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Miner to lecture on early Kansas wheat farming

10:49:53 AM CDT - Thursday, February 16, 2006

Craig Miner, Willard W. Garvey Professor in Business History, will give a lecture, "Next Year Country: Risk and Reward in Early Western Kansas Wheat Farming," at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in 107 Devlin Hall. This is his inaugural lecture in his newly funded position.

"I'll address how Kansas became the premier wheat state and why in an area many considered to be a desert," said Miner. "Eighty percent of our wheat is grown west of Wichita, a large area once considered suitable only for grazing."

Miner will discuss the settlers' impressive demonstration of innovation and motivation. By 1940, Kansas farmers produced 200 million bushels of wheat. They persevered through changes in the weather, market conditions, and the costs of farming. Miner will also touch on the mechanization of farming, the application of science to agriculture, and why wheat became such a desirable product. Kansas farmers now produce 400 million bushels annually.

Miner, who has taught history at Wichita State for 36 years, is the first person to hold the endowed Garvey professorship, named after Wichita businessman Willard W. Garvey. In May, WSU supporter and Garvey's widow, Jean, announced the establishment and funding of the professorship as part of the Kansas Partnership for Faculty of Distinction Program; Miner's former and slightly differently titled position was not part of an endowed gift to WSU. Garvey's gift is also part of WSU's We Are Wichita State fund-raising campaign. Miner's position is one of 14 created since the campaign began in July 2005.

At one time, Garvey's father, R.H., owned 100,000 acres of western Kansas and eastern Colorado wheatland, making him one of the largest wheatland farmers in the United States.

Miner's newest book, "Next Year Country: Dust to Dust in Western Kansas, 1890-1940," is expected to be released by the University Press of Kansas in fall 2006. It is the sequel to "West of Wichita."



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