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Melvin and Maxine Patterson family papers

Call Number: RH MS 1588


The Melvin and Maxine Patterson family papers are mainly concerned with the Kansas Technical Institute/ Kansas Vocational School (KTI/KVS) Alumni Association and their biennial reunions. In addition to meeting minutes, notes, reunion preparations, news clippings, and pictures of reunions, the papers also include some general history of KTI/KVS in Topeka, Kansas. A small number of personal papers include newspapers clippings and mailings dealing with the opening of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site, also in Topeka.


  • Creation: March 21, 1952 - January 31, 2016 (bulk 1985-2008)


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 Melvin Patterson (1929-2020)

Melvin Glenn "Pat" Patterson was born to Idella (Jarett) and Lee Patterson in Springfield, Missouri, one of ten children. He briefly played minor league baseball in southern Missouri and had a lifelong interest in Negro League baseball.

In 1953 Patterson left heavily segregated Springfield for more racially progressive Topeka, Kansas. He attended the Kansas Technical Institute (KTI), known as the Tuskegee of the West. He married fellow student Maxine Walls later that year.

The school closed in 1955, but Patterson and his wife were active in the alumni association that held biennial reunions and awarded scholarships to the descendants of alumni. Patterson built part of his house, was a leader of the Sunrise Optimists Club, and spent his entire career at the Topeka Water Department.

Melvin and Maxine Patterson had four children: Lori, Vickie, Valerie, and Melvin, Jr. Melvin "Pat" Patterson passed away on September 7, 2020.

[Information pulled from Melvin Patterson’s obituary, Topeka Capital-Journal, Sepember 27-28, 2020.]

History of the Kansas Technical Institute/Kansas Vocational School

The Kansas Vocational School in Topeka, Kansas, was founded in 1895 by two local African American school teachers, Edward Stevens and Izie Redick, as The Industrial and Educational Institute (TIEI), coming out of the national influence of Booker T. Washington's advocay for African American vocational schools. Initially comprised of a kindgergarten, sewing classes, and a reading room, the school began receiving state funds in 1899. A year later, Booker T. Washington, who was president of the school's Board of Trustees, appointed William R. Carter, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, to serve as the principal of the school. Over the years, its vocational programs offered preparatory training in teaching, nursing, theology, agricultural studies, printing, tailoring, carpentry, music, home economics, and auto mechanics.

In 1919 the institute was made a state school under George R. Bridgeforth at the State Board of Administration. The name changed to the Kansas Vocational School (KVS) in 1925, and in 1939 it was placed under the Board of Regents. In 1943, when Western University in Quindaro, Kansas was closed, its vocational programs were transferred to the Topeka school, which then became the Kansas Vocational College (KVC).

The school began accepting all qualified students in 1950, and in 1951 the name changed to the Kansas Technical Institute (KTI). KTI granted its first college diploma in 1954, the same year that the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation was unconstitutional. Though KTI was integrated with 97% African American students and the rest white students, the Kansas state legislature ordered the school to close in 1955. Equipment and books belonging to the school were transferred to other schools, including the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. The site was transferred to the corrections department and the Topeka Correctional Facility was opened on the grounds in the 1970s.

[Information pulled from collection materials and from Kenneth Spencer Research Library, "Kansas Vocational School" brochure, available online at]


1 Linear Feet (1 box + 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Melvin and Maxine Patterson family papers consist of two series: Kansas Technical Institute/ Kansas Vocational School (KTI/KVS) papers and Personal papers.

Most of the collection is in the KTI/KVS papers, which contain a small section on the history of KTI/KVS, including an oversize photocopy of a 1941-1942 recruitment poster housed at RH MS S82, and a larger section from the KTI/KVS Alumni Association. Maxine and Melvin Patterson were active in the alumni association that planned and facilitated KTI/KVS reunions every 2 years and awarded scholarships to descendants of alumni. This section includes meeting minutes, by-laws, notes, association mailings, financial papers, papers dealing with scholarships, photos of the reunions, collages displayed at reunions, and obituaries and memorials of KTI/KVS alumni.

The personal papers are mainly mailings from the Brown Foundation and newspaper clippings about the opening of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. There are also mailings from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation. Newspapers are housed at RH MS R526.

Original labels of items are reflected in folder titles when possible. The Pattersons sometimes referred to the school as KVS/KTI, though KTI/KVS is most common. [Brackets] indicate that a the title has been added by Spencer staff based on their understanding of the contents.

Physical Location

RH MS 1588

Physical Location

RH MS R526

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Valerie Jo Patterson, 2021.

Related Materials

Kansas Vocational School history and photographs, Kansas Collection, RH MS P880, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Dandridge, Deborah. "Education: The Mightiest Weapon," Kenneth Spencer Research Library online exhibits, available at

Kenneth Spencer Research Library, "Kansas Vocational School" brochure, available online at

Topeka StoryCorps interview available through Humanities Kansas' Youtube channel at

Guide to the Melvin and Maxine Patterson Family Collection
Melvin and Maxine Patterson family papers
Finding aid prepared by eje. Finding aid encoded by eje. Finding aid revised by arh.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Preferred citation
Melvin and Maxine Patterson Family Collection, RH MS 1588, 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