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
10:57 am
Tue December 2, 2014

How Do We Sell Our City?

Credit vansassa / flickr

The recent controversy with Believable Brands or the efforts of the Visioneering Wichita project a few years ago are part of a recent trend where Wichita leaders bring in outside firms to help the city market itself.

This was not always the case.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Where Are We, Really?

Credit Sue Clark (perpetualplum) / Flickr / Creative Commons

Wichitans today think of our city as part of the Midwest. Into the 1920s, however, Wichita saw itself as Southwestern, part of a region that included Texas and Oklahoma.

Cattle drives from Texas and railroad links confirmed this orientation. Promoters described the city as “Queen City of the Greater Southwest.” By 1910, Wichita saw itself as the capital of an “Empire of the Southwest,” a trade area consisting of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue August 26, 2014

A Tiny Kansas Schoolhouse With A Big History

The Ivanpah schoolhouse
Jay Price KMUW / Wichita State University

Ivanpah, in Greenwood County, is today little more than a schoolhouse. I recently gave a talk about it for the Symphony in the Flint Hills.

Dating from 1879, the community owed its origins to a sheep rancher named A.H. Thompson and a newspaperman, Frank Presbrey. A few days before I was to give my talk, a random internet search uncovered a story that made my jaw drop.

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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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