An essay by two Kansas State University historians earned them seats at the inaugural swearing-in Monday at the U.S. Capitol.
Jim and Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, both on the history department faculty at K-State, attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in recognition of their role as authors of an essay that was part of a gift package on Abraham Lincoln distributed to 200 dignitaries at the inaugural lunch. It followed the inauguration ceremonies.
Sherow is a professor of history and a city commissioner. Lynn-Sherow is an associate professor of history. Essay topics include the Emancipation Proclamation, the Homestead Act, the Transcontinental Railway Act, the Morrill Land-Grant College Act and the Gettsyburg Address. The Sherows wrote the land grant essay.
Lynn-Sherow indicated prior to leaving that the invitation to the inaugural came as an unexpected bonus.
“We told our family that our essay was going to the inauguration, but we weren’t,” Lynn-Sherow said. “What a surprise to learn that we were invited to attend.”
In July 2012, Jean Bordewich, staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, invited the Sherows to contribute the essay. Other historians invited to contribute included H.W. Brands, Orville Vernon Burton, James McPherson and Betty Koed.
The Sherows had only four weeks to complete their essay.
“It became one of the most difficult writing assignments that Bonnie and I had ever tackled,” Sherow said. “Distilling the essence of such a significant piece of legislation while highlighting K-State’s quintessential role in fulfilling the mission of the land-grant act was daunting. We lost track of the number of drafts that we wrote. We had to make every word count.”
Their completed essay was submitted to Donald Ritchie, Senate historian in August 2012. After a review by Koed, who is associate historian of the Senate and a contributor to the portfolio, the essay was accepted for publication.
The invitation to attend the lunch came from Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
“The fact that President Obama and his guests at the luncheon will be reading about our university on inauguration day is a great start to our sesquicentennial celebration this year,” said Lynn-Sherow, who serves on the K-State 150 Committee. “In terms of official recognition for Kansas State’s amazing legacy, it doesn’t get any better than that.”