Share page: 

Exhibits honor state, local immigration history

February 05, 2013 12:00AM

Exhibits honor state, local immigration history
A group of unidentified immigrant women in Pittsburg, Kan., ca. 1887.

A traveling exhibit, “Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas,” will open in Pittsburg State University’s Axe Library on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and will run through May 12. The free exhibit illustrates through photographs, documents, quotes, and interactive books the paths to citizenship taken by Kansas settlers from around the world over the past 150 years.

As a companion to the exhibit, Axe Library’s Special Collections has prepared “The Immigrant Experience,” an exhibit that illustrates the southeast Kansas Experience.

Randy Roberts, PSU archivist and director of Special Collections, said the exhibits have special meaning to Kansans and particularly southeast Kansans.

“Most Kansans can trace their heritage to another part of the world,” Roberts said, noting that between 1865 and 1880, Kansas attracted immigrants at a faster pace than anywhere else in the U.S.

They came for the promise of a better life, swelling the Kansas population from just 107,000 in 1860 to more than 1.4 million in 1890. In 1870, 13 percent of Kansas’ total population was foreign born, more than double the rate today.

The intertwined stories of mining, manufacturing and immigrants are an important part of southeast Kansas history, Roberts said.

The traveling exhibit was commissioned by the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas as part of its 150th anniversary celebration in 2011 to commemorate its role in the naturalization process.  A permanent exhibit of the same title is installed at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.  It was developed by Jean Svadlenak, a museum consultant based in Kansas City, Missouri, with more than 35 years of experience in the history field.

The exhibit is open to the public during Axe Library’s regular hours: 3-11 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Fridays, and 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, contact Randy Roberts at 620-235-4883 or reroberts@pittstate.edu.

©2013 Pittsburg State University