This story is the first in a series of three oral histories conducted by the Oral History Committee in 2017.
By Teri Finneman
Kathleen Endres once received one of the greatest Christmas gifts ever for a journalism historian.
Concerned about how late she was staying at the library, her parents bought her a microfilm machine to have at home.
“What a thoughtful gift,” she said.
Since then, she’s added to her home collection a microfiche machine no longer wanted by a library, thereby creating a true historian haven.
Endres, who won AJHA’s Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017, is a distinguished professor at the University of Akron and one of three members chosen in 2017 by the Oral History Committee for in-depth interviews.
Endres has a special fondness for AJHA, of which she’s been a member for 35 years. The academic conference was her first, and she still recalls her excitement when she learned such an organization existed.
“I thought that was really cool because that [being a journalism historian] was what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said. “I mean, truly, that’s all I wanted to be when I grew up.”
She submitted a paper on abortion advertising, received an acceptance and “the rest is history.” She’s attended almost every convention since and served in various leadership positions within the organization. This includes serving on the board and committees and organizing auctions and historic tours.
She thinks AJHA plays an important role in supporting media history.
“I think it’s a really important forum for people to discuss ideas and cooperate with each other, give each other support, bring a new generation of journalism historians in, support these new people, support journalism history in general,” Endres said.
Endres is originally from Toledo, Ohio, and attended college at the University of Toledo. She received her master’s degree from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. from Kent State.
Her journalism career focused on business reporting for publications such as Datamation magazine and Rubber & Plastics News.
She made the transition from industry to academia due to her love of research. Throughout her career, she has written or edited six books and one monograph, as well as numerous peer-reviewed articles.
“I love history, and it’s really interesting because when I was working on my Ph.D., which is in history, I had always planned on being a journalism historian – much to the chagrin of my adviser and many of my teachers. They thought I’d be better off in history,” Endres said.
Endres started out studying the history of business journalism and trade publications, but also has conducted research related to women and to magazine history. Recently, she’s focused on the release of her documentary, “BLIMP! Sports, Broadcasting and the Goodyear Airship.”
She thinks there’s been a recent renewal of interest in history by the public and has been pleased to see the level of enthusiasm among her students. From her own days as a student until now, she’s come to appreciate the amount of concentration and time required to do history well.
For Endres, winning AJHA’s lifetime achievement award was a tremendous honor from a group of peers who have become like family.
“This is my academic home,” she said, adding a touch of humor: “I know where all the skeletons are here, or many of them.”
Stay tuned for the next interviews in this year’s series with Bernell Tripp and Jinx Broussard.