Watkins Museum exhibit looks at how Douglas County coped with Great Depression

While the Dust Bowl raged in western Kansas, the residents of Douglas County struggled to deal with hardships brought on by the Great Depression.

A new exhibit on view at Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St., explores how Lawrencians coped with the era. “Distractions and Determination: How Lawrence Survived the Great Depression,” on the museum’s second floor, is open through Jan. 5.

“People were brought together by tough times,” exhibit curator Brittany Keegan said in an announcement from the museum. “They turned to each other and to their pastimes for relief from their hardships.”

The exhibit features artifacts and photos from the 1930s, including WPA arts projects and a marionette used in performances by Lawrence’s Bushong Sisters. “Distractions and Determination” aims to illustrate programs established to help area residents find work plus the entertainment and community activities that brightened spirits during hard times.

While survival was a struggle for many, the Great Depression encouraged people to rely on one another and strengthened community bonds.


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