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Moments of Glory - Part 3

Mary Wyatt's pocket knife.

Professional Achievements:
People Outstanding in Their Fields

For centuries work has been such an important part of our lives that people's identities are based on their occupations.

Many last names, such as Cooper or Miller, refer to the occupation of an ancestor.

People who do exceptional work are sometimes rewarded with money and promotions, but many also receive symbolic awards.

We've all seen offices with diplomas, plaques, and trophies, as well as uniforms with special insignia. These tell us something about the person's qualifications and commitment. Some scholars suggest that such mementos comprise material biographies of the value of someone's life.

Professional awards are given for outstanding accomplishments and long-term service. They not only reward the recipient but inspire others to similar accomplishments. Mary E. Wyatt's years with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway were recognized in writing on this pocket knife (top, right). The inscription reads, "31 Years Service with ATSF Ry, Topeka, Ks."

Graduation is a prominent rite of passage in our society. Many of us take part in graduation ceremonies.

Elementary schools and even preschools have graduation ceremonies, but the practice is not new. High school graduations are rich with ceremonial objects, from mortarboards and robes to special jewelry and formal announcements. College graduations often signify the transition to the working world.

Gavel used by Nancy Landon Kassebaum.

A number of objects are associated with a successful political career, and there is a great deal of ceremony associated with nominations, campaigns, and elections.

Nancy Landon Kassebaum served as U.S. senator from Kansas from 1979 through 1996. This gavel (bottom, left) recognizes her position as the Deputy Permanent Chairman for the 1984 Republican National Convention.


Moments of Glory is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.

  1. Introduction
  2. Competition: Everybody Loves a Winner
  3. People Outstanding in Their Fields
  4. Social Approval: The Good, the Bad, and the Role Models
  5. Personal Milestones
  6. Brushes With Greatness
  7. Creativity: Following the Muse
  8. Collections

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov