USM Hosts ‘Americans By Choice,’ an Exhibit on Kansas Immigration

10/9/2012 12:00:00 AM

Opening 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22  

(Leavenworth, Kan.)—The University of Saint Mary De Paul Library this fall is hosting Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas, a touring exhibit that illustrates the paths to citizenship taken by Kansas settlers from around the world over the last century and a half.

USM’s exhibition program opens at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, in Mabee Auditorium with a presentation by Jean Svadlenak, a Kansas City based museum consultant with over 35 years of experience in the field. Svadlenak will describe how the project was conceptualized and developed, and highlight some of the major trends and patterns of immigration and citizenship across the state, drawing from the personal stories of thousands of individuals.

Other key dates for the USM portion of the exhibit include a program on Irish Immigration to Kansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, in Mabee Auditorium featuring historian Sister Mary Lenore Martin of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and a presentation on Hispanic immigration at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, in Mabee with guest speaker Gary Brunk, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri.

The exhibit will be open to the public at USM’s De Paul Library on the Leavenworth campus, 4100 South 4th Street, through Nov. 27. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

The touring exhibit itself features photographs, documents, quotes, and interactive books describing major laws impacting immigration and naturalization over the past 150 years, the consequences of those laws, and how they directly affected the lives of Kansans.

The exhibit was commissioned by the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas to highlight the Court’s role in the naturalization process. A permanent exhibit of the same title is installed at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.

Svadlenak said she has “been captivated and inspired by the people I’ve met through this project.  Their personal stories give meaning to immigration and citizenship facts and figures.  Working on this project has given me a deeper appreciation for my own American citizenship,” Svadlenak said.

Dr. Bryan Le Beau, USM’s vice president for academic affairs added that “USM firmly believes that it has an important role to play in the Leavenworth/Lansing area. To this end, it offers many cultural events and public lectures that lend much to the community’s quality of life.

“We will add even more to our community offerings this academic year as we bring to campus three traveling museum exhibits. The first, Americans by Choice, tells the story of immigration and citizenship in Kansas.  It is a celebration of the naturalization process, sponsored by the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas for its 150th anniversary. We invite the community to come and view the exhibit and to attend the programs we will be hosting while the exhibit is here.

“And watch for our two other exhibits, coming in February and April on Lincoln and the Constitution and Civil War medicine.”  

Learn more about USM De Paul Library’s Special Exhibits at