GIRARD — If you’re from the area, you most likely know about the Little Blue Books.
If not, Little Blue Books are staple-bound books published by the Haldeman-Julius Publishing Company from 1919 through 1978.

People will soon be able to swap or sell their books during a special Little Blue Books festival to celebrate 100 years of the books. The event will be hosted by the Friends of Historic Girard and is set for July 19 and July 20.

The books were printed by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius and during his career, he printed an estimated 500 million of the pocket-sized booklets with more than 2,000 titles. Kansas was home to several socialist newspapers, including the Appeal to Reason from which the Little Blue Books began. According to Terri Harley, President of the Friends of Historic Girard, Girard was in the heart of it and it brought many known figures to the area.

There won’t just be book swapping during the two-day event. There will be root beer floats, memorabilia for sale, craft fair, food, historic bus tour, live music from the Stone Country Band and more.

At the event, there will also be two guest speakers, Matthew Thompson who will present and host a discussion on “Red State: Socialism and the Free Press in Kansas”, made possible by the Kansas Humanities Grant awarded to the Friends of Historic Girard.

The other speaker will be one the Friends of Historic Girard’s board members, Nicki Neil, who had worked with the late Gene DeGruson, a local historian. Neil’s step grandmother, also worked with Marcet Haldeman-Juilius, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius’ wife. Neil will share stories she’s heard from both over the years about the Little Blue Books.

There’s no registration for the events.

All of the goings-on will be at the Girard Square, Civic Center and the Historic Girard Museum. Funds raised through collectors cups and T-shirts will go towards the Historic Girard Museum.

Friends of Historic Girard has had the keys to the museum, located at 300 S Summit St, Girard, for approximately five years. The building was St. John’s Episcipal Church, the 130-year-old building needed structural repairs and renovations. The museum was originally created in 1976 and it was called the Museum of Crawford County.

Since then, most of the repairs have been completed and the next step is getting people into the door. It’s currently open three days a week, in the future, this might change according to Harley. Once the volunteers can manage to work at least 30 hours a week they can qualify for funding from the county. People who wish to volunteer can contact the Friends of Historic Girard at 620-238-1706.

In the meanwhile, the museum relies on funds from grants and the community. According to Harley, there's a good reason to support the museum being that children will get to have the opportunity to see the “treasures” within and learn about local history.

Harley said she grew up with family who drug her to antique stores, she speculates that’s the reason why she wants to share the history, aside from the city’s “unique” history.
“My family been in Girard for four generations, it’s home and we are proud of our history and what we have,” she said. “It’s a combination of the love of history and to me, if we don’t understand history — when we give kids the tours at history — if you don’t understand where you came from, I think it’s hard to find out where we are going.”

LITTLE BLUE BOOKS FESTIVAL
Friday, July 19
Little Blue Books Swap at 4 p.m. at the civic center
Root beer floats
Memorabilia for sale
Craft fair 5-9 pm.
Hamburgers, hotdogs, tacos
Stone Country Band 7-9 p.m.
Free watermelon

Saturday, July 20
Craft fair, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Children’s Storyteller, 10 a.m.
Face painter 10 a.m. to noon
Museum open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Picnic Lunch on the Square
Games and trivia
Crafts for the kids
Horse & Buggy rides
Speaker Nicki Neil: EHJ & LBB at 1 p.m.
Kansas Humanities Speaker Matthew Thompson at 3 p.m.
Historic bus tour at 4 p.m.
 

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.