Chapman Center for Rural Studies
The Department of History at Kansas State University has long been deeply engaged in reaching out to off-campus populations, particularly rural populations whose physical presence and memory are in danger of being lost forever. From 2005-2008, a rotating community of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in history took on the reconstruction of Broughton, Kansas, a town in Geary county condemned for flood control in 1966. (The town site is near today’s Milford Lake). Former Broughton resident and K-State alum Mark Chapman generously underwrote that project and the publication of a book on Broughton. Through that process, Mark Chapman recognized other communities’ potential for recovery and decided to provide for the initial development of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at KSU. In July 2008, Mr. Chapman donated funds for three years of staffing and the development of a highly specialized classroom laboratory suitable for 15–20 students to work collaboratively on a specific topic in the history of rural Kansas. In addition to classroom space, the Chapman Center will contain a new research room, meeting space, a reference library, and work space for four Chapman Fellows. The offices of the Center’s Director and Laboratory Director will be located between and adjacent to the classroom and research room. This new space is slated for completion in 2010. An application to the NEH digital humanities program was submitted in October 2008 with notification of that grant due in April 2009. Spring of 2009 will see the development of several ongoing fundraising initiatives.
The overall purpose of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies is the development of an undergraduate research culture in the humanities and the dissemination, maintenance, and publication of the research conducted by faculty and students associated with the Center.
Many rural communities in Kansas are in crisis: economically, socially and culturally. As populations contract, the memories of numerous small communities are in danger of being lost forever. One of the goals of the Chapman Center is thus to aide communities in the retention of their history by collecting, archiving, creating, and then publishing the stories of these communities one by one. Another main objective is building and maintaining a digital archive of rural Kansas. The Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas State University Archives will act as physical repositories and partners in this ongoing project.