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Kansas History - Winter 2003/2004

(Vol. 26, No. 4)

Kansas History, Winter 2003 - 2004

Scott Dalrymple, "Central Plains Entrepreneurs: The Rise and Fall of Goldsmith's, Inc., 1878-2003."

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In "Central Plains Entrepreneurs, Dr. Scott Dalrymple, Department of Management and Accounting, Hartwick College, tells the fascinating story of an important south central Kansas business and in the process teaches us a great deal about the transformation of American retailing during the twentieth century. The story begins with the 1878 establishment of a humble little book and stationery store at Winfield, Kansas, by Henry Goldsmith, a Jewish businessman from Clinton, Missouri, and ends some 125 years later when, "as one of the largest office furniture dealers in the country," Goldsmith's, Inc., closed its doors. "Goldsmith's weathered a truly vast array of social, economic, and technological changes," and, according to Dr. Dalrymple, "reinvented itself more than once;" thus, "the defining theme of Goldsmith's long history may be its constant adaptability in the face of changing market conditions." Although it did not survive the early twenty-first century recession, Henry and Isaac Goldsmith's enterprise was "an entrepreneurial success story."

William M. Tsutsui and Marjorie Swann, "'Open Your Eyes to the Beauty Around You': The Art Collection of the Kansas Federation of Women's Clubs."

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First published in the Society's symposium publication, Tallgrass Essays (2003), this article by Bill Tsutsui and Marjorie Swann, professors of history and English, respectively, at the University of Kansas, "examines the fine art programs of the Kansas Federation of Women's Clubs (KFWC), and especially the Federation's efforts from the 1920s to the 1960s to build a collection of original paintings and prints by Kansas artists. Questioning the assumption that club art activities were frivolous 'passive recreation,'" the authors explore "the complex motivations, sophisticated methods and tangible results of KFWC visual arts initiatives," and they challenge "the notion . . . that the club movement lost its dynamism after 1920, as women - fortified with the vote and greater opportunity in the public sphere - increasingly looked beyond social clubs for stimulation, expression, and advancement. The KFWC experience suggests that, at least with regard to art programs, the work of women's clubs in the decades after 1920 was not 'diminished in scope and reduced to . . . trivialities,' but exhibited growth, dynamism, and significant achievement."

Michael H. Hoeflich, "Why Kansas Legal History Has Not Been Written. Presidential Address."

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In this, his presidential address to the 128th Annual Meeting of the Kansas Historical Society on November 7, 2003, Professor Michael H. Hoeflich, University of Kansas Law School, calls for an active effort to catalog, preserve, and collected the sources of the state's legal history. This is vital because, with only a few important exceptions, observed Hoeflich, "Kansas legal history, like local history everywhere, has been little explored," and "The time is fast approaching when it will become impossible to write a history of Kansas law or of the legal profession. It will become impossible to do so precisely because the sources for writing such history will have been destroyed or lost into the maw of that vast amount of paper that disappears from our law offices and judicial chambers each day."

Donald L. Fixico, "American Indians in Kansas: Review Essay."

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In his contribution to Kansas History's award-winning review essay series, Dr. Fixico, Director of the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies and Thomas Bowlus Distinguished Professor of American Indian History at the University of Kansas, reminds us of the central role played by the Kansas region and its indigenous peoples in the history of the American West and explores "the nature of the literature about the native peoples of Kansas." The existing literature is rich, according to Professor Fixico, but he suggests the need for more work, especially in three specific areas: tribal history, the urban Indian experience, and issues of currency today, such as gaming and tribal economies.


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(The following books and collections are reviewed in full in our print version.)

Rumors of Indiscretion: The University of Missouri Sex Questionnaire Scandal in the Jazz Age
by Lawrence J. Nelson
xv + 323 pages, photographs, notes, essay on sources, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003, cloth $39.95.
Reviewed by Frank E. Johnson, professor of history, Mid-America Nazarene University, Olathe

The Civil War Story of Bloody Bill Anderson
by Mil Penner
by Larry Wood
xii + 171 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Austin: Eakin Press, 2003, paper $22.95.
Reviewed by Christopher M. Paine, instructor of history, Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Interpreters with Lewis and Clark: The Story of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau
by W. Dale Nelson
x + 174 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2003, cloth $24.95.
Reviewed by Mary W. Madden, assistant director of education and outreach, Kansas Historical Society.

African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000
edited by Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore
390 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: Oklahoma University Press, 2003, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, associate professor, Iowa State University, Ames.

Quacks and Crusaders: The Fabulous Careers of John Brinkley, Norman Baker, and Harry Hoxsey
by Eric S. Juhnke
xvi + 215 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by K. Allen Greiner, assistant professor of family medicine and preventive medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City.

Kansas and the West: New Perspectives
edited by Rita Napier
viii + 416 pages, photographs, notes, tables, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003, paper $19.95.
Reviewed by James E. Sherow, associate professor of American history, Kansas State University.

Driving across Kansas: A Guide to I-70
by Ted T. Cable and Wayne A. Maley
xi + 243 pages, illustrations, references, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003, paper $12.95.
Reviewed by Susan S. Novak, associate editor, Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.

Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000
by Craig Miner
xvii + 552 pages, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Danney Goble, professor of classics and letters, University of Oklahoma.


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Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park. By Paul Schullery and Lee Whittlesey. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. xi + 125 pages, paper $22.00.)

Established in 1872 during the peak of Gilded Age excess and exploitation, Yellowstone National Park has become "a global icon of conservation and natural beauty" with its own "creation myth." Not surprisingly, this relatively brief and intriguing study by Paul Schullery, a writer and editor for Yellowstone National Park and an affiliate professor of history at Montana State University, and Lee Whittlesey, park historian for the National Park Service at Yellowstone, reveals that the pioneer conservationists credited with the park's founding were really "not saints, but mortal humans with the full range of ideals and impulses known to the species." The authors successfully demonstrate how the simplistic "campfire story" of tradition has been discredited by historians (most notably in the 1960s by Yellowstone historian Aubrey Haines) in favor of a more complex story that involves both altruism and greed; nevertheless, the myth lives on, as myths often do, and the reasons for its longevity are a main focus of Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park.

The Cowboy at Work. By Fay E. Ward. (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003. xiv + 289 pages, paper $5.95.)

Originally published by Hastings House of New York in 1958, The Cowboy at Work makes "available to all those who happen to be interested in the facts pertaining to the history of the cowhand, the type of equipment he used in his everyday work, and how he used it. I have tried," continued Ward in the foreword, "to present a clear and useful outline of the methods an experienced cowhand employed in his work on the open range." This heavily illustrated volume seems to succeed at that level, covering everything from the evolution of the cowboy, the types of range stock, and ranch work to cowboy jewelry, rope knots, quirts, guns, and equipment. It purports to be "a complete cowboy's manual" and certainly should continue to be of much value to historians and folklorists studying the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century range cattle industry that was of such significance in Kansas history.

Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains: A Natural History. By Paul A. Johnsgard. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. xiii + 143 pages, paper $14.95.)

Written and illustrated by Paul A. Johnsgard, Foundation professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Nebraska, this attractive little book should find a ready audience among Meriwether Lewis and William Clark enthusiasts during their expedition's bicentennial year, 2004, and beyond. "The purpose of this book," which contains forty-five maps and illustrations and begins with a brief "Historical Overview," explains Professor Johnsgard, "is to identify and describe the Great Plains animals and plants that were encountered and described by Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery two centuries ago during their famous exploratory expedition of the Louisiana Purchase territories. It also attempts to place both the organisms they discovered in an ecological framework and these two explorers in a historical context as biologists." Lewis and Clark on the Great Plains joins the much longer study by Wayne Phillips, Plants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 2003), on the growing list of new works inspired by the forthcoming commemoration of that incredibly important expedition and should significantly enhance our understanding of the natural history of the early nineteenth-century American West. by Yellowstone historian Aubrey Haines) in favor of a more complex story that involves both altruism and greed; nevertheless, the myth lives on, as myths often do, and the reasons for its longevity are a main focus of Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park. ion of "sovereign" states, each with its own seat of government-its state capitol.

Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History. Edited by Diane By Gary Topping. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003. xii + 388 pages, cloth $34.95.)

Since Kansas-or at least the western portions of our great state-is often considered a part of the American West and many readers of Kansas History are western history enthusiasts, Gary Topping's critical examination of the historiographical contributions of five Utah historians (Bernard DeVoto, Dale Morgan, Juanita Brooks, Wallace Stegner, and Fawn McKay Brodie) is worthy of note here. "Each of these writers made enduring contributions not only to our knowledge of the American West but also to our view of the region and its history." Although certainly not flawless, as Topping, an associate professor of history at Salt Lake Community College, explains, their writings in many ways "set the standard for scholarship and interpretation, and their influence is still felt today." Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History, writes the author, is "the first instance in which these writers have been subjected to searching scrutiny as a group, the first book to note that their works possess common historiographical traits. . . . On the one hand," argues Topping, they did a fine job gathering sources and establishing "an accurate factual record. . . . On the other hand, they generally did an unsatisfactory job interpreting their material." e 1960s by Yellowstone historian Aubrey Haines) in favor of a more complex story that involves both altruism and greed; nevertheless, the myth lives on, as myths often do, and the reasons for its longevity are a main focus of Myth and History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park.

Restoring the Burnt Child: A Primer. By William Kloefkorn. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. xiv + 289 pages, cloth $22.00.)

For a variety of reasons we historians often neglect and mistrust literary writing, and yet, as Kansas author and Washburn University professor Tom Averill argued so successfully in his summer 2002 review essay, Kansas literature is a valuable part of our cultural past: "our literature has a direct bearing on our understanding of who we are as a people" and represents an aspect of our cultural history that looks at the meaning of life in Kansas in a way that historians often cannot. William Kloefkorn's literary memoirs about growing up in Harper County, which include an earlier volume entitled This Death by Drowning (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), serve this end. In Restoring the Burnt Child, Professor Kloefkorn, Nebraska's state poet and emeritus professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University, makes a fascination with fire (it was water in the first prose volume) the underlying theme tying together is memories of life in 1940s Kansas.

Volume 26 Index