Kansans have always worked, and Virgil W. Dean, Lawrence, will explore that theme in a free public talk titled “The Way We Worked in Kansas” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Arma City Library.
The program is being presented in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit “The Way We Worked,” on view through June 23 at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.
“I’ll be exploring how work has changed in Kansas over the past 150 years,” Dean said in a telephone interview. “I’ll be looking at the state, not just Crawford County, though I will do something with that. I’ll talk about how we went from an agricultural economy to today, when most people work in towns and cities.”
However, he noted that there has always been considerable diversity in what people in Kansas did to earn their daily bread.
“Even back in 1860 there were things people would do in addition to farming, or their other work would enable them to continue farming on a small scale,” Dean said. “This has been a necessity for several years.”
A native Kansan from Franklin County, he was formerly a social studies teacher at public schools in Garden City and Emporia. He received a master of arts in American history from Emporia State University in 1981 and a doctorate in U.S. history from the University of Kansas in 1991.
He’s been researching and writing about Kansas and regional history for 25 years, not to mention teaching it and giving talks about it.
Dean has held adjunct/lecturer appointments in the history departments of the University of Kansas, Emporia State University and Washburn University, teaching mostly Kansas history. For more than 20 years he was editor of “Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains,” the quarterly publication of the Kansas Historical Society. Dean is now a consulting editor for the journal, which became a joint publication of the Kansas Historical Foundation and the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at Kansas State University in 2012.
His most significant publications include three books, “An Opportunity Lost: The Truman Administration and the Postwar Farm Policy Debate,” published in 2006 by the University of Missouri Press; “John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History,” University Press of Kansas, 2006, a volume of original biographical essays that was selected as a 2007 Notable Book by the Kansas Center for the Book; and “Territorial Kansas Reader,” published by the Kansas State Historical Society and the State Sesquicentennial Commission in May 2005.
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With the late Homer E. Socolofsky, a K-State history professor, Dean compiled “Kansas History: An Annotated Bibliography,” an extensive work that contains more than 4,500 entries and essays, published by Greenwood Press in 1992.
He has also published numerous articles and book reviews in journals such as “Journal of American History,” “Agricultural History,” “Presidential Studies Quarterly,” “Kansas History,” “Great Plains Quarterly,” “Journal of the West,” “The Historian” and the “Western Historical Quarterly.”
Dean has also written numerous Kansas-related entries for publications such as “The Encyclopedia of American Biography,” “American National Biography,” “Encyclopedia of the Great Plains” and “The Encyclopedia of the Midwest.”Dean’s Friday program is presented courtesy of the Kansas Humanities Council, Miners Hall Museum Foundation and the Arma City Library.