Miners Hall Museum in Franklin will host “Red State: Socialism and the Free State Press,” a presentation and discussion by Matthew Thompson on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. at the museum. The program is made possible by Humanities Kansas, Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations designed to spark conversations that inform and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.
Although Socialism’s contributions to the labor movement, women’s suffrage, and food safety are well documented, its impact on journalism is less known. At the turn of the 20th century, a cottage industry of small newspapers blossomed in Kansas. Read by a growing working class, these newspapers often gave voice to economic issues.
As the United States prepared for World War I, these newspapers ramped up editorials rallying against the “grotesque bloodletting” of war. As a result, the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 were passed, allowing authorities to imprison those with opinions counter to the war effort.
The Dec. 15 presentation is free to attend and will discuss the rise and fall of the Socialist press in Kansas, as well as its causes, leaders, and detractors, and explore the role of the free press. Thompson teaches history at Johnson County Community College and serves as assistant registrar at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
The program is in connection with the museum’s “Little Blue Books 100 Years!” special exhibit hosted by Linda Knoll celebrating the monumental contributions of E. Haldeman-Julius to 20th century publishing and the nationally known socialist figures connected to Haldeman-Julius and to the town of Girard and its socialist newspaper The Appeal to Reason as part of the Spirit of the Little Balkans series. Contact Miners Hall Museum, (620) 347-4220 for more information.