Jay Price

Volunteer History commentator

Jay M. Price is chair of the department of history at Wichita State University, where he also directs the public history program.

His works include Temples for a Modern God: Religious Architecture in Postwar America, Gateways to the Southwest: The Story of Arizona State Parks, Wichita, 1860-1930, and El Dorado!: Legacy of an Oil Boom. He has co-authored Wichita's Legacy of Flight, Cherokee Strip Land Rush, Wichita’s Lebanese Heritage, and Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley.

He has served on the boards of the Kansas Humanities Council and the Kansas State Historic Sites Board of Review. He is currently on the board of the Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum and the University Press of Kansas.

Ways to Connect

Just a month ago, the WSU departments of History and Philosophy returned to their old home on campus, Fiske Hall, after a several-year exile to other buildings due to major renovations.

Historically, societies along the Great Plains have organized along watersheds that form backbones to the states that have developed. Nebraska, for example, is the state of the Platte River. Its main cities, from Omaha and Lincoln in the east to Scottsbluff in the west, follow the Platte in part because the Union Pacific’s main line also follows that river course.  

At a picturesque national cemetery inside a volcanic crater above Honolulu, crews with shovels and backhoes are digging up hundreds of long-nameless U.S. dead from the Korean War and turning them over to a nearby Pentagon lab for identification.

The massive disinterment project is giving hope to thousands of aging family members that they may finally know what happened to missing fathers, brothers, husbands, and uncles.

This fall, a group of students and I participated in the Day of the Dead event at the Nomar International Market. We had with us a large, blown up map of the North End from the 1950s, showing all the individual houses, stores, and other structures. People could write on the map or put in pins with tags that showed what the given building was and why it was significant to them.

constitutionus.com

While the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence hold true today, the mechanisms of those ideals were rooted in a specific time and place. The founding fathers created our system right at the tail end of the pre-industrial era. Most people were engaged in agriculture, travel was difficult, food, information, and defense were largely local, and worldly cosmopolitan perspectives were the privilege of the educated and wealthy few.  

ReverbNation

Last Sunday, a memorial service took place for Harry Dobbin, a member of the bands Sawdust Charley and the Funtones. He was also the graphic artist who made possible the recent book on Wichita rock & roll from 1950-1980. I still remember the work he did to arrange all the elements for the cover. Dobbin joins the ranks of so many Wichita rock figures who have recently passed.

Today, Planeview and Hilltop Manor in south Wichita are reminders of a time when World War II aircraft production required the creation of workers’ housing. Designed to be temporary, these communities have lasted well beyond their expected lifespans. Aging facilities and changing demographics remain challenges for residents, landowners, and local officials.

In May 1871, Wichita founder James Mead famously led a team of horsemen out to divert a cattle drive from going through Park City, returning the cattle trail to its original route by Wichita. The drovers had planned to go west of Wichita up to Brookville because of the efforts of Henry Shanklin, an agent with the Kansas-Pacific railroad. While the so-called “four horsemen” are celebrated as local heroes in Wichita, Shanklin often gets dismissed as the one who failed. However, his story is just as interesting.

Wichita can be considered the “bumblebee city.” If the bumblebee is the insect that should not be able to fly but does, Wichita is the city that shouldn’t be here but is. A visitor to the area in 1871 would have been well advised to bet on Newton, on a major transcontinental route, as the dominant community of the area. 

When studying issues in the press of a given time, it is essential to compare as many different publications as possible. The Wichita Eagle and Wichita Beacon, founded as the city’s Republican and Democratic papers, respectively, often took remarkably different views of an issue.

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