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Go behind-the-scenes at 55th Annual KJHS Conference

In 1957, Gov. Albert “Happy” Chandler wrote to Kentucky’s history and English teachers, encouraging them to join their fellow educators and others in their community interested in the preservation of the Commonwealth’s cultural heritage by forming a Junior Historical Society at their schools. In his letter the governor said, “I have long been convinced … that nothing contributes more to social stability and to intelligent participation in civic affairs than a knowledge of history.

It has often been said that an informed citizenry is the backbone of a democracy, and no knowledge is more vital to the responsible discharging of the duties of modern citizenship than a familiarity with the background of which today’s events arose. "However, all of us know that history no longer captures the imagination or enthusiasm of our young people to the degree that it once did," he continued. "It is for this reason that I so welcomed the news of the establishment of the Junior Historical Society. "If we can interest more of our young people in the study of history, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we are building better citizens and that we will leave our Commonwealth in safer hands.”

It was another four years before the Junior Historians was truly off and running, but Gov. Chandler’s words from 60 years ago are as relevant today as they were then. They are also why a program such as the Kentucky Junior Historical Society (KJHS) continues, and why we are honored to be celebrating our 55th Annual KJHS Conference this fall at the Kentucky Historical Society.

Certainly the conference has experienced changes over those 55 years -- from time of year, location and activities to even the name of the organization itself. Still, the goal of KJHS remains the same: to engage students across Kentucky with their history and communities so that they become informed citizens.

This year, just as at that first conference back in 1962, KJHS students will return to Frankfort. They and their teachers will visit the Kentucky Historical Society’s collections in a special behind-the-scenes tour, explore the Old State Capitol building, compete in onsite exhibit and arts competitions, and show off their history knowledge in a battle of the clubs with our ever-popular Kentucky History Bowl!

All activities will use primary sources related to Kentucky history and ask students to consider such documents as Kentucky’s earliest constitutions, oral histories about the integration of high school sports in Kentucky, and maps from the territorial and early statehood period. In addition to activities for students on November 10, we are also honoring our past and current members with a special KJHS alumni reception on November 9.

We invite you to join us and share your memories of KJHS. We will offer tours, refreshments and lots of reminiscing through the hundreds of photographs and documents from the last 55 years. Perhaps you can even help us identify some of these past members.

We hope that you will join us and learn how KJHS is continuing its commitment to educating and engaging Kentucky’s students with their history and community. To learn more, to RSVP for the alumni reception, or to register for the annual conference, contact Cheryl Caskey at or 502-564-1792 ext. 4461.        

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