Our post this week was researched and written by Jane Jones, guest blogger and HCHM Archivist. The post links our February focus on Black History and March’s Women’s History. The collection of documents and photos are a recent addition to HCHM Archives.
This is part 1 of a three part blog series featuring the Collection of Joan B. Fletcher.
Joan Beatrice Fletcher Comes Home
by Jane Jones, HCHM Archivist
Her scrapbook, family pictures and a well-worn original land abstract (N1/2 NE1/4 Sec 33 Newton Township) arrived at the Museum in December, 2018 from David W. Jackson, a family historian and archives consultant living in Jackson County, Missouri. Mr. Jackson contacted us after looking at our website asking if we would accept Joan’s materials that had been kept by her friend. Fletcher was a 1943 graduate of Newton High School. She died in Kansas City, Missouri in 2011 at the age of 85.
Joan’s scrapbook contains news clippings about her piano performances, speeches she gave as a high school student in a local contest for the American Legion and a speech on Temperance Sunday. Senior and junior high play programs, musical programs, and critiques of piano performances are also found in the Scrapbook.
She received a Certificate from the Guild of Piano Teachers, a national group to which her teacher Anna Tellin belonged. In 1940 for the National Piano Playing Auditions District Honor Roll Joan received a Good + Rating. In 1941 she competed in the State Junior Competitive Festival at Arkansas City under the auspices of the National Federation of Music Clubs receiving an Excellent Rating. In 1942, Joan performed for the Association of Colored Women Wichita District held at Newton’s C.M.E. Church April 17 and 18. Fourteen in 1940, Joan had been studying piano for 6 years. Her piano teacher, Anna Tellin, was an exacting and well-respected instructor in Newton and Hutchinson.
This is a program from a recital Joan performed on November 25, 1941 at the Newton Junior High School Auditorium (the school is no longer standing). She played Bach, Chopin, Clementi and Brahms. Antoinette Blanchard was a voice student of Miss Tellin’s.
Joan’s high school activities included musicals, Glee Club, Orchestra and Girl Reserves. She received a Scholarship Pin her Sophomore year. With her piano and school activities she was an active young lady no doubt encouraged by her mother. In 1943 Joan was accepted into Sacred Heart Junior College in Wichita.
See Addendum below for new details on Joan’s involvement during this time.
This was a portion of the letter she received.
“My dear Miss Fletcher,
We are pleased to notify you that you have qualified for a Scholarship at Sacred Heart Junior College for the scholastic year 1943-44.”
After graduating from Sacred Heart in 1945, Joan received another scholarship of $225 to further her education. She finished at Bethel College in North Newton receiving her B.A. in Chemistry in 1947. Below is Joan’s graduation picture in the 1947 Bethel College annual.
See Addendum below for new details on Joan’s involvement at Sacred Heart.
A form from Bethel keeps track of each student and their post-graduation work experience. Joan’s was in the medical field. In 1948 she was working as a lab assistant in bacteriology at Winter General Hospital in Topeka. She received her Med Tech degree and worked at Minneapolis General Hospital in 1949. Joan was a Blood Bank Supervisor for the United States VA Hospital. I was told she spent time in Washington, D.C. working for the VA. The Junction City City Directory shows her as a Blood Bank Supervisor there in 1961. She may have been working at Fort Riley. Joan’s mother died in 1961 in Kansas City. In 1967 Joan joined her Uncle Fred Banks as a Joint Tenant for the family property in Newton Twp Section 33–2 miles south of 1st St on Hwy 81, ½ mile east. Her address at that time was 419 W. 13th St, Junction City. And then there was Kansas City living on East Linwood Blvd. By 1990, Joan would have been 65 and able to retire. I don’t know if she continued her obvious interest in and talent for the piano. Nor do I know for sure where she worked in Kansas City– for the VA or a hospital. After retirement she had more time to pursue her interest in her family’s history.
A rather short obituary in the Kansas City Star stated Joan died in the Armour Oaks Nursing Home on April 4, 2011. She never married. Funeral services were held at St. Monica Catholic Church in Kansas City. Saint Monica was founded in 1909 to serve Black Catholics in Kansas City. The church is located at 1616 The Paseo in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District near downtown Kansas City. Joan was a Black Catholic having been baptized in the Catholic Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery in Newton with her family. She was home.
Jane found this additional info on Joan B. Fletcher during her years at Sacred Heart.
Joan Fletcher competed with 17 others in a scholarship examination given on May 8, 1943 covering mathematics, physical science, social science and literature at Sacred Heart Junior College in Wichita. She was one of the winners. In 1944 while a student at Sacred Heart Joan showed interest and leadership in the newly formed National Federation of Catholic College Students and was one of the students attending the first regional conference at Marymount in Salina. One of the conference commissions was “inter-racial relations” which Joan probably attended. She was chairman of the Apostolic committee at Sacred Heart in December, 1944 which assumed the role of “Santa Claus” to provide presents for St. Joseph’s Home in El Dorado. March 16, 1945 it was reported that the members of the interracial commission held a panel discussion to mark the nation-wide observance of the first national Inter-racial Justice week. “The panel presented the various problems of the Negro in war-time America. As chairman of the Inter-racial Commission Joan participated in that panel discussion.
While attending Sacred Heart Joan showed her interest in and provided leadership on the discussion of racial issues facing Black people during World War II.
- Joan’s Scrapbook 1938-1945.
- Newton High School Senior Edition 1943 of the Weekly Newtonian
- Obituary from Kansas City Star Archives published April 8 2011.
- Letter from Sacred Heart Junior College in Wichita. Dated 1943.
- Bethel College Yearbook for 1947
- Bethel College alumni information for Joan Fletcher
- Saint Monica Catholic Church, Kansas City, MO website.
- Thanks to Karen Wall and Sylvia Kelly for finding and providing information.
- Harvey County Register of Deeds, Margaret Hermstein
- David W. Jackson, Archives Consultant. www.orderlypackrat.com
- Joan’s Baptismal record (David W. Jackson)
- Junction City, Kansas City Directory 1960 (www.Ancestry.com)
- Kansas City City Directory 1960 (www.Ancestry.com)
- The Catholic Advance (Wichita, Kansas) May 14, 1943 p 3
- The Catholic Advance (Wichita, Kansas) April 14, 1944 p. 1
- The Catholic Advance (Wichita, Kansas) Mar 16, 1945 p. 6