Fayelee Overman, museum technician, rearranges items as she installs the “News at Fort Leavenworth” exhibit May 5 at the Frontier Army Museum. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

On April 8, 2021, The Fort Leavenworth Lamp celebrated the 50th anniversary since its first publication. To celebrate, the Frontier Army Museum staff put together an exhibit highlighting “News at Fort Leavenworth” and installed it May 5.

Megan Hunter, museum specialist, and Fayelee Overman, museum technician, place an informational placard by 1943 and 1945 issues of the Fort Leavenworth Reception Center News and the Fort Leavenworth News while installing the “News at Fort Leavenworth” exhibit May 5 at the Frontier Army Museum. The exhibit explores the history of newspapers on Fort Leavenworth and its installation coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Fort Leavenworth Lamp. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“There haven’t been any exhibits or really much discussion about the history of newspapers on post or just how news was dispersed at Fort Leavenworth,” said Fayelee Overman, FAM museum technician. “I actually discovered some new things I didn’t know, and I know other people haven’t either because I had to dig pretty deep to find things.”


Overman’s research revealed that the post’s first paper, the Fort Leavenworth News, was first actively publishing from 1904 to 1914, according to Library of Congress archives.
Then, during World War I, a newsletter replaced the paper, before it returned in the early 1940s during World War II. At the same time, The Fort Leavenworth Reception Center News and The Shermanian, the official newspaper of Sherman Army Airfield personnel, were also being published.


According to the main informational panel in the exhibit: “(World War II) era newspapers reported on wartime topics and themes of the day. Advertisements for blood drives were a common appearance along with unit gossip, jokes, club bulletins, sports and news about Hollywood actors and actresses. By the end of the war, the papers’ audiences decreased as did funds. No known paper existed on post between 1952 and 1971.”


Enter The Fort Leavenworth Lamp, named by Lt. Col. Robert Simpson, Command and General Staff College instructor, who won a contest to name the post newspaper.

Megan Hunter, museum specialist, and Fayelee Overman, museum technician, place an informational panel in the “News at Fort Leavenworth” exhibit May 5 at the Frontier Army Museum. The exhibit explores the history of newspapers on Fort Leavenworth, and its installation coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Fort Leavenworth Lamp. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


The exhibit features scanned copies of a front page of the Fort Leavenworth News and the Fort Leavenworth Reception Center News; the first issue of The Fort Leavenworth Lamp; a first-place Kansas Press Association award plaque won by The Fort Leavenworth Lamp staff in 2002 for its local coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the accompanying issue of the paper; and newspaper publishing and photography tools such as a type-size finder used to help determine the size of font used in print, a proportional scale used for the reduction and enlargement of photos, film canisters and spools used to develop film, and a 35 millimeter film camera.


There are also two interactive features including an issue of The Shermanian and an 1839 letter written by John Whaley, Company M, 2nd Artillery, to his grandparents while he was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, which patrons can flip through. The letter represents how news about post and other “gossip” was spread through word of mouth before newspapers were available.


“I hope people are surprised, and I hope people find it interesting that there were different papers on post,” Overman said. “There are so many ways that news was dispersed.

The cover of the May 5, 1945, issue of the Fort Leavenworth News, with the headline “Fort Leavenworth observes its 118th year of founding May 8th: Fort as in past still typifies our Army’s march side by side with American progress,” is on display in the “News at Fort Leavenworth” exhibit installed May 5 at the Frontier Army Museum. The exhibit explores the history of newspapers on Fort Leavenworth, and its installation coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Fort Leavenworth Lamp. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Now we have our phones, and we can just spread news like crazy,” she said. “Back then, (before the newspapers were established), it was gossip and word of mouth. Hopefully, it’ll get people thinking.”

The July 5, 1943, issue of The Shermanian, established July 1, 1942, and “published by and for the personnel of Sherman Field, Kans. under the direction of the Special Service Officer, 2nd Lieut. George Christianson,” is on display in the “News at Fort Leavenworth” exhibit, which was installed May 5 at the Frontier Army Museum. The exhibit explores the history of newspapers on Fort Leavenworth, and its installation coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Fort Leavenworth Lamp. Visitors can flip through the issue of The Shermanian to read an editorial — “… billions of dollars in war bonds have been purchased, Yamamoto has been erased, the Yanks are on Attu and The Shermanian has grown into a full fledged, streamlined, smooth functioning department” — as well as view other content including service member profiles, jokes and anecdotes, a comic strip, a pinup girl calendar page, and sports and theater information. Frontier Army Museum archives


The Frontier Army Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.


To view the exhibit online with FAM Oncell, visit https://frontierarmymuseum.oncell.com/en/history-of-newspapers-at-fort-leavenworth-291319.html.

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