Interactive Frontier Museums: The Thelma Elise McWorter Kirkpatrick Free Frank Frontier Library
The Thelma Elise McWorter Kirkpatrick Free Frank Frontier Library
Thelma Elise McWorter Kirpatrick, the great granddaughter of Free Frank and the mother of Dr. Walker, was the person selected to preserve the oral and written history of Free Frank. Ms. McWorter Kirkpatrick was an educator who graduated from Fisk University and taught in the Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years. When Dr. Walker was a Ph.D. student in the history department at the University of Chicago, her mother, Thelma, provided the oral and written history about Free Frank. Dr. Walker later met with her doctoral dissertation advisor, Dr. John Hope Franklin and informed him that she wanted to write her doctoral dissertation on Free Frank’s life as an entrepreneur on the antebellum frontier. After over 25 years of meticulous historical research the University Press of Kentucky published the only scholarly book on Free Frank and New Philadelphia Illinois written by Dr. Walker. Dr. Walker’s book was provided the foundation and theoretical framework for Free Frank’s Cemetery being listed in the National Register of Historic Places, an interstate highway being named after Free Frank and was the scholarly evidence needed that enabled an archeological grant to be awarded. This all would not have been possible if it was not for Thelma Elise McWorter Kirkpatrick, great grand daughter of Free Frank, who believed that the oral and written history should be preserved and shared.