Bill of Sale for an Enslaved Boy

Below is a transcription of the bill of sale that John A. Beauchamp (1817-1901) received on May 5, 1851, when he purchased a slave in Liberty, Missouri. The original is pictured above.

“Liberty Clay Co MO May 5, 1851. For and in consideration of the sum of six hundred dollars to me in hand paid I have this day bargained sold and delivered unto John A. Beauchamp my negro boy Isaiah a slave for life and sound & healthy in body & mind & free from the claims of any other persons and is about thirteen years old.”

This is the oldest item in the J.A. Beauchamp Collection. Most of the items in the collection relate to John Arthur Beauchamp (1895-1953) who served in the U.S. Army during World War 1. (His grandfather, to whom Isaiah was sold, was also named John Arthur Beauchamp – to avoid confusion I will use the first and middle name in reference to the older Beauchamp) We don’t know why John Beauchamp saved this particular document from his grandfather’s life. He was born in 1895, long after the Emancipation Proclamation freed Isaiah. Whatever his reasons for preserving it, this document was a direct connection between him and his family’s ties to slavery. From it, we can learn some things about the economic status of his grandfather’s family.

In Missouri, most slaveholdings were family farms that exploited the labor of only a few slaves, usually fewer than ten. Their small size and diversified agricultural practices distinguish Missouri slaveholdings from their plantation counterparts in states like Mississippi and Louisiana. Owning even one slave was a sign of relatively high wealth and status. The price Beauchamp paid for Isaiah reflects this. No census figures for John Arthur Beauchamp are available prior to 1870. However, according to the 1870 census, he was a wealthy man, with a combined personal and real estate valued at $12,000. The “Economic Status” measurement from MeasuringWorth “measures the relative “prestige value” of an amount of income or wealth measured using per capita GDP. When compared to other incomes or wealth, it shows the relative prestige the owners of this income or wealth because of their rank in the income distribution.” Using that measurement, John Arthur Beauchamp’s wealth in 1870 was the equivalent of just over $3.4 million in 2015. Using the same measurement, the $600 selling price of Isaiah was equivalent to $298,000 in 2015. The “Labor Value” measurement uses either skilled or unskilled wage rates to calculate value. If we think of his $600 sale price as an unskilled labor value (as recommended by MeasuringWorth), it was the 2015 equivalent of $137,000. MeasuringWorth does also feature a more in depth analysis of other ways to evaluate slave prices.

The economic history of slavery is only one facet of a tremendously complex and painful subject. It does demonstrate that slaveholders who betrayed the Union may have done so to protect what they saw as crucial and valuable financial assets. That said, there is no evidence that John Arthur Beauchamp served in the Civil War. Age may have been a factor, as he was between 44 and 46 years old in 1861. There are three letters from the older John A. Beauchamp in the collection, but none addresses slavery directly. In other words, we don’t know why family members preserved it, or how they viewed their ties to slavery. It is theoretically possible that John Beauchamp’s father, Lee Beauchamp (born in 1864) knew Isaiah. Lee undoubtedly knew the black servants listed in John Arthur Beauchamp’s household in the 1870 census. But for now we have no way of knowing what, if anything, Lee Beauchamp told his son about his grandfather’s slaves or what it was like growing up in a former slave owning family in Missouri in the 1860s. Ultimately what makes this document significant is that it raises all these questions. It forces us to confront what our own ties to slavery and the Civil War era might be. Remembering is not always easy, but forgetting or ignoring the past carries far greater consequences.

 

Sources

J.A. Beauchamp Collection, MS216, LaBudde Special Collections, University of Missour-Kansas City.

Ancestry.com

Beyond Respect: Aretha Franklin records in the Marr Sound Archives

Aretha Franklin at the Kauffman center in May, 2012. (courtesy of Media Mikes)

We all know Aretha Franklin. She is (for now) the most successful American female solo artist in history. She’s the Queen of Soul who recorded the song that became an anthem for women everywhere. In 2010 Rolling Stone ranked her as the #1 singer of all time, saying “when it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.” On February 9, 2017, Rolling Stone also announced that Franklin is retiring from public performing following the release of her next album. With that in mind, we at the Marr Sound Archive want to give you a taste of some of her work that is in our collection. Some of this you may know, some not. We’ll start with the song everyone knows (or should know), and work backwards to her earliest record.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the recording and release of “Respect,” recorded at Atlantic Records Studio in New York City on February 14, 1967. The song was the lead track on the album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (released March 10, 1967, Atlantic 8139) and was later released as a single (April 29, 1967, Atlantic 45-2403). We have both the albums and the historic single. “Respect” was produced by Jerry Wexler. Wexler worked with Franklin from 1966-1975. He also has connections to the Kansas-Missouri area. In the 1930s, Wexler attended Kansas State University. Outside of school he received his introduction to Jazz and Blues music by visiting bars and music clubs along Twelfth Street in Kansas City.

Prior to working with Wexler at Atlantic Records, Aretha was with Columbia Records. Her first secular album was Aretha: with the Ray Bryant Combo, (Columbia CL1612) released by Columbia in 1961. In addition to vocals, she played piano on four tracks: “Won’t be Long” “Who Needs You?,” “Are You Sure” and “Maybe I’m a Fool”. At 18 she was still a somewhat raw talent. Below are short clips transcribed from our copy of the album. Listen closely to “Maybe I’m a Fool” and you can hear her voice break just a little.

Ray Bryant and Aretha were both signed to Columbia Records by producer John Hammond in 1959. Like Wexler, Hammond had some connections to Kansas City, having signed Count Basie to Columbia in 1936. 1959 was a big year for Hammond. That year he signed Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, all of whom were under the age of twenty.

Aretha at about 14 years old when she was first recorded by Joe Von Battle. (courtesy www.bless-this-soul.com)

Aretha Franklin got her start singing at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Her father, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, was minister there from 1946 until 1979. C.L Franklin became a central figure in the black community. According to Mark Bego, the Franklin home “played host to a virtual who’s who of popular black music.” Young Aretha was part of the church choir. Her father recognized her talent, and at 14 he began taking her to other churches to perform with gospel groups. As Reverend Franklin’s own legend grew, he organized a “traveling revival show.” As a teenager, Aretha spent several summers traveling with the road show’s choir. At the same time, Joe Von Battles was recording LPs of Reverend Franklin’s sermons. Battles was a Detroit record shop owner, and founder of JVB Records (later changed to Battle Records). In 1956, Battles recorded 14-year old Aretha Franklin at New Bethel Baptist Church. The Marr Sound Archives does not have any copies of Battle’s original album. In fact, original JVB/Battle pressings are quite probably the rarest of all Aretha records. Fortunately, the songs Battle recorded have been re-issued a number of times by Chess, Checker, Geffen, and other record labels. In our collection is a 1982 issue by Checker Records (Checker LP CH8500), for which music critic Peter Guralnick wrote the album notes. Of Franklin’s performance, Guralnick wrote “everything that Aretha would one day become, the same soulful struts that she would put into “I Never Loved a Man, “Respect,” even funky old “Dr. Feelgood,” are all here in the plain, unvarnished, but far-from-simple truth of hymns.” We are not professional music critics, but having listened to this album we think it is pretty extraordinary. The lead track on that album can be heard below.

The preceding barely scratches the surface of Aretha Franklin’s extraordinary life and career. She was a true prodigy, a gifted singer surrounded my other successful black musicians. She was seemingly destined for stardom from an early age. However her personal life was marked by a series of devastating emotional experiences. In his biography, Bego concludes that both of these factors shaped her music. Hopefully hearing her sing at various stages in her life gives readers a greater appreciation for the treasure she truly is.

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Sources:

Aretha Gospel. Recorded September 10, 1991. Geffen, 1991, Streaming Audio. Accessed February 20, 2017.

Bego, Mark. Aretha Franklin : The Queen of Soul. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012.

Marr Sound Archives contains well over 100 entries for Aretha Franklin in our Library Catalog. Among these are many of her classic LPs and singles, including the ones mentioned in this post. We hope you’ll come listen to some of them soon!

Correction: Previously this post had a full version of the 1956 album. Since only UMKC network users could stream it, we’ve replaced it with a youtube link. The whole album can be heard at the Marr Sound Archives.

“You get it from both sides”

Protestors on Vine St, April 9, 1968. (courtesy UMKC Digital Special Collections)

To understand the causes of the April 1968 Race Riots, the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Foundation commissioned Robert Bechtel and Charles Wilkinson to write The Social History of a Riot: Kansas City, Missouri, April 9-13, 1969. The 1968 Riot Collection includes the complete manuscript of that book, as well as many of the interviews conducted by researchers. Interviewees included witnesses, protest participants, and members of law enforcement. There are four interviews with African-American members of the Kansas City Police Department who served during the riots. While Social History focused on these officers’ perception of racism within KCPD, the interviews paint a more complex picture. The relationship between black officers and the black community was often contradictory. The officers sympathized with civil rights protestors and felt the indignity of racism, but their sympathy for violent rioters ran out quickly. They also had a complex relationship with their fellow officers and superiors. In short, these men expressed conflict between their own identities as black men, their loyalty to their department, and their duty to uphold the law.

Major Garrison and Sergeant Walter Parker were interviewed together. At the time of the interview, Parker had been a member of KCPD for 19 years. Both men complained that even when off-duty, people knew they were officers. This could be nuisance, such as friends and relatives who wanted their tickets taken care of. It could also be serious, as when Black Panther militants threatened the safety of Parker’s family. Another interviewee, Leroy Swift, was called a “house n*****” by another black man. This insult carried a specific connotation of a black man placed in a position of power as tool of white supremacy. Interestingly, Swift said the man later admitted the insult was just for show. Parker described a similar dynamic: “I realize that it’s necessary for [Black Panther activists] to stay away from the police and call the police names and not have anything to do with them in order to keep [their movement] going.” According to Swift, many black officers in KCPD at this time were “black first and policeman second.” Being “black first” meant having some sympathy for activists. Parker and Garrison were united in calling for a constructive conversation between police and activist groups. However, they were skeptical that activist groups actually wanted to have those conversations. In other words, these officers were suspicious of militant activists, yet still empathized with them based on certain shared experiences. The activists might have shared a similar mixture of emotions.

Despite the lack of productive dialogue with activists, these officers felt they had strong ties to the African American community in Kansas City, and that these ties helped them succeed at their jobs, particularly during the riots. During the riot, “Tuckie” Saunders and two other black plainclothesmen helped one group of student protestors make an orderly march and demonstration. At one point the students asked Saunders to make a speech. The group Saunders was with seems to have been separate from the more volatile crowds. Saunders had his own method for dealing with disruptive protestors: “if [Saunders] had been in charge…he would have dispersed the kids with streams of water” because “it was cool that morning and when your clothes are wet you have to go home and change.” Saunders may have believed is method more efficient and humane than the use of mace or tear gas, which police employed during the riots.

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Captain LeRoy Swift had a leadership role among officers facing the more violent protestors. At the very start of the riot, Swift and two other black officers pursued a group of black students who looted a store in plain sight of the officers. Swift speculates that the students thought the officers would look the other way because they were also black. The students were wrong. According to his account, he was later sent in to help calm things down between white police and African-American protestors. To do so he overruled some arrests made by white officers. Swift also described how some whites believed the police-enforced curfew did not apply to them.

Every officer interviewed expressed support and admiration for KCPD Chief Clarence M. Kelley. Saunders said he “was good as gold” and Swift called him “a good man” and “honest.” In contrast, Kelley’s command staff drew universal criticism from the African American officers for being racist, “biased and sneaky.” What was missing from KCPD, according to Saunders, was “black faces in high places.” Swift described a lack of sensitivity from white officers who still used the n-word with regularity. His testimony also demonstrates how black officers had to walk a fine line, and how their loyalty was always in question. If they identified too closely with the black community, they drew the suspicion of whites in the department. On the other hand, just wearing a badge was enough to alienate them from the black community.

These officers had unique insights on race relations and the responsibilities of law enforcement during this turbulent period, and they all expressed optimism that solutions could be found. It is too simplistic to characterize police and activists as natural enemies. In the case of the man who insulted LeRoy Swift, and the Black Panther activists who Sgt. Parker spoke of, their animosity towards the officers was occasionally not actually genuine. Instead, these interviews demonstrate the complex nature of the relationship between police and the communities they are asked to protect and serve.

 

Sources

Detective “Tuckie” Saunders, Interview Transcript, Box 1, Folder 35, 1968 Riot Collection, LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC.

Maj. Garrison and Sgt. Walter Parker, Interview with Jeanie Meyer, June 2, 1969, Box 1, Folder 31, 1968 Riot Collection, Labudde Special Collections, UMKC.

LeRoy Swift, Interview Notes, Box 1, Folder 35, 1968 Riot Collection, LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC.

Two scraps of paper. One historic recording session.

Sign-in sheet for KFBI recording date

The Higginson Collection consists of two handwritten documents of great value and historic significance. These one-of-a-kind documents survived from the first recording dates for Kansas City jazz pianist Jay McShann and his band, which included alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, then only 20 years old. The recording session happened between November 30 and December 2, 1940, and was supervised by Fred Higginson of radio station KFBI in Wichita, Kansas.

The first document is a sign-in sheet containing the signatures and instrument played of each band member, and represents one of the earliest known signatures of Charlie Parker.

The second document contains the song list and corresponding band personnel for the two days of recording, November 30 and December 2, providing primary source information about the discographical details of the session.

Discography sheet for KFBI recording date

Chuck Haddix explains the significance of the session, especially as a conduit of Parker’s musical development, in his book Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop – A History:

As Decca [Records] released the Kansas City Jazz album in the spring of 1941, the last great big band to come out of Kansas City, the Jay McShann band, rose nationally, boosted by good fortune and a hit recording. After closing at Fairyland [Park in Kansas City] in September 1940, McShann returned to the Century Room and further refined the band’s personnel, replacing alto saxophonist Earl Jackson with John Jackson. Slim and pensive, Jackson rivaled [Charlie “Bird”] Parker as a soloist. While based at the Century Room, the McShann band toured regionally, ranging north to Des Moines, Iowa, east to Paducah, Kentucky, and west to Wichita, Kansas. During a Thanksgiving weekend engagement in Wichita, a brash young college student and jazz fan, Fred Higginson, invited McShann and other band members for a couple of after-hours sessions at radio station KFBI, named after Kansas Farmer and Business. KFBI traced its lineage back to Dr. Brinkley, the goat gland doctor. McShann, figuring the band could use a little experience in the studio before the pending Decca sessions, took Higginson up on the offer.

Orville Minor, Bob Mabane, Gus Johnson, Bernard Anderson, Charlie Parker, Gene Ramey, Jay McShann; recording date for radio station KFBI; Witchita, Kansas; c. November 30 – December 2, 1940 (Jay McShann Collection)

The station’s engineer recorded the sessions to acetate discs, capturing the unit jamming on the standards “I Found a New Baby,” “Body and Soul,” “Moten’s Swing,” “Coquette,” “Lady Be Good,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and on their theme song, listed as an untitled blues. While the band struggled to find its niche in the Kansas City jazz tradition, Charlie Parker had already transcended previous jazz conventions. [McShann bassist] Gene Ramey felt band members could not fully appreciate Parker’s techniques and ideas. “When I look back, it seems to me that Bird was at the time so advanced in jazz that I do not think we realized to what degree his ideas had become perfected,” Ramey observed. “For instance, we used to jam ‘Cherokee.’ Bird had his own way of starting from a chord in B natural and B flat; then he would run a cycle against that; and, probably, it would only be two or three bars before we got to the channel [middle part] that he would come back to the basic changes. In those days, we used to call it ‘running out of key.’ Bird used to sit and try to tell us what he was doing. I am sure that at that time nobody else in the band could play, for example, even the channel to ‘Cherokee.’ So Bird used to play a series of ‘Tea for Two’ phrases against the channel, and, since this was a melody that could easily be remembered, it gave the guys something to play during those bars.”

Parker’s innovative technique and wealth of ideas are evident in his solos on “Body and Soul” and “Moten’s Swing.” Parker maintains the ballad tempo of “Body and Soul” while running in and out of key. Taking a cue from Parker, the band and Buddy Anderson switch to double time, before returning to the ballad tempo in the last eight bars of the out chorus. After the piano introduction to “Moten’s Swing,” the band launches into the familiar riff pattern. Parker follows with a confident, articulate solo, highlighted by triplets in the second eight-bar section, and triplet flourishes toward the end of the bridge, first stating, on record, his musical signature. Parker had matured into a fully realized improviser, already pioneering a new musical style critics later labeled bebop. He soon had company.

Kansas City’s “Original Rock ‘n’ Roll Mama”

bowman-p03

Priscilla Bowman singing with the Curtyse Foster Band: “Bumps” Love (piano), Foster (sax), Elmer Price (trumpet), Bill Nolan (drums); August 3, 1954

Priscilla Bowman was born May 30, 1928, in Kansas City, Kansas, the daughter of a Pentecostal minister. She made her singing debut at age seven in front of inmates at the state penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. As a teenager she was encouraged by local pianist Roy Searcy as she began singing in area nightclubs. Later she was introduced to Kansas City jazz pianist Jay McShann and began performing regularly with his band.

In 1955, Bowman cut her first sides with McShann for Vee Jay Records, which resulted in the #1 R&B hit “Hands Off” – the recording most closely associated with her. She toured on the success of the record, highlighted by engagements at Mel’s Hideaway on the south side of Chicago and the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. With marquee performances and a hit record to promote, the incessant grind of the road took a toll on Bowman. On the advice of entertainer Moms Mabley, who shared the same tour bill, the exhausted and ill Bowman returned to Kansas City for much needed rest. In a 1987 article for The Squire, Bowman reflected on how the decision impacted her budding career: “I wish I’d stayed [on the road], but if I’d stayed, I would have died…By stopping and staying home, they [the public] just forgot about me. And I’d forgotten about singing.”

Bowman continued to record through the end of the 1950s, achieving artistic and critical triumphs in the face of waning commercial success. Highlights include “I’ve Got News For You, the follow-up to her #1 hit (1956); “Everything’s Alright,” a Billboard Magazine pick (1957), and collaboration with doo-wop group The Spaniels (1958-59). However, Bowman failed to rekindle her initial success or to tap into the emerging rock ‘n’ roll market, a style ironically owing much to the rhythm and blues music she purveyed. By the early 1960s, Bowman had put her career on hold to get married and to raise a family.

Bowman revived her singing career in the late 1970s and early 1980s, performing at area nightspots and festivals. Original Rock And Roll Mama, the first full-length album collecting many of her 1950s recordings, was released in 1986. Despite surgery to remove a cancerous lung that same year, she continued to perform into 1987. She was honored posthumously with a Kansas City Jazz Heritage Award (1988) and an Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz Award (2003).

Priscilla Bowman passed away July 24, 1988.

Learn more about the Priscilla Bowman Collection housed in LaBudde Special Collections at the UMKC Miller Nichols Library.

Tales from the Archives: The untimely death of KMBC producer, Fran Heyser

In October 2012, the Marr Sound Archives completed an 18-month National Endowment for the Humanities grant to catalog and preserve the nearly 3,000 broadcast recordings in the Arthur B. Church KMBC Radio Collection. I served as the project cataloger, managed three students, and coordinated with sound archives staff on the preservation and digital reformatting of the recordings. When asked to write a special feature article for the Music Library Association Newsletter, an informal publication of MLA, I pondered what I should focus on. First, I thought it might be sensible to highlight some unique items in the collection or maybe talk a little about the project, but then I realized that I don’t normally make any sense, and when I do, it puts everyone to sleep. Instead, I decided to focus on a series of anecdotes recounting the unusual discoveries and amusing happenings in the course of working with this collection.

This is the first in a series of Tales from the Archives.

The untimely death of KMBC producer, Fran Heyser

Clipping of report on Heyser's murder

Clipping of report on Heyser’s murder. In other important news, the local stamp club is meeting!

Just over two years ago, I found myself driving by the Pickwick Hotel at 10th and McGee Streets in downtown Kansas City. I wish I could say that I did this to satiate some intellectual curiosity to see the building in which former president Harry S. Truman wrote his autobiographical Pickwick Papers; or that I did it to fulfill a romantic notion that I should see that place which once housed the penthouse headquarters of radio station KMBC, the station whose collection I had been cataloging for the past several months. It was for neither of those reasons I ventured out on that inconspicuous evening.

The truth is hard to admit. In the midst of working with the Arthur B. Church KMBC Radio Collection, I had run across KMBC program producer and sometimes announcer, Fran Heyser, and as any good cataloger is wont to do, I set about establishing his name in the LC/NACO Name Authority File (basically, a huge registry of names). When I discovered in horror that he had been beaten to death with a metal table lamp at the Pickwick, I had the irresistible urge to investigate. I recently learned that this abandoned hotel is slated for redevelopment as apartments for “young urbanites.” Imagine them moving in with their reclaimed wood coffee tables and vegan faux leather couches (Hey, wait. I have these things…), having no idea their new apartment could be haunted by the ghost of Fran Heyser. I would totally watch that episode of Paranormal Witness on SyFy.

KMBC producer, Fran Heyser

KMBC producer, Fran Heyser

What didn’t occur to me when writing this short anecdote was that the living relatives of Fran might see the article and contact me. All praise the glory of the Interwebs! [which also terrifies me] So when I received an email from the niece of Fran Heyser who had been directed to my article by her cousin, I have to admit to being a bit nervous to open the email. After all, I had told the story of her uncle’s murder in such a casual and darkly humorous way (debate on whether any of the three readers found it humorous). But much to my relief, she had contacted me to inquire about additional information concerning her uncle, who she had only known through the stories that her grandmother and mother had shared. When I sent her a digital copy of his autographed photograph (shown here) and links to every audio recording that we had involving her uncle in some way, she expressed gratitude and even excitement, as she immediately recognized her uncle in the photograph. It was a relief that in my rare act of public service (it’s best that I’m kept behind heavy wooden doors) and in our Archives’ effort to preserve and provide access to the unique and valuable materials we hold, we had managed to provide family members a renewed interest and connection to the artifacts documenting the activities of a relative whose death was truly tragic.

Find out more about the Church-KMBC collection.

Contributed by Sandy Rodriguez, Special Collections Metadata Librarian

L. Perry Cookingham Collection: A Salute to Our Veterans of the Armed Forces

0554Known as Armistice Day or Veteran’s Day, November 11th  signifies the demise of World War I when Allied Forces signed an Armistice Agreement with Germany in 1918.  Recognizing their sacrifice and duty to country, we continue to honor our Veterans on this historical date each year.

Perry Cookingham, former City Manager of Kansas City, Missouri was called to duty and served in World War I. Per his request, he and several buddies from his hometown of Danville, Illinois were assigned to Company B of the 310th Signal Battalion, which was located at the front for a period of 5 months prior to this world changing event. Following are excerpts from a diary penned by Cookingham and titled: A Few Little Incidents of the War and My Travels with the “Army of Occupation”. Depicted are personal accounts of Cookingham and his fellow soldiers leading up to the Armistice. Obviously it was ever business as usual for our courageous warriors as Cookingham notes on his October 23rd entry. Not only did he have KP Duty (Kitchen Police) on his birthday but they were also shelled by the enemy. Happy Birthday!

_____________________________________________________________

SEPT 28 – Attack of appendicitis
Off eight days.

Oct 15 – Came down with
cold. Could not talk
for four days.

Oct 21 – Well again.
Moved to Monsard.
Living on public sq.
Real homelike. Shelled.

Oct 22 Worked

Oct 23 – Birthday. K.P.
Shelled

Oct. 24 to Nov. 4. Worked
on permanent lines.
Shelled every night
with 9” babies. Co. C
man wounded. Dirt
flying everywhere.
Hit by a few. Thot [sic]
it was a big shell
bursting on my head.

Nov. 5 – Moved to hills
back of Buxerelles [sic].
Nice house. Thanks to
the boche.

NOV. 5 – 11 Worked
on permanent line
near St. Benoit. Shelled
every day. Tore for the
dugouts. Working
½ mile from line!

NOV – 11 – “Finis la Guerre”
Firing ceased. Worked
under the heavy barrage
of last six hours. No
one hurt. Sure lucky.
Went up to see the
boche come over.
Talked to several. Some
sight.cookingham

NOV. 11 – 17 Worked on lines
and waited for orders.
Transferred to occupation
army.

November 11, 1918 would not be the conclusion of all war-related activity. There would
still be an aftermath of responsibilities and Cookingham and others were to remain on active duty through February of 1919 according to General Orders No, 38.-A, by General John J. Pershing, Commander in Chief

Patricia Stevens Collection – Evolution of the Adolescent Female

Patricia Stevens started her career as a professional model in Chicago in 1945. The late Florence Czarnecki Stevens became “Patricia Stevens” only after her 1946 marriage to a young Chicago entrepreneur named James Stevens. Before he met Flo, he had already named his training school, a business designed to help women navigate the post-war work world.

An early subscriber to Stevens’ vision was Howard Hughes. The millionaire industrialist and Trans World Airlines chairman was Jim Stevens’ first big client. Hughes hired the new company to train TWA stewardesses when the airline was still bKIC Document_Page_3ased in Kansas City. In 1948 every airline attendant hired by TWA was trained by Patricia Stevens with guaranteed placement by TWA; that division was called Stevens Air College. They even had half an airplane in their building to help in their training. The Patricia Stevens Career College & Model Agency came later. Jim’s sister, Bernadine, legally changed her name to Patricia; but Flo, the woman who everyone assumed was the real Patricia Stevens, never did. In the late 1950s the Patricia Stevens School System chose Kansas City as a home base owing to the fact that the Kansas City Market was the most difficult in the franchised chain of 55 schools to operate. The chain of modeling schools and talent agencies bearing her adopted name extended across the country

Flo’s three daughters – Patricia Jr., the eldest; Melissa, the second born; and Sheila the youngest – were groomed to be stylish, poised and popular. They weren’t just the daughters of a familiar local brand; they were walking advertisements for the family business. The oldest daughter, Patricia, was voted Miss Teenage Kansas City in 1968. The youngest, Sheila, dressed up as the Easter Bunny every spring for the Easter parade, which Flo Stevens started on the Country Club Plaza in 1960. This popular tradition continued for over three decades, until its swan song in 1995. KIC Document_Page_1

The Stevens collection shines a reflective light into the past and the antiquated mind set of what a woman’s role was to be in contemporary society. It was Patricia Stevens charge to indoctrinate young women to the importance of personal appearance and proper deportment. Informational handouts and class curriculum dictate the need to begin a regiment, beginning as a young child, establishing wardrobe colors which will best suit personality and social acceptance. Levels of training included modeling courses, fashion merchandising, charm classes and business classes. Modeling students were groomed to participate in fashion shows and other such events as well as compete in local and national beauty competitions. Debbie Bryant, Miss America 1966, was a graduate of the Patricia Stevens School. KIC Document

The Patricia Stevens Collection is a wake-up call to those who came of age in an era when women held a social status unique to those of today’s standards. It is enlightening to say the least, with elements of humor, shock and, at times, disbelief. Confidential correspondence speaks to a level of hero worship and even psychological dependence  on the Matriarch of this organization, Flo Stevens who, according to her students was either embraced or rebuked. There would be no middle ground. It is rich in content for a researcher interested in the study of women’s historical cultural issues. It is also the story of a family – the Stevens family, a single mother and her three young daughters – who lived and breathed for what they felt was a noble cause; and, for the most part, who felt their students to be part of their extended family.

Teresa Wilson Gipson, Library Information Specialist II, LaBudde Special Collections

Some Excerpts from:
Ferruzza, Charles. “Melissa Stevens – heir to the Patricia Stevens Modeling School – refuses to be forgotten.” Pitch Weekly. August 9-15, 2012.

National Hispanic American Heritage Month

September 15-Octobefiesta-poster-1000wr 15, a time to recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans in Kansas City and all over the nation and to celebrate their heritage and culture. Here is a blast from the past depicting the annual Fiesta at the Guadalupe Center, 1954. This year’s Fiesta was held at the Barney Allis Plaza in September, a tradition that continues to enrich the cultural fabric of our diverse community.

LaBudde Special Collections is privileged to house Archives of the “MANA de Kansas City.” The organization was chartered in 1981 with the focus of creating community leaders, engaging them in community service and educating and involving the membership on public policy issues important to Latinas and their families. MANA de Kansas City’s Mission is to empower Latinas through leadership developMANAment, community service and advocacy. MANA also seeks to increase the opportunities and education of all Latinas. They are informed activists and a support system for their members.*

Source: MANA de Kansas City

Teresa Wilson Gipson, Library Information Specialist II, LaBudde Special Collections

In Memory of Patricia Huyett and Her Intrepid Life’s Journey

 KIC ImageThe Patricia Huyett Collection was gifted to the LaBudde Special Collections in April, 2011 by Patricia Huyett. Ms Huyett, a former Alumnus and Professor of the University of Missouri, Kansas City was a Renaissance woman in the truest sense of the word, and this collection reflects those broad identities. Among the jewels of this collection are her personal journals, which range in emotion from whimsical to compelling. As she documents the experience of a young girl’s journey into womanhood, she freely expresses her most intimate thoughts; fears and the hopes of who she is and what she wished to achieve on a daily basis and ultimately in life. As one peruses the hundreds of pages of text throughout the collection, they are transported into a unique experience and provided an inkling of what life can hold when creativity and passion show no boundaries. Huyett pens her life’s lessons and cosmic imagination into the form of poetry, short stories, novellas, and even songwriting. Also included in this collection is a series of correspondence, the bulk of which is personal, along with college papers; teaching materials; graphics and photographs.  Ms Huyett shares her inner most senses and reveals what motivates her means to an end. As a writer, she is articulate, with a sharp wit and an infinite compassion for her fellow being. The journals are a glaring testament to the historic significance of personal histories and the fading practice of putting pen to paper in the form of diaries, letters, etc. The latter will serve to deny future generations the historical bounty we now take for granted. Sadly, the emotions and interactions of impending ancestors are vanishing into the age of digital eventuality.

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Teresa Wilson Gipson, Library Information Specialist II, LaBudde Special Collections