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General and Historiographical Works

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Andreas, Alfred Thayer [with William G. Cutler]. The History of the State of Kansas. Two Volumes. Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1883. Reprinted in 1976 with an index of names from the fifteen thousand sketches found in the original volumes. Important for its early county and community histories and coverage of major territorial Kansas incidents.

Berwanger, Eugene H. The Frontier Against Slavery: Western Anti-Negro Prejudice and the Slavery Extension Controversy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967. This important study highlighted the fact that racial prejudice “was a factor in the development of antislavery feeling in the ante-bellum United States” and the “major concern” of most westerners “was not slavery, per se, but the expansion of the institution.”

Corder, Eric. Prelude to Civil War: Kansas-Missouri, 1854-61. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1970. In this relatively brief, popular survey (it includes a bibliography but no source notes), Corder concluded that the Kansas conflict was “cataclysmic” and “the war that bean there [in 1854] did not end until . . . April 9, 1865.”

Davis, Kenneth S. Kansas: A Bicentennial History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1976; republished as Kansas: A History, 1984. This was the Kansas volume in the American Association of State and Local History’s bicentennial project, “The States and the Nation Series.” Nearly half of Davis’s 200-plus pages are devoted to Kansas before, during, and immediately after the territorial period.

Etcheson, Nicole. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. Due out in January 2004, Etcheson’s Bleeding Kansas is, according to Lincoln scholar and University of Nebraska history professor Kenneth Winkle, “an ambitious, important, long-overdue, and very successful revisionist history of the organization of Kansas Territory."

Goodrich, Thomas. War to the Knife: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861. Mechanicsburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1998. As in his other work on the border wars, Goodrich focuses on the nature of the violence on the Kansas-Missouri border during the territorial period and the fact that it was perpetrated by a small radical fringe on both sides.

Griffin, C. S. “The University of Kansas and the Sack of Lawrence: A Problem of Intellectual Honesty.” Kansas Historical Quarterly 34 (Winter 1968): 409-426. An interesting historiographical look at the May 21, 1856, sacking perpetrated by Douglas County Sheriff Samuel Jones that centers around a late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century claim against the U.S. government.

"Kansas Quarter-Centennial. 1861-1886. Proceedings of the Celebration of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Admission of Kansas into the Union, Held at Topeka, January 29, 1886.” Kansas Historical Collections, 1883-1885 3 (1886): 367-469. Includes speech by many participants from the territorial period including Charles Robinson, John A. Martin, Chief Justice A. H. Horton, C. K. Holliday, D. W. Wilder, Rev. Richard Cordley, S. N. Wood, and John Speer.

Lyman, William A. “Origin of the Name 'Jayhawker,' and How it Came to be Applied to the People of Kansas.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1915-1918 13 (1918): 203-207. The author examines different opinions regarding origin of this well known, one time infamous, epithet.

Miner, Craig. Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. In this first all-new, one-volume history of the state in almost three decades, Miner uses an interpretative history of antagonisms during the territorial period to set the stage for happenings in the state of Kansas.

Mitchell, W. A. “Historic Linn.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1923-1925 16 (1925): 607-657. Series of valuable articles, first published in La Cygne Weekly Journal, on people and events significant in history of Linn County, with emphasis on 1850s.

Morrison, Michael. Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. With an “emphasis on ideological nuance,” Slavery and the American West offers a fresh, solid, and well documented examination of the nation’s divisive antebellum debates.

Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union. 8 Volumes. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947-1971. For the Kansas Territory, the most relevant volumes in this classic, monumental study are volume two, A House Dividing, 1852-1857, and volume three, The Emergence of Lincoln: Douglas, Buchanan and Party Chaos, 1857-1859.

Nichols, Alice. Bleeding Kansas. New York: Oxford University Press, 1954. Although rather dated in its interpretations, this standard account of the conflict in the territory; Nichol’s “approach, not without a touch of iconoclasm, gives the South its due and shows the excesses of the heretofore blameless North.”

Nichols, Roy F. “The Kansas-Nebraska Act: A Century of Historiography.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 43 (September 1956): 187-212. Nichols here offered a solid piece of political history that rebutted some of the revisionist scholarship of his day; his was a much weaker, almost helpless Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who had little influence over the final Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854.

"Official Roster of Kansas, 1854-1925.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1923-1925 16 (1925): 658-745. Complete listing territorial and state officials, plus Indian agencies and agents “Affecting Kansas” from 1805-1925.

Potter, David M., and Don E. Fehrenbacher. The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861. New York: Harper & Row, 1976. This important study of the antebellum road to war was edited and completed by Fehrenbacher.

Richmond, Robert W. Kansas: A Land of Contrasts. Fourth Edition. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1999. Earlier editions published in 1974, 1980, and 1989. Kansas devotes one chapter to conventional territorial political activity and part of another to the early development of transportation and the economy.

SenGupta, Gunja. “Bleeding Kansas: A Review Essay.” Kansas History 24 (Winter 2001/2002): 318-341. This first, regular feature in Kansas History’s review essay series examines the extensive territorial Kansas literature, suggests directions for future research, and challenges scholars to continue recent efforts to reconcile the “dynamic interplay between” two “seemingly disparate realms,” the focus on sectional conflict and/or the study of Kansas through the lens of the new Western history.

SenGupta, Gunja. For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1860. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1996. An intriguing examination of the complexity of the free-state movement in Kansas Territory as well as the ideology and dynamics of proslavery activism.

Spring, Leverett W. Kansas: The Prelude to the War for the Union. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1885. The last chapter was revised in 1906 for a new edition; the rest of the book recounts an anti-slavery view of Kansas history through the Civil War.

Taylor, Quintard. In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Taylor’s study, which includes the nineteen western states on or beyond the 98th meridian, only incidentally deals with the Kansas Question but provides important, larger context.

Villard, Oswald Garrison. “Historical Verity.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1913-1914 13 (1914): 423-429. General comments on interpreting the early history of Kansas by a John Brown biographer.

West, Elliott. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. An award winning book that examines native cultures and the transformation of the plains that followed the 1858 discovery of gold in what was at that time far western Kansas Territory.


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