In celebration of Kansas Wesleyan University’s 130th anniversary, Jennifer Toelle has compiled a commemorative book, composed of photographs that take the reader from the late 1800s through today. “Kansas Wesleyan University, The Campus History Series,” is a unique pictorial history illustrating the university’s institutional history and the enduring Coyote spirit. With a forward written by former Kansas Governor Bill Graves ’76, the collection of images tells the story of the special people and extraordinary moments that have defined the Kansas Wesleyan University experience.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for me to share the rich history of Kansas Wesleyan and the people who have made it what it is today,” said Toelle, who sorted through thousands of photos in the university’s archive and the Smoky Hill Museum’s collection. She used many reference and genealogical research tools such Ancestry.com. Extensive research was done with newspapers and other archival material to compile the pictorial. Toelle said she narrowed the photo selection to approximately 200 photos that fill the 128-page book. “It was difficult to work within the page limitations because there were so many wonderful photos,” she said. “So, I selected those that told multiple stories.”
Through her research she also discovered interesting traditions that had not been shared in previous history books written about KWU. “There apparently was a cane that was given to the oldest living alum. I discovered it through a 1960 commencement story in the Salina Journal. I tried to connect with the last family that we know had it, but was unsuccessful. However, I was able to connect with a distant relative to the last owner who provided a family photograph of the Rev. John Wilfred and Anna Viola (Perrill) Snapp. Rev. Snapp was the first to carry the cane, and his wife Anna was the last known to receive it. I really enjoyed learning more about the cane and the tradition and stories around it.”
Toelle, the registrar at the Smoky Hill Museum, holds an undergraduate degree in American studies from Columbia College and a graduate degree in humanities from Tiffin University. She is actively engaged in many organizations, including the Kansas Museums Association and the American Association of State and Local History. She has a passionate enthusiasm for biography and institutional history and maintains strong ties to the Kansas Wesleyan community.
“This book is excellent,” said Matt Thompson, Ph.D., president and CEO. “And it is fun to read. Jennifer’s passion for history, most particularly, Salina history, made her the perfect author for this publication. We are so grateful for her efforts. She has told the 130-year history of our university through photos, and our alumni and friends who read this will find photos and captions that will reconnect them with their experience at Kansas Wesleyan.”
Toelle said, “It is my sincere hope that as people turn the pages, it evokes memories that reinforce their spirit of community and connections to KWU.”
The book will be available beginning Monday, July 17, on campus at Yotee’s Bookstore and at other retails locations.