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MLA partners with KU, K-State for Vietnam exhibit at KU library

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College has joined with the University of Kansas and Kansas State University to create an exhibit looking at ways Kansans expressed their feelings about the Vietnam War.

“Resist and respect: Kansans respond to the Vietnam War” is in the Haricombe Gallery in KU’s Watson Library. Bethel’s Mennonite Library and Archives (MLA), KU Libraries and the University Archives, and K-State’s Morse Department of Special Collections are the exhibit partners.

MLA director and archivist John Thiesen attended the exhibit opening Sept. 14. It continues through Jan. 12, 2018, offering a variety of the imagery, scholarship and memorials generated throughout the state during and after the Vietnam War.

The items that Thiesen provided from the MLA for the “Bethel College case” in the exhibit include copies of Keith Sprunger’s history, Bethel College of Kansas 1887-2012, and Professor Emeritus of History Jim Juhnke’s A People of Two Kingdoms II: Stories of Kansas Mennonites in Politics; one of Juhnke’s campaign signs from his run for the U.S. Congressional seat in the 4th District in 1970; and a copy of Life magazine from Oct. 24, 1969, and a photo from inside showing a Bethel student ringing the bell during a protest against the war that made national news.

One of the large photos hanging over the exhibit is another of students ringing the Bethel bell, which was meant to mark the number of American and Vietnamese dead to that point in the war.

“It is a particular honor for KU Libraries to showcase Kansas scholarship and creative work related to the Vietnam War,” said Sarah Goodwin Thiel, community engagement librarian and exhibits program coordinator. “This exhibition brings together a chorus of voices heard across the state during, and since, the Vietnam War.”

During that war, protests took place across Kansas. After the U.S. withdrew, Kansans were some of the first to pay tribute. The exhibit is a transdisciplinary and multicultural showcase of creative work from state, community and university scholars.

“The title of this exhibit, ‘Resist and respect,’ nicely captures the ambiguous feelings that the Vietnam conflict continues to provoke today,” said Kevin L. Smith, dean of KU Libraries. “We’re proud of the partnerships that allow us to present a small sampling of the diverse reactions to the war, through the eyes of students, veterans and ordinary citizens of Kansas.”

For more information, see, which provides links to the exhibit as well as information on library hours and location.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.