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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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Mar 5, 2014 by Patricia Michaelis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year was 1935.  Southwest Kansas was in the midst of the Great Depression but it was also suffering from a multi-year drought.  Rainfall in southwest Kansas was never plentiful but it normally averaged around 18 inches per year in western Kansas.  Between 1930 and 1940, the average was 15.25 inches with the lowest rainfall during that time period occurring in 1934 with an average of 11.14 inches.  Because of the prolonged drought, conditions were extremely dry and western Kansas suffered horrific dust storms in late March and April in 1935. It is difficult to imagine the intensity of these storms but, fortunately, photos and postcards of these clouds of dust have been preserved.  While most of the storms occurred in western Kansas, some of them reached eastern Kansas.

Lillian Foster kept a scrapbook that contains postcards, photos, newspaper clipping, and her own accounts of her experiences with dust storms in Ness City, Kansas.  The content of the scrapbook gives an excellent overview of the impact of the dust storms.  Lillian Foster scrapbook

The Kansas Emergency Relief Committee (KERC) was established to provide work relief in Kansas.  They undertook a number of projects across the state including a number of water conservation efforts.  The KERC produced an accomplishments movie that included footage of dust storms.  This film is available at KERC Accomplishments Film, segment 11.  A large population of jack rabbits created problems by eating the sparse vegetation so drives were organized to try to control them as illustrated in segment 10 of the KERC video.

 

Residents of western Kansas had to deal with the dust storms and their results.  Many people wore masks to keep from breathing in the dust and farmers had to deal with drifts of fine dust all over their farms.  Those who endured the dust storms and remained in western Kansas experienced a period of ample rainfall and prosperity during the 1940s.  We hope the current drought in western Kansas is broken long before dust clouds can be formed.

 

 

 

Jan 8, 2014 by Jocelyn Wehr

You never know what you will find in a collection of records. The Menninger Archives has a group of records called the Historic Psychiatry collection.  Within that group of records are three letters that relate to Dr. Karl Menninger receiving an autographed copy of Robert Frost’s poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," originally written in 1922.  In a note written September 1, 1959, Dr. Karl explained how he came by the autographed copy of the poem.  He had shared a room with Dr. Merrill Moore at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in May 1940.  Dr. Moore was a well-known psychiatrist but also a poet.  Dr. Karl and Dr. Moore were sharing a room because the hotel was full.  Moore recited the Frost poem and Dr. Karl wrote that he “was entranced.”  Apparently, Dr. Karl wrote Dr. Moore after the conference.  On June 6, 1940, after sharing niceties, Dr. Moore responded that “Oddly enough the day your letter came Robert Frost was in my office consulting me so as he left I asked him to sign this poem for you.  Needless to say, he was delighted to do it.”  Enclosed with the letter was a typewritten copy of the poem with Robert Frost’s autograph.  He also wrote:  “To Dr. Karl Menninger of Topeka Kansas through the thoughtfulness of Dr. Merrill Moore of Boston, 1940."

 

[Post written by Pat Michaelis (Research Collections Division Director)]  


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