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Famous Kansans » Introduction

Many Kansas figures have touched the nation and etched their names onto the pages of history. Explore the stories of the men and women who walked the land of this state and never left it the same.

Among these Kansans is scientist and inventor George Washington Carver, a black slave born around 1864 at the start of the Civil War. He was orphaned as a young child and endured the prejudice of white-favoring colleges while trying to earn an education. He eventually discovered helpful insights for farming techniques, which he used to educate Southern black farmers. He spent the majority of his life serving at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he developed over 300 practical uses for peanuts and over 100 uses for sweet potatoes.

Another famous Kansan was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as America’s 34th president—an interesting similarity to the fact that Kansas was the 34th state to enter the Union. Eisenhower was born in 1890, raised in Abilene, Kansas, and served in World War II as the Supreme Commander of the troops invading France on D-Day, 1944. In the presidential election of 1952, Eisenhower won by a landslide and ran with the slogan “I like Ike.” He ordered the desegregation of schools and in the Armed Forces, saying that “There must be no second-class citizens in this country.” He served another term as president until 1961, while keeping peace with Russia and the potential threat of their hydrogen bombs.

Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, was born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. In 1922 she set the women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet, in 1928 was the first woman to make a solo round-trip flight across the United States, and in 1932 became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. In 1937, after covering more than 22,000 miles of her flight around the world (two-thirds of the way), Earhart, her aviator and her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and were never found.

Navigate this chapter to learn about other famous Kansans who have excelled and made significant contributions to our state, country and world in the arts, business, government, the military, pageants, science, settling Kansas, sports and transportation.