Mabee houses small town snapshots

Erin Wynkoop

Last semester, a photography class was offered in conjunction with the Kansas Studies program to explore small towns in North Eastern Kansas. The Fine Arts Department of Washburn, along with the Center for Kansas Studies, the Kansas State Historical Society and Framewoods sponsored the program while Mary Dorsey Wanless instructed and supervised.

This project was the brainchild of Wanless. The class participated in various activities and had many guest speakers as preparation for their own documentation.

The towns used as subject matter were chosen based on various aspects including population and community pride. Students were also assigned a research paper that can be read in the library.

Wanless received funding for film, paper and matting from the various sponsors. From now through the month of March, these 11 towns, which include Alma, Lyndon, Onega and Overbrook, will be on display on the main floor of the Mabee Library. The Mabee has always welcomed student work and plans to exhibit more work throughout the semester.

Senior English major Ande Davis took the class because he enjoys photography.

“It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” said Davis, who documented Valley Falls.

Valley Falls is located in Jefferson County and is approximately forty miles north east of Topeka. The population is just more than 1,200 people.

Sara Meier and Tyrell Johnsrud, both senior Fine Arts majors, worked together to research and photograph the town of Burlingame. Burlingame is located south of Topeka in Osage County and has a population of approximately 1,000 people.

Meier really enjoyed her adventure working in Burlingame. She had never really spent an extended period of time in a small town before.

“It was great to get a chance to experience such a small community,” said Meier.

Meier enjoyed the people and their dedication to change. She believes that the people of Burlingame are a great community because they are working on building up the population to make their town stronger and more efficient.

Because a project similar to this one has been done continuously since 1950, the Kansas State Historical Society will take possession of the photos after the exhibit is taken down at the end of March. The photos will then be placed in the Historical Society’s permanent archives.

Students have plenty of time to check out the photo exhibit. It will be running through March 31.