Doris and Leona Velen papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2004.10

Level of description



Doris and Leona Velen papers


  • 1937-1962 (Creation)


12.00 Linear Feet, 18.00 Boxes

Post- Fire Oversize Boxes:
Box 11, 12, 17, 18 (19x25); 509S: 19/2/5
Box 10, 13, 16 (19x25); 509S: 19/8/5
Box 14, 15 (19x25); 509S: 19/10/5

Name of creator

Biographical history

Leona Velen 1916-2001

Doris Velen 1919-2003

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Doris and Leona Velen Collection contains materials pertaining to the sisters' campaign against the construction of Tuttle Creek Dam near Manhattan, Kansas from approximately 1937 to1962. The women were part of a large campaign of Blue Valley residents who attempted to save their homes from being flooded by the construction of Tuttle Creek Dam. Their efforts produced hundreds of letters, dozens of scrapbooks and pamphlets and numerous magazine and newspaper articles.
Subject files covering a broad range of topics relevant to Tuttle Creek Dam are assembled to complete the second series. Most notable among them are the files relating to the Blue Valley Open House, held October 22, 1955; trips taken by Blue Valley residents to Denver in 1952 and Washington D.C. in 1955 to meet with President Eisenhower; material used in political campaigns to elect anti-dam supporters to Congress; and the Tuttle Creek Story film, created to chronicle the creation of the dam.
The third series consists of speeches given between 1951 and 1955. Speeches were delivered before various groups and commissions in order to gather support in defense of the Blue Valley. The maps in the fourth series range in scope from local to national areas. Maps are used to illustrate how Tuttle Creek Dam relates to the other flood control projects along the Missouri River Basin. Various types of printed material are organized into the fifth series. Included among them are pamphlets and propaganda unique to the movement against Tuttle Creek Dam.
A large portion of this series contains newspaper clippings from various local and regional newspapers as well as an assortment of magazine articles. These articles provide a continuing narrative of the Tuttle Creek project, from its beginnings in the 1940s, through the controversy caused by its construction, and ending with the historic flood of 1993.
Scrapbooks created by Doris and Leona Velen make up the sixth and final series in the collection. The 69 scrapbooks span the years 1951-1962 and contain newspaper and magazine articles and congressional records concerning the Tuttle Creek project. A small number of broadsides, photographs, artifacts, and a 16mm film are listed at the end of the container list.

System of arrangement

The collection is divided into six series: 1) Correspondence, 1944-1963; 2) Subject Files, 1937-1988; 3) Speeches, 1951-1955; 4) Maps, 1944-1956; 5) Printed Materials, 1933- 2000; and 6) Scrapbooks, 1951-1962. The bulk of the correspondence series contains letters written and received by Doris and Leona Velen.
The sisters maintained separate correspondence files, and that distinction was preserved throughout the correspondence series where possible. Additional correspondence from other key individuals are also filed separately, including Lloyd Woodburn, Paul Jameson, and Frank and Esther Velen, the parents of Doris and Leona. All correspondence is arranged chronologically. The contents of this series describes how the Velen sisters gained support for their cause through Congress, local and national media, and their neighbors in the Blue Valley.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

The Doris and Leona Velen Collection is identified by accession number P2004.10.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Kevin Larson
Acqusition Method: Donation

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

The Doris and Leona Velen Collection was donated to Kansas State University by Kevin Larson, a history teacher at Riley County High School, in 2004. Doris and Leona Velens' grandfather, Sven Velen, homesteaded in the Blue Valley in 1867, and his son, Frank Velen, resided on the original site with his family for several decades. When plans for construction of a large dam in the Blue Valley were announced, the daughters of Frank Velen, Doris and Leona, both schoolteachers in Manhattan, initiated a valiant and persistent anti-dam campaign. Despite their prolonged effort to stop construction of the dam, thousands of acres of farmland in the Blue Valley were inundated, including their home in the small town of Cleburne, Kansas, to make way for the project. Materials in this collection span the time from the Velen sisters' initial involvement in the Tuttle Creek project during the mid 1940s until construction of the dam was completed in 1962. Material is also included from their continued interest on the subject through the late 1980s and early 1990s. Information in this collection centers around the Velen sisters' involvement in the campaign against Tuttle Creek Dam. The decision to construct Tuttle Creek Dam produced a surge of passionate opposition. Doris and Leona Velen wrote numerous letters to members of Congress and governors, organized meetings and gave speeches, to gather support to preserve the Blue Valley. This collection, however, is not merely a study of one local movement. The campaign to "Stop the Big Dam Foolishness" represents a political struggle between local and federal governments, and explores flood control and soil conservation issues that are commonplace throughout the country.


Box 19 and 20.

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Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Doris and Leona Velen papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title],  Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Diane Soldan
Processing Info: Processing was completed by Diane Soldan, student employee, in July 2004.
Archon processing by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, June 2015.
Publication Date: 2015-06-26

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