Workshop Schedule

The workshop will be offered twice. Thirty-six participants will be selected for each week.

Session I: June 20-25, 2021

Session II: July 18-23, 2021

*Session I and Session II will follow the same schedule.

**Applicants must indicate on their application form which session they would prefer.

Monday: Monuments and Memory

Scholars will spend the first day of the workshop learning about the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the nation’s official World War I Museum and a National Historic Landmark. The Liberty Memorial was financed by individual contributions from residents of the region to honor those who served in the Great War. The site was dedicated in 1921, when all five allied commanders gathered before a crowd of over 100,000; in 1926, President Calvin Coolidge officially opened the Egyptian revival style monument. At the turn of the twenty-first century, citizens supported efforts to approve a sales tax to pay for restoration of the memorial and to create a new museum, which opened in 2006. The state-of-the-art museum contains recreations of trenches and exhibits that explain the origins of the war and its effects on ordinary civilians and the military. 

By engaging with the National World War I Museum and Memorial, scholars will learn about the important role that the memorial has played in the civic life of Kansas City as well as explore how the meanings attached to the memorial have changed over time. The memorial initially helped fulfill Kansas Citians’ dreams for their city in addition to honoring the American men who died in service in WWI. Today, the museum and memorial educate the public on the history of the Great War.

Asynchronous activities:  

Synchronous activities: 

Scholars will engage in discussion with Keith Eggener about his lecture on “Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial: Remembering Then and Now.”

Lora Vogt, Director of Education at the National World War I Museum, will discuss the digital archival resources that the museum makes available and facilitate a conversation on best practices for incorporating museum content into teaching.  

Jason Roe and Dacia Rzchowski will hold virtual office hours to discuss lesson plans. 

Photo of NWWIMM

National World War I Museum and Memorial (Flickr Photo by Lane Pearman)

Tuesday: Politics and Progress in Kansas City’s Golden Age

Through an examination of President Truman’s career, Wide-Open Town Scholars will reflect on the important role that Kansas City style Democratic politics played during much of the twentieth century. A special focus of the discussion will be how the racial politics of Kansas City influenced both Truman’s worldview and the Democratic coalition that emerged in mid-century America. Scholars also will have the opportunity to view artifacts and documents related to Truman’s life and presidency and to conduct research for their lesson plans. 

Asynchronous activities:  

  • Lecture by Jeffrey Pasley on “Big Deal in Little Tammany: Kansas City, the Pendergast Machine, and the Liberal Transformation of the Democratic Party” 
  • Virtual tour of the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. This site features a modest Victorian house built by Mrs. Truman’s grandfather in 1867. The Trumans lived there after their marriage in 1919 and it was known as the Summer White House while President Truman was in office (1945-1953). Truman lived in this house until his death in 1972. 
  • Virtual tour of the old Jackson County Courthouse, where Truman presided as county judge. 
  • Virtual tour of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum. Opened in 1957, the Truman Library houses Truman’s personal papers and presidential files, along with oral histories, audio visual collections, and over 10,000 books on the president and his tenure in office. The complex also contains a museum that outlines Truman’s personal story and the history of his presidency.

Synchronous activities: 

Scholars will participate in a group role-playing activity facilitated by The White House Decision Center. The White House Decision Center offers experiential learning exercises designed for both students and adults. Participants assume the roles of advisors and the press to simulate one of Truman’s crucial decisions. Experiencing this hands-on approach to history provides an authentic understanding of the power and pressures of the presidency. Scholars will tackle Truman’s 1948 decision to desegregate the armed forces as the simulation topic because this decision was greatly influenced by his time as a politician in Kansas City.  

Scholars will participate in a breakout session with Jeffrey Pasley on the outsized influence of the Pendergast political machine. 

Led by a Truman Library archivist, scholars will discuss how to bring museum materials into the classroom. 

Photo of Truman Home

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site (Flickr Photo by Frank Thompson Photos)

Wednesday: Culture at an American Crossroads

By viewing the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site and seeing his work displayed, Wide-Open Town Scholars will learn about the cultural environment of Kansas City and how its residents’ artistic output influenced national trends. 

Through a critical engagement with the Country Club Plaza and Country Club District, participants will assess J.C. Nichols’ design sensibility and suburban planning efforts, while grappling with the long legacy of his discriminatory practices, in particular the development of racially restrictive covenants in his neighborhoods. While aspects of Kansas City urban development were pioneering, the urban plan and built environment of Kansas City in many ways reflected nationwide trends of the era. 

Asynchronous activities:  

  • Virtual tour of the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site. Thomas Hart Benton is Missouri’s most famous twentieth century painter and one of the nation’s most influential artists of American Regionalism. He studied and worked in Chicago, Paris, and New York before returning to Missouri in 1935. Hired to teach painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, he bought this house in 1939 and lived there until he died in 1975. He developed friends in the city’s creative and cultural community and was commissioned to paint major works for the State Capitol and the Truman Library and Museum. He was proud of creating common art for the common man as well as his efforts to enhance Kansas City’s reputation as a cultural mecca. His studio in the adjacent carriage house was left exactly as it was when he died.   
  • Lecture by Henry Adams on “Thomas Hart Benton and American Regionalism”  
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art virtual visit. When the museum opened in 1933, it was a testament to the city boosters’ dreams for the growing city. Today, the art museum contains a significant collection of early twentieth century American art, including several works by Thomas Hart Benton and other American Regionalists.  
  • Virtual tour of the Country Club Plaza and Country Club District. Created and developed by pioneering Kansas City real estate developer J.C. Nichols in 1922, the Country Club Plaza is the first US shopping center designed for the automobile. The original buildings have a unified Spanish revival style, featuring fountains, statues, and outdoor cafes. Nichols also planned and built surrounding neighborhood communities, which featured winding roads, small parks, and restrictions on building styles, costs, and ownership. 

Synchronous activities: 

Participants will engage in a discussion with Henry Adams about Thomas Hart Benton and the examples of American Regionalism they observed in the Nelson-Atkins collection.

Scholars will meet with education specialists from the Nelson-Atkins Museum to discuss strategies for integrating art into the curriculum.

Scholars will be led in a discussion of the environment and legacy of the Country Club Plaza and Country Club District by Dr. William Worley, an expert on the history of Kansas City’s development.

Photo of Nelson-Atkins Museum

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Flickr Photo by Chris Murphy)

Thursday: Breaking Barriers in a Segregated City

Wide-Open Town Scholars will learn about the 18th and Vine Historic District, Kansas City’s historic African American neighborhood. This neighborhood was a thriving residential and business district during the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as the site of the city’s famous Prohibition era club scene, the cradle of the Kansas City jazz style, and the home of the Kansas City Monarchs baseball team (Jackie Robinson’s team before he integrated Major League Baseball). 

By engaging with the sites and history of the 18th and Vine Historic District, Wide-Open Town Scholars will explore how Kansas City’s African American community experienced the constraints imposed upon them by racial segregation, while also taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the wide-open nature of Pendergast era Kansas City. In the process, this community made major contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States.

Asynchronous activities: 

  • Film about the 18th and Vine Historic District
  • Virtual tour of the 18th and Vine Historic District led by Chuck Haddix
  • Virtual tour of the American Jazz Museum
  • View the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s eMuseum
  • Lecture by John Herron on “Making Meat: Race, Labor, and the Kansas City Stockyard”
  • Interviews of community members who lived in segregated Kansas City

Synchronous activities: 

Wide-Open Town Scholars will engage in conversation with Raymond Doswell, Vice President and Curator of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Participants will have the opportunity to listen to a round table discussion among community members who lived in segregated KC. 

Wide-Open Town Scholars will hear from local jazz musicians affiliated with the Mutual Musicians Foundation about their careers and about the important role that the organization has played in the Kansas City music community and in the preservation and dissemination of the KC jazz style. Originally the Colored Musicians Local 627, the Foundation was organized in 1930 as a social club for musicians and fans. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1981 and is known locally for its Friday and Saturday late night jam sessions.

Photo of the Blue Room

Blue Room Jazz Club

Friday: The City Looks Toward the Future 

On the final day of the workshop, participants will learn about Guadalupe Centers. Once a settlement house for Mexican immigrants in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood attached to the area’s Catholic church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Guadalupe Centers is now an educational and social service agency for the KC Latinx community. The current building, down the street from the church, was built in 1936 in the Spanish Mission style and contains facilities for K-12 classes, vocational training, and recreation. Through their engagement with this site, Wide-Open Town Scholars will explore the long history of the Mexican immigrant and Mexican–American community in Kansas City as well as the importance of the Latinx community to the city’s future.  

Asynchronous activities: 

  • Documentary about Guadalupe Centers
  • Guadalupe Centers online exhibit 
  • Lecture by Sandra Enríquez on “Fostering Mexican American Community: The Guadalupe Center and Kansas City’s Westside” 

Synchronous activities: 

Participants will engage in a discussion with Sandra Enríquez on her lecture, “Fostering Mexican American Community: The Guadalupe Center and Kansas City’s Westside.” 

The morning will conclude with a lightning round in which Wide-Open Town Scholars will present their ideas for final lesson plans and projects. 

Photo of Guadalupe Centers

Guadalupe Centers (Wikimedia Commons by Mwkruse)