Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thirty-seven Words:Title IX & Women's Athletics

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time at the ball diamond, watching two of my children play ball.  I realized that forty years ago my daughter, who loves to play sports, would not have been encouraged to play competitively. There would not have been a team for her to play on. Thirty-seven words adopted June 23, 1972 changed everything.

Sports Illustrated Cover

June 23 marked the fortieth anniversary of the federal legislation known as "Title IX". Although the focus of the legislation was on employment, and the act does not specifically mention "sports", the effect of Title IX was most clearly seen in high schools, which were required by the act to provide equal opportunities for women athletes.

Halstead Girls' Basketball, 1913

Girls in Harvey County had been participating athletic activities for many years, but prior to 1972, it was mainly intramural competitions.  All of the funding for competitive sports at the high school level was on the boys teams.

Newton High School Girls' Basketball, 1921

Walton Girls' Basketball, 1926-27

Hesston Girls' Basketball, 1924-25

Newton High's first Women's Basketball team in 1972.

Newton High School Girls' Basketball, 1972
First Competitive Team

In those early years, the women's teams did not receive much funding. If they lettered in the sport, as Susan Griffith did, they got a letter, but they made their own letter jackets.
Letter Jacket, 1972
Hand constructed by Susan Griffith Agel
Susan Griffith Agel letter

"Women athletics at NHS have finally proved they are worthy of recognition, not only at the local level, but in state competition.  Next year should be even better."  Marcy Wiebe, 1974

Slowly things began to change.  The 1974 Railroader noted that NHS gymnastics placed third at the state level and basketball placed fourth at state. By 1978, women's athletics received the same amount of space in the school year book as men's. 
Newton High Girls' Basketball, 1975

 The 1978 Railroader proudly noted, "Newton Ahead of Times in Handling Girls' Sports."

NHS Girls' Basketball, 1975

Experts agree that the benefits of Title IX, even today, are "almost incalculable." The number of girls competing in high school sports has ballooned over the four decades since Title IX.  In 1972, 294,015 competed; by 2011 the number had grown to 3,173,549 according to the May 7, 2012 Sports Illustrated article. The benefits are also apparent.  In general, girls who compete in sports get better grades, graduate at higher rates and have more confidence.

Watching my daughter and her friends play, it is hard to remember that just a few years ago, it would not have been possible.

Do you have memories of participating in a sport during the early 1970s?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Full Cycle: The Beginning and End of the Harvey County Poor Farm—Part 2

 The second of two articles on the Harvey County Poor Farm by museum director, Deb Hiebert. See June 7, 2012 for Part 1.

Background from  Part 1: Prior to the creation of the federal Social Security system in the early 1930's, the care of economically disadvantaged citizens (due to, for example, advanced age, widowhood, single motherhood or injury), as well as those with mental or physical challenges, fell to individual county governments.  If the county was well populated, a poor house was established.  These were the precursors of hospitals and "insane asylums."  Poor farm legislation was included in the original state constitution, and most counties offered relief for the poor by the mid-1870's. Such was the case in Harvey County.

Residency records from the county farm are scarce, due in part to the stigma attached to living there and the disenfranchised  nature of the residents. When county commissioners vistied Superintendent John Hollister in 1916, the newspaper report refers to four "inmates".  Three are listed as "elderly gentlemen having been there for several years," while no further reference is made to the fourth.

Not all of the disadvantaged of Harvey County in the early 1900’s congregated at the poor farm. Many had a rural or town home, but could not earn enough to support themselves and their family. Harvey County provided resources for these folks, also. A September 1918 edition of the Newton Evening Kansan-Republican includes county commission minutes in which not only are the poor farm bills paid (totaling $428.28), but local merchants are reimbursed for “pauper bills” for groceries, clothing and coal (totaling $230.11). These goods went to county residents who could not pay for the supplies themselves.
In addition, the county provided medical services to the county poor residing at the poor farm or their own residences with the annual appointment of a county physician. In 1911, Dr. I.T. Smith was appointed county physician and health officer to provide care to the poor farm residents, with five other physicians from across the county appointed to assist him to “look after the sick paupers in the districts assigned to them.” And when illness, accident or advanced age claimed an indigent resident, the county provided for their burial. County commission notes from July of 1900 lists undertakers C.H. Northfoss, Duff & Duff and L.F. Schumacher and Company to “have charge of the work of burying the pauper dead in the city of Newton,” taking that responsibility in the order so listed (Newton Evening Kansan-Republican). Deceased “paupers” in other cities in Harvey County were taken care of by the undertakers of those cities.
             In 1924, the existing wood frame poor house was demolished and a new brick home was erected, which is today a private residence. The building was 68 feet long by 33 feed wide, with two stories and a half-basement, and cost $18,021.30, plus plumbing ($3,898) and electrical ($425). It provided accommodations for up to 30 “inmates,” some on the ground floor, plus the supervisor and his family.  

The March 12, 1924 Newton Evening Kansan-Republican had much to say on the need for a new facility:  "The house on the farm consists of the original house erected nearly fifty years ago with several additions made in later years and is entirely unsuited to the use for which it is intended.  There are no bedrooms for inmates on the first floor, the house has no toilet facilities, and the fire hazard is very great on account of the general construction of the building, and the fact that all lighting is done with coal oil lamps.  It is almost impossible to care for sick persons, and no inmates can now be taken in at the farm unless they are able to go up and down stairs."  The county was incurring hospital expenses and other bills for care of indigent patients who could have been cared for at the poor farm, if more suitable.  The article concludes, "The building will be adequate for the needs of Harvey County for many years and . . . every one . . . will experience a sense of satisfaction to know that conditions at the county farm are to be improved before Harvey County develops a poor farm scandal such as some of our neighboring county have had in recent years."  That makes me want to go find out more about those scandals! 

Drawing in the Newton Evening Kansan Republican, 12 March 1924.

            But change was on the horizon, and the poor farm would exist under county supervision  for less than another 20 years. The formation of the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930’s combined with the rise of health care institutions to eliminate poor farms and homes across the U.S.  Records show between 14 and 20 residents at the county farm from each year 1924 through 1932, illustrating its’ necessity through that decade. But by 1941, the county commission decided to “no longer maintain it as a refuge” and leased the property for private use (later selling it), thus ending the era of the poor farm in Harvey County.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grandma's Recipes

A few years ago I acquired a metal recipe box filled with hand written recipes.  I did not quite know what I would do with the recipes and at the same time I could not quite throw them away. The recipes shine a light into a community of women, their friendship and tastes.  This metal box is also a record of one woman's cooking career.

Arpa Wedel's Recipe Box
She often wrote who had given her the recipe and if it was "good" or merely "ok" at the top.  

Some go back to when she was a young married woman, 

others are on florescent colored index cards - suggesting a more recent recipe.

As part of this blog. I will periodically share recipes from Arpa Wedel's Recipe Box as well as other good cooks from the past.  Feel free to try them out and let us know at the museum how they turned out for you - 'good' or just 'ok'.

Today, since it is June and summer is in full swing I thought some ice cream recipes might be in order.

This one she cut out from a magazine.  I wonder how she liked it?

From another excellent cook, Martha Dirksen (1904-1994), a recipe for homemade ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Full Cycle: The Beginning and End of the Harvey County Poor Farm - Part 1

 This is the first of a two-part series on the county poor house by guest blogger, Deb Hiebert.  Deb is the Director at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. The article first appeared in a March 2012 edition of “The Newton Kansan,” and since that time research has revealed more clues about the farm.  This article has been modified to include new information.  The June 21 blog will feature Part 2 of the Harvey County Poor Farm.

"I'm old, I'm helpless and feeble;
and the days of my youth have gone by;
and it's over the hill to the poor house,
I must wander alone there to die."

The chorus of Over the Hill to the Poor House, written by famous bluegrass artists Flatt and Scruggs, refers to the by-gone institution of the county poor house or farm. Prior to the creation of the federal Social Security system in the early 1930’s, the care of economically disadvantaged citizens (due to, for example, advanced age, widowhood, single motherhood or injury), as well as those with mental or physical challenges, fell to individual county governments. If the county was well populated, a poor house was established, and these were the precursors of hospitals and “insane asylums.” Poor farm legislation is included in the original state constitution, and most counties offered relief for the poor by the mid-1870’s.

Such was the case in Harvey County. The November 4, 1873 election resulted in $3,000 in bonds being approved to establish a county poor farm. Only $2,000 in bonds were needed to purchase the Macon Township property in August, 1874 through the agency of R.W.P. Muse and R.M. Spivey. Muse and Spivey offered the property for $1,500 if cash was paid, but charged $2,000 if bonds were issued. A wood frame house, constructed in approximately 1875, existed on the property for immediate use by the county.

The original county poor farm house.
 Written on the back of the photo:
 “Harvey County Poor Farm, W. 12th, 1914, John Hollister, Supt.” 
At this point, the poor house was leased to a tenant, who would work the farm for personal profit (or loss) and provide housing, food and care to the residents, commonly referred to across the country as “inmates,” who were expected to help with the farm duties. The challenge in this system was that many of the residents were at the farm due to their inability to support themselves, which led to incidents of forced labor and abuse across the U.S. Fortunately, soon after the Harvey County poor farm was opened, a new system was established in which the county commission would appoint and hire a poor farm superintendent, who was paid to provide care for residents. The superintendent maintained the livestock, gardens and cropland, which were all county property, and any profits from the sale of commodities was returned to the county. 

In 1877, the Harvey County farm was rented to Mr. James Finch for $20, but by 1888, the county apparently owned not only the land and house, but the equipment. A March 1st, 1888 poor farm inventory of property by H.T. Jackson starts with “10 cows” and goes all the way through “5 stone jars, 2 meat barrels and 3 milk cans.” Although the commission may have intended the farm to make a profit, breaking even was more realistic. An 1891 annual statement from the superintendent shows a net profit of $13.41, and is accompanied by the statement that “we are paying expenses.” In 1907, the superintendents’ contract shows an annual payment of $500 for care of the farm, with an additional $264 “for help with the household duties, and in caring for the inmates of said Asylum.” The superintendent and his family were also provided with groceries, fuel and light, and at later dates, telephone service.

(The second article of the series, documenting the transition to a new brick house, will be published  on June 21, 2012)