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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Traveling exhibit explains why immigrants came to Kansas

  • Editor’s Note: Nikki Patrick was off on Thursday. Today’s Patrick’s People was written by Andrew Nash.



    Crawford County residents don’t particularly need many reminders of the area’s rich immigrant history.

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  • Editor’s Note: Nikki Patrick was off on Thursday. Today’s Patrick’s People was written by Andrew Nash.
    Crawford County residents don’t particularly need many reminders of the area’s rich immigrant history.
    A simple look at many last names in the area are a clear reminder that many have ancestors that came from countries far away. Or perhaps it’s the existence of Immigrant Park or even Little Balkans Days that might give it away.
    But just in case folks are looking for a little reminder of how and why people immigrated to Crawford County, then perhaps they should make their way to Pittsburg State’s Axe Library.
    “Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration and Citizenship in Kansas” is a traveling exhibit brought to Pittsburg State through the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. It’s easy to figure out how the exhibit made its way to Pittsburg State. One of those thanked for their contributions on the project is Randy Roberts, Pittsburg State archivist and curator of Special Collections.
    “It’s a large exhibit, and we had the opportunity to get it here. It’s a permanent exhibit at the courthouse in Kansas City. They crafted two traveling exhibits around the state. The museum curator there contacted us because of our research [on immigration in Southeast Kansas.] He came back and said he had this exhibit.”
    There are two traveling exhibits, with one traveling the west side of the state, and the other hopscotching across the eastern side. This exhibit came from Lawrence, Roberts said, and will head to Fort Scott when done in Pittsburg.
    It was put up about two weeks ago and it is scheduled to remain for two six-week periods instead of one, putting the last display date on May 12 near the end of the semester.
    The exhibit talks about where immigrants came from, how immigrants arrived, and where they went to in the state of Kansas. Some information came from nearby, with pictures and facts from Pittsburg, Frontenac and Croweburg.
    But even beyond the main exhibit, Pittsburg State put together a companion exhibit, of sorts.
    “There’s a case sitting next to it that focuses on the immigrant experience in Southeast Kansas,” Roberts said. “There are things related to the miners, and to the wives/daughters/mothers/sisters that experienced it alongside, as well as children’s toys. The text is drawn from writings, as well as artifacts from long ago in this area.”
    The idea was to localize the broader immigration exhibit, trying to give those who see the larger exhibit another perspective on how it worked in our neck of the woods.
    “We had a similar display in the past, a few years ago. That was on display a while ago,” Roberts said. “This came up, and it was a great opportunity to resurrect it and put that back up.”
    Page 2 of 2 - This isn’t the only exhibit on Roberts’ mind. He said they’ve also put together a display on the socialist newspapers in the county in the Special Collections portion of the library.
    There is a place to write comments on the traveling U.S. District Court exhibit, and Roberts said they’ve already seen a strong response. Immigration is a topic near and dear to the U.S. District Court’s heart, as the Kansas City, Kan., location naturalizes about 2,400 people a year.
    “The exhibit’s free, it’s open to the public any time the library is open,” Roberts said. “We’d be delighted if people from the public came out to see it.”
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