Oral Histories

The Johnson County Museum conducts oral history interviews with local residents in an effort to capture firsthand accounts and stories from the past. Most interviews were collected to support a specfici project; others relate to more general themes on Johnson County’s history.

Alphabetical List of Oral Histories (by last name)

Agriculture
These interviews explore agricultural history, such as truck farming and dairy farming, and the role the Kansas State Grange within the county.

All-Electric House
Former owners of the Museum’s 1950s All-Electric House, as well as former neighbors and people who toured the home in the 1950s, are part of this oral history collection. The All-Electric House is a historic house museum available for guided tours at the Johnson County Museum.  The house originally stood at 4602 Homestead in the Indian Fields neighborhood of Prairie Village. It was donated to the Museum and moved 8 miles to the Museum’s property in 1994. The house was then restored to its original 1954 appearance, when it was a Kansas City Power and Light model home. Today the 1950s All-Electric House is open to the public for tours. Full summary

Bicentennial Collection
Johnson County residents were interviewed explore the history and development of Johnson County from settler days to 1977. The interviews were conducted by Johnson County Library staff from 1971-1977 as part of a Bicenntenial initiave. The collection was donated to the Museum in 2008.  Full summary

The Story of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2013 to gain more information about the history of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Citizen Soldiers on the Prairie.” The exhibit detailed the history of the Sunflower plant that operated from 1943-1992 and employed tens of thousands of workers in Johnson County. Full summary


Civil Rights and Fair Housing
The interviews include descriptions of discrimination against Jewish and African-American citizens of Johnson County, and how that bigotry was combated and dealt with in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The interviews also shed light on the history of Jewish and African-American organizations and businesses in Johnson County. These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1994, 1995 and 2007 to gain more information about civil rights and fair housing issues in Johnson County.

Coming of Age in Johnson County: 1960-1976
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2007 to gain more information about the time period of 1960-1976 in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Coming Of Age in Johnson County: 1960-1976.” The exhibit detailed the trials and tribulations of growing up in Johnson County during that era and focused on topics such as civil rights, the Vietnam War and the counterculture movement. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust.

Education
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1988, 1989 and 1994 to gain more information about the history of education in Johnson County. Interview subjects include students and faculty of one-room schoolhouses such as Lanesfield, and Prairie School, and the unification of school districts in Johnson County.

Home Building
This interview was conducted by Museum staff in 1996 to gain more information about the history of home building and development in Johnson County.

Johnson County Communities
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in from 1989-1999 to gain more information about the history of different communities in Johnson County. Residents of De Soto, Lake Quivira, Overland Park, Roeland Park, Shawnee, South Park and Westwood were interviewed and shared their personal stories of growing up and living in different Johnson County communities.

New Immigrants and the American Dream
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2009 to gain more information about the immigrant experience in the United States and in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “New Immigrants and the American Dream.” The exhibit explored the history of immigration in the United States, how current immigrant populations are redefining the American Dream, and how immigrants are changing the demographics of America’s suburbs. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund.

Politics
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 1995 with two former governors of Kansas who grew up in Johnson County. The material was used to gain more information about the background of each governor, and their experiences in Johnson County.

Shawnee Family Stories
Family Stories is a Kansas Humanities grant funded oral history project awarded to Shawnee Town1929 that follows the Story Corp’s approach for interviewing; 28 interviews were conducted in 2007 and 2008; audio and written formats are archived at the Johnson County Museum. The project goal was to become a community listening post for gathering individual and family stories relevant to having lived, worked or played in the City of Shawnee. Sessions were one-hour periods and participants could come with an interview partner or be interviewed by Sandra Reddish, the interview manager for the project. The following 28 individuals were interviewed for the project.


Suburban Bliss: The Political Cartoons of Bob Bliss Exhibit
This interview was conducted by the Museum staff in 2012 to gain more information about the life and career of cartoonist Bob Bliss. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “Suburban Bliss: The Political Cartoons of Bob Bliss." Bliss drew cartoons for the Sun Newspapers from 1991 until 2002, and the Museum's collection includes original cartoons.  Bliss’ political cartoons satirically detailed issues of concern for Johnson County suburban residents. Full summary

Law Enforcement                                                                                                                 These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2004-2005 to gain more information about the history of law enforcement in Johnson County. The material was used to inform an exhibit created for the Johnson County Museum entitled “To Protect and Serve.” The exhibit studied the history of local law enforcement, beginning in frontier days in the mid-1850s to present day. This oral history project was funded by a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council. Full summary

White Haven Motor Lodge
These interviews were conducted by the Museum staff in 2013 to gain more information about the history of the White Haven Motor Lodge on Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park. The White family built the White Haven in 1957 and operated it until the landmark hotel closed in 1957. Full summary