James Naismith Named Finalist in Eight Wonders of Kansas - People Contest

Sept. 9, 2010

James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball and the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas, has been named by the Kansas Sampler Foundation as one 24 finalists for the designation of Eight Wonders of Kansas – People.

The foundation solicited nominations during the month of July 2010. Last month the foundation narrowed the list of nominations to 24 finalists. The public may now vote for its favorite by visiting http://www.kansassampler.org/8wonders/ between now and midnight Oct. 22. The foundation will announce the Eight Wonders of Kansas People on Oct. 28. In addition to Naismith, KU graduates William Allen White and William Inge are finalists.

The Kansas Sampler Foundation conducted similar contests for the State of Kansas in seven other rural culture element categories: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography and history. Chanting the “Rock Chalk Chant” made the list of Eight Wonders of Kansas – Customs list. More information is available at http://www.kansassampler.org/8wonders/. The foundation says the purpose of the 8 Wonders series is to help the world get to know Kansas and to encourage the public to explore Kansas.

Naismith, then a physical education instructor at Springfield (Mass.) College, invented basketball in 1891. His innovations in sports did not stop with basketball. As a football player at Springfield under famed Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, Naismith, because of bruised ears from rough play, cut a football lengthwise and placed it over his head, thus inventing the first football helmet.

Naismith joined the University of Kansas faculty in 1898 and served as KU’s men’s basketball coach for nine seasons (1898-1907). He also served as director of physical education. He retired from active teaching in 1937 and died two years later at the age of 78. The Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield, Mass., is named after him.

Following are the foundation’s Criteria for The 8 Wonders of Kansas People:

  • There must be something to see in relation to the person nominated. This “something to see” must give some information about the nominee and help the public learn more about a particular person or group of people. The degree of “wow” factor for the display, memorial, statue, or attraction will be noted by the Selection Committee.
  • In almost every case, it is likely the nominee will not be living. The exception to a living person being nominated is that the nominee be retired from work that placed him/her in the national spotlight and that a substantial and permanent display in Kansas tells about their life and work, i.e. the Robert Dole Institute.
  • The nomination needs to be a “wow” and have a unique connection to Kansas or have attained a significant claim in the U.S. or world.
  • Bullet points highlighting the nominee’s life work or claim to fame is all that is needed in the nomination. These points should indicate their unique contributions — their “wow” factor. We’re not necessarily looking for a famous person but someone who did things no one else, or few others, did.
  • A group of people with some kind of distinction can be nominated but the attraction associated with them should tell about the personalities in the group, as opposed to simply the history of the event or era.
  • The person does not have to have been born in Kansas but should have made some kind of reputation as a Kansan or contributed to Kansas in some significant manner.
  • The person can be a musician, politician, businessman, scientist, chef, historic figure, athlete, etc. but the display has to feature what made them a significant figure. Having a building named after the person is not sufficient.

Here is the list of amazing Kansans!

Amazon Army was a group of several thousand wives, sweethearts, and female relatives of striking miners who marched in December 1921 across the coalfields of southeast Kansas in courageous protest against unfair labor laws and practices. 1921. Crawford County.

Amelia Earhart was the first woman aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other aviation records but disappeared in a record-setting attempt around the equator in 1937. 1897-1937. Atchison.

Arthur Capper, was the first Kansas-born governor, a 30-year U.S. Senator, a newspaper and magazine publisher, and he established the Capper Fund for Children (Easter Seals Capper Foundation) with disabilities. 1865-1951. Garnett, Topeka.

Bernhard Warkentin, miller and banker, encouraged thousands of Mennonites from Russia to settle in South Central Kansas in the 1870s. He imported and promoted the planting of Turkey red winter wheat, helping make Kansas the breadbasket of the world. 1847-1908. Newton.

Buffalo Soldiers were members of an all-black regiment in the U.S. Army. The first unit, the 10th Cavalry, was formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth.

Buster Keaton‘s trademark was physical comedy with a deadpan expression earning him the nickname “The Great Stone Face.” He was considered one of the greatest silent film comic actors and filmmakers. 1895-1966. Piqua, Iola.

Carry A. Nation was a hatchet-wielding crusader in the early 1900s and part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union campaign to prohibit alcohol. 1846-1911. Medicine Lodge, Kiowa.

Clyde V. Cessna, aviation pioneer, designer, and founder of Cessna Aircraft Co., had a dream to build and fly a full cantilever wing (single wing plane). In December 1911 he successfully flew his first plane, the Silverwing. 1879-1954. Rago, Kingman, Wichita.

Cyrus K. Holliday, one of the founders of Topeka, organized the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1859 and remained director until his death in 1900. 1826-1900. Topeka, Atchison.

Emil J. Kapaun, a priest and military chaplain is being considered by the Vatican for sainthood because of his exemplary service and dedication while being held in a Korean prisoner of war camp. 1916-1951. Pilsen.

Frederick Funston was the youngest brigadier general at age 35, a Medal of Honor recipient, and the “Man Who Saved San Francisco” after the earthquake and fire of 1906. 1865-1917. Iola.

George Washington Carver, an agri-scientist, botanist, educator, humanitarian, and inventor, was best known for discovering hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybean, sweet potatoes, and pecans and for developing crop-rotation methods. 1864-1943. Minneapolis, Beeler.

Haskell Indian Nations University was established in 1884 as a government boarding school to try to eliminate Native culture. It has evolved into a university for Native American students emphasizing Native culture, sovereignty, and self-determination. 1884-present. Lawrence.

Jack Kilby won the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the monolithic integrated circuit known as the microchip, in 1958, which paved the way for the modern information age. 1923-2005. Great Bend.

James Naismith was the man who invented basketball and started the University of Kansas basketball program in 1898. 1833-1939. Lawrence.

John Brown‘s abolitionist crusade in Kansas had a dramatic impact on both state and national history and kept the slavery issue in the forefront of political discussion which sparked the Civil War. 1800-1859. Osawatomie.

Joseph McCoy‘s approach to marketing cattle on the Kansas plains in Abilene transformed a fragmented cattle business into the national industry that it is today. 1837-1915. Abilene, Wichita.

Martin and Osa Johnson were pioneering wildlife filmmakers, photographers, authors, and explorers who traveled to the exotic realms of Africa, Borneo, and the South Seas recording cultures (that no longer exist). 1884-1937; 1894-1953. Chanute.

Mary Ann “Mother” Bickerdyke‘s heroic efforts as a nurse on the Civil War battlefield earned her great affection. Later she was a veterans’ pensioner and advocate and helped many veterans settle in Kansas. 1817-1901. Bunker Hill, Ellsworth.

Olive Ann Beech was the first woman to head a major aircraft company and was the most successful female executive in aviation history. Her efforts led Beech to become a powerhouse aviation company. 1904-1993. Wichita, Waverly.

Walter P. Chrysler, a working man who rose to the top as an industrialist, pioneered many auto industry improvements. In 1925 he founded Chrysler Corporation, which became the second largest automotive company in the world. 1875-1940. Ellis, Wamego.

Walter “Big Train” Johnson‘s record-setting performances as a pitcher from 1907-1927 with the Washington Senators made him one of the first five players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 1887-1946. Humboldt, Coffeyville.

William Allen White, known as the “Sage of Emporia,” from defending the 1st Amendment to fighting the Ku Klux Klan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor was the primary voice of the American heartland for almost five decades. 1868-1944. Emporia.

William Inge was a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright who affectionately dramatized the aspirations of authentic characters rooted in small town life. 1913-1973. Independence.