Thursday, January 31, 2013

Genealogy in Local News

The Wichita Eagle reprinted an interesting article from the Kansas City Star about some genealogists who solved a riddle that more mainstream historians hadn't resolved (not clear whether the historians couldn't solve the riddle or just hadn't bothered.)  Benjamin "Pap" Singleton was born a slave, escaped to freedom, and was instrumental in encouraging former slaves to move to Kansas and other states to escape the Jim Crow south after the Civil War.  The riddle?  What happened to him after his prominence faded?  Some Kansas genealogists and historians found his death certificate and cemetery records.

It's an interesting article that gives genealogy a positive shout out.  Read it here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wichita Women's Groups

Yowza, it's been a while since I last posted.  My excuse?  The stuff I've been doing with my genealogy time, while worthwhile to me, is unutterably dull to write about.  I've been labeling vacation photos and making backup disks at home, and conducting inventory at the genealogy library.  Yawn, right?

Anyway, I don't want to talk about that stuff now.  Tuesday, while I was staffing the front desk at the library, I was asked a question I totally failed to answer.  And, since I hate being clueless, I've been doing a little research.

The question:  Could I help identify this picture?

Known:  The known woman in this picture moved to Wichita in the late 1910s and died in 1942.  The picture has a Wichita photographer stamp on the back.  The woman's husband worked for a railroad.

Observed:  The dresses are almost identical, the women each have a dark ribbon tied in a bow on the left shoulder, they don't seem to have any other common jewelry or insignia, and the room looks more like a hotel banquet room than a church or home.

Answer: I have no idea what group this is.  It appears to be an organized group, and, if they went to the trouble of matching dresses, it's probably an on-going group.  The women are too old to be graduating from high school.  The consensus of the folks at the library was that it is probably some sort of women's group, like Eastern Star.

So what women's groups were active in Wichita during the 20s and 30s?

The History of Wichita and Sedgwick County, published in 1910 by Orsemus Bentley, provides a whole chapter on Wichita women's groups.  These include the Hypatia club, started in 1886 (and only recently ended), the Twentieth Century Club, the Wichita Musical Club, the South Side Delvers, the DAR, and the Fairmount Library Club.

There were many Masonic lodges in Wichita, and many wives and daughters joined Eastern Star.

There were trade organizations, with female auxiliaries, including the Peerless Princess Lodge auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, and the Peerless Princess Division auxiliary of the Order of Railway Conductors.

Many of the same organizations are mentioned in Helen Winslow's Official Register and Directory of Women's Clubs in America from 1913.

So, I have the beginnings of a list of possibilities, but no pictures, which might help narrow things down.
I'll have to keep looking in to this...