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Jennie Chinn

Jennie Chinn

Jennie Chinn was executive director of the Kansas Historical Society, the state agency, from 2004 until her passing on April 23, 2022.

As executive director she co-chaired 150th anniversary commemorations for Kansas Territory and Kansas Statehood. She chaired exhibit teams for the Kansas Museum of History and Kansas State Historic Sites, including Kaw Mission and Last Chance Store Museums State Historic Site in Council Grove, reopening later this year. In addition to leading the agency, she also served as State Historic Preservation Officer. Jennie co-chaired the Capital Preservation Committee, among the recent projects were the Brown v. Board of Education mural and work to honor the state’s women’s suffrage movement.

Chinn’s most recent project has been spearheading new exhibits for the Kansas Museum of History. She has overseen planning, input gathering, researching, writing, feedback, working with a design team, and inspiring the Kansas Historical Foundation‘s $6 million dollar capital campaign, which is nearly complete. Her vision continues to propel the new exhibits project, with expected reopening in late 2023.

She was Education Division Director, from 1991 to 2004, and served as interim executive director of the Historical Society in 2002. In her position as education director, Chinn authored The Kansas Journey, the seventh grade textbook for Kansas history, which received the Textbook & Academic Writers Association’s 2022 Textbook Excellence Award, recognizing excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. More than 28,000 students across the state use this text for their studies of the state's history. She co-developed Read Kansas!, history, civics, and government classroom curriculum for primary to high school, beginning in 2006. She served as co-chair of the Kansas history curriculum standards in both 1999 and 2004. She also taught folklore classes at Washburn University from 1986 to 2004.

Chinn joined the Historical Society in 1982 to be the first Kansas State Folklorist. In this position she headed the Kansas Historical Society’s statewide folklife program to preserve and celebrate cultural traditions in 1982.

Chinn was a Kansan by choice, living in the state since 1980. "I am passionate about Kansas history," she said. "The state has been at the forefront of many issues important to the development of this nation."

Earlier in her career Chinn served as a librarian at the Folklore Center at the University of California, Los Angeles; and she taught history, language arts, and speech at the middle school level. She holds a bachelor's degree in humanities and a master's degree in folklore and mythology from the University of California. Chinn lived with her family in Topeka.

Entry: Chinn, Jennie

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2022

Date Modified: May 2022

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.