Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation

New Exhibit Opens: January 29th – March 16, 2012

Who speaks for the experiences of a generation and their impact on the world around them?  What experiences help to create a sense of shared identity?

Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation, a new exhibition opening this week at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, explores the life arc of the World War II generation—as told in their own words.  Born in the 1910s and 1920s, these people were decisively shaped by the Depression and World War II. They went on to make the “baby boom” and shape the economic boom of the postwar era. Today – well into the 21st century – we are all living with their legacy. But who are these people upon whom the title of “greatest” has been bestowed?

Our Lives, Our Stories draws on memories and oral histories gathered by the Minnesota Historical Society to help us understand who these people really were. The exhibition begins with the babies of the 1910s and 1920s, and then explores the human impact of events that marked major turning points in their lives, including the Depression, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II, the rising awareness of Civil Rights, and the growth of media-driven consumer culture during the post-war boom. While this generation’s identity is clearly linked to World War II, the focus of Our Lives, Our Stories seeks to restore a wholeness to our understanding of them by allowing them to tell their stories along the larger arc of their lives.

In the process, their diversity of memories reveals them as the complex mix of real people who truly helped to shape the world that we live in today.

The Museum has special programming planned for this exhibit, including the following:

Wednesday, January 25, 10am – “Born Here: Kansas Aviation History” by Richard Harris. With twenty percent of America’s aircraft produced in Kansas, aviation is second only to ag­riculture as our state’s leading industry. Where did it all begin, where is it all going, and how does the aviation industry shape the lives of Kansans? This presentation explores the his­tory of Kansas aviation, from the world’s first aircraft factory in Freedom to Wichita’s historic rise to become Air Capital City. Sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council.

Sunday, January 29, 1-5pm – Exhibit Opens
Sunday, January 29, 2pm – “Kansas Day Program” with Dr. Jay Price.

Saturday, February 4, 1-5pm – EXHIBIT OPENING RECEPTION with Family Day: Depression Era Games & Toys, Wartime Recipes refreshments, and much more!

February 11, 2pm – Michael Lasser, lecturer, writer, broadcaster, critic and teacher will present a talk about the Music of Mid-Century, from the Great Depression to war-time and into the atomic age.

Saturday, February 18, 2pm – “Born Here: Kansas Aviation History” by Richard Harris.

Wednesday, February 22, 10am (doors open 9:30) – Radio Programs of the Greatest Generation by Eric Cale, Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum Director. Details to be announced.

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED Friday, March 2, 7pm – First Friday – America’s Post-War Popular Music with Dr. J.C. Combs

Saturday, March 3, 2pm – “Kansas Remembers World War II” by Rachel Waltner Goossen. World War II altered many lives, sending a generation of men and women across the state and overseas. The stories of nurses, pilots, chaplains, welders, and musicians provide a window into Kansans’ journeys to pacifist communities, factories, hospitals, and military service. This presentation focuses on oral histories of 1940s-era Kansans, as well as the present-day students who collected these stories. Rachel Waltner Goossen is a Professor of History at Washburn University. Sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council.

Friday, March 16, 11am-4pm – Final Day to view the Exhibit!

Wednesday, March 28, 10am (doors open 9:30) “Stopping for History” by Cheryl Unruh, author of the book “Flyover People,” will present an illustrated lecture about her travels in Kansas, focusing on historic places such as Mine Creek Battlefield and the Walter Chrysler Boyhood Home/Museum in Ellis.

Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation has been made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit was originally developed by the Minnesota Historical Society in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This exhibit was adapted and is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road. NEH on the Road offers an exciting opportunity for communities of all sizes to experience some of the best exhibitions funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Mid-America Arts Alliance was founded in 1972 and is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States. For more information, visit www.maaa.org or www.nehontheroad.org. Special thanks to our local media sponsor, the Wichita Eagle. KPTS, Channel 8, and KMUW.

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2 Responses to Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation

  1. Nicki Lies says:

    Can I access historical photos of Wichita on a website? I am interested in the 1930’s and 1940’s in particular. Nicki Lies

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