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University Relations

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September 9, 2005
Contact: Jeffery Moran, KU history department, (785) 864-9461

Consultant for WWII documentary by Ken Burns to speak to history conference

LAWRENCE - A military historian who is a consultant for a new Ken Burns documentary on World War II and a renowned colonial historian will be the keynote speakers for the 23rd annual Mid-America Conference on History hosted by the University of Kansas, Sept. 22 to 24, in the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.

Roger Spiller, a consultant to Burns and a professor emeritus at the Army Command General Staff College in Leavenworth, will speak on "History, Ken Burns and the 'Making' of World War II," at noon Friday in the Holidome Jay's Restaurant. Spiller is the George C. Marshall emeritus professor of military history at Ft. Leavenworth. His books include "An Instinct for War: Scenes from the Battlefields of History."

Jack P. Greene, award-winning colonial historian from Johns Hopkins University, speaks at the 6:30 p.m. banquet Friday in the Brazilian Room, Holidome. Greene is speaking on "Refashioning the National Pasts: The Implications of the New Colonial History for Understanding the History of the American Nation." Greene is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins and author of several books including "Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture."

About 200 historians, students and independent scholars from throughout the U.S. are expected to attend the three-day annual conference. The Mid-American history conference rotates annually among KU, Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State), the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State University and the University of Memphis.

Jeffrey Moran, chair of KU's history department, notes that in past 20 or more years since the conference was established it has grown to from a small regional meeting to one that now attracts at least a third of its participants nationwide.

" Despite its national reach, the conference will offer many sessions of local interest, including James E. Sherow's examination of Kansas environmentalist Wes Jackson in the context of an entire panel of biographies of important Kansans," Moran said.

Another will be research on the 1838 Potawatomi Trail of Death from Indiana to Kansas by a group of public historians who have made a documentary and are fighting to have the Trail commemorated in much the same way as the Cherokee Trail of Tears has been.

In all the conference features 32 panels on all aspects of history, including

  • "Desegregation in Little Rock, Then and Now," featuring a current Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court
  • "Environmental History: Roots and Branches"
  • "Publish and Prosper: Four Paths to Successful Scholarly Publishing"
  • " Faces of Morale in the Civil War"
  • "Religion, Sport, and Rivalry in American History," with a paper on "Are you a Wildcat or a Jayhawk?: Choosing a Religion in Kansas"
  • "A Roundtable on the History of Children, Schools, and Education"
  • "American Indians and the New Republic"
  • "Cold War Culture and Catholicism"
  • "Nationalism in Post-1945 Eastern Europe"

The KU Department of History and KU's Continuing Education are sponsoring the conference. Registration is required to attend. The full program is online at


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045