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James C. Malin

Historian. Born: February 8, 1893, Edgley, LaMoure County, North Dakota. Died: January 26, 1979, Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas.

James Claude Malin was born on February 8, 1893, to parents Jared Nelson and Emma Jane (McChristy) Malin.  In 1903 his family moved to Edwards County, Kansas.

Malin earned a bachelor's degree from Baker University and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas (KU) in 1916.

He served in World War I and taught in Oklahoma City high schools before earning his Ph. D. in 1921 at KU.  He married Pearl Ethel Keene on July 23, 1920, in Oklahoma. After graduation he joined the faculty where he remained until age forced him to retire in 1963. He was considered a prolific writer and historian of his era. Some of his works include John Brown and the Legend of Fifty-Six and The Grasslands of North America.

He believed that, for historians, objectivity was a necessity, as opposed to relativism, which allows for differing viewpoints. He sometimes began controversies by exposing what he viewed as flaws in the works of other historians. He was a pioneer in combining other disciplines with the subject matter of history. He had an interest in the effects of climate change and overall environment on human endeavors. 

Over his long career he was president of the Agricultural History Society, Kansas Historical Society, and the Kansas History Teachers Association. He was associate editor of the Kansas Historical Quarterly, a member of the editorial board of the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Science, and committee member in the American Historical Association, American Association of Geographers, and the American Studies Association.

He died January 26, 1979, in Lawrence and was survived by his wife, Pearl, and daughter Jane.

Entry: Malin, James C.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2016

Date Modified: July 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.