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Papers of Mildred Harkness

Call Number: RH MS 621


Mildred Harkness was a long-time advocate for senior citizen rights and concerns, serving in the National Silver Haired Congress and many state and federal agencies that aided senior citizens. Harkness was also active in the Lawrence, Kansas community and communities in western Kansas through both her church and civic connections, and this collection represents her commitment to several of these activities.


  • Creation: 1911 - 2002


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Mildred Evelyn Harkness (1918-2004)

Mildred Yates was born to Thomas A. C. Yates and Ocea Lee (Walters) Yates and grew up in Scott County, Kansas before attending Fort Hays State University and receiving a teaching certificate. Sometime afterwards, Harkness also attended Charlotte Murray Nursing School in Dodge City, Kansas. Before her retirement in 1982, Harkness worked in a variety of career fields in the Wichita County and Scott County, Kansas areas, including teaching, nursing, farming, auto sales, and the well-drilling business. After her retirement, Harkness moved to Lawrence, Kansas.

Throughout and after her professional career, Harkness was heavily involved in aging issues and aging advocacy. While living in Scott County, Harkness helped to build a VIP senior citizen center in Scott county and served within the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging (SWKAAA) as a chairperson. Harkness helped to found the Kansas Coalition on Aging (KCOA), National Silver Haired Congress, and Kansas Silver Haired Council; and she planned for the development of the Kansas Department on Aging (KDOA). After the creation of the KDOA, Harkness also served on the department’s advisory board. While living in western Kansas, Harkness was a member on multiple committees within the Kansas Silver Haired Legislators organization, served as the director of the Western Kansas Transit Incorporated, as a delegate to the 1981 White House Conference on Aging (WHCA), and as a senior intern to Senator Bob Dole in 1981.

After her retirement and subsequent move to Lawrence, Kansas, Harkness was a member of the Lawrence/Douglas County Advocacy Council for Aging (DCACA) and the Kansans for the Improvement of Nursing Homes (KINH). Harkness was also elected to the KINH board of directors in 1988. Harkness served as a member of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Douglas County chapter and the National AARP and was appointed to an advisory board within the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging (JAAA). Harkness was also elected to the National Silver Haired Congress (NSHC) as a senator.

With her work in aging advocacy and senior issues, Harkness was also active in the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the Douglas County Republican Women's Club, as well as an active member of the Rebekah Lodge and the American Baptist Church. In 1938, Harkness married Leo Burton Harkness, who died sometime between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s. She remarried Raymond Harkness in 1972, who died in October 2000. Harkness had two children, Dr. E. Gail Harkness and Major D. W. Harkness, and one foster son, Vincente Goybuyan. Mildred Harkness died in 2004.

[Information retrieved from "Mildred Evelyn Harkness" obituary, Lawrence Journal World, November 29, 2004; Harkness' resume in accession file; and collection materials.]


23.5 Linear Feet (24 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders, 16 audiovisual items)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of material representing Harkness's work in aging advocacy and aging agencies and coalitions in Kansas and at the national level. The most notable organizations represented in this collection are the Central States Coalition on Aging (CSCA), Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging (JAAA), National Silver Haired Congress (NSHC), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Kansas Department on Aging (KDOA), Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging (SWKAAA), Kansas Coalition on Aging (KCOA), Kansans for the Improvement of Nursing Homes (KINH), Health Care Access, Kansas Silver Haired Legislators (KSHL), White House Conferences on Aging (WHCA), and university aging centers located in Kansas.

Collection material includes agency and conference directories, recordings of meetings and conferences focused on aging advocacy, personal and professional correspondence, educational publications, organizational bylaws and handbooks, committee reports and meeting minutes, project proposals for senior service programs, aging plans, event programs and calendars, photographs, task force reports, local Kansas maps, and newspaper clippings and publications related to local Kansas events and senior issues. Material associated with the planning and organizing of local and national conferences on aging advocacy is also included in the collection, with material on senior legislation and state public policies on senior issues.

A few of the aging issues focused on in this collection include social security, Medicare and Medicaid, senior healthcare, guardianship, transportation, nutrition, housing and home aid, elder abuse, mental health, and senior assistance education.

This collection also contains material about Harkness’s work in organizations such as the Rebekah Assembly, the American Baptist Church, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, and Republican Party clubs and organizations, as well as reference materials used in a research project on Kansas history.

This collection has been arranged into three series: the original collection, the larger addition to the collection that arrived in 2002, and audiovisual material. Duplicative materials may remain in the collection, and materials related to a particular topic or aging agency may appear in more than one location in the collection.

Physical Location

RH MS 621

Physical Location

RH MS 1548

Physical Location

RH MS Q486

Physical Location

RH MS R493, RH MS R494

Physical Location


Physical Location

KC AV 114

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Mildred Harkness, uncertain year (accessioned in 2001) and 2002.

Related Materials

Other collections related to aging issues available at the Spencer Research Library include

  1. Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging records, RH MS 593
  2. Lawrence Council on Aging records, RH MS 684
  3. Thomas Bradford Mayhew papers, RH MS 1516
  4. Kansas Governor's Conference on Aging photographs, RH PH 169
  5. William C. Rein papers, RH MS 1181
  6. Kaw Valley Older Women's League (O.W.L.) records, RH MS 1423
  7. Personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson, PP 607
Guide to the Mildred Harkness Collection
Papers of Mildred Harkness
Finding aid prepared by mds/mab, 2005. Finding aid encoded by mds/mab, 2005. Finding aid revised by mrk 2010; skt, 2010; cmp, 2021; mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Papers of Mildred Harkness, Kansas Collection, RH MS 621, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States