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Library to host living history photo exhibit
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This photograph was taken north of Ellinwood and is on display at the Ellinwood Community/School Library. The dugout still exists. Local historian Robert Yarmer said that individuals of that era would bring out all of their worldly possessions for a photograph. Yarmer will tell these stories and others at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at the library. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

ELLINWOOD — Horses pulling a vehicle out of the mud, Main Street in Ellinwood in 1938, Wolf Pond in 1934 and an 1887 settlers reunion parade — remnants of the fabric of life in an earlier, simpler time in Barton County.

To help the community preserve this fabric, the award winning Ellinwood Community/School Library has partnered with the Ellinwood Historical Society to host a display of these photos and others called "History Lives" at the library from Nov. 21 to January. In addition, the photographs are being scanned and placed on the internet which will be linked to the Chamber of Commerces’ and City’s website.

"We’ll have about 500 photos accessible online," when the project is completed, said Librarian Sharon Sturgis. The photos will also be available at

There will also be an open house at the library on Nov. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. The public will be of Ellinwood’s past recorded on film and kept by the Ellinwood Community Historical Society.

"The project is designed to make sure to preserve our heritage," said Sturgis. Each photo is given a number, name of photographer, and information that is recorded on the back.

Each photograph has been categorized, catalogued, and preserved by library Archivist Erin Torrell.

The Historical Society will also include a display of Wolf premiums, photographs and other items in the library showcases.

Additional programs will be at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 at the Chamber Coffee. On Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. Local historian Robert Yarmer will present the program. The photographs are available for viewing any time the library is open to the public. The library will be closed during the Thanksgiving weekend.

"History Alive" will tell of the various activities of Ellinwood that have brought it to the world it is today. Panels will feature transportation, business, tragedies, celebrations, early settlers and their activities. Music, hunting, and ‘lemonade’ were all part of the days as the area was settled with industrious Germans.

The Kansas Constitution banned alcohol consumption in 1881 to 1948, longer than any other state. Yarmer searched the Ellinwood City Council records from 1874 to 1900 and never found the word alcohol. However, the euphemism of the time, "lemonade"and "hop tea" appeared by the dozen.

Ellinwood High School band carried a banner that said "The lid is on," in 1912 when prohibition was enforced and the saloons were shut down.

This exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council. Collaborating as partners, the Ellinwood Community Historical Society and the Community Library applied for and received a Heritage Grant to preserve photographs and artifacts relating to the general heritage of the community and schools. The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

The grant award of $3,486 allowed for the cataloging, indexing and preservations needs of a large number of photographs owned by the historical society. Eventually, over 500 photos will be preserved through this project. These photographs are also being scanned and digitized, and will be available online through the library’s database website. The database will be searchable by topic and names for research purposes.

For the school to have an archive of photos is rare. "Very few schools have preserved their history," said Sturgis.