Congratulations to this year's graduates, the Class of 2015! In celebration, here are some vintage postcards of Kansas colleges. Click on a postcard for a full description.
Want to see more vintage photos of Kansas colleges? Click here, then look for your institution in the blue box in the upper left corner. Along with hundreds of photos you'll find film clips of 1940s KSU-ESU football games, a scrapbook of KU campus life, and a variety of college memorabilia.
Bird's-eye View, Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas
Main Building, Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas
Davis Hall, Friends University, Wichita, Kansas
Haskell Indian Nations University Stadium Entrance, Lawrence, Kansas
Kansas Normal College, Fort Scott, Kansas
Cadets Drilling, Kansas State Agricultural College (now KSU), Manhattan, Kansas
Bird's-eye View, Kansas State Agricultural College, Manhattan, Kansas
Lockwood Hall, Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina, Kansas
Main Building, Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina, Kansas
Marymount College, Salina, Kansas
Sharp Hall, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas
McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas
Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kansas
Carney Hall, Manual Training Normal School (now Pitt State), Pittsburg, Kansas
Central School (now Pitt State), Pittsburg, Kansas
Russ Hall, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas
St. Mary's Jesuit College Entrance, St. Mary's, Kansas
Fire at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas
Campus View, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas
Lincoln College (now Washburn University), Topeka, Kansas
Washburn School (now Washburn University), Topeka, Kansas
Washburn University Campus, Topeka, Kansas
Fairmont College (now WSU), Wichita, Kansas
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
In 1879 and 1880, freedmen (former slaves) sent around 1,000 letters to Kansas Governor John St. John seeking information on migration to Kansas (the Exoduster movement). Governor St. John replied to many of these letters. This exchange between Kansas’ highest official and the freed people of the South documents the hardships, hopes, and misconceptions of southern blacks at the end of Reconstruction.
Community and religious leaders penned many letters on behalf of others, such as small communities or churches. Most of the letters seek to discern truth from fictions--as Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, "Father of the Exodus" advised--about settling in Kansas.
Though the envelopes have not survived, many letters were likely addressed to “John St. John” instead of the “Governor of Kansas.” Isaiah Montgomery explains: “note that I address you without prefixing title in order that the letter may not attract undue attention. Nothing is too hard to suspicion of this Country where it has been the custom for a century or more to ransack the mails to prevent the circulation of documents breathing the spirit of freedom.”
Upon receiving a letter, the Governor’s Office summarized its contents on a memo, noting the author’s name and date, and pasted the memo to the back of the letter. Staff filed the letters first by subject (i.e. “immigration – Negro exodus”) and then in chronological order. St. John or his secretary would then pen a response and “press” a copy of the reply into a letter press book. Pressing involved wetting copy paper (often referred to as “onion skin”) with water, interleaving letters between these wet pages, and applying pressure to the whole until ink from the letters transferred to the copy paper. Too much or too little water could result in a poor copy.
Since many correspondents wrote the governor back after receiving his letters, it is obvious that many of the governor’s letters reached their intended audience. But did the governor intentionally conceal his title/office on the envelope as some of the letters request? Again Isaiah Montgomery: “Please address an answer (as early as convenient) with no mark on the Envelope to denote that it comes from the Capital or any official.”
Here at the State Archives, we hold both the original letters sent to Governor St. John and copies of his responses “pressed” into letter press books. All correspondence received by the Governor has now been digitized and transcribed and is available on Kansas Memory.