Jay Price

History commentator

Jay M. Price is chair of the department of history at Wichita State University, where he also directs the public history program.

His works include Temples for a Modern God: Religious Architecture in Postwar America, Gateways to the Southwest: The Story of Arizona State Parks, Wichita, 1860-1930, and El Dorado!: Legacy of an Oil Boom. He has co-authored Wichita's Legacy of Flight, the Cherokee Strip Land Rush, Wichita’s Lebanese Heritage, and Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley.

He is currently on the board of the Kansas Humanities Council, the Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum, and the Kansas State Historic Sites Board of Review.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Wichita STATE University!

Fiske Hall is the oldest surviving structure on Wichita State's campus
Credit Fletcher Powell / KMUW

This month is Wichita State University’s 50th birthday!

On July 1, 1964, the University of Wichita officially joined the state university system. It was not an easy journey.

The University of Wichita had been municipal university since the 1920s. By the 1960s, however, many in Wichita believed that the time had come for WU to join the state university system, serving the state, not just one city.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue June 3, 2014

The German Influence In Wichita's Early Days

Century II now stands where Wichita founding father "Dutch Bill" Greiffenstein once had his farm.
Credit Kristin Nador / Flickr / Creative Commons

In 1878, the editors of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, a German-language newspaper out of Chicago, visited Wichita and noted that the city’s population was about a third German, among them mayor and Wichita founding father Wilhelm “Dutch Bill” Greiffenstein. The visitors were impressed that there was even a fraternal “Turnverein,” or Turner’s Society, in town.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Past And Present: The Life of a Wichita Intersection

The ghost sign on the former Boston Store near Douglas and Main
Jay Price KMUW

I recently had the privilege to lead two walking tours along Douglas Avenue. Many were amazed at how much the center of Wichita has changed.

A photograph of Douglas and Main from 1870 shows a few wood structures and tents in the middle of a grassy plain. Two years later, according to one recollection, the intersection “clanged with the noisy spurs of Texas cowboys and Mexican ranchmen” and “a brass band played from morning to far into the night on a two-story platform raised over the sidewalk.”

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue March 11, 2014

How A Digital Database Revealed The Early Days Of Delano

Historians will always need to visit archives and libraries, although it is truly amazing how much information is available in digital form.

A few months ago, I was looking at a Sedgwick County mapping database and was surprised when a search for material on Delano turned up a document for the community of Elgin, platted in early 1871. A quick search turned up an almost identical plat for the community of Delano a few months later. Clearly, one replaced the other.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

An Alternate History For Kansas Day

Credit Wikimedia Commons

One nice thing about teaching Kansas history is that it is easy to draw a state map: just create a rectangle with one corner nibbled off.

This map could have been very different, however.

Our story begins in 1854, with the creation of the massive Territory of Kansas that extended from Missouri to the Continental Divide. With Utah on its western border, territorial Kansas included both Pike’s Peak and Bent’s Fort.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Past and Present: American Celebrations

Credit maureen lunn / Flickr / Creative Commons

Traditionally, Christians marked December as the season of Advent, paralleling the role of Lent before Easter. Christmas celebrations were to begin at Christmas. That practice has been under siege for generations, with Christmas, it seems, now threatening to engulf Thanksgiving.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Past and Present: Wichita State's Oldest Building

Fiske Hall has served many functions since its dedication in 1906.
Credit Fletcher Powell / KMUW

The oldest surviving structure on Wichita State’s campus, Fiske Hall’s story began in 1904 with a donation from Charlotte Fiske of Massachusetts to construct a new men’s dormitory at what was then Fairmount College.

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Commentary
12:30 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Past and Present: A President's Kansas Heritage

President Barack Obama with his grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham
Credit U.S. Embassy, Jakarta / Flickr / Creative Commons

Recently, two students and I had a chance to work on a project that looked at the Kansas ancestors of President Barack Obama.

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Commentary
12:30 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Past and Present: The Pride Of The Interurban

Interurban railroad cars
Credit Six Miles of Local History / Flickr

In the 1910s, a person in Kansas City who wanted to attend the University of Kansas-University of Missouri game in Lawrence only needed to take the trolley to the station of the Kaw Valley Interurban, where trains left every hour on the half hour.

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Commentary
12:30 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Past and Present: Route 66

Jay and the Buick Super at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M.
Jay Price KMUW

Over the years, I have traveled down various segments of Route 66 that, taken together, have covered or paralleled nearly the entire length of “the Mother Road.”

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