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Kansas Heritage Group

"I would like to thank, on behalf of all the people who have benefited from it, Lynn Nelson for his great effort to build and maintain the WWW Virtual Library for History."
Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Inventor, November 2004.

History of Kansas Heritage Sites

How the Whole Business Started: 1993

The Kansas Heritage Group (Kansas Heritage Server) began in 1993, when Dr. Lynn H. Nelson, Professor of History at the University of Kansas, built a website on 'Kansas History and Life' (a.k.a. Kansas (History) On-Line), one of the first W3 sites. Lynn was the man who raised his hand when Tim Berners-Lee, WWW inventor, asked if anybody wanted to do anything with the keen new toy called the 'Web'. Stephen Chinn contributed several articles to Kansas On-Line including the Kansas Pioneers List and Kansas Forts and Historic Kansas Trails.

Kansas History and Life developed into the Kansas Heritage Information Server which Lynn Nelson created before 19 Jan 1994. Stephen Chinn took over Kansas History On-Line after 28 Mar 1994, and the electronic texts stored there became the foundation for Kansas Heritage and the Kansas Collection site, that Lynn Nelson also established.

On 1 July 1994, Lynn Nelson and Stephen Chinn began fine tuning the concept. The original full name of the site was 'The Center for Kansas Genealogy, Family and Local History,' and the original nickname of the site was just 'Heritage.' As things progressed, the names were changed to 'The Kansas Heritage Center for Family and Local History' and 'Kansas Heritage' respectively. The name now is the Kansas Heritage Group.

The Kansas Pioneers List (KPL) project was established before 27 March 1994. The KPL was publicized through Roots-L early on, and the files were originally archived on vm1.nodak.edu. Later on the KPL was also promoted on Kansas-L, and the files were eventually archived in Kansas On-Line. The KPL project was one of the first Kansas Heritage projects.

The One-Room School House (ORSH) project was created before 1 July 1994 according to correspondence from Lynn Nelson.

An index contributed 5 July 1994 by Adell Carr Smith for "Rural Schools of Douglas County, Kansas" written by Goldie Piper Daniels was prepared for W3 publication 11 Jul 1994.

A letter dated 12 July 1994 is from Vera Ellerman Rodecap regarding her book, "The Country Schoolteacher, A Kansas Legacy," published in November 1993.

29 Oct 1996 Gary Funk and Rich Bicker of the faculty of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas took over the ORSH project. Their site was the Kansas Heritage center for the One-Room School House. In 2004, Stephen Chinn again took over the ORSH site - he had relatives who were teachers at one-room schools, and hence this was the primary reason for doing the project.

The Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) site was created 21 Jan 1994 by Lynn Nelson. A week later the site was up. The Kansas State Historical Society site became the first state and/or local history society anywhere to be online. Peter Thomas and David Miller developed the original pages based on materials supplied by the KSHS. Lynn Nelson also spent some time preparing materials.

Stephen Chinn took over management duties and spent a lot of time on his own and together with David Haury in getting the site ready to be taken over by the KSHS. The KSHS Web team took over the site before 18 Apr 1997 and turned the site into the finest state and local history Web site in the nation.

The society directory on Kansas Heritage was created 15 Feb 1994 for genealogical and historical societies. Not long after that Ken Leonard took over the site and brought the Johnson County Genealogical Society online. The Kansas State Historical Society contributed their "Directory of Historical and Genealogical Societies, Museums, and Cultural Organizations in Kansas 1995" compiled by Mary M. Flott, and this publication was loaded on the server after 10 Mar 1995.

The families directory on Kansas Heritage was created before 16 Feb 1994 for Kansas Family History.

The graphics directory on Kansas Heritage was created before 20 May 1995 for Kansas Heritage Graphics.

The Sunflower Journeys (SJ) site was built in 1994 by Stephen Chinn and Dave Kendall, SJ series producer. The SJ site was one of the first W3 sites on Kansas Heritage, and it was the first website for a public television program. Dave Kendall took over the SJ site after it was constructed. 16 May 1997 the Sunflower Journeys site moved to the KTWU server at Washburn University.

Early Kansas Imprint Scanners (EKIS) began to develop in 1994. Lynn Nelson and Stephen Chinn were the first members. Lynn Nelson did most of the material acquisition and scanning early on.

Stephen Chinn was the first EKIS manager. Steve helped coordinate the early EKIS volunteers, scanned in several articles, transcribed some texts himself, and coded some materials for Web presentation.

The early EKIS documents were stored on Kansas Heritage, and Stephen Chinn developed a small website to help the volunteers "how to" and attempt to keep projects organized. Dick Taylor took over Early Kansas Imprint Scanners in 1995.

The Historical Directory of Kansas Towns (HDKT) was created 24 Dec 1993. Though materials for the HDKT project were gathered before then.

The Kansas Humanities Council site developed by Lynn H. Nelson, was the first of its type in the on the W3, before the national site or any other states. It was moved in 2002 to their own server, with an expanded design.

A letter dated 10 Jun 1992 was from the Morris County Historical Society regarding Morris County history and genealogy. A file dated 12 Sep 1993 shows that Stephen Chinn transcribed part of the Morris County chapter of Cutler's "History of the State of Kansas." A letter dated 24 Sep 1993 was from the Morris County Genealogical Society regarding the Slough Creek Community.

Stephen Chinn obtained permission from Dorothy Gallaway to use materials from the book, "Dwight Kansas, the First 100 Years," for the HDKT project.

Though the Abilene Community Network was the first Kansas Community Network (KCN) to be developed as a Web site (before 25 Jul 1995). The Medicine Lodge Community network was created 18 Sep 1995 and is maintained by Karen McClellan. The Marysville Community Network was created before 3 Nov 1995. The Lawrence Community Network was created before 25 Nov 1995. The Morris County materials later became part of the Council Grove Community Network (before 4 Mar 1996). The Chapman Community Network was created before 23 Mar 1996. Pamela Sexton was manager of the Abilene Community Network site 28 Apr 1996 when it received the NSBOL Community Spotlight for the Week Award.

Later on a KCN Web site was created for each county seat. The original emphasis was on family history and local history. Kansas Community Network expansion began 17 Jul 1996 when volunteers were recruited to take over management of KCN sites. The result has been that the communities of Kansas have developed their own locally-run community network much faster than would have been the case otherwise. In 2002, George Laughead Jr. became manager of the Kansas Community Networks sites.

Nancy Sween joined the Kansas Heritage team in 1995.

Nancy created her Kansas Interactive Genealogy (KIG) site by 26 Jul 1995 on the falcon machine. The KIG site expanded the genealogy aspect of the Kansas Heritage Information Server when the site was moved to the raven machine some time in 1996. The KIG site included the Kansas Surnames list which was maintained by Connie Snyder and Don Tharp after October 1996.

Nancy created a Kansas Sights site on the falcon machine in 1995. Kansas Sights was originally set up for an early Webring type experiment. Originally the site was a combination of information on Kansas Towns along the Santa Fe Trail and elsewhere. After the Kansas Community Network (KCN) was created, "Kansas Sights became a traveling through historic Kansas sort of index." Kansas Sights moved to the Kansas Heritage Information Server 3 Jan 1997.

Nancy also made a significant contribution to Kansas Heritage when she created a Santa Fe Trail site in 1995. Morris Werner on 28 Oct 1995 granted Kansas Heritage permission to place a copy of his book, "Pioneer Trails from U.S. Land Surveys," on the Kansas Heritage Information Server. Quote from Morris, "My research extends to all emigrant and military trails plotted by the Kansas Territorial Surveys of 1855-65."

Kansas Heritage management was given to George Laughead in 2002. Since that time, the Kansas History Web Sites, and the Kansas History Resources directories were created, in addition to the Ford County Historical Society site, Artists In Kansas, Beats In Kansas, Cooking In Kansas, and Racing In Kansas sites, among others. All Kansas Heritage sites are volunteer maintained. The group's Kansas history online websites remain unfunded.

The Kansas Heritage Group is managed by George Laughead, manager, United States History Index and Kansas History web sites. Thanks to Lynn H. Nelson, who explains HNSource, the first history site on the Web, author, Kansas History Gateway, established in 1993.

Page created 28 Dec 1997. Updated: 21 Feb 2015.

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