Local History in Lawrence

Photo by Nick Krug

Photo by Nick Krug

Two recent pieces by the Lawrence Journal World about history in Lawrence. The first from Tuesday’s paper, “Ohio professor working to create historical markers to help remember Lawrence’s past.”

Rick Sheridan, a native of Lawrence, has been passing around laminated historical markers to local businesses and such to advertise Lawrence’s association with history. Some examples cited by the paper:

§ John Brown in Lawrence — Brown gave a speech in downtown Lawrence on Sept. 14, 1856, as tensions escalated between anti- and pro-slavery settlers.

§ William Saunders Crowdy — The preacher founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ religious movement in Lawrence in 1896. Crowdy worked for the railroad, and Sheridan wants to place a marker inside the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Depot near Seventh and New Jersey streets.

§ Langston Hughes in Lawrence — The legendary poet spent his childhood years in Lawrence and attended church and Sunday school at St. Luke’s A.M.E. Church, 900 N.Y.

§ Kennedys in Lawrence — On Nov. 7, 1957, the future president and then-Sen. John F. Kennedy spoke to a large crowd at KU’s Hoch Auditorium. His brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as a senator and presidential candidate, spoke to a capacity crowd March 18, 1968, at Allen Fieldhouse.

It is often forgotten how deep Kansas’ roots go. His highlighting of its recent, and not so recent, past exposes students and new migrants (like myself) to a social and political history that is still in motion.

“Lots of people consider Lawrence to really be the birthplace of so many different social and political movements,” Sheridan said. “Everybody’s knows about the (KU) basketball team, but there’s really a lot more to be discovered.”

Photo by Nick Krug

Photo by Nick Krug

Yesterday, LJW published a piece on the Watkin’s Community Museum (1047 Mass), accompanied by a video from the local news. It follows the preservation of letters and other documents by an early mayor of Lawrence, A.L. Selig. “Selig was integral in forming Lawrence’s first sewer system and having Massachusetts Street paved in bricks,” the article states. Selig’s letters are being brought to life by interns from KU and Haskell Indian Nations University.

Despite the controversies surrounding the museum, Exhibits Coordinator Helen Krische recognizes the potential gains for students, and for the future of America’s ever struggling museums.

“Most museum studies students begin working in small museums. They have a need to wear many hats, to do many jobs, and this certainly will prepare them for that.”

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~ by Daniel on July 24, 2009.

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