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Background Image men and women in gas masks during dust storm

Hope in Hard Times

Banner Photo: Residents of Liberal donned gas masks for protection during dust storm, 1935. Image courtesy of kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

In this Movement of Ideas kit, you will engage with ways Kansans dealt with hard times in the past:

Right now, we’re thinking not only about the health and wellbeing of friends and family, but also about the economic impact that the need for self-quarantine is having on small businesses, restaurants, and shops around our state, as well as their many employees.  

Now is the time to learn from our history about how to respond quickly and nimbly to unexpected shifts in our society and our economy.  Over the course of the 20th century, Kansas faced a number of changes that caused both social and economic hardship for its citizens. To name just a few examples, the Great Depression forced Kansas shops and businesses to close; the Dust Bowl sent farmers from across the Great Plains west in search of employment; World War II compelled some Kansans to leave home while others got behind the plow and onto the factory floor; and the Great Flood of 1951 resulted in over $725 million in damages across the state.

How Did Kansans Respond to Hard Times?

As always, Kansans were resilient.  Explore how Midwest communities responded to these historic crises through the following free resources.

  • Making Do and Doing Without: Kansas in the Great Depression, published by the University of Kansas and available for free at KU ScholarWorks, provides a series of articles about life in Kansas during this challenging period.
  • Read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan, a masterful overview of the dust storms and their consequences for agriculture and people on the Great Plains. Set up a Dial-a-TALK phone or virtual conversation with one of HK's TALK discussion leaders about The Worst Hard Time or any of the other books in "The 1930s" TALK series (pg. 6 in the TALK Catalog).  Contact abigail@humanitieskansas.org to set up a Dial-a-TALK discussion. 
  • Explore the titles in HK's "World War II Generation" TALK series (pg. 45 of the TALK catalog), choose a title, and then again, Dial-a-TALK by following the instructions above.
  • Check out our Reader’s Theater script, “Dam the Rivers!” about the 1951 Great Flood and put on a mini-reenactment with your family.  Then, read about a more recent incident of flooding in Wilson County in southeast Kansas in the essay, “Strange Things Rising in the Flood.” It reveals some of the ways in which Kansans have and can come together to help each other out in times of crisis.

Join the Movement of Ideas: Share Your Story

As you explore these resources and think about the economic impact that COVID-
19 is having in your community, become a Story Chaser and share your micro-story about how people are coing together to help one another with us on social media or via email at tracy@humanitieskansas.org. We're listening!




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