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Kansas Authors Club
A Brief History


The Kansas Authors Club was organized in Topeka in early January, 1904, but it was not until the next year that it became known by that name. George P. Morehouse was the man most responsible for the club's early success. His home, "Rest Haven," across the street from the Capitol on West Eighth Street was, for years, a meeting place for the Club even after membership spread to other cities.

The roster of charter members lists names of men and women still remembered: Eugene Ware, "the poet and statesman whose writings earned him the name "Ironquill;" Arthur Capper, a longtime U.S. Senator from Kansas; Margaret Hill McCarter, whose books memorialize early days in the land immediately west of Missouri; and William Allen White of Emporia Gazette fame. That interests of early Kansas Authors Club members were not limited to writing is evident from the titles of papers read at the first annual meeting where the honored guest was Governor E. W. Hoch, a member of the Club, whose lecture subject dealt with Literature and the Press. Other papers discussed literature and its relationship to law, education, the church, and medicine. The final paper, read by Mrs. Lee Monroe, was entitled, "Literature and Women."

Women were in the minority when the club was first organized. Of the thirty-five charter members, less than ten were women. Yet these women must have made their own contribution to the writing fields: the requirements for membership, then, as now, include the presentation of manuscripts worthy of publication. This writing could be creative or journalistic, technical or scholarly.

The year 1909 was an important one for the club: George P. Morehouse, the most influential man in the group since the Club's beginning, was elected State President. Membership grew under his direction, and by 1913 there were more than 100 members scattered over the state.

The year 1913 was another important year: At the annual meeting a constitution and bylaws were adopted; the state was divided into districts and the state organization was incorporated under the laws of Kansas. At this time, too, the members elected their first woman president, Margaret Hill McCarter. During her tenure of office, the districts came into their own. Each elected its own officers and decided on its own activities for encouraging young writers and for setting up contests for them, as well as for themselves. It was also in her 1913-1914 presidency that the KAC State Office first published an "Annual Handbook" of Club information.

By January 30, 1929 when the Club celebrated its 25th anniversary, there were more than 400 members, some of whom had continued to hold membership even when they became residents of another state or country. In the foreward of the Anniversary Yearbook, George P. Morehouse expressed satisfaction in what the Club had accomplished, but stated that he was already looking to 1954 when "someone else" would record the intervening years.

Taken from a history of the club written by a former
State Archivist, Elinor Elliott [died Dec. 2002], from Clay Center, Kansas


Dr. Raymond Stanley Nelson -- Three years after joining District Five in 1979, Dr. Nelson accepted the office of District Five president for years from 1982 through 1984, and 1998 and 1999. He also served as state vice-president for 1983 and 1984. He became the 52nd state president during 1985 and 1986, making him the 27th man to serve in that office. Dr. Nelson served as state contest manager and worked with the state youth writing contest. As a prolific poet, he published books of poetry, and in 1982 was awarded the prestigious J. Donald Coffin Award for his prose book, Not By Bread Alone. Both he and his wife co-authored the history of Friends University in 1998, and he received the 1993 KAC Achievement Award. Dr. Nelson eulogized deceased KAC members during many of the state convention's "Rosemary Times" until 2004.
Since 2002, he and wife Margaret have established and co-funded the Nelson Poetry Book Award.Raymond and Margaret Nelson, black and white photo

Margaret K. Nelson -- Before Margaret became state president in 1994/1995, she had been a KAC member for twelve years and had made a name for herself as a member who could get things done. She became a secretary for District Five in 1989 and rose to that district's presidency in 1990 -- receiving a KAC Service Award in 1991. In 1992 she was elected state vice-president. Copies of her book, Berky (1976), and co-author of In the Shadow of the Tower (1998), a history of Friends University, are preserved in KU's Spencer Library's "Kansas Collection." Although Margaret passed away June 23, 2005, this writing couple had chaired the state's writing contest as well as the state's Youth Writing Contest.

By Don Pady, KAC Archivist, submitted February, 2014

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