TOPEKA – Humanities Kansas recently awarded $10,000 to the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in support of “Voices from Congressman Dole’s Kansas, 1960-1968” exhibition and public programs. Audrey Coleman serves as project director.
“We are excited to receive this support and look forward to connecting our exhibit to the broader discussion happening as part of the Humanities Kansas Smithsonian Crossroads initiative in late 2020,” Coleman said. “It will be interesting to compare the conversations of the 1960s with those we having today.”
“Humanities Kansas supports projects that examine change over time,” said Julie Mulvihill, Humanities Kansas executive director. “This project uses the archival materials of U.S. Senator Bob Dole to explore rural Kansas in the 1960s and asks us to consider our future.”
The proposed exhibit, scheduled for opening September 2020, will emphasize perspectives of everyday Kansans while comparing and contrasting them with the leadership response from Dole and his colleagues in federal government. These perspectives will be drawn from unique archival resources: constituent letters, oral histories, newspaper accounts, photos and legislative working papers. Likely topics will include government aid programs, farm and business development, natural resource management – the concerns of everyday life – as well as contemporary social and political movements, nationally and internationally. Virgil Dean, Kansas historian and former editor of Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, as the 2020 Dole Archives Curatorial Fellow, will serve as guest curator.
“Dr. Dean has been a highly regarded scholar of Kansas history for many decades. His significant experience with political papers and political history of the state makes him ideal to assess these little-seen materials and help us present the story they tell to the public,” Coleman said.
“Constituent correspondence is a rich but underutilized resource that goes far beyond mundane policy in what it reveals about the correspondent. I look forward to exploring this and other parts of the institute's collection as we examine Dole's Kansas at the grassroots during the 1960s,” Dean said.
The exhibition and opening program will debut in the newly renovated Elizabeth Dole Gallery and Reading Room, which will open in December 2019.
About Humanities Kansas
Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, its pioneering programming, grants and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with partners and supporters, Humanities Kansas inspires all Kansans to draw on history, literature, ethics and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state. Visit humanitieskansas.org.
Photo: Congressman Bob Dole with his staff, ca. 1961. Courtesy Dole Archives