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Winter 1977, Volume 43, Number 4


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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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Bronze Napoleon III medal

Bronze Napoleon III medal
Creator: Ponscarme, Hubert
Date: 1867
Bronze Napoleon III medal awarded to the State of Kansas at the 1867 Paris International Exposition. The front depicts the bust of Napoleon III, President and Emperor of France from 1848 to 1870. The reverse side reads, "Exposition Universelle De MDCCCLXVIII a Paris, Recompenses, Etat Du Kansas," which translates to "Universal Exposition of 1867 in Paris, Rewards, State of Kansas." The Paris Exhibition was held at the behest of Napoleon III and brought exhibitors to Paris from throughout the world. Though the reason the state received this medal is currently unknown, the French maintained strong ideological support for John Brown's abolitionist movement in Kansas. Hubert Ponscarme, a French sculptor, was commissioned to design this medal based on his success with a previous Napoleon III medal struck in 1857.

Commemorative medal

Commemorative medal
Creator: Weinman
Date: 1972
Metal bar pin with blue grosgrain ribbon and hinged pin and clasp on back. Rectangular box with lid hinged at one end, covered in dark blue simulated leather paper. Lid is padded and lined with dark blue silk. Bottom has insert with slots fitted to medal and pin. Lucille Widsteen received this medal from the U.S. Congress for seizing the wheel of a bus after the driver suffered a heart attack on the Kansas Turnpike east of Topeka on Feb. 29, 1972. She was credited with preventing injury and death to the passengers on the bus by bringing it back on the roadway and to a safe stop.

Distinguished Service Award

Distinguished Service Award
Creator: Medallic Art Company
Date: 1973
Washburn Alumni Association Distinguished Service Medal awarded to Mamie Williams, an African American woman who taught in Topeka, Kansas, schools from 1918 to 1960. Born in South Carolina, Williams moved with her family to Topeka in 1899. She studied mathematics at Washburn College, where she was the only African-American in her class. Williams began teaching in the Topeka area in 1918 and remained there for 42 years. In 1973, she was awarded the Washburn University Distinguished Service Award. The Washburn Alumni Association awarded this medal to Williams in recognition of her contributions to education. The Medallic Art Company of New York manufactured the medal. Founded in 1903, the company was well known for minting prestigious awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, the Peabody Award, and the Newberry Medal.

John Brown medal

John Brown medal
Creator: J. Wurden
Date: 1874
Gold medal showing a bust-length relief of John Brown on one side and an inscription in French on the reverse. The inscription translated reads, "In memory of John Brown, legally assassinated at Charlestown (sic), 2 December 1859, and to those of his sons and his companions, who died victims of their devotion to the cause of freedom for blacks." Members of the John Brown Association, a French abolitionist group, presented this medal to Mary Day Brown, the widow of John Brown, in 1877. Victor Hugo was a prominent member of this group and an outspoken supporter of Brown's activities. The Paris-based association explained its actions in a letter to the George Anthony, the Kansas governor, dated Feb. 2, 1878: "Just before the recent Franco-German war, a subscription committee was organized of French Republicans, for the purpose of presenting to the widow of John Brown a golden medal commemorative of the memory of her husband, of his sons, and of his companions, who died victims to their devotion to the cause of freeing the Blacks. The sending of this medal, delayed by political events, was effected on the 21st of October, 1874." The descendants of John Brown, represented by his son John Brown, Jr., donated the medal to the Kansas Historical Society in 1888.

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