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Kansas History - Forthcoming issue

Volume 43

Autumn 2020

Cheyenne White, “Display/ced Ad Astra: Public Memory and the Kanza Indian on the Cupola.”

Atop the Kansas state capitol sits an obvious yet unobtrusive figure, Ad Astra, a 22-foot-tall Kansa warrior. It is a hard to miss yet little discussed part of Kansas identity and history. Exploring the visual and aesthetic traditions surrounding Ad Astra, and how Kansans came to have an Indigenous figure representing the state, is the focus of this article. For example, the author looks into the wider historical and aesthetic contexts that shaped the figure. By looking at the history of Kansas, including interactions between the government and Native peoples, as well as larger artistic and cultural trends that may have influenced the creation of the figure, Ad Astra can be seen to represent much more of Kansas’ history and identity than what may be immediately apparent. Without such information, the figure stands isolated and decontextualized atop the capitol, with no readily accessible information for a public frame of reference. Questioning why there is so little known about this figure by everyday Kansans is a major theme explored here, along with an analysis of the cultural, artistic, and local processes of public memory—of whom we decide to remember and whom, or what, we choose to forget.

Mordecai Lee, “Harold D. Smith: From Central Kansas to FDR’s White House.”

During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt’s budget director, Harold D. Smith, played a central role in managing federal taxing and spending to cover the costs of the war and reorganizing the federal government to improve the management the war effort. While largely forgotten today, he was on the cover of Time magazine in 1943 because of his important, but low profile, role during the war. Smith was born and raised in Kansas, graduated from the University of Kansas, and held his first job at the League of Kansas Municipalities in Lawrence. This article presents Smith’s early Kansas life and professional career as a prelude and preparation for his later role in FDR’s White House. It also details his later links to Kansas, including being a featured speaker at KU’s 1941 commencement ceremony. His speech was broadcast live on a national radio network. That was his last visit to his home state. He died in Washington in 1947, and his gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery notes his Kansas roots.

Thomas Fox Averill, “Collection Review: Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection, a Literary Archive, Mabee Library, Washburn University. History.”

The Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection [TFAKSC], housed at Mabee Library on the Washburn University of Topeka campus, is ten years old. With its roots as the personal library of an academic who taught “all things Kansas”—literature, folklore, film and related studies area—the collection holdings have doubled (from 2,500 to over 5,000 items since becoming a public entity. The core mission of the TFAKSC is to collect the broad range, historical and contemporary, of writing by Kansans, or about Kansas, as well as documenting the artistic activities that define and express Kansas as a place. This article defines the current holdings of books, as well as the wide assortment of literary papers, literary magazines, Kansas-based personal libraries, photography and art that is part of the collection. Other sections describe programing and projects, from an annual Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award to classes taught using TFAKSC materials. After noting important liaisons with other libraries, the article looks to the future of this Kansas literary resource.