Rediscovering Kansas City's Pioneer Mothers
Thousands of Kansas Citians turned out November 12, 1927, to see the unveiling of the Pioneer Mother monument in Penn Valley Park. A tribute to those who suffered hardship and loss while traveling across the plains in search of a better life, the sculpture mirrored other depictions of sainted pioneer women that went up nationwide in the 1920s and 1930s.
Interest in such memorials waned after World War II. But the country saw a resurgence in the late 20th century as communities commemorated their pioneer heritage.
In a discussion of her book Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Identity, University of North Dakota historian Cynthia Prescott walks through that century of recognition—from remembering to forgetting and then rediscovering pioneer monuments in the Kansas City region and across the nation.