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McIlwaine Quarterly Speaker Series – “Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There”

Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There

by Diana Starnes Dean

Researching a property, be it an old home, a new business, or a section of pastureland, can do more than tell us the history of a space. It can also build a human connection to the people who came before us and the times in which they lived. This talk shares creative ways to study documents and assemble relevant narratives from maps, deeds, newspapers, and often unsought or unknown resources. This is ideal for those new to seeking out family and community stories and helpful for those stymied by a dead end.

About the Speaker

Diana grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and currently calls Ottawa home. She is the Executive Director of the Franklin County Historical Society and the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa. She is interested in collecting, interpreting, and recording local histories and she is particularly interested in learning “microhistories,” which is the history of a single person, single place, or a single object. Diana is also the author of the book, Shadow on the Hill: The True Story of a 1925 Kansas Murder. She can often be found exploring old cemeteries and searching for remnants of historic trails.



“Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There” is part of Humanities Kansas‘s Speakers Bureau, featuring humanities-based presentations designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.


This quarterly speaker series is made possible through a generous grant from the Charles and Joanne McIlwaine Foundation.

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Floor 2

On the second floor you’ll find: The DeVore Auditorium containing the Victorian Silver Plate exhibit, the Vintage Drugstore, A Child’s World exhibit, and numerous special exhibits.

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