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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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Colmery desk

Colmery desk
Date: between 1943 and 1944
Wooden desk with green leather top. Harry W. Colmery (1890-1979) sat at this desk at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. while hand-writing the first draft of what would become the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, over a period of five months. The desk was later moved to Colmery's law office in Topeka.

George Clarke's desk

George Clarke's desk
Date: between 1854 and 1856
This desk was brought to Kansas Territory by George W. Clarke, an Indian agent, slave owner, and ardent slavery supporter. A notorious proslavery leader during the Bleeding Kansas era, Clarke was suspected of killing a free-state man, Thomas Barber, near Lawrence in 1855. He was never convicted. In 1856, Clarke sat reading by this desk at his home near Lecompton when someone shot at him. Clarke was uninjured but the desk did not fare as well. The bullet passed through the front of the desk and left a divot in the surface of the drawer directly behind it. The hole left by the bullet can be seen in the image of the closed desk as the dark spot below the keyhole and near left-center. Clarke was eventually driven out of the territory in 1858.

Governor George Hodges' desk

Governor George Hodges' desk
Date: between 1870 and 1930
This walnut partners desk once belonged to Kansas Governor George Hodges and his brother Frank. The desk was used at the general office of the Hodges Brothers Lumber Company in Olathe, Kansas. Born in Wisconsin, the Hodges came to Johnson County, Kansas, at an early age. They established a lumber company in 1889 that proved highly successful. Both men were members of the Democratic Party and held political ambitions. George served as the nineteenth Governor of Kansas from 1913 to 1915, and Frank was elected Mayor of Olathe in 1899. The desk appears to have been hand-fashioned from other furniture components, perhaps assembled at the Hodges Lumber Company.

Quindaro desk

Quindaro desk
Date: between 1856 and 1861
This walnut desk was used by abolitionist Fielding Johnson in Quindaro, Kansas. The word "Quindaro" is painted on the back of the desk. The town of Quindaro was settled by anti-slavery activists and was part of the Underground Railroad that helped move escaped slaves to freedom. Fielding Johnson, a merchant and agent to the Delaware Indians, was known to aid fugitive slaves.

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