Making History Exhibit Wins Two Awards

MA Public History Emphasis students Leah Palmer, Kate Carpenter, Samantha Hollingsworth and Taylor Bye receiving their award at the NCPH conference in Las Vegas in March 2018.

The UMKC History Department and Center for Midwestern Studies are proud to announce that six of our MA students in the Public History Emphasis—Taylor Bye, Kathryn Carpenter, Samantha Hollingsworth, Leah Palmer, Kevin Ploth, and Jennifer Tufts—have received two awards for their exhibit Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights. The project chronicles Kansas City’s pivotal role in launching the LGBTQ movement prior to the Stonewall riots, and began as part of Dr. Christopher Cantwell’s Public History Theory and Method course in Fall 2016.

Making History was awarded the National Council on Public History’s Student Project Prize. NCPH gives the award to “an outstanding public history student project initiated as academic coursework and implemented and recognized beyond the classroom for its contribution to the field of public history.” In addition, the exhibit won the the Alice Smith Public History award from the Midwestern History Association.

Making History is currently touring different libraries and universities across the region. For more information visit

CMS Partners with Archiver to Produce a Podcast Series on the KC A’s

The Center for Midwestern Studies is proud to announce that it has partnered with local reporter Sam Zeff and the podcast he hosts, Archiver, to produce a series that explores the history of the Kansas City A’s. Archiver uses archival tape to bring the past to life for its listeners. Joining the Archiver team for this series is UMKC Public History student Michael Spachek, who is assisting with research and production. The first three episodes of the Kansas City A’s series, in addition to past episodes of Archiver, can be streamed here.

“Strength through Numbers” Symposium on Quindaro, KS, April 19-21, 2018

Symposium LogoThe symposium “Strength through Numbers,” scheduled for April 19-21, 2018, will contribute to the process of designating the ruins of the Quindaro townsite as a National Historic Landmark. The symposium will begin with a keynote address by University of Washington historian Quintard Taylor on Thursday, April 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Branch, 14 W 10th Street, Kansas City, Missouri. On Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, symposium sessions will be held at Memorial Hall, 600 North 7th Street Trafficway, Kansas City, Kansas. The symposium is cosponsored by a number of partners, including the Center for Midwestern Studies, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, the Kansas City Public Library, the Missouri Humanities Council, UMKC’s Black Studies Program, and UMKC’s Department of History.

Quindaro, Kansas was a port town founded in 1857 as a safe harbor for free-state migrants and escaped slaves, after pro-slavery residents blockaded all other ports on the Missouri River. The community was home to Native Americans, whites, and free blacks, and became a vital stop on the Underground Railroad. On April 19, Dr. Quintard Taylor, a specialist in African American history in the American West, will deliver a lecture about this community entitled “Quindaro: The Coming of Freedom in the Decade of Civil War.” Dr. Taylor’s talk will explore the history of the Kansas-Missouri border region from 1855-1865 – the forces and events that led to vicious fighting along the Kansas-Missouri border, brought about the establishment of the town of Quindaro, and ultimately resulted in the end of slavery in the United States. This event is free but registration through the Kansas City Public Library is required.

The symposium sessions, on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, will bring scholarship about the historical significance of the Quindaro community to a broader public audience, and facilitate discussions about the future of the historic site. Admission to the symposium sessions is free. To view a schedule of the sessions, or to register, please visit the Quindaro Symposium’s event page on the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area website.

Edward E. Baptist, White Predators, Free States: From the Fugitive Slave Act to George Zimmerman

White Predators, Free States

On Thursday, April 5, at 6:30 pm, Cornell University historian Edward E. Baptist will deliver the annual Richard D. McKinzie Lecture. His talk, entitled “White Predators, Free States: From the Fugitive Slave Act to George Zimmerman,” will address the history of race relations in the United States since 1856. Baptist is a historian of capitalism and slavery in the United States, and the author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism and Creating an Old South. His work highlights the central importance of slavery to the economic development of the United States. The discomfort caused by this truth is often alleviated, at least in part, by reference to the Underground Railroad – the network of activists, usually depicted as white, that helped slaves escape to the North. But this narrative obscures the much larger network, backed by the authority of the federal and state governments and supported by the majority of the white population, that existed to hunt escaped slaves and to control the lives of African Americans who lived in so-called free states.

The McKinzie Lecture will take place at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri. The event is free and open to the public, but a reservation is requested through the Kansas City Public Library.

This event is co-presented by UMKC’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Midwestern Studies, Bernardin Haskell Lecture Fund, History Department, and High School/College Partnerships program.

Historic Marker Honoring KC LGBT History to be Unveiled in Downtown KC

glama-eventBronze plaque commemorates 1st-ever Meeting of National Gay and Lesbian Rights Activists

In 1966, 39 national LGBT civil rights leaders joined each other to plan strategies and develop collaborations. They met, for the first time ever, at the State Hotel formerly on 12th and Wyandotte Streets in Kansas City, Missouri.

That small, 2-day conference included major gay and lesbian political figures from both the east and west coasts. There were representatives of the Mattachine Society, including founder and Missouri native Hal Call; the two founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian advocacy group; founding members of ONE, Inc., out of Los Angeles. This consortium became known as the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations – “homophile” a term used at the time as we use “LGBT” today.

Immediately after the Kansas City meeting, Drew Shafer and other local organizers formally established the Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom, Kansas City’s first gay advocacy organization.

In partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, LGBT-KC, a community volunteer committee, is unveiling an historical marker across from the hotel site, commemorating both the 50th anniversary of that historic meeting and the founding of the Phoenix Society. GLAMA and LGBT-KC have been working for nearly two years with representatives of City Hall and Visit KC on the marker project.

“We are thrilled to shine a light on this hidden piece of Kansas City history and milestone of the struggle for LGBT civil rights in America”, said David Jackson, a member of LGBT-KC.

GLAMA has planned several talks and presentations leading up to the unveiling event.

Sunday, October 16     2:00 pm    
“Phoenix Rising: the Homophile Movement comes to Kansas City”
Kevin Scharlau, award-winning historian of Kansas City homophile history
Kansas City Public Library | 14 W. 10th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105   (816) 701-3400
This event is part of the Missouri Valley Speaker Series

Tuesday, October 18     6:00 pm
“Before Stonewall: the First Generation of LGBT Activism”
John D’Emilio, U. of Illinois – Chicago Emeritus Professor of History and noted LGBT historian
UMKC Student Union | Student Union, 5100 Cherry St, Kansas City, MO 64110

Thursday, October 20     5:45 pm
Unveiling Ceremony | Introducing the bronze historic marker commemorating the first-ever national meeting of LGBT rights activists, and KC’s first LGBT advocacy organization
Barney Allis Plaza, northeast corner at the intersection of 12th and Wyandotte Streets.

Speakers: Kansas City Council members Katheryn Shields and Jolie Justus
Performance: Members of the Heartland Men’s Chorus.
Reception: Post-unveiling, at the Phillips Hotel 106 W 12th St, Kansas City, MO 64105

Event Partners Include: LGBT-KC Committee; UMKC LGBTQIA Programs and Services; UMKC Departments of Communication Studies, English, History, Theater, and Women and Gender Studies; Kansas City Public Library, Visit KC


quindaro_call_for_papers_2016Quindaro: The Intersection of Abolitionist Politics, Freed Blacks, and a Flourishing Community
Proposed Symposium Date: Fall 2017
Contact: Liz Hobson, Education & Interpretation Manger, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area

The historical significance of the townsite of Quindaro, Kansas, is an established but growing topic thanks to the diligent work of enthusiasts and the site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  The history of the community is essential to the telling of the larger national story of abolitionist and antislavery politics in the Civil War era, race relations, women’s suffrage, native peoples, the Civil War in the West, and other significant stories of our nation. This symposium will contribute to the process of designating the ruins of Quindaro as a National Historic Landmark that will encourage new research, bring this scholarship to a broader public audience, and facilitate discussions about the future of the Quindaro site.

Purpose: Exploring the multi-faceted historical significance of Quindaro, Kansas.

Research and papers will be presented through panel sessions and workshops at a weekend long symposium in Kansas City. The papers sought are intended to be included in a published edited volume. The papers will also be included in a website that combines all presented scholarship and will serve as an online repository of primary sources related to Quindaro

Suggested themes and topics that may be addressed in the papers include, but are not limited to:

  • The pivotal role of Quindaro as a port for Free Staters entering Kansas
  • Meaning of “abolitionist,” “free state,” and “free labor” in the context of pre-Civil War Kansas
  • How the role of state-sovereignty was defined
  • Quindaro as an intersection of American culture
  • What role did Kansas and Missouri play in the development of the Civil War?
  • How should we commemorate Quindaro?
  • Historic Quindaro Western University
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Native Americans
  • Women’s Suffrage
  • Land Speculation

This symposium welcomes submissions from:

  • Professional Scholars
  • Researchers and Public Historians
  • Authors
  • Community Members
  • Descendants of Quindaro citizens
  • Students

Submission Details:
Deadline: November 14, 2016
Format: A one-page abstract with working title; C.V. or resume

Contact/Submission Instructions: Please address proposals and inquiries to:
Liz Hobson
Education & Interpretation Manger
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area
P.O. Box 526
Lawrence, KS 66044

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Great Plains

greatplains-CFPThe Great Plains: An Environmental History
Workshop: May 22-25, 2017
Kathleen A. Brosnan and Brian Frehner, Principal Investigators and Editors

We solicit papers for a National-Science-Foundation-funded, interdisciplinary workshop that explores the environmental history of the North American Great Plains from western Texas to southern Canada. Qualified papers from the workshop will be included in a volume edited by Kathleen A. Brosnan (University of Oklahoma) and Brian Frehner (University of Missouri – Kansas City) and published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

We seek papers that collectively contribute to a redefinition of the region and its environmental history by exploring how technological adaptations, rather than disasters such as the Dust Bowl, have shaped the history of this environment and the people who inhabited it. Submissions should ideally move beyond decline and exploitation as defining ecological narratives of the region and examine the Great Plains by emphasizing one or more of the interrelated themes of water, grasses, animals, and energy. Moreover, technological adaptations can be defined in the broadest sense. We particularly encourage proposals that emphasize the longstanding role of native people in shaping environments throughout the region.

Travel and lodging expenses, as well as most meals, will be provided for workshop participants. The workshop will take place at various Oklahoma locations from May 22-25, 2017. In addition to the papers sessions, the workshop tentatively includes introductions to archival and museum resources at the University of Oklahoma in Norman; travel to Stillwater to observe grasslands management strategies such as prescribed burning; a visit to the Osage Tribal Museum in Pawhuska; and travel to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to witness the effects of patch burning and to see bison in their native habitat.

The selected participants will join a group of scholars who have already committed to this project including Clint Carroll, Michael Lansing, Mark Palmer, Jonathan Peyton, Molly P. Rozum, Natale “Nat” Zappia, and María Nieves Zedeño.

Penultimate drafts of the papers will be due one month in advance of the workshop. We also plan to podcast the workshop live to high school students and will ask participants to share, in advance of the workshop, sample primary documents for a website for those students.

Please submit a 300-500-word paper proposal no later than September 30 to Kathleen Brosnan ( and Brian Frehner (

For additional information, please go to

Center Received $5,000 FFNHA Interpretive Grant

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and University of Missouri – Kansas City are pleased to announce that The Center for Midwestern Studies is the recipient of an Interpretive Grant in the amount of $5,000 for the project Wide Open Town: Kansas City during the Pendergast Era.

The Wide Open Town program is a collaborative effort between the UMKC Center for Midwestern Studies and the Kansas City Public Library, producing new scholarship on the history of Kansas City during the interwar period.

The 1920s and 1930s were particularly vibrant years for Kansas City, often described as the city’s “Golden Age.” City boosters could claim a new position of economic dynamism, highlighted by such events as the construction of Liberty Memorial and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as well as hosting the 1928 Republican National Convention. Cultural developments flourished, most notably resulting in Kansas City becoming a key location in the history of jazz music. Of course, all of these events were intertwined in a political, social, and economic landscape fraught with machines politics, vice, and long histories of people fighting for their rights and freedoms. The project will include a public conference and an expansive website to provide scholars, teachers, students, and the interested public with a valuable resource on Kansas City, its history, and the larger national narrative of the period.

The Wide Open Town Conference will be held on April 1st and 2nd at the Kansas City Public Library – Plaza Branch, 4801 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64112. The forum will include a keynote address from Stanford University’s David Kennedy, a Pulitzer-Prize winning scholar of this era. His public lecture will discuss the importance of this period, as well as place the Kansas City narrative in a national context. In the public conference to follow, the invited scholars will present their work to a public audience.

The Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant program was started in 2012. Since then, more than 25 projects have been awarded grant funding. Grant projects have been completed on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border, in the 41-county region that comprises the heritage area.

Projects awarded grant funding must interpret local history, and connect to one or more of the three major themes of the heritage area: the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War, and the enduring struggle for freedom. Grants range in amount from under $1,500 to $5,000. All awards over $1,500 require that the grant recipient show a local match of half the amount of the award. This match can be in the form of cash, or in-kind donations and staff and volunteer time.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas in the U.S. Heritage areas are nonprofit affiliates of the National Park Service (NPS). They act as coordinating entities between the local organizations telling nationally significant stories and the NPS.

Freedom’s Frontier was established as a heritage area on October 12, 2006, when signed into law by President George Bush. The heritage area’s management plan was approved by the Department of the Interior and the NPS in 2010. Freedom’s Frontier is headquartered in the Carnegie Building, 200 W 9th St., in Lawrence, KS.

The Center for Midwestern Studies, located in the History Department at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, promotes and explores the history and culture of the American Midwest. First established in 2002, the Center has grown into a dynamic organization that serves as an intellectual hub for cultural organizations, K-12 educators, students, and members of the public who are interested in the history of the region. Our mission is to encourage and disseminate innovative research, teaching, and public programming about the American Midwest. The Center facilitates conversations between the public, scholars, educators, and cultural institutions to gain a greater understanding of this diverse region.

The Kansas City Public Library, established in 1873, has emerged as a center of civic discourse and self-education through a wealth of free public programming featuring historians, economists, novelists, as well as visual and performing artists. In the process of fulfilling its mission to serve as “a doorway to knowledge for all people in our community,” the Library has received considerable recognition, including, in 2008, the Gold Medal for excellence in service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, recognizing our public programming, youth services, and its “Books to Go” program. In 2014, the American Library Association recognized the Library as the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Library Programming Award.

Grant applications are accepted from organizations within the borders of the heritage area which have signed a partner pledge with Freedom’s Frontier, and meet all other qualifications for grant funding. Applications are reviewed quarterly by a peer group from the partnership. Organizations are asked to complete their grant projects within a year of the grant award. For more information about Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, visit the Web site at

AHA Career Diversity for Historians Grant

We are thrilled to announce that the UMKC History Department is one of only five Ph.D. programs awarded a Career Diversity for Historians Departmental Grant from the American Historical Association.

UMKC will use the grant funds to support a one-year professional development networking program for the department’s PhD students. Bringing together librarians, museum staff, and nonprofit professionals, the program aims to introduce students to the many career paths available to historians, and to put them in touch with potential employers in the Kansas City region. Over the course of the 2016-2017 academic year, the department will convene ten meetings, each led by an area professional that works in the field.

See more at: