Ichabods In Depth

Published March 12, 2013

Washburn ghost stories to be featured at annual Kansas literature lecture

Haunted Kansas book cover image

With a 148-year history, it is no surprise Washburn University has its fair share of ghost stories.

This year’s Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection Lecture, at 4 p.m. at Mabee Library, will feature Lisa Heitz, author of “Haunted Kansas”. Heitz has researched Washburn folklore and ghost stories and will share several stories during her presentation.

“It’s a fun topic,” said Tom Averill, professor of English and writer-in-residence, who donated his personal collection to Mabee Library to create a collection focused on Kansas.

Heitz said she always has had an interest in folklore and ghost stories but started researching them academically during graduate school. Her book grew out of a paper she did on a story she heard often as a child in Topeka.

At Averill’s request, she began researching Washburn stories this fall for a presentation to the annual faculty colloquium. In a short time, Heitz said, she discovered so many Washburn stories that she is considering expanding her work into a sequel of “Haunted Kansas.”

“I’ve got a couple fraternity and sorority stories,” she said, and others about Carnegie Hall and Whiting Field House, among others.

As a student during two different stints in the 1970s and 1980s, Heitz said, she never heard a single ghost story about campus.

“Of course,” she said, “I wasn’t looking for them.”

The 2013 Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection Lecture will begin at 4 p.m. at Mabee Library. Lisa Heitz will present "Haunted Washburn."