The Jefferson Highway Association, named after Thomas Jefferson, was formed in 1915 to build a highway through the Mississippi Valley. The highway was the idea of Edwin T. Meredith, publisher of Successful Farming and Better Homes and Gardens and later Secretary of Agriculture under President Woodrow Wilson, who thought the highway would be economically beneficial to the region's farmers.

In November 1915 an organizational meeting of the association was held with representatives from the Louisiana Purchase states for the purpose of constructing an international highway running north-south from Winnipeg, Ontario to New Orleans, Louisiana. This meeting also determined the route of the new highway. Several Kansas counties competed against each other and against the state of Missouri to have the highway pass through their counties. The Crawford County, Kansas division of the Jefferson Highway Association was formed after the 1915 meeting to help plan and fund the portion of the highway they hoped would pass through their county. Townships and private landowners were to be the primary sources for funding. After much discussion and debate, including some citizens who did not want the highway through their towns, the decision ended in a stalemate with both Kansas and Missouri being awarded the highway between Joplin and Kansas City. The dual highways were eventually completed and used by the area communities for many years. The federal and state governments later passed laws that enabled them to build and maintain better highways. The Jefferson highway designation eventually faded away with sections of the road becoming parts of US Highway 69 and US Highway 71.

The collection at Pittsburg State University includes correspondence about the Jefferson Highway Association; minutes and legal matters of the Association; expenses and balance sheets; the newsletter The Jefferson Highway Declaration; travel brochures and guides; newspapers and articles about the highway; association and convention hosts; maps of the highway and surrounding areas.

Finding Aid: Jefferson Highway Association, Crawford County Division Records, 1915-2005 (MS33)

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Submissions from 2011

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1916-09-18; Letter, from Hubert Lardner, Topeka (Kan.), to Oscar W. Schaeffer, Girard (Kan.), Unknown

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1916-09-18; Letter, from J. Frank Smith, Pleasanton (Kan.), to Oscar W. Schaeffer, Girard (Kan.), Unknown

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1916-09-19; Letter, from H.W. Underhill, Mound City (Kan.), to Oscar W. Schaeffer, Girard (Kan.), Unknown

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1916-09-19; Letter, from L.E. Coles, Girard (Kan.), to O.W. Schaeffer, Girard (Kan.), Unknown

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1916-07-08; Letter, from E. T. Meredith and J.D. Clarkson, Des Moines (Iowa), to O.W. Schaeffer, Girard (Kan.), W. W. Williams

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, December 1917, Vol. 2, No. 11, Jefferson Highway Association

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The Modern Highway, January 1922, Vol. 6, No. 12, Jefferson Highway Association

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The Modern Highway, September-October 1921, Vol. 6, No. 8-9, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, December 1916, Vol. 1, No. 11, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, January 1917, Vol. 1, No. 12, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, March 1917, Vol. 2, No. 2, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, July 1916, Vol. 1, No. 6, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, June 1916, Vol. 1, No. 5, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, November 1916, Vol. 1, No. 10, Jefferson Highway Association

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, October 1916, Vol. 1, No. 9, Jefferson Highway Association

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The Birth of the Jefferson Highway and Its Establishment in Crawford County, Russ Pulley

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, April 1916, Vol. 1, No. 3

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, February 1916, Vol. 1, No. 1

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Jefferson Highway Declaration, May 1916,Vol. 1, No. 4, Jefferson Highway Association