Join Us in Kansas City!
AASLH’s 2018 Annual Meeting theme, Truth or Consequences, gets at the heart of our profession. It offers a perfect opportunity to come together and dig into questions such as: What is truth when interpretations change? Whose truth? What is the whole truth?
Kansas City, an ideal place for such questions, features a rich complexity that permeates its past. From native Missouri, Oto, Kansa, and Osage lands, the region became a crossroads of French traders and settlers traveling west on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe trails. The Kansas-Missouri border became the first battlefield of the Civil War. The swirling parade of historical figures includes Latter-day Saints, explorers Lewis and Clark, President Harry Truman, the Kansas City Monarchs Negro Leagues baseball team and stars Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, and Amelia Earhart from nearby Atchison, Kansas. The city’s central location led to it becoming the second busiest railroad center in the country. Soon booming stockyards brought famous Kansas City steak and sidestreet clubs featured a new music called jazz.
As the centennial anniversary of World War I winds down, Kansas City is the place to reflect. After World War I, the city quickly raised more than $2.5 million in just ten days to build a memorial to honor the Great War. As President Calvin Coolidge noted upon its dedication in 1926, “[The Liberty Memorial] has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty…. Today I return in order that I may place the official sanction of the national government upon one of the most elaborate and impressive memorials that adorn our country.” Today the National World War I Museum and Memorial plays a proud role in the global commemoration of World War I where Truth or Consequences continues to be examined as the war’s enduring impact continues.
Some truth is difficult. The city has struggled with racial segregation, and today remains one of the more segregated U.S. cities. Nationally known developer J.C. Nichols introduced racial housing restrictions in the 1910s. As Kansas City continued to grow and new suburban housing flourished in neighboring Kansas, federal housing policies cemented the racial segregation. The Johnson County (KS) Museum unravels how that history has impacted the metropolitan region while acknowledging the experiences of its largely white homogeneous population.
Truth or Consequences will be a thread woven through the conference sessions, and is a thread in the stories told in many of our cultural institutions–including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Truman Presidential Library, and the American Jazz Museum.
As we face the challenges of teaching truth and revealing complexity and many perspectives, Kansas City serves as a perfect place to gather and learn from each other. Come, contribute to the conversation!
We look forward to welcoming you to Kansas City.