Monthly Archives: January 2014

Meanwhile, on the 16th floor…

city hall

City Hall on a cold day in January.

By Matthew Reeves

It isn’t everyday that UMKC students get to pass through the metal detectors at City Hall, but last Thursday, Dr. Cantwell, Natalie and I did just that. We were on our way up to the 16th floor, more specifically, the Kansas City Historic Preservation Office. Dr. Wolf, the city’s Historic Preservation Officer, will be heading up our internship project. We met with him to find out more.

After a quick elevator ride, we intrepid HistoryMakers stepped out onto the sixteenth floor. The Historic Preservation Office is, in many ways, exactly what you’d expect: a small reception area, a few cubicles, and then stack upon stack of records stored in filing cabinets, three-ring binders, and card catalogues. There are even a few genuine well-worn historical atlases that help tell the tale of KC’s historic built environment.

Seated at a conference table, we discussed our project, a revision and reissue of Kansas City: A Place in Time. Dr. Wolf showed us a copy of the last printing, from 1977. The tall, narrow volume resembles a pamphlet on steroids. A Place in Time contains images of Kansas City’s most notable historic buildings, combined with a short (1 paragraph) architectural and historical synopsis of each property. The last printing included fewer than 200 listings, but for our project, we interns will be doing research and writing on many more locations.

Natalie, Dr. Wolf, and the author (what a ham).

Natalie, Dr. Wolf, and the author.

Part of the revision includes combining and redefining some historic neighborhood boundaries. For instance, in the 1977 edition, there were separate sections for the Westside, Downtown, and the Northeast. Now, those sections have been combined into one district, as you can see listed on the map below (I’m sure we’ll come up with a better name than “Downtown/Westside/Northeast,” but it works as a placeholder for now).

Natalie and I divided the workload by district; I took Downtown/Westside/Northeast, Crossroads/Midtown/Westport, and Martin City/Hickman/Little Blue. Armed with our spreadsheets and typed printouts of the extant building descriptions from the previous edition, we are officially on the job! After a brief tour of the City Council Chambers, Dr. Wolf returned to his office, and we from UMKC ventured back to campus. There’s lots of work to be done.


Working Map for Historic Districts, courtesy Kansas City Historic Preservation Office


Example spreadsheet containing Kansas City Historic Properties


History Maker!

By Caitlyn Eckard

Hello! My name is Caitlin Eckard and I am in my 2nd year of graduate school in Public History. My areas of expertise include women’s history, the American West, and local history. I also work for the Johnson County Museum as an educational assistant. I enjoy my work at the museum, but I would also like to gain some skills on the collections side of the museum world. Hopefully my internship at the American Truck Historical Society will help me to learn some of these greatly needed skills. I am going to be working with their library director cataloging artifacts and digitizing photos. I am excited for all of you to go on this journey with me as well, and I hope we all learn something new!

Preparing to Make History


UMKC’s HistoryMakers meet with Dr. Cantwell in his office, preparing to make some history.

By  Matthew Reeves

People make history every day, but few get a chance to see the nuts and bolts of historical work behind the scenes. Our hope is that HistoryMakers will make these historical processes more transparent. As aspiring public historians, the students you find here at HistoryMakers (yours truly included) have set themselves on the path to wealth and fortune. Well, that is, if you consider knowledge wealth and a career in the humanities fortune.

This blog is the best way for you to come along on our journey. As interns, we’re by definition new to the tasks we will be assigned. We will share our experiences – be they exciting, confounding, or just curious – as we explore the places where history becomes public. The humanities are changing, technology makes knowledge more accessible than ever before, and the ways people come into contact with history are undergoing their own seismic shifts. Join us and discover firsthand how HistoryMakers are transforming history from a subject about something into compelling experiences for people.

Trucking a Path

by Whitney Knowles

I soon start my internship with the American Truck Historical  Society, which seems overwhelming. Being a senior History major with a minor in Classics at UMKC, time seems to be something that I am lacking. I have to finish my senior project, come up with lesson plans for Supplemental Instruction and my own classes. By adding this internship, I am hoping to gain the skills to slowly climb the ladder in experience in the real world of History.

The American Truck Historical Society (or ATHS for short) is a small building with tons of information on both trucks and Semi-trucks. Not being from a “trucking” background I was worried that I would stick out like a sour grape, but meeting the crew at ATHS made me feel better about my lack of trucking history. It seemed to break the ice when I told them the closest connection I had to trucking was that my birthday is 10/4/good buddy, which mean in trucker speak, “all good”. That got them all laughing and sharing their own stories or trucker related tales.

The little ATHS building is going through a face lift at the moment since they have been reorganizing the system from the ground up. We are having a series of meeting with fellow ATHS broad members to figure out how to process the collections and share them with the public. I think that it will be very productive semester! I will report back on the new things to come!!

That’s all for now!!





By Natalie Walker

Hello everyone. My name is Natalie Walker. I am a History major at UMKC with an emphasis in Public History. My passion is museums, and more specifically, museum education. I love working with people and developing programs and ideas that make museums more accessible to the public. Moreover, I think history deserves to be remembered both accurately but also with new and fascinating interpretations that engage wider audiences. OK, I think I am starting to ramble…

I will be interning with the Office of Historic Preservation this semester and helping to write and produce an updated guide to Kansas City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. I have never done anything like this before so I am equal parts nervous and totally excited!  I am looking forward to blogging with everyone this semester!