to the Library of Congress archives!

Explore the Chapman Center for Rural Studies’ “Going Home” featured exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. You have until January 8, 2017, to discover – and record your own – Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills.

Visit the Chapman Center for Rural Studies on YouTube for more video trailers, student-crafted multi-media projects, and discussions of rural Kansas history.

Explore hidden places of the Flint Hills and their stories! You’ll also be invited to tell us all about what ‘Going Home’ means to you. 

 

Free Going Home Workshops Offered in December

cedar-point-chase_county_1901_platmap_photos_111_cchs_053116You are invited to a Free Restoring Historic Photographs Workshop this Saturday, Dec. 3, 2-4:30 pm, at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in conjunction with our “Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills” exhibit!

You’ll explore advanced Adobe Photoshop techniques to improve digital materials (scans and digital photographs). You’ll also learn how to optimize scanning, restore original coloration, and repair small photo blemishes and irregularities. You are encouraged to bring your own photographs and Photoshop-equipped computers. You can practice a wider ranges of techniques with provided materials and technology. Computer terminals will be first come, first served. Tom Parish is the visiting instructor in Digital Humanities at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies and will lead the workshop. Spaces are limited, please preregister by calling 785-587-2726.

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Free Oral History Workshop
Saturday, December 10, 2016, 2-4 pm

Flint Hills Discovery Center

Join “Going Home” Exhibit Curator, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, for the Free Oral History Workshop, December 10, a lively workshop where you will learn how to conduct your own oral history interviews with friends, family, and more. Lynn-Sherow, Executive Director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies and Exhibit Curator, will offer hands-on instruction in interview technology including the StoryCorps‘ app,  She will share tips for a successful interview. No registration is required. Workshop is free and open to all ages.

As always, you are encouraged to explore the Chapman Center for Rural Studies’ “Going Home” featured exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. You have until January 8, 2017, to discover – and record your own – Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills.

Swing by the special exhibit website at http://goinghome.gallery for a preview of what you’ll find at the “Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills” exhibit!

Adams Peak Cemetery: Adventure in History

Lost Kansas Communities Students and Gravestones

Blog by Mallory Harrell, CCRS Fall 2016 Intern

In September, Dr. MJ Morgan, her Lost Kansas Communities class, and other interested visitors participated in a field trip to the Adams Peak cemetery located in western Pottawatomie County. The cemetery had once been a part of the town of the same name, now long gone. Dr. Morgan’s purpose of the trip was to give students opportunity to learn about the process of deciphering and drawing information from head stones which are often rich sources of historical research.

Adams Peak lies within the Shannon Township of Pottawatomie County. It was named for the small hill that was reportedly located near the site of the community’s post office. This cemetery and the names etched upon the stones are all that remain of the town.  The gravestones yield what may seem like a Adams Peak Gravestonemodicum of information which can be absolutely vital in forming a cohesive part of the history of any town.

Using the gravestone inscriptions, students were able to construct a simple history of the toll disease took within Adams Peak town. Student research later confirmed epidemics of scarlet fever, diphtheria, and small pox in the area. This was especially supported by the tragic abundance of small children’s graves within the cemetery. In particular, one family had appeared to have lost four children to disease in a very short period. Many of these stones were very difficult to read due to their age, which resulted in many students adopting whatever position necessary to read them.

in the grass at Adams PeakFor example, the grave being examined in the photo at right, is one of the oldest in the cemetery. This student found it necessary to lie flat on his stomach to read it.

Dr. Morgan commented that this field trip marked a record for her as the 75th rural Kansas site visited and also being an opportunity to allow students from five different Chapman Center Courses to explore visible evidence of the past. According to Dr. Morgan: “This was Mark Chapman’s original vision for our Center. He wanted K-State students to learn by going out into the hidden places of Kansas, even if it meant – as with Adam’s Peak – encountering these sad stories of human struggle and loss.”

It’s no secret that history can be full of tragedy, but it’s clear that no tragedy can shake the human spirit that is constantly at work within human society throughout the ages. By learning about the sad events of yesteryear we become wiser in our endeavors for the future. It is the duty of any historical researcher to preserve those lessons taught by the past and to make sure that we continue to search for them wherever they may be.