The Story of Kansas

1940-1950 Timeline


Wichita's population grows from 114,966 in 1940 to 168,279 residents by the decade's end, due to an influx of wartime factory workers from rural areas.


February — The concept for the B-29 begins when the Army requests a new heavy, long-range bomber. The Boeing operation in Wichita is selected to manufacture more than 1,600 of the planes.

Aug. 23 — KFH radio, Wichita, broadcasts from the bottom of the "World's Largest Hand-Dug Well" at Greensburg.


Marcet Haldeman dies from cancer. During the first half of the 20th century, she and her husband, Emanuel, publish "The Little Blue Books." The couple from Girard advocate sex education, voting rights and racial equality — but most important, literature for the masses.

Wichita's Coleman Lamp and Stove Co. is given its first assignment by the military: Create a one-man stove that's small, lightweight, strong enough to stand abuse, simple and easy to operate. It is a difficult assignment, the company's founder, W.C. Coleman admits in May 1945, when the one millionth stove comes off the assembly line.


Fort Scott native Gordon Parks takes one of his best-known photographs, "American Gothic," which shows Ella Watson, an African-American cleaning woman, standing with her broom and mop in front of an American flag at the Farm Security Administration building.

During World War II, a POW camp at Concordia is built. The camp is among 155 main camps in the United States to house prisoners of war. In Kansas, 10,000 prisoners are housed, the majority German. Kansas has two other main POW camps — Camp Phillips, outside Salina, which primarily housed Italian prisoners, and Fort Riley.


From 1943 to 1946, B-29s flying from bases in Pratt, and Walker, Salina, Herington and Great Bend are a common sight in Kansas skies. More than 24,000 B-29 pilots train at Kansas bases.

Other US military bases in the state include: Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal, Independence, Coffeyville and Hutchinson.

Jan. 4 — Indictments are brought against Rev. Gerald B. Winrod, Wichita's radical radio evangelist for pro-Nazi conspiracy.

Jan. 5 — George Washington Carver, who discovered 300 uses for peanuts, dies at Tuskegee, Ala. Carver spent much of his boyhood and young adult years in Kansas, attending high school in Minneapolis and homesteading in Ness County in 1888.


Jan. 29 — Famed Emporia Gazette editor William Allen White dies — on Kansas Day.


April 10 — The War Department reports Kansas had 137,000 men and 1,957 women who served in the U.S. Army during World War II.


Kansas voters repeal prohibition in 1948, and liquor stores first open in Kansas in 1949.

July 8, 1949 — The first truck load of legal liquor arrives in Kansas.


Independence native William Inge's first hit, "Come Back, Little Sheba," is performed on Broadway.

Shrove Tuesday — Liberal Jaycees challenge Olney, England, to an international race of flapjack-flipping women. The International Pancake Race between Liberal and Olney grew out of a tradition that dates back to 1445 in Olney. Legend has it that a housewife who was using up the last of her cooking fat on Shrove Tuesday, the last Tuesday before Lent, heard the Olney church bells calling people to worship services. The woman, still wearing an apron and headscarf, skillet in hand, pancake in skillet, sprinted to the church.

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