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Kansas History - Forthcoming issue

Volume 45

Summer 2022

Barbara Ehrsam and the Bahá’í Faith in Kansas, 1868–1924

by Duane L. Herrmann

Many streams of thought (philosophical, political, religious) have found a home in Kansas over the past century and a half; some have lasted only briefly, others have become prominent, some though enduring and growing, have remained little-known. This article introduces one of the latter. This traces the arrival of the Bahá'í Faith in Kansas through the life of Barbara Ehrsam, beginning with the first news mention of the religion in a Leavenworth newspaper in 1868, to her invitation to the first Bahá'í teacher in Kansas, hosting a class in her home in 1897, to her participation in a national Bahá'í project before her death in 1924. The Bahá'í community has continued in Kansas from that time and has grown across the state. Remarkably, the Bahá'í community that grew from her home in Enterprise, Kansas was the second in the Western hemisphere after Chicago. How that happened and the difficulties of distance and development, in those early years, is examined and documented here.

Dust Storms, Jackrabbits, and Grasshoppers . . . Oh, My!: Frank “Pop” Conard and His Exaggerated Creations

by H. Jason Combs

Not only were postcards in great demand in the United States in the early 1900s, but countries around the world were also in the middle of postcard hysteria. Unlike their predecessors called “trade cards,” which were primarily intended for advertising a product, many of the postcards produced at this time were real printed photos that captured and presented authentic views of city skylines or country landscapes. Other “faux” cards were referred to as exaggeration postcards which often used humor confront hardships and presented places in a positive light, articulating a sense of regional identity. This was amplified in Kansas, as postcards presented the state and region as a place of abundance and opportunity. This article focuses on photographer and postcard artist Frank “Pop” Conard from Garden City, who began producing postcards in the 1920s and added exaggeration cards—which often included grasshoppers and jackrabbits—to the mix in the 1930s. His intimate, firsthand knowledge of difficult circumstances in western Kansas, joined with his creativity, allowed Conard to capture images that resonated with the public.

Jim Crow in Kansas: African American Life during the Era of Segregation

by Bernard F. Harris Jr.

Jim Crow segregation and the role Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka played in its downfall is well-documented and often covered broadly. However, this article narrows the focus and presents transcripts of three oral history interviews, taken by the Brown Foundation and archived at the Kansas Historical Society, that examine how Jim Crow affected the everyday lives of Americans who grew up under its shadow in the mid-twentieth century. By examining the lives of three African Americans from Kansas—Onan Burnett, Barbara Gibson, and Claude Emerson—one can observe how segregationist policies shaped their lives and, as argued in this article, harmed their psychological well-being by marking them as different from other Americans. In this article, author Bernard Harris shines a light on their ordeals so future generations of Americans have the opportunity to learn from the past and create a better future.

In Memoriam: Jennie Chinn

by Bobbie Athon

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