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Carson, Velma L. (1896-1984) | Morse Department of Special Collections

Name: Carson, Velma L. (1896-1984)
Fuller Form: Velma Lenore Carson

Historical Note:

Velma Lenore Carson, the daughter of Edward Lincoln Carson and Viola Belle Petty Carson, was born in Kansas on April 30, 1896 and grew up on a farm southwest of Morganville, Kansas. During World War I, Carson attended Kansas State Agricultural College what later became Kansas State University. She majored in journalism and was involved in plays, literary societies, and oratory. While at K-State, she was involved in Theta Sigma Phi Journalism Society, the Ionian Women’s Literary Society, the Young Women’s Christian Association, Prix Leadership Honorary, and XIX outstanding Women Honorary. Carson also served as the editor of the Royal Purple yearbook, staff writer for the Collegian, and as president of her class. She did not receive her degree, however, until April of 1982 because of required course in kitchen gardening was lacking on her record. Carson received an honorary degree from K-State in 1982 after the head of the music department heard about her forfeiture of a degree in lieu of taking music appreciation. Although her lack of a degree never kept her from success, a letter from Carson to the dean of the university said, “It is wonderful to be getting through school at last!”

In 1922, she married Homer Cross, an electrical engineer and former class president at KSU. They moved to Pennsylvania where Cross had a job with Westinghouse. Later, they moved to New York City where Cross worked for the electric railway and Carson was a writer, authoring everything from advertising copy to short stories and poems. Carson also worked with Margaret Sanger, best known for promoting family planning through the use of birth control. Carson helped distribute unionizing information to Pullman porters during her travels. Her involvement then in such causes could result in jail time during that time.

Carson described her marriage to Cross as a bad one, although she didn't expand much on that subject. It ended in divorce in 1931. Daughter Cynthia was born in 1928. Carson told several people that Cynthia was adopted and documents always listed her name as Cynthia Carson.

Carson continued her journalistic career and later remarried. Second husband, Leonard Rennie, was a painter who worked for the federal government during the Depression. The marrieage did not last long and the couple eventually separated.

Velma's daughter, Cynthia, apparently attended school in Morganville, but like her mother, appears to have moved on without graduating. Colleges weren't very strict about those things then, and Cynthia attended Kansas State Teachers College - now Emporia State University. She graduated in 1950 with an emphasis in the same areas her mother had pursued at KSU. Cynthia taught for a year in Hoxie, Kansas before moving on to New York.

Velma Carson died in 1984, and her ashes were scattered on the grounds of the schoolyard where she had taught.

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