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Kansas History - Autumn 2004

(Vol. 27, No. 3)

Kansas History, Autumn 2004

Robert Beatty and M. A. Peterson, "Covert Discrimination: Topeka-Before and After Brown."

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In their timely study of Topeka, before and after Brown v Board of Education, Washburn University political science professors Robert Beatty and Mark Peterson examine the public record and personal recollections regarding white and black relations in Topeka, Kansas, at the mid-point of the twentieth century. Their article "looks at the way in which the press, some public officials, and private citizens portrayed race at that time and how the local press framed the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision that devolved from these contemporary conditions. Topeka, it appears from the record, was a community indisposed to acknowledging the reality of Jim Crow, the ugly manifestation of 'separate but equal,' in its midst." The authors certainly make a clear case for the existence of invidious and covert discrimination, which was all too typical of Kansas generally in the 1950s, and contribute to our understanding of the complex legacy of 'free' Kansas.

Jason Pendleton, "‘Hedonism Running Rampant’: The 1963 Garnett Riot."

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We all know that the Sixties were a troubled decade, featuring violence in the streets and on college campus, generally connected to the Civil Right struggle and to the growing disillusionment with the war in Vietnam. History teacher Jason Pendleton focuses on violence in an unlikely place, Garnett, Kansas, which erupted during the annual Lake Garnett sports car races on July 6, 1963. "Hedonism Running Rampant" chronicles the riot using contemporary newspaper accounts and more recent interviews with participants, placing "the ostensibly aberrant event into a broader social context and demonstrating that the changes of the 1960s generation were widespread and extended beyond colleges and universities into the heartland."

James C. Juhnke, "Moderates, Mennonites, and the Religious Right: A Hot Contest in the Seventy-fourth House District, 1994."

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In large part because of its Civil War era origins, Kansas always has been a state where Republican Party factionalism is frequently more important than the "two-party system." At no time in our history, perhaps, has this been more pronounced than during the past decade. James C. Juhnke, Emeritus Professor of History at Bethel College, uses the 1994 legislative contest for the seventy-fourth house district to illustrate this point and more. The race "brought two stunning surprises": a political newcomer and social conservative (Cedric Boehr) upset a long established moderate (Ellen Samuelson) in the Republican primary; and that same moderate staged a successful write-in campaign to retain her statehouse seat in the November election. "The Boehr-Samuelson contest was exceptionally rich in what it revealed about the Kansas social and political environment of the mid-1990s," observes Professor Juhnke. It demonstrated "the rising power of the religious right wing of the Republican Party," as well as "the resiliency of the established Republican moderates," and, perhaps just as importantly, "the political role of the Mennonite community in south-central Kansas."

R. Douglas Hurt, "The Agricultural and Rural History of Kansas: Review Essay."

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Not surprisingly, in light of the vast political, social, technological, and environmental developments of the last century and a half, "the agricultural and rural history of Kansas that historians, economists, sociologists, and political scientists, among others, have written is complex and far ranging." R. Douglas Hurt, one of the nation's leading and most prolific agricultural historians, examines the extensive literature in this vital field of study for the journal's review essay series and discovers that "with the emergence during the 1970s of the new rural social history as a subfield of American history, the historiographical boundaries for the agricultural and rural history of Kansas became expansive, if not limitless." The need for additional scholarship is especially acute for the twentieth century, and particularly the late twentieth century, which "remains an open and essentially unexamined field of scholarly inquiry."

Book Reviews

One Woman's Political Journey: Kate Barnard and Social Reform, 1875-1930
by Lynn Musslewhite and Suzanne Jones Crawford
xii + 231 pages, notes, bibliography, index, photographs.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003, hardcover, $34.95.
Reviewed by Ron Briley, assistant headmaster, Sandia Preparatory School, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Scenes of Visionary Enchantment: Reflections on Lewis and Clark
by Dayton Duncan
x + 202 pages, note on sources.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004, cloth $22.00.
Reviewed by Patricia Ann Owens, history teacher, Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, Illinois.

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearence of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier
by Jeffrey A. Lockwood
xxiii + 294 pages, notes, index.
New York: Basic Books, 2004, cloth $25.00.
Reviewed by Ben Stone, reference archivist, Kansas Historical Society.

Books on the Frontier: Print Culture in the American West, 1763-1875
by Richard W. Clement
140 pages, bibliography, index.
Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2003, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Matt Veatch, assistant director, Library and Archives Division, Kansas Historical Society.

In Dull Knife's Wake: The True Story of the Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878
by Vernon R. Maddux and Albert Glenn Maddux
vi + 217 pages, maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman, Okla.: Horse Creek Publications, 2003, paper $16.95.
Reviewed by William Y. Chalfant, attorney at law, Hutchinson.

Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution
by Robert J. Cottrol, Raymond T. Diamond, and Leland B. Ware
xi + 292 pages, chronology, bibliographical essay, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003, paper $15.95.
Reviewed by Virgil W. Dean, editor, Kansas History, Kansas Historical Society.

The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West, rev. ed
by William H. Leckie with Shirley A. Leckie
xv + 319 pages, photographs, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Bruce R. Kahler, professor of history, Bethany College, Lindsborg.

In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer: Cultural Narrative and Redemption on the American Frontiers, 1830-1930
by Joel Daehnk
xi + 299 pages, photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003, paper $26.95.
Reviewed by Daryl Morrison, head of special collections, University of California-Davis.

Children of the Western Plains: The Nineteenth-Century Experience
by Marilyn Irvin Holt
234 pages, photographs, notes, note on sources, index.
Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003, cloth $26.00.
Reviewed by Marjorie McLellan, associate professor of history, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.


Now is the Time.
By Lillian Smith.
(Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. 145 pages, cloth $20.00.)

"It was May seventeenth [1954]. Many of us sat at radio and television, waiting. For word had gone out that the Supreme Court would hand down its decision on segregation in public schools, that day." So opens author Lillian Smith's bold, "liberal" polemic in defense of Brown v Board of Education, first published by Viking Press in 1955 and reissued here in timely fashion with a fine "afterword" by Will Brantley, Middle Tennessee State University, who skillfully places Smith's powerful little volume in its historical context. The questions and answers Smith so effectively confronted her fellow white Southerners with in the wake of Brown are important as a historical document of their time and as an opportunity for a kind of twenty-first-century soul searching.

The Indigenous Roots of a Mexican-American Family.
By Donna Morales and John P. Schmal.
(Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2003. xxiii + 203 pages, paper $26.50.)

In their relatively brief history of the Morales family, authors Donna Morales and John P. Schmal look at Mexico before the Spanish invasion and nine generations of family history, beginning with its Indian origins in the Southwest and ending in Kansas City. The Indigenous Roots of a Mexican-American Family, which contains seventeen illustrations, sources notes, and a bibliography, devotes only a very few pages at the end of the volume to the Morales's Kansas years that began in 1932 when Daniel Morales moved to the area for railroad work.

20 Good Reasons to Study the Civil War.
By John C. Waugh.
(Abilene, Tex.: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2004. 96 pages, paper $12.95).

To "really know ourselves completely," writes former Kansan and "NewsHour" anchor Jim Lehrer, we must "know [our] Civil War." This is so, Lehrer argues, because "the brutality of our conflict was on par with that of most other wars of history. It turns out that we are not that different after all. Properly motivated, each of us Americans is also capable of committing barbaric acts, not only against a foreign enemy but against each other." Journalist and former "closet historian" Jack Waugh's reasons for studying this great American tragedy range from because "it was unique" and "it killed slavery" to because "it tested our faith" and "it speaks to us still."

The Chance.
By Dale E. Vaughn.
(Leawood, Kans.: Leathers Publishing, 2004. 278 pages, paper $22.95).

The American Civil War has traditionally been explored through historical fiction as well as nonfiction, and the former is the approach Topeka author Dale Vaughn uses here to tell the story of the First Kansas Colored. He does so through the experiences of the book's central fictitious character, Elias Mothers, a young African American who flees slavery in Virginia and joins up with James H. Lane's black regiment in Kansas; and he does it, wrote another Kansas author, Roy Bird, as "a rousing action novel that reveals the rise of heroic men from the ashes of slavery. Their chance."

The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
By Frederick Douglass.
(Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003. xxii + 474 pages, paper $8.95.)

During this sesquicentennial period while Kansas remembers the turbulent years of its birth and perhaps celebrates those early champions of a "free Kansas," one might be well advised to look beyond the territory at those national events and individuals whose words and deeds excited and at times chastised mid-nineteenth-century Americans and help explain the centrality of the "Kansas Question." Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became one of the nation's premier abolitionists, first published this autobiography in 1892, three years before his death. The impressively detailed and interesting volume contains numerous references to Kansas and John Brown, "a man whose character and conversation, and whose objects and aims in life," wrote Douglass, "made a very deep impression upon my mind and heart."

The Civil War in Kansas.
By Roy Bird.
(Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Co., 2004. 152 pages, paper $12.95.)

Whether or not one accepts the contention that "the Civil War actually started in the territorial strife of 'bleeding Kansas,'" as does author Roy Bird, the colorful and tragic history of that war on the Western Border continues to captivate many of us. Readers of Kansas History, especially those who remain unschooled in the state's Civil War history or are already fans of Bird's previous contributions to local, state, and regional history, may find this brief, popular "chronicle" a useful introduction to the topic.

Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories, 1857-1866.
Introduction by Donald E. Danker, new introduction by Lillian Schlissel.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. xvii + 199 pages, paper $12.95.)

First published in 1959, this new Bison edition of Sanford's journal is introduced by Professor Lillian Schlissel who calls it "one of the best known of our nineteenth-century autobiographies" and "a fragment prized by historians as true Western literature." Washburn University's Don Danker characterized Mollie's journal as "a document of social and historical importance for the student of pioneer life on the Plains, of the Colorado Gold Rush, and of the Civil War as it affected the Colorado frontier."

The Conquest of Chicago: Visiting the 1933 World's Fair.
By Armour H. Nelson, edited by Alice C. Nelson.
(Manhattan, Kans.: Sunflower University Press, 2004. xii + 63 pages, paper $9.95.)

The Conquest of Chicago, a "short but engaging" journal record of Armour Nelson's trip to the World's Fair with three of his Smolan, Kansas, friends, was discovered and edited for publication by the wife of the deceased author. "What is evident from Amour H. Nelson's writing is the curiosity and excitement with which he and his friends saw mid-America, and especially the World's Fair, and their responses to those sights, sounds, and smells," observes Professor Robin Higham, Kansas State University, in a brief epilogue.