Tag Archives: Kansas City History

Moving a Museum

Hello, my name is Philip Bland and I am the Collections Intern at the American Royal Association. Most people know the American Royal for its barbecue contest, livestock shows, or horse shows and few know that the American Royal has its own museum. For the past year and a half I have been working under the Director of Education, Kristie Larson, to help digitize the museum’s collection catalog and implement some best practices in collection storage. This semester though, we are pivoting from addressing current needs to looking towards the future.

Last October, the American Royal Association announced the relocation of its events and offices to a brand new facility located in Kansas City, Kansas. With it, the American Royal plans to incorporate an education center in addition to its current museum. With the prospect of a brand new museum at a new location, one of the first questions posed to me was how do we move the collection? This semester I will be working on developing an action plan for how to move/store the collection to the new museum. Also, I will provide a list of collection storage needs and options for the new museum. While working on this plan I will be reaching out to other museum professionals in the area that have also recently gone through moves or facility upgrades that required their collection to be moved and/or stored.

I am excited to take on a project that will expand my knowledge of collection management and also provides an opportunity to network with other museum professionals in the Kansas City area. I hope to pass on some of the knowledge to you as well throughout the process.

Philip Bland

LaBudde Special Collections Transcription: Learning to Hear

Today I began two transcriptions which, though similar in focus, couldn’t have resulted in more diverse work experiences.  One was an individual monologue about the gay scene in Kansas City since the 1960s.  The other was a round table discussions of the different experiences of a group of lesbians in Kansas City.  While the monologue flowed fairly smoothly and demanded more focus on grammatical form, due to the narrators use of pauses and vocal delivery, the round table require more nuanced attention.  With frequent interruptions, laughter, and joking among the narrators as they seamlessly flowed off of and into each others conversations, I found myself needing to stop and learn the narrator’s unique voices.  While the first project demanded I try to understand the rhythm and meaning of the narrator’s delivery (to know what should be a period or comma), the other demanded I listen for distinct voice markers.

In both cases I needed to hear the individual quality of the narrator’s voice, but in different ways.  I couldn’t simply type out what I heard.  In the monologue, without first hearing the narrators rhythm and broader topic, I could very easily structure the statements incorrectly.  In the round table interview, the general lack of names being given before speaking and the boisterous free-flow of conversation, left me confused without better context.  Though both required topical context, the round table drove me to become familiar with the voices themselves.  In both transcriptions I needed to start orienting myself a few minutes into the recording, not at the beginning.  This was a new experience compared to those stories I had heard since childhood which start at, you guessed it, the beginning.  I needed to not only hear the rural style to “Pat’s” Midwestern voice as opposed to the higher pitched, New Jersey fast pace of Giselle’s voice; but I also needed to hear the more nuanced differences between the rich tones of Sue’s Davenport voice  and Bev’s Kansas City voice.

The longer I listened, over and over, I started to hear the vocal tones of different laughs and the patterns of different speakers.  I began to become familiar with their voices, to know them.  I began to really hear them.  Sometimes foreign to the historical voices of monographs and journal essays, the recordings brought be into a more challenging and more personal type of history.  It was challenging, disorienting, and a little unsettling.  But it was also beautiful.  The struggle to discover the voices of the historical agents was present, just like in other forms of research, but in new ways.  It wasn’t enough to hear the narrator’s voice, to get their words, but I had to discern their voice for its distinct qualities.  It wasn’t enough to know the words and actions of the historical agent, but what makes them different from other historical agents.  Today was a wonderful example of literally learning to hear the voices of those in the past who I had never heard before, and I can’t wait to hear what they will say next.

LaBudde

GLAMA

Vinyl to World Wide Web

By Kelly Hangauer

I am currently in transition.

Now that the archiving process of the John B. Gage collection is complete, and digital audio files have been made and stored on Missouri University’s server, it is time to move on to a new phase of the project—the public history phase.

logo-horizontal-288pxUsing a free and open source site called Omeka, I will be showcasing the John B. Gage collection online. Omeka is a product of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and it encourages historians, scholars, archivists, and librarians to publish their work with ease. The product and the ideas behind it are pretty incredible, and I am excited to discover its possibilities!

My current task, and what I have been working on for the past week or so, is to pinpoint the sound clips that will be the most intriguing and representative of the collection. Considering the hours upon hours of material, this is a bit overwhelming. It is slowly coming together, though, and I hope to be uploading material onto the Omeka site very soon.

Image is from the L.P. Cookingham Photo Collection at the LaBudde Special Collections

“Aerial View of City from City Hall, 1942” – Image is from the L.P. Cookingham Photo Collection at LaBudde Special Collections

In addition to the original collection, I will be supplementing the material with pertinent sound bytes from the Arthur B. Church KMBC collection, as well as including images taken mostly from the LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC. This project should give researchers a good taste of what audio they can find on John B. Gage, while also giving casual explorers an interesting insight into Kansas City history.

 

 

Marr Sound Archive Internship

By Kelly Hangauer

image-2-1My name is Kelly Hangauer. I am a senior at UMKC and I will be graduating with a History B.A. and German Studies minor in May 2015. This semester I am embarking on an archiving internship that will focus on the John B. Gage collection. So you know, John Gage was the mayor of Kansas City from 1940-1946 and was a part of the reform movement that “cleaned up” local government after years of economic and political misrule under Tom Pendergast. Housed in the Marr Sound Archives, Gage’s collection of records, cassettes, and reel-to-reel tape will hopefully offer greater insight into this important time in Kansas City history.

image-3-1The second I walked into the Marr Sound Archives, I knew I had made the right decision. Inconspicuously placed in the bottom floor of the Miller Nichols Library, the Marr Archives is a gold mine; its contents include hundreds of thousands of recordings of popular and obscure music, government programs, radio broadcasts, oral histories…the list goes on.

My first task was to organize, label, and systematize the random collection of records that were in John B. Gage’s box. Some of these records included glass disks that were beginning to weather, along with 6 and 10 inch records that were lacking identification. Using Excel, I set up an organizational process from which the records could be digitized. Numbers were assigned, descriptions were made, and fresh new sleeves were marked.

The mysterious records were then transformed into a digital format. Scott, the sound engineer, let me observe his process. His space is reminiscent of a recording studio and contains multiple types of reel-to-reel players and record players. After finding the appropriate stylus, Scott let the records roll as we discussed the sonic surprises he has encountered over the years.

Now that the collection is getting organized, the next step will be to listen.
scott

 

Finally, a real Historian

Ok… Not really. I am not a real Historian yet, but spending this past Saturday in the Missouri Valley Special Collections sure made me feel that way. It was the first time I have researched there, although I have worked with their website.  I was actually kind of nervous to visit the Special Collections because I have never conducted research in that capacity and while I was confident that they had some of the stuff I was looking for, I could not really be sure until I began researching.

Lib. CardWhen I arrived, I found the staff to be quite attentive and helpful. They had me write down a list of things I was looking for with the collection number or finding aid and then retrieved it for me. I also get an official ‘Research Card’ which I am probably way too excited about.

As they brought me out document after document, I began to feel overwhelmed and hoped that I was finding the right information. Sometimes the documents were filled with all the right information and other times I only found a sentence or two relating to my research. All that to say, I was still impressed with the vast amount of information stored away in their archives in vertical files. I only found a few items that I needed to research that the MVSC did not have any documentation for.

photoPerhaps my best success was with the church histories that are contained in manilla folders in the vertical files. Not only did these contain detailed architectural histories, but also rich detail about the history of the church from its formation (usually in the late 1800s) to its present congregation and location. This information was helpful because some of the other churches I have researched, their information located in Religious Property Surveys, are more about architecture and make it difficult to tease out the history of the congregation itself or religious organization. To the left is an example of one of the churches, Country Club Christian Church, and an opening history that the author provided.

Overall, I found my experience at the MVSC to be helpful an beneficial.  I almost felt like a real Historian as I combed through archival materials. The staff there is great and more than willing to help you research. If you are working on a project about Kansas City or Missouri history, this is the place to go!

 

Churches, Churches, and more Churches

photoKansas City is unique in that it is home to so many religious groups and the diverse histories they bring with them. If you have driven down 71 highway, particularly near Linwood Boulevard, you will notice a number of immaculate churches with breathtaking architecture that conjures up images of Old World European cathedrals. I have driven by these churches so many times and always marveled at the dramatic contrast between these massive structures and the thriving metropolis that has grown up around them.  Part of the work I am doing in my in internship deals with the East and Swope District, both of which contain a majority of the city’s churches. The past couple days I have been buried in property deeds and descriptions for many of these churches and while it might sound boring, it has actually been quite fascinating.

I have learned so much how about how the various religious groups in Kansas City divided up the geographic landscape of the city.  I would like to think that I have become a bit of an expert in architectural terms associated with churches such as fenestration, doric porticos, sash windows, stone gables, and buttresses. So why is all of this important? Well, for one, I think it is imperative to understand the historical significance of the churches in our city. They represent much more than a Jewish Synagogue or a Catholic Cathedral. These awe inspiring structures remind us of the melting pot of religions that is Kansas City and how a boulevard like Linwood managed to pack Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, and various other religions into one lane that comfortably coexisted. In another sense, these churches stand as symbols of a dedication to archictecture that is rarely seen in our modern world. Essentially, an effort to create cathedrals that call to their old European predecessors versus the more modern church structures built today. These magnificent buildings serve as a reminder of the old and the new in Kansas City, standing out in their ancient appeal against the backdrop of a fast developing city.

JPEG1Sadly, some of these amazing churches have long since been abandoned. Fortunately, some have been repurposed into various business or similar purposes. My favorite example is the B’Nai Jehudah Temple that looks as if the Parthenon itself had been dropped into Kansas City. Today that temple is the Robert J. Mohart Multi-Purpose Center. While it seems rather unfortunate that the building is no longer occupied by the original congregation it was designed for, it is nice that the building is being used and not abandoned. If not used as churches I think it is important to preserve these structures not only because of their historical significance (this temple was home to the largest Reform Congregation in Kansas City and the largest reform group in the Midwest), but because of their architectural significance.  It is one of the fines examples of Greek Revival structures in the city and should therefore be preserved and maintained.  The best part about working with all of the property descriptions of these churches is learning the dual histories of the architecture and the original congregations. It has certainly made me appreciate all the immaculate churches and cathedrals I have driven by in the city.