Plains Humanities Alliance

Great Books

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Great Books of the Great Plains: North Dakota

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Compiled by David Martinson, Lecturer in English, North Dakota State University, and Thomas Isern, Professor of History, North Dakota State University.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

A good, readable history of the Lewis & Clark expedition, in the context of a biography of Lewis.

  • Place: Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Nature & Environment, Travel

Arends, Shirley Fischer. The Central Dakota Germans: Their History, Language and Culture. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1989.

Language is the tool used here to trace the history of the migration and cultural development of Central Dakota Germans; to be exact, Germans from Russia. The Germans from Russia were a group who lived in isolation in Russia until their privileges were invaded in the late 1800s by the Czar. This caused a migration to the United States. Once here, they again developed isolated communities. Shirley Arends focuses on those living in Central Dakota. The book contains invaluable facts, details, and research about German-Russian folklore, culture and language, though the narrative is scholarly.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Language, Rural Life

Arvold, Alfred G. The Little Country Theater. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1923.

Alfred Arvold believed that the loss of population in rural areas was draining those communities of their ability to collectively express their creative spirit. He felt that this absence of cultural life in both small towns and the countryside stemmed from prejudice against those who "till the land" (25) and from "the absence of any force which seeks to arouse the creative instincts and to stimulate the imagination and initiative" (27). Arvold believed that "force" was theater. So he dusted off an unused room in the North Dakota Agricultural College and started a project named "The Little Country Theatre." Francis Rufus Bellamy, a decade after the book was written, described Arvold's scheme in a 1935 North American Review article: "at this moment he has a circulating library of thousands of plays, pageants and rodeos, with photographs of the costumes and settings and everything that an amateur producer needs to know. His college lends them freely to individuals, community clubs and teachers." Arvold's book contains revealing morsels of the life of the agrarian middle class. He describes how people preserved fables of their homeland by creating plays that passed their messages to the next generation. An entire script, titled A Bee in Drone's Hives, is preserved, along with descriptions and pictures of extravagant amateur productions, including one with a chorus of two hundred girls dressed in white robes. He also discusses a tour of forty towns designed to promote these plays and his library as a means to help rural communities survive.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Art, Folklife - Community Life

Barbour, Barton H. Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trade. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

Provocative history of Fort Union, citadel of the American Fur Company on the upper Missouri, emphasizing the meeting of cultures that took place there.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Military, Native American

Benson, Bjorn, Elizabeth Hampsten, and Kathryn Sweney, Eds. Day In, Day Out: Women's Lives in North Dakota. Grand Forks: University of North Dakota, 1988.

Pioneering anthology of women's writing in the state.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction -Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Gender

Blackorby, Edward C. Prairie Rebel: The Public Life of William Lemke. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963.

First of two fine political biographies by Blackorby. The second is Prairie Populist: The Life and Times of Usher L. Burdick (Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 2001). A masterly and award-winning biography, treating a fascinating although somewhat marginal political figure. Of interest also because Burdick himself was an avid amateur historical writer.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Blasingame, Ike. Dakota Cowboy: My Life in the Old Days. New York: Putnam, 1958; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

First hand history of the cattle trade before towns and homesteaders filled up the range west of the Missouri.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Bliss, Paul Southworth. Spin Dance and Spring Comes to Shaw's Garden. Chicago: Lakeside, 1934.

Uncommonly precise descriptive poems set on the North Dakota landscape.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Bojer, Johan. The Emigrants. New York: Century, 1925; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.

Follows the experiences of Norwegian settlers in the Red River Valley.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History, European American

Borden, William. Superstore. New York: Harper & Row, 1968; Athens: Orloff Press, 1996.

A sometimes comic, sometimes not, look at home-grown biological warfare.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Society

Burdick, Usher L. Tales from Buffalo Land: The Story of Old Fort Buford. Baltimore: Wirth Brothers, 1940.

See the entry under Edward Blackorby for a biography of Usher Burdick. Burdick's historical interests were an important aspect of his persona.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Military

Burgum, Jassamine Slaughter. Zezula: Pioneer Days in the Smoky Water Country. Valley City: Getchell & Nielsen, 1937.

Remembrances, family diaries, and a clear eye for detail make this a fascinating local history.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Case, Harold and Eva, compilers. 100 Years at Fort Berthold: The History of Fort Berthold Indian Mission, 1876-1976. Bismarck: Bismarck Tribune, 1977.

A history of interactions between Episcopalian missionaries and Native Americans.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Corcoran, James. Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus: Murder in the Heartland. New York: Viking, 1990; New York: Penguin, 1991. With new foreword, and new subtitle, The Birth of Paramilitary Terrorism in the Heartland, New York: Penguin, 1995.

An account of the rise of the Posse Comitatus (a right-wing protest group), culminating in 1983 with the shooting of federal marshals in North Dakota and the manhunt for Gordon Kahl. Written by a journalist who covered the Kahl case.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Crawford, Lewis F. Rekindling Camp Fires: The Exploits of Ben Arnold (Connor). Bismarck: Capital, 1926.

Praised by J. Frank Dobie for "richness," this biography chronicles a frontier scout, soldier, and jack-of-all-trades ranch-hand.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Military, Rural Life

Crawford, Lewis F. History of North Dakota. 3 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1931.

Massive, comprehensive subscription history with biographies.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History

Critchfield, Richard. Those Days: An American Album. Garden City: Doubleday, 1986.

Compelling family memoirs of growing up in Cass County and Fargo. A later Critchfield work in which North Dakota figures prominently as a rural society in decline is Trees, Why Do You Wait? America's Changing Rural Culture (Washington: Island Press, 1991).

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Society

Dahl, Borghild. Karen. New York: Random House, 1947.

Novel describing the tenaciousness of a young woman in a Norwegian-American settlement.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History, European American

Danbom, David. Our Purpose Is to Serve: The First Century of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1990.

Unusually sound station history that not only chronicles major developments but puts them into the context of the professionalization of the agricultural sciences.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Densmore, Francis. Teton Sioux Music. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 61, 1918; New York, Da Capo Press, 1972; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

A pioneering ethnomusicologist, Densmore recorded and transcribed Dakota music and poetry at the turn of century.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Music, Folklife - Language

Drache, Hiram M. The Day of the Bonanza: A History of Bonanza Farming in the Red River Valley of the North. Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1964.

A history of the wheat boom of the 1870s-1880s. First of several works by Drache treating large-scale agriculture. In Drache's extensive bibliography of publications, another work of particular note is The Challenge of the Prairie (Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1970), which treats the family farmers who succeeded the bonanza farmers in the Red River Valley.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Dresden, Donald. The Marquis de Mores: Emperor of the Bad Lands. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

A masterful study of the French aristocrat who brought high culture to the meat-packing industry in Medora.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Culture

Duebbert, Harold F., ed. Wildfowling in Dakota, 1873-1903: Old-Time Duck and Goose Shooting on the Dakota Prairies. Bismarck: Windfeather, 2003.

Collected narratives of waterfowling on the northern plains in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Sports & Leisure

Eastman, Charles A. Indian Boyhood. New York: McClure, Philips, 1902; New York: Dover Publications, 1971; Ann Arbor: Gryphon Books, 1971; Alexandria: Time-Life, 1993.

Orally transmitted legends and histories by a pioneering Native American writer.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Oral History
  • Subject: History, Native American, Culture

Enger, Leif. Peace Like a River. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001.

Although the novel begins in Minnesota, it unfolds across North Dakota, and the author is spot on in his sense of place. Mix in a little magical realism, move the action deep into the North Dakota badlands, and you have a great read.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Society

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984; New York: Bantam, 1985. New and Expanded Version, New York: H. Holt, 1993.

Erdrich is a first-rate author with international status. Her first novel introduces family and settings developed through a dozen following books. North Dakota characters, cultures, and settings figure in five subsequent novels by Erdrich, including The Beet Queen (New York: Holt, 1986; New York: Harper Flamingo, 1998) and, most recently, The Master Butcher's Singing Club (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003).

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American

Flint, Roland. Resuming Green: Selected Poems, 1965-1982. New York: Dial Press, 1983.

Born and raised in Park River, North Dakota, Flint has been praised as "a secular poet who was able to find an evidence of God's grace everywhere."

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject:

Gilmore, Melvin R. Prairie Smoke. Bismarck: Bismarck Tribune, 1921; 2nd ed., rev., with subtitle, A Collection of Lore of the Prairies, 1922; New York: Columbia University Press, 1929; New York, AMS, 1966. With a new introduction by Roger L. Welsch, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987.

Tells the traditional stories and describes the lifeways of some of the first people of the Plains- the Pawnee, Sioux, Hidatsa, Mandan, Arikara, and Omaha - and conveys the essential ties Native peoples have to the land.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Goodbird, Edward, as told to Gilbert L. Wilson. Goodbird the Indian: His Story. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1914. Introduction by Mary Jane Schneider, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985.

A memoir for young readers that offers a look at the Hidatsa people's early reservation years. In a simple, engaging style, Goodbird describes growing up and learning about traditional skills, religious beliefs, and history during a time of great change.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography; Memoir
  • Subject: Native American, Culture, History, Religion & Spirituality

Hagedorn, Hermann. Roosevelt in the Bad Lands. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921.

This illustrated account of Theodore Roosevelt's life as a rancher is drawn from books, letters, documents, and old newspapers, but mostly from those who knew him. The author deliberately parted from a factual telling only to change names where survivors or their children might be offended.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

Hampsten, Elizabeth. Settlers' Children: Growing Up on the Great Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

A history of children's experiences in the settlement generation of North Dakota. Hampsten, in a rather bleak depiction of children's lives, poses a distinctly different interpretation from that of such scholars as Elliot West.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Hargreaves, Mary Wilma M. Dry Farming in the Northern Plains, 1900-1925. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957.

The standard and authoritative work on dry farming in the region.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Horne, Esther Burnett, and Sally McBeth. Essie's Story: The Life and Legacy of a Shoshone Teacher. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

According to family tradition, Horne was a descendent of Sakajawea. She dedicated her career to teaching and mentoring Native American children.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American

Hudson, Lois. The Bones of Plenty. Boston: Little, Brown, 1962; St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1984.

An excellent novel about a North Dakota farm family set in the Dust Bowl years. Hudson's Reapers of the Dust: A Prairie Chronicle (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964; St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1984), a collection of short stories, covers some of the same ground.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History

Isern, Thomas D. Dakota Circle: Excursions on the True Plains. Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 2000.

Essays in the history, folklife, and culture of the northern plains, drawing on the author's newspaper column, Plains Folk.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life, Culture, History

Jackson, Phil, and Hugh Delehanty. Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior. New York: Hyperion, 1995.

One of the most successful coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson, head coach for the Chicago Bulls, provides an inside look at the higher wisdom of teamwork. This work describes his philosophy of mindful basketball and his life-long quest to bring enlightenment to the competitive world of professional sports.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Sports & Leisure, Religion & Spirituality

Jenkinson, Clay S. A Vast and Open Plain: The Writings of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota, 1804-1806. Bismarck: State Historical Society of North Dakota, 2003.

An earlier and notable attempt to package the Corps of Discovery for North Dakota was Russell Reid, ed., Lewis and Clark in North Dakota (Bismarck: State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1988), which was reprinted from North Dakota History.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Native American, Nature & Environment, Travel

Kelsey, Vera. Red River Runs North! New York: Harper, 1951.

The influence of the Red River on history, transportation, settlement, and consciousness in eastern North Dakota.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Culture, Nature & Environment

Kraenzel, Carl Frederick. The Great Plains in Transition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.

By a sociologist from Hebron, North Dakota, the greatest of the refiners of Webb's thesis. Suggests that adaptation to the plains is not confined to settlement times, but needs to continue in contemporary times. Sketches a model of community organization on the plains. Identifies mobility, flexibility, and reserves as keys to survival on the plains.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Society, Cultural/Human Geography

Lamar, Howard Roberts. Dakota Territory, 1861-1889: A Study of Frontier Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956. With new foreword by Jack Dalrymple and new introduction by Catherine MacNicol Stock. Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 1996.

Sound political history of the formation of Dakota Territory, the working of the territorial system, the division and statehood movements, and the rise of agrarian insurgency.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Lang, Lincoln A. Ranching with Roosevelt. Philadelphia & London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1926.

Ranching with Roosevelt is a first-hand account of one of the first ranching families to settle in North Dakota, framed as a biography of a young Theodore Roosevelt. In an early example of environmental history, Lincoln Lang says of his approach: "The way in which I have written this history of the Bad Lands, of the heart of the great Sioux country, of wild Nature herself ... [is that] ... The white man made it bad in truth; all but stilled its pulsations forever, in his futile, ill-advised efforts to tame it" (350). Lang is a staunch conservationist who patiently explains how Roosevelt's relationship with the land was formed by witnessing various forms of state management of natural resources. He exposes how the government contracted hunters to slaughter buffalo herds. The result was a "blood-lustful debauch of two days, masquerading as a hunt in the name of necessity, in course of which over five thousand of the magnificent animals (buffalo)" (24) were slaughtered by six hundred mounted Sioux Indians. Lang calls this a government-sponsored conspiracy to let the Indians destroy their own substance, thereby dooming themselves to reservations. In a chapter titled "Misapplied Energy," Lang discusses the tragedy of "unintelligent grazing" (335) caused by government land grants that were only workable every seven years. Lang concludes with the fall of Sitting Bull, an explanation of the "Ghost Dance" in the context of Sioux starvation, the last of his encounters with President Roosevelt, and a sad declaration of how the already evident poverty in the Dakotas could have been avoided had the Federal Government sought to better understand this land.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Military, Native American, Rural Life

Lass, William E. A History of Steamboating on the Upper Missouri River. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1962.

This study "traces the development of commercial navigation on the Upper Missouri" from 1819 to 1936 (vii), arguing that steamboats built the Dakotas and Montana. Before 1859, the area was populated by "vanguards of the last frontierÑthe traders, explorers and military men" (vii). With the opening of the Dakotas to settlement, the gold rush in Montana, and the expansive military campaigns against the Sioux Uprising in western Minnesota, Lass describes how white expansionists navigated and settled this last frontier by boat as much as by wagon or train. This well-documented work is a must-read for any scholar of the American West.

  • Place: North Dakota>
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Military, Native American, Transportation

Lee, Peggy. Miss Peggy Lee: An Autobiography New York: D. Fine, 1989

Among America's finest jazz musicians, Peggy Lee recounts her childhood in Jamestown and her first professional work as a singer in Fargo in this touching autobiography.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Libby, Orrin Grant, Ed. The Arikara Narrative of the Campaign Against the Hostile Dakotas, June, 1876 Bismarck: State Historical Society of North Dakota, North Dakota Historical Collections, Vol. 6, 1920;Glorieta, NM: Rio Grande Press, 1976. Preface by Dee Brown, introduction by D'Arcy McNickle, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998

These invaluable accounts narrate the experience of Arikara scouts who accompanied Custer's 7th Cavalry to the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Lindgren, Elaine. Land in Her Own Name: Women as Homesteaders in North Dakota Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1991; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996

Pioneering compilation of the experiences of female homesteaders.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Gender

Lounsberry, Clement Augustus. North Dakota History and People: Outlines of American History Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1917

Subscription history with biographies.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History

Low, Ann Marie. Dust Bowl Diary Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984

Primary account of North Dakota in the 1930s.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Lowman, Bill. Riders of the Leafy Spurge Sentinel Butte: The Author, 1995

Great cowboy poetry-"Let 'er buck!"

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Culture

Lyons, Richard, and Prudence Gearey Sand. Stackers of Wheat Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1951

Lyons and Sand wrote poetry epitomizing technical excellence and lyrical beauty, Lyons was a prolific writer who published dozens of books; Sand was a leading proponent of modernism in American verse. Stackers of Wheat is among the first books to be published by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Rural Life

McGrath, Thomas. Letter to an Imaginary Friend Denver: A. Swallow, 1962-; Parts I & II, Chicago: Swallow, 1970; Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 1985, 1997

McGrath's sprawling semi-autobiographical epic is among America's greatest long poems. Detailing his own history as representative of a national struggle toward consciousness, McGrath is justly famous for his line, "Dakota is everywhere." Also of particular note in the McGrath corpus is The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems (Chicago: Swallow, 1973). Poems of war, class struggle, social protest, and love by North Dakota's finest poet.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: History

Morlan, Robert Loren. Political Prairie Fire: The Nonpartisan League, 1915-1922 Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955; Westport: Greenwood Press, 1974. With new introduction by Larry Remele, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985

The gold standard on the NPL-no work has superceded it, and the story of the NPL is centrally mythic to North Dakota.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Politics

Murphy, Timothy. Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir Athens : Ohio University Press, 2000

Murphy's poetry is infused with Classical meters and first hand farming experience.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Rural Life

Nelson, Bruce. Land of the Dacotahs Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1946

A broad, popular history of the northern plains that leads to a plea for Missouri River development. Nelson seemed on his way to becoming a major regional voice in the generation of Joseph Kinsey Howard and J. Frank Dobie, but died young of tuberculosis.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Norris, Kathleen. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001

Although the author is from Lemmon, South Dakota (the northern city limit of which is the North Dakota line), much of the experience described takes place in North Dakota locales, especially Assumption Abbey of Richardton.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Religion & Spirituality

Plotkin, Kathy L. The Pearson Girls: A Family Memoir of the Dakota Plains Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 1998

A vivid memoir that chronicles a large farm family, embraces the sensuality of the region, and raises the theme of farm abandonment by the children of immigrants.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Potter, Tracy. Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat: The Story of White Coyote, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark Helena: Farcountry Press and Washburn: Fort Mandan Press, 2003

Sound biography of Sheheke, civil chief of the Mandan village Mitutanka, who befriended Lewis and Clark. Nicely triangulated from fragmented sources.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Native American

Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer New York: Putnam's, 1994; New York: Berkley Books, 1995

A controversial novel in which a Native American woman dances in a traditionally male ceremony.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American

Raaen, Aagot. Grass of the Earth: Immigrant Life in the Dakota Country Northfield: Norwegian American Historical Association, 1950; New York : Arno Press, 1979. With a new introduction by Barbara Handy-Marchello, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1994

The story of a (somewhat dysfunctional) Norwegian immigrant family, a daughter of which (Aagot) raised herself up through education.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History, European American

Rikoon, J. Sanford, Editor. Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995

Challenging (not to say miserable) conditions faced by a Jewish bride on a homestead in north-central North Dakota in the 1890s.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American

Robinson, Elwyn B. History of North Dakota Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966. With new introduction by Jerome Tweton and concluding material by David B. Danbom, Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 1995

This is the standard history of North Dakota, well-known for its six-point interpretation of state history.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Rolfsrud, Erling N. Gopher Tales for Papa Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1949; Farwell, MN: Lantern Books, 1984

Many North Dakotans remember this children's book as their introduction to characters and settings firmly rooted in the state. Another substantial contribution among Rolfsrud's many titles is Lanterns Over the Prairies (2 vols., Brainerd: Lakeland Color Press, 1949-50). Colorful sketches of North Dakota pioneers, many of them eccentrics.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Children's Literature
  • Subject: History

Roosevelt, Theodore. Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail New York: Century, 1888; Philadelphia: Gebbie, 1903; New York, Winchester Press, 1969; New York: Arno, 1970; Alexandria: Time-Life, 1981; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983; New York: St. Martin's, 1985; Birmingham: Palladium, 1999; Fairfield: James Stevenson, 2000

TR's memoir of ranching and hunting on the plains.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Schneider, Mary Jane. North Dakota Indians: An Introduction Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1986

Controversial and compelling history of North Dakota's first people.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Severeid, Eric. Not So Wild a Dream New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946. New introduction by the author, New York: Atheneum, 1976

Growing up in a "sea of wheat" in Velva , North Dakota, experiencing World War II firsthand as a news correspondent, Severeid's autobiography is an excellent behind-the-scene account of American experience.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Sherman, William C., and Playford V. Thorson, Eds. Plains Folk: North Dakota's Ethnic History Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1986

Splendid reference on ethnic settlement, with a chapter devoted to each major ethnic group in the state.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American

Shoptaugh, Terry. Roots of Success: History of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1997

An oral history of sugarbeet culture in the Red River Valley.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Stevens, O.A. Handbook of North Dakota Plants Fargo: North Dakota Agricultural College, 1950; Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1963

Stevens was the state of knowledge at time of publication; now dated, the work stands as a landmark in the history of botany on the northern plains.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Stock, Catherine McNicol. Main Street in Crisis: The Great Depression and the Old Middle Class on the Northern Plains Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992

Interprets the response of northern plains people to the Great Depression in terms of their producerist culture-hence their ambivalence toward the New Deal.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Society

Sypher, Lucy Johnson. The Spell of Northern Lights New York: Atheneum, 1975

Set in Wales, North Dakota, Sypher's novels (also including The Edge of Nowhere, Cousins and Circuses, The Turnabout Year) are based on vivid memories and observations of rural life in the early twentieth century.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Taylor, Joseph Henry. Sketches of Frontier and Indian Life on the Upper Missouri and Great Plains Pottstown, PA: The Author, 1889; 2nd Ed., Washburn, ND: The Author, 1895; 3rd Ed., Bismarck: The Author,1897. Reprint as Frontier and Indian Life and Kaleidoscopic Lives, Washburn: Fiftieth Anniversary Committee,1932

A second work by Taylor was Kaleidoscopic Lives: A Companion Book to Frontier and Indian Life (Washburn: The Author, 1901; 2nd Ed., 1902; reprint as Frontier and Indian Life and Kaleidoscopic Lives).

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Thompson, Era Bell. American Daughter Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946; Chicago: Follett, 1967; St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1986

This work recounts Bell's background on a North Dakota farm and its influence on her career as a writer and editor.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Trupin, Sophie. Dakota Diaspora: Memoirs of a Jewish Homesteader Berkeley: Alternative Press, 1984; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988

This memoir describes the life of a young Jewish girl who transplants from Russia to North Dakota with her family at the turn of the century.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American

Vossler, Ron. Horse, I Am Your Mother Fargo: Simon Johnson Guild, 1988

Short stories (some caussssstic) detailing North Dakota German-Russian life.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: History, European American

Waheenee, as told to Gilbert L. Wilson. Waheenee: An Indian Girl's Story Told by Herself St. Paul: Webb, 1921. Introduction by Jeffrey R. Hanson, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981

See also the fine companion volume by Waheenee (as told to Wilson), Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Studies in Social Science, No. 9, 1917; new title, Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians, and introduction by Jeffery R. Hanson, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987).

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Native American

Watson, Larry. Montana 1948 Minneapolis: Milkweed, 1993

Born in Rugby, North Dakota, Watkins's award winning novel explores the dilemma of choosing between justice and loyalty to one's family.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History

Welk, Lawrence, with Bernice McGeehan. Wunnerful, Wunnerful! The Autobiography of Lawrence Welk Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1971

Includes Welk's boyhood in the German-Russian district of Strasburg, North Dakota, and his exploits as a regional bandsman.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Culture

Wilkins, Robert P, and Wynona Huchette Wilkins. North Dakota: A Bicentennial History New York: W.W. Norton, 1977

The short photographer's essay by David Plowden, titled North Dakota, on its own makes this state history worth looking at. As the photo essay suggests, the authors do not provide a traditional commemorative history that lists names, dates, and statistics in chronological order: "The reader seeking these facts can find them elsewhere. Rather we have attempted to convey some sense of the feel of the land and of the people who have devoted a century to it and to interpret the unique political experiments undertaken here" (xi). The authors accomplish this and the book is so well documented that even scholars are bound to discover useful and important anecdotes.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Willard, Daniel E. The Story of the Prairies, or, The Landscape Geology of North Dakota Chicago: Rand, McNally,1902; 5th Ed., 1907; 10th Ed., revised, St. Paul: Webb,1923

Truly a pioneering work in advancing popular understanding of physical geography in the region. Lucidly written, and evocative of the author's passion for the land.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Winge, Jane, Ed. Ritzy Rhubarb Secrets Cookbook Litchville: Litchville Committee 2000, 1991; 2nd Ed., 1992

"Dedicated to all Rhubarb Enthusiasts," this is the ultimate comfort food book from the northern plains, a cult classic.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Folklife - Cuisine

Woiwode, Larry. What I'm Going to Do, I Think. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969.

What I'm Going to Do is the initial work in a series of novels pursuing North Dakota characters and circumstances that includes, most notably, Beyond the Bedroom Wall: A Family Album (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1975; New York: Penguin, 1989; St. Paul: Graywolf, 1997). Of Woiwode's nonfiction a particularly notable work is What I Think I Did: A Season of Survival in Two Acts (New York: Basic Books, 2000). Autobiographical work that partakes of the time and place--the hard winter of 1997 in West River North Dakota--to make a work so soul-searching that it wants re-reading after a lapse of years.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History

Woodward, Mary Dodge. The Checkered Years, ed. by Mary Boynton Cowdrey Caldwell: Caxton, 1937; Fargo: Cass County Historical Society, 1976. With subtitle, A Bonanza Farm Diary, 1885-88, and with a new introduction by Elizabeth Jameson, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1989

Excellent diary by a Cass County pioneer who witnessed farm laborers migrating in search of work, survived -40 degree winters while tending geraniums in her shanty window, and read poetry to keep in touch with the world she left back east.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American

Works Progress Administration, Federal Writers' Project. North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State Fargo: Knight Printing, 1938; New York: Oxford University Press, 1950. With new title, The WPA Guide to 1930s North Dakota, and new introduction by Gerald C. Newborg and Marcia Britton Wolter, Bismarck: State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1990

The North Dakota volume in the WPA's American Guide Series, this work is one of continuing fascination for its homely detail about communities, folklore, and highways in the Flicktertail State. Although far down on the list, it could easily be considered among the very best books written about the state.

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Community Life, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Young, Carrie. Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991

Two succeeding works from University of Iowa Press renew the author's roots in Williams County, North Dakota. These are The Wedding Dress: Stories from the Dakota Plains (1992) and Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-day Buns, and Other Reminiscences (1993).

  • Place: North Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Gender

Great Books of the Great Plains: South Dakota

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Compiled and updated by Charles Woodard, Distinguished Professor of English, South Dakota State University.

Abourezk, James G. Advice and Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1989.

This is a political memoir which is as opinionated, irreverent, unpredictable, and interesting as any book about politics and political life in recent history, and it is also a very informative account of South Dakota's complicated cross-cultural dynamics. One term in the U.S. House of Representatives and another in the Senate (1971-79) proved to enough for this son of Lebanese immigrants who grew up on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in western South Dakota. In the system but not of it, Senator Abourezk generally voted as a liberal Democrat, but in essence he was a party of one.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Politics, History

Amerson, Robert. From the Hidewood: Memoirs of a Dakota Neighborhood. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1996.

This affectionately written reminiscence of life in rural eastern South Dakota in the 1930s and 1940s, clearly a pivotal time in all of America's history, is a revealing personal and family and community history. In twenty-one stories, each entertainingly told from the perspective of a family member or a neighbor, the author intertwines reflections and descriptions very imaginatively, portraying a way of life which is past but also describing formative experiences which are important to an understanding of South Dakota's present.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life, Rural Life

Black Elk, Nicholas, told to John G. Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Nicholas Black Elk told John G. Neihardt the intensely dramatic story of his life and great vision in a series of interviews at Black Elk's home on the Pine Ridge Reservation near Manderson, South Dakota. From Black Elk's narration, Neihardt shaped this world-renowned and classic book of Lakota culture and spirituality and history. This is perhaps the most influential book ever written about a resident of South Dakota. Many fine works have been written during the past decade correcting some errors in the original version of this book (1961) and questioning how much of it reflects Neihardt's vantage point rather than Nicholas Black Elk's observations. Yet, even after these caveats are heeded, this book remains a classic in Plains Indian biography.

  • Place: South Dakota, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Native American, Religion & Spirituality

Breneman, Mary Worthy. The Land They Possessed. Bismarck, North Dakota: Germans From Russia Heritage Society, 1984.

This little-known but excellent novel about pioneer experience in north-central South Dakota was co-authored by a mother and daughter who combined their names to create the book's pen name. Well-received nationally when it was first published in 1956, it faded into obscurity until it was reprinted in 1984 by the descendants of some of the people portrayed in it. Reminiscent of Willa Cather's novels in its dramatization of a strong and interesting female main character and in its picturesque characterization of the prairie landscape, this book is also a very revealing account of the difficulties encountered by American immigrants as they struggled to adjust to the people and the environment of their new land.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Historical Fiction, European American, Native America

Brokaw, Tom. Long Way From Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland. New York: Random House, 2002.

The author of this memoir, one of America's most famous journalists, has often spoken and written of his South Dakota origins through the years, and in this very engaging memoir, he adds memorable descriptions and stories to those references, in addition to describing his life and career since those formative growing- up years. In describing what he refers to as his "Tom Sawyer boyhood" along South Dakota's stretch of the Missouri River, the author quite eloquently depicts the landscapes and the people still so important to his idea of himself, and in the process speaks both personally and representatively of the whole experience of rural Midwestern childhood.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Carrels, Peter. Uphill Against Water: The Great Dakota Water War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

This heavily researched and lively narrative of the history of Missouri River water development plans in general and the battle over the Oahe irrigation project in particular offers an unusually insightful study of inside politics. While the author clearly sides with the forces arrayed against the project, he fully illuminates the motives, methods, successes, and failures of both sides in this long and divisive struggle. This is the extraordinary story of how ordinary citizens worked together to frustrate the intentions of the Bureau of Reclamation and the irrigation and business establishment, achieving a singular victory in the history of development in the West.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Nature & Environment

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. I Remember the Fallen Trees. Cheney, Washington: Eastern Washington University Press, 1998.

The poems and prose poems in this strong collection are memorable expressions of Dakota and Lakota history and culture and philosophy, and they are also telling commentaries on the causes and effects of change. Each selection is a meditation on the nature of things, and the voice of this volume is by turns elegiac and ironic, ancestral and contemporary. The author, a nationally and internationally know essayist and fictionist and poet, has much to say about the two histories of South Dakota, and it is all worthy of careful consideration.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry, Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. The Power of Horses and Other Stories. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1990.

This collection of especially informative short stories relates the experiences of Dakota/Lakota people during the 20th century in South Dakota. These stories illustrate the determined struggle of tribal people to maintain cultural integrity in the face of pressures from the federal and state governments and from missionaries and white settlers to force them to abandon their lands, their spiritual practices, and their way of life. These stories are foundational for understanding the past which is also present.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Native American, European American, History

Costello, David F. The Prairie World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969.

South Dakota ecology specialists recommend this book as the best general description of the prairie system. Its very informative text, which includes photographs by its keenly observant author, introduces the reader to all of the prairie landscape's organisms, and to the fascinating and heartening ecological cycles of birth, growth, death, and renewal on that landscape.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Photography

Deloria, Ella Cara. Waterlily. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988, reprint 1990.

This especially interesting narrative is also a textbook of traditional plains Indian life. The author, a Yankton Dakota woman, was the prot?g? of famed anthropologist Franz Boaz, and woven throughout this story are fascinating details about the everyday lives and life ways of her traditional Dakota people - their use of and relationship with plants and animals, their customs and ceremonies, their tribal values, their relationships with other people and with each other. This novel is truly an impressive accomplishment: a beautiful dramatization of natural and human history and culture and a tribute to the knowledge and wisdom of its author and her people.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Native American, Culture, Nature & Environment, Religion & Spirituality

Deloria, Vine, Jr. Singing for a Spirit: A Portrait of the Dakota Sioux. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers, 1999.

Over two centuries of the important family and tribal history of South Dakota's best-known author are contained in this book, as well as a variety of memorable photographs. In introductory chapters, the author creates necessary context for an earlier book written by an Episcopal churchwoman named Sarah Olden, then includes the text of Olden's book, The People of Tipi Sapa, and then concludes with an afterword. Of particular note in this culturally rich text are the descriptions of the lives and times of the author's male ancestors who were religious leaders, from his medicine man great-grandfather to his Episcopal priest grandfather and father.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Religion & Spirituality, Photography

Driving Hawk Sneve, Virginia. Completing the Circle. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

Using the central image and metaphor of the quilt, the author of this rich text, South Dakota's National Humanities Medallist, describes and celebrates the strong and creative and purposeful tribal women from whom she has descended, and shares tribal history and legendry and her own meaningful coming-of-age stories in the process. Included in this book, which was the winner of the American Indian Prose Award, are several very expressive poems and a variety of excellent illustrations, including family photographs. This is a strongly-voiced and heartening work, a word-weaving which is an important addition to the whole history of the west.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry, Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Native American, History, Gender, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor, Photography

Driving Hawk Sneve, Virginia. The Trickster and the Troll. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

This wonderfully creative book juxtaposes stories of the adventures of the Lakota trickster Iktomi with those of the Norwegian Troll. The adventures of these characters from the oral/folk traditions emphasize the dramatic importance of such imaginative, mythological characters. The author succeeds admirably in showing the humanity of both cultures as this narrative unfolds. This is a text which promotes intercultural communication and mutual respect, and it is very valuable reading for both children and adults.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Children's Literature
  • Subject: Native American, European American, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Dudley, Joseph Iron Eye. Choteau Creek: A Sioux Reminiscence. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

This wonderful, true, emotional story of a boy raised by his grandparents on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in southeastern South Dakota is a memorable portrait of a family, a people, and a place. Described by renowned South Dakota author Vine Deloria, Jr., as "a warm, human story of people who live close to the earth and each other, learning and living the way we are intended to do," this affectionately written memoir is both person and place-specific and representative of loving grandparents and grandchildren in all times and places.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Native American

Edeburn, Carl. Sturgis: The Story of the Rally. Brookings, South Dakota: Dimensions Press, 2003.

This lively history of The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an annual South Dakota event which has become world-famous, is punctuated by profiles of a variety of the very interesting characters who have been and are actors in the drama of America's romance of the road. There are also numerous pictures and other illustrations and many historical and popular culture details throughout this engaging and informative book.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Sports & Leisure
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Evans, David Allan. The Bull Rider's Advice: New and Selected Poems. Sioux Falls: The Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 2004.

In this latest collection by South Dakota's poet laureate, energetic new poems are added to selections from four earlier books to present experiences ranging from events of the author's Iowa childhood to those of his travels in Southeast Asia to those of his many years of teaching and living in eastern South Dakota. Included in this volume is an autobiographical essay which poetically describes the author's process of becoming a poet and the evolution of his writing through the years, and "A South Dakota Inventory, 1989," a centennial poem which is an especially memorable multi-sensory naming of South Dakota people, places, and things.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry, Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Culture

Fite, Gilbert C. Mount Rushmore. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984.

First published in 1952, this history of the creation of America's "Shrine of Democracy" by the strong-willed and controversial sculptor Gutzon Borglum is a carefully researched and very informative text. Complete with maps, photographs, and a chronology of events, and frank discussions of the various political and other conflicts which were part of the project, this book is clear and concise and very interesting reading.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American, Politics, Art

Garland, Hamlin. A Son of the Middle Border. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Garland, the son of homesteaders who briefly homesteaded himself, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1922, primarily because of this autobiographical book which covers his years in Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota. At once an intensely personal account of family relationship and conflict and a panorama of American frontier life, this is a more sophisticated and literary work than many books about pioneering, but it is eminently readable.

  • Place: South Dakota,
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life, European American

Gasque, Thomas J., ed. Silver Anniversary Anthology. Brookings, South Dakota: South Dakota Humanities Council, 1997.

This text, assembled to celebrate the 25-year history of the South Dakota Humanities Council, explores a wide variety of interesting subjects, but its main emphasis is on South Dakota history and cultures. In poetry as well as prose, a number of the contributors thoughtfully examine the state's traditions and values. This collection of very accessible writings by some of the state's leading authors and scholars is an especially good demonstration of the important cross-cultural work done by the South Dakota Humanities Council through the years.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays, Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Gilfillan, Archer B. SHEEP: Life on a South Dakota Range. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1993.

Gilfillan, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with honors in 1910, homesteaded in Harding County in the northwest part of the state and then was a sheepherder there for 16 years. His highly polished style could be described as a combination of Thoreau, Twain, Mencken and Aldo Leopold. He is keenly observant of landscapes and animals of the prairie, witty, at times acerbic, and always entertaining. His vocation allows him time for his great passion, reading, and he writes on a variety of subjects. This book is unique in its comfortable mix of excellent observations of the prairie environment, along with philosophical, sociological, and historical commentary.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Rural Life, Nature & Environment

Gonzalez, Mario, and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

This scholarly but very accessible volume focuses upon what is arguably the most painful chapter in South Dakota history, the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, to provide telling and very informative commentary on the history of the struggles for justice for tribal people in the state. Interwoven with the diary entries of Lakota lawyer Mario Gonzalez are commentaries by noted Dakota writer and American Indian studies authority Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and the result is a important corrective to the one-sided histories which have perpetuated misunderstandings between peoples in the state.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Politics

Goodman, Ronald. Lakota Star Knowledge: Studies in Lakota Stellar Theology. Rosebud, South Dakota: Sinte Gleska College, 1990.

Written in collaboration with Lakota academicians and tribal historians and after years of study and discussion with tribal elders, this monograph is an especially good example of the crucially important role tribal colleges are playing in cultural reclamation and preservation. It is an extensively illustrated compendium of tribal knowledge, a highly useful and usable sourcebook, and a dramatic demonstration of the knowledge and wisdom which is the result of many generations of tribal experience and reflection on this landscape.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Native American, Culture, Religion & Spirituality

Grafe, Ernest, and Paul Horsted. Exploring With Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition. Custer, South Dakota: Golden Valley Press, 2002.

Wrong-headed and illegal as Custer's famous foray into the sacred hills of the Lakota people was, this is a fascinating examination of that experience and the landscape which Custer and his party traversed, much of which remains unchanged. Comparing the Expedition's excellent glass-plate photographs to what the authors refer to as "re-photography," and using detailed maps alongside the day-by-day journal entries of the Expedition's officers and enlisted men and newspaper correspondents, the authors of this book have provided a concise guide to following the Expedition's route.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Photography, Nature & Environment, Military

Gries, John Paul. Roadside Geology of South Dakota. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1996.

Written for the layperson, this volume describes and explains South Dakota's great geologic diversity. There are helpful photographs, maps, and diagrams throughout, as well as descriptions of tours of the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore National Monument, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, and other points of interest.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Travel

Griffith, T. D. South Dakota. (2nd edition) Oakland, California: Compass American Guides, 1998.

This book, part of the Compass American Guides series, provides an excellent introduction to South Dakota's people and places and cultures. There are maps and illustrations throughout, including some exceptionally good color photographs, and the text is anecdotal and witty, and rich in some very interesting historical and popular culture details.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Culture, Native American, European American, Photography

Grobsmith, Elizabeth S. Lakota of the Rosebud: A Contemporary Ethnography. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1981.

This very well-written book, part of a series entitled "Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology," is an especially informative explanation of life on one of South Dakota's largest Indian reservations, and to a considerable extent it is an explanation of contemporary reservation life in general. It is a comparatively brief text, but it is rich in its explanations of fundamental things, and in its challenging of stereotypical assumptions about American Indians past and present. For anyone seeking to understand more about the complexity and diversity of contemporary American Indian reservation communities, this book is highly recommended.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Politics

Hasselstrom, Linda. Between Grass and Sky: Where I Live and Work. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2002.

This book of essays by South Dakota's best-known and most accomplished nature writer demonstrates her deepening understanding of her ongoing relationship with her native western South Dakota landscape. A vivid portrait of ranch life understood in its larger context of the natural world, this book is also about a variety of related subjects, such as poetry, women ranchers, natural history, and the places people call home. This conversational and evocative text is a pleasing combination of the light-hearted and the serious, and powerfully philosophical.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography, Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Rural Life, Nature & Environment, Gender

Hasselstrom, Linda. Dakota Bones: Collected Poems of Linda Hasselstrom. Granite Falls, Minnesota: Soon River Poetry Press, 1993.

This place-driven collection of two previously published books of poetry plus thirty new poems vividly expresses the poet's ranching experiences, her complicated, sometimes difficult, often heartening personal relationships, and the western South Dakota landscape.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Subject: History, Native American, Nature & Environment, Gender

Hicks, Patrick, ed. A Harvest of Words: Contemporary South Dakota Poetry. Sioux Falls: The Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 2010.

This volume is an especially good demonstration of the value of poetry. Fourteen South Dakota poets are included: Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Leo Dangel, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, Jeanne Emmons, David Allan Evans, Linda Hasselstrom, Allison Hedge Coke, Patrick Hicks, Debra Nystrom, Jim Reese, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Dennis Sampson, Christine Stewart-Nunez, and Lydia Whirlwind Soldier. For each there is a generous selection of poems, so this is really a collection of self-contained little books, which can be read in any order the reader chooses, as the editor points out in his introduction, wher ehe also expressively introduces readers to the geographic space that is South Dakota.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Subject:

Howe, Craig; Whirlwind Soldier, Lydia; Lee, Lanniko L., eds. He Sapa Woihanble: Black Hills Dream. St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2011.

This book opens with an engaging dialogue between some of the contributors discussing the book's main emphasis: the cultural importance of the Black Hills to tribal people, and the ongoing conflict about ownership of this portion of what is now South Dakota. Prose and poetry selections follow by Dakota, Lakota and Nakota writers, all members of a state-wide tribal writers' society, followed by context-creating treaties and other U.S. documents. At the end is a helpful glossary of terms and an annotated list of additional suggested readings. This strongly voiced book demonstrates the power of the oral tradition in contemporary writing by tribal authors, and it is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the history and diverse cultures of South Dakota.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Poetry, Essays
  • Subject: Native Americans, History, Politics, Nature & Environment, Spirituality & Religion

Manfred, Frederick. Lord Grizzly. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books), 2011.

First published in 1954 and reprinted many times since then, this novel is one of the classic works of historical fiction about the American West. Based on the true story of the legendary mountain man and explorer Hugh Glass, whose epic experience began with a terrible encounter with a grizzly bear near what is now Lemmon, South Dakota, this book is a powerfully accurate depiction of the frontier landscape and an intensely engaging adventure narrative, and it is also visionary in its highly emotional explorations of the truths of the human spirit.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History

Manfred, Frederick. The Golden Bowl. Brookings, South Dakota: South Dakota Humanities Foundation Golden Anniversary Edition, 1992.

The first novel of an author who went on to have a long and distinguished career as the chronicler of the region he referred to affectionately as "Siouxland," this compelling narrative is the story of hardy people whose courage and dreams of a green future enable them to survive Dust Bowl South Dakota of the 1930s. First published in 1944, this is historical fiction at its best, strongly placed, and strongly voiced, a skillful presentation of dramatically interesting local lives within the larger context of dramatic historical events.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History

Marshall, Joseph M., III. The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History. New York: Viking Penguin, 2004.

This text is unusual in that it is history derived primarily from oral sources, the elders the author knew growing up on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. Consequently, it is richly anecdotal, with significant amounts of historical and cultural information not available in other texts about this most famous of tribal leaders. Because of these strengths, it was the "One Book South Dakota" selection for 2011, and it is widely used in the state's schools. Also unusual are the "Reflections" which conclude each of the four main sections about the life of Crazy Horse, essays in which the author very effectively discusses what he refers to as "the contemporary viewpoint on the life and times of Crazy Horse and his Lakota world." There is also an "Afterword," entitled "Honoring for a Thunder Dreamer," which both assesses how the story of Crazy Horse has been presented in other books and in film. It realistically describes this legendary man and his ongoing importance in the minds and hearts of the author and his Lakota people.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Native Americans, History

Marshall, Joseph M., III. The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2001.

In this compact little volume, the author, a gifted storyteller from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota, explains and illustrates the twelve core values of his Lakota belief system: bravery, fortitude, generosity, wisdom, respect, honor, perseverance, love, humility, sacrifice, truth, and compassion. An especially good example of writing which is of a culture but for all people, this is an inspirational guidebook for living appropriately.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Native American, Culture, Religion & Spirituality

McGinnis, Mark W. Elders of the Faiths: Interviews and Portraits. Sioux Falls: Ex Machina Publishing Company, 1996.

This especially creative and informative text combines expressive paintings of fifteen South Dakota elders with transcriptions of interviews of them. The compiler of this volume, a well-known South Dakota artist, has asked his subjects about the influences of their religious traditions in their lives, their values, their joys and sorrows, their hopes for the future, and their messages for young people. The answers, coming from the state's rich variety of religious traditions - Christianity, including the Hutterites and Mennonites, Native Spirituality, Judaism, and Unitarianism - demonstrate beautifully both the shared values and the informative uniqueness of these impressive South Dakota elders.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Religion & Spirituality, Art

McGovern, George S. Grassroots: The Autobiography of George McGovern. New York: Random House, 1977.

This thought-provoking and stimulating political memoir by South Dakota's most famous politician was written during Senator McGovern's last term in the U.S. Senate. Carrying the story from his roots in small-town Avon and in Mitchell to his elections to Congress and the U.S. Senate and his presidential campaign in 1972, the former Dakota Wesleyan University history professor provides revealing insights into his beliefs and actions and into the political culture of the state and the nation during his long and distinguished career.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Meyers, Kent. Light in the Crossing. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, this collection of stories set in rural and small-town South Dakota demonstrates the narrative gifts of one of South Dakota's best storytellers. In various ways reminiscent of the fictions of Cather and Sherwood Anderson, these twelve stories are imaginatively plotted, lyrically expressed, and thematically thought-provoking.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Rural Life

Micheaux, Oscar. The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

This novel, first published in 1913, is based on the first 25 years of the author's life, with particular emphasis on the unusual circumstance of his being an African-American homesteader in southwestern South Dakota in the early 20th century. The author, who went on to become a filmmaker and is better known today as the founding father of the African-American movie industry, includes in this interesting and informative narrative very clear and concrete descriptions of the landscapes and the emotional environment of that homesteading experience. His work has become better known in recent years, and there is now an annual summer conference and film festival focused on that work in Gregory, near the site of the author's original homestead.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, African American

Miller, John E. Looking for History on Highway 14. Pierre, South Dakota: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2001.

This historical-journalistic travelogue focuses upon fifteen towns along Federal Highway 14 in South Dakota, plus Mount Rushmore, to meditate upon the meaning of small town life and history. Among the topics which are developed in this highly informative local color book are: the energy of small-town Saturday nights, changing concepts of community, the impact of the railroad, the booster spirit of rural communities, and the origins and effects of the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the paintings of Harvey Dunn.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, European American, Rural Life, Travel, Art, Culture

Milton, John R. South Dakota: A Bicentennial History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1977.

Written as part of the bicentennial "States and the Nation" series, this excellent book is both factual and philosophical. The author's academic background in literature and American Indian history and culture is evident throughout the text, as are his creative writing credentials, and South Dakota literature and history are creatively juxtaposed here, to excellent effect. Also of note in this very substantive book are its "photographer's essay," and extensive and very revealing concluding commentaries by two well-known South Dakotans, Tom Brokaw and Kathleen Norris.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Norris, Kathleen. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1993.

Kathleen Norris returned to her family home in Lemmon in the dry ranch country of northwest South Dakota after spending years living a big-city, academic life. With the insight that distance can provide, she reacquaints herself with her small community and discovers the wisdom of the relationships that hold such a community together. With an eye both affectionate and critical, she also discovers the weaknesses within such communities, and the forces from outside that endanger them. Internationally recognized, this book is a poetic evocation of people and place.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Rural Life, Culture

O'Brien, Dan. Buffalo for the Broken Heart. New York: Random House, 2002.

Like many ranchers trying to raise cattle in South Dakota, Dan O'Brien found himself barely breaking even. Partly by accident, partly by plan, he turned to raising bison and discovered that his entire ranching operation, including the land itself, became healthier. O'Brien reveals the harm that comes to a place when humans force it to support species not native to it, and the healing that occurs when native species are re-introduced. In the process, he also suggests how human beings might once again learn to live locally, and how such living can heal both the locality and the human community it supports.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Ode, David J. Dakota Floral: A Seasonal Sampler. Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2006.

This handsome volume, winner of a "Best Books Award" from USA Book News, consists of topical essays accompanied by color photographs which together present a vivid seasonal progression of South Dakota's plants. These very engaging and informative essays were originally published over a period of nineteen years in South Dakota Conservation Digest, and have been revised and updated for this book. Most of the impressive photographs, some full-page, were also taken by the author. His essays are rich in the history and cultures of the state, and his biological descriptions and explanations are written in lively layman's language. This is the kind of book that one takes to the field, in hopes of experiencing firsthand what it describes and depicts so well.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Photography

Red Shirt, Delphine. Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

This book about growing up in Nebraska and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1960s and during the especially difficult 1970s is, despite and also because of the difficulties it describes, a celebration of things: culture, tradition, relationship, and especially the enduring human spirit. It is a careful and conscientious presentation of two dramatically different cultures, and while it is honest it is not judgmental, and its author is obviously very open to possibility. It is also a poetically detailed, engaging text, full of lively, interesting, and memorable stories.

  • Place: South Dakota, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Native American, European American, Culture

Reinhardt, Akim D. Ruling Pine Ridge: Oglala Lakota Politics from the IRA to Wounded Knee. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2007.

This is an academic history rather than a popular one, but the inherent drama of the story of Pine Ridge, the deep unhappiness of the people living there culminating in the grassroots protest at Wounded Knee in 1873, repays the reader. Reinhardt incorporates previously overlooked sources, including tribal council records, oral histories and reservation newspapers. Winner of the Great Plains Book Prize in 2007.

  • Place: South Dakota, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, History

Rolvaag, O.E. Giants in the Earth. New York: Harper Collins, (1927) 1991.

This famous novel, first published in Norwegian, eloquently conveys the experiences and worldview of the early Norwegian immigrants. Far ahead of its time in its understanding of the psychology of people living in isolation, it is a fascinating dramatization of living on the land in winter separate from familial, cultural, and spiritual roots, and it is also stark evidence of the Europeans' difficult and sometimes tragic struggle to survive on the northern plains at the turn of the twentieth century.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, European American, Rural Life

Rosa, Joseph. Wild Bill Hickok: The Man and His Myth. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

The author of this book is the most authoritative of the numerous Wild Bill biographers, and the most informative. Drawing upon many years of extensive research and writing, he offers with this text a highly readable and entertaining account of the famous gunfighter and his turbulent times. Complete with imaginative illustrations, this text vividly depicts the colorful Black Hills environment, solves some old mysteries, adds some new stories, and persuasively distinguishes between the myths and the realities of the old West and some of its most famous figures.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

Sansom Flood, Renee. Lost Bird of Wounded Knee - Spirit of the Lakota. New York: Da Capo Press, 1995.

This is the remarkable story of the child who miraculously survived the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890 and then was adopted into white society and lost to herself and to her culture for many years. Praised as "scholarly" by Vine Deloria, Jr., this is at once the intensely dramatic story of one lost child and a microcosm of the story of children everywhere who are the emotional casualties of war or lost between warring cultures. It is also the story of the enduring spirit of tribal people and a vision of possibilities for better relationships between all peoples.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Native American, Military

Smith, Rex Alan. Moon of Popping Trees. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981.

The conscientiously detailed accounts of events leading up to the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota and of the events which followed it make this one of the most authoritative texts about that especially painful period in South Dakota's history. Often described as the event which marked the end of the so-called "Indian Wars," the massacre at Wounded Knee has become the emblem of the tragedy of American Indian displacement across this continent, and this author creates a strong context for understanding the extent of the loss and what should be learned from it.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American, Military

St. Pierre, Mark, and Tilda Long Soldier. Walking in the Sacred Manner: Healers, Dreamers, and Pipe Carriers - Medicine Women of the Plains Indians. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

The powerful spiritual traditions of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine and other plains Indians are clearly described and explained in this book, which also dramatizes, in contrast to stereotypical assumptions, the power and importance of traditional tribal women. The authors have added very helpful commentary to the rich storytelling voices of the medicine women and the families of women healers who granted them the interviews which are the foundations of this very readable text, and the result is impressively authentic.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Religion & Spirituality, Gender

Standing Bear. My People the Sioux. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

First published in 1928, this is among the earliest books by an Indian about Indians. Standing Bear was born in the 1860s, was in the first class at Carlisle Indian School, was at Pine Ridge during the Ghost Dance Movement, toured Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and was active in the Indian rights movement of the 1920s and 1930s. This is the expressively written story of cultural pride and of survival in two dramatically different worlds.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Standing Bear, Luther. Land of the Spotted Eagle. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.

One of the most knowledgeable and articulate of the early 20th-century tribal spokespersons, the author of this text made many invaluable contributions to cross-cultural understanding. In this his third book, first published in 1933, he describes the ways and wisdoms of his traditional Lakota culture, and makes telling observations about the consequences of change. While the general tone of the book is nostalgic, the author's explanations of tribal philosophies of child-rearing, social and political systems, the family, and spirituality still seem very relevant to contemporary life.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Culture, Religion & Spirituality

Starita, Joe. The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge: A Lakota Odyssey. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

This book is highly informative history written in novelistic style by an award-winning journalist. It is the story of four generations of Lakota warriors, beginning with one of the most famous plains warriors of all time, and it is also an engaging dramatization of one hundred years of Lakota history. In combining oral history interviews of family members and the results of conscientious research, the author has created a text which is a valuable contribution to an understanding of plains tribal cultures and traditions that have ongoing life in present-day South Dakota.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Oral History
  • Subject: History, Culture, Native American, European American

Swann, Madonna, as told through Mark St. Pierre. Madonna Swann: A Lakota Woman's Story. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

A striking example of how informative and inspiring an ordinary life can be, this is the story of a woman who overcame life-threatening tuberculosis to marry, have a family, go to college, and become a teacher. A model of the ongoing strength of the tribal oral tradition, this clear-voiced narrative is resonate with the determination and resilience and courage of the Lakota woman whose life on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in northwest South Dakota has touched many other lives in the telling of her story.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Native American, Gender

Tallman, Dan A., David L. Swanson, and Jeffrey S. Palmer. Birds of South Dakota. (Third Edition) Aberdeen, South Dakota: Midstates/Quality Quick Print, 2002.

This rich reference text, a project of the South Dakota Ornithologist's Union, is the result of many years of conscientious observation and information-gathering by bird-lovers throughout the state. It begins with very helpful context-creating sections on South Dakota weather and geography and bird history, followed by panoramic color photographs of bird habitats, followed by comprehensive explanations of each of the state's bird species, including habitat and nesting and migration information. There is also a distribution map for and a color photograph of each bird.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Taylor, Kathleen. Funeral Food. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

The prequel for the Delphi Series, a series of mystery novels set in contemporary northeastern South Dakota, this text introduces the series heroine, a waitress in a small town cafe? whose wit and wisdom carries forward the plot in very entertaining and exciting ways. This book and the others in the series are for mystery lovers everywhere, but these books are also richly detailed and evocative of small town life and life on the farm in South Dakota. The dominant tone is humor, but high drama is also part of the mix.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Mystery and Crime
  • Subject: Rural Life

Thompson, Harry F., ed. A New South Dakota History. Sioux Falls: The Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 2005.

Featuring chapters by South Dakota's leading historians and creative writers, this volume is now the state's most comprehensive and informative history. With a characteristically insightful introduction by Vine Deloria, Jur. and additional chapters on tribal histories and cultures and on African-American lives, it is more inclusive than earlier volumes, and better written, and therefore more definitive. The book begins with a chronological progression, followed by topical chapters on topics of great importance to an understanding of the whole fabric of the state, past and present, and concludes with a very helpful summary chapter entitled "South Dakota in the Twenty-First Century." There are also chronologies in many of the chapters that are helpful for understanding the state's historical progress.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History

Wagner, Sally Roesch, Ed. Daughters of Dakota: Stories of Friendship Between Settlers and the Dakota Indians. Yankton, South Dakota: General Federation of Women's Clubs of South Dakota, 1990.

This text, one of six in a very good series, contains a number of heartening and sometimes amusing stories, with a particular emphasis on the lives and times of pioneer women. The author, with the assistance of her good friend Vic Runnels, a well-known Lakota artist and cultural resource person, has collected and skillfully arranged strongly-voiced narratives which are vivid and informative dramatizations of the histories and traditions of diverse cultures, in addition to being emblems of possibility for relationships between people in South Dakota.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Whirlwind Soldier, Lydia. Memory Songs. Sioux Falls: The Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 1999.

The rich oral traditions of the Lakota people are everywhere evident in these musical and beautifully evocative poems about tribal history and culture and persevering through more difficult recent and contemporary experiences. Illustrated by Lakota artist Keli Shangreaux, this book both dramatizes the spiritual journey of a people and, with its important themes of family and earth relationship and the primacy of song, speaks to all readers on the level of shared human experience.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Music, History, Culture, Religion & Spirituality

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. The Long Winter. New York: HarperCollins, 1989.

One of the famous Laura Ingalls Wilder book series, this is the story of the Ingalls family's experiences in Dakota Territory during the especially difficult winter of 1880-81, when Laura was 13 and 14. Thought by many readers to be the most exciting adventure narrative of the series, this book, first published in 1940, also contains vivid descriptions of the landscapes and weather of what is now eastern South Dakota.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Williams, Ben O., and Chuck Johnson. Wingshooter's Guide to South Dakota Upland Game Birds and Waterfowl. Gallatin Gateway, Montana: Wilderness Adventures Press, 1996.

South Dakota has some of the finest bird and waterfowl hunting in the country, and this is an excellent guidebook for hunters, but it is also a very good reference work for the general reader. South Dakota's many game birds are interestingly described throughout, and there are numerous maps and accommodations listings, as well as a variety of hunter-specific instructions.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Sports & Leisure

Wilson, Norma C., and Charles L. Woodard, eds. One-Room Country School: South Dakota Stories. Brookings, South Dakota: South Dakota Humanities Foundation, 1999.

This text, with contributions from people throughout South Dakota, is both the history of one of the state's most revered community traditions and a clear and informative expression of ongoing societal and cultural values in this region. The introduction is a very helpful summary of South Dakota's rural educational history, and the lively and highly entertaining stories on a wide variety of themes throughout the text bring that history dramatically to life. There are accounts here of everything from country school pedagogy to the games and pranks of recess, and everywhere in the text one finds evidence of the importance of memory and the power and importance of stories.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Woodard, Charles L., ed. Country Congregations: South Dakota Stories. Brookings, South Dakota: South Dakota Humanities Foundation, 2002.

South Dakota's various religious histories and traditions are dramatized anecdotally throughout this thematically sequenced text, which is at once a highly informative presentation of the state's rural religious values and an exploration of community past and present. Strong tribal voices are included in this collection, with stories and photographs from the well-known Dakota scholar Vine Deloria, Jr., and others, and the strengths of numerous other religious traditions are also evident in the stories Euro-American contributors from throughout the state. Both nostalgic and inspiration are evident in this book, as well as many prayerful hopes for the future.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European Americans, Religion & Spirituality

Woster, Jim, Terry Woster, and Kevin Woster. The Woster Brothers' Brand: Episodes Out of a Shared Inheritance. Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Ex Machina Publishing Company, 1990.

This lively collection of short essays is co-authored by brothers; one is a well-known South Dakota radio and television personality, and the others are two of the state's best-known and most talented journalists. This book, with an introduction by the authors' sister, is in the American humorist tradition of Mark Twain, anecdotal, witty, and funny, with a strong emphasis on family relationships, in composite an honest and frequently poignant portrait of the history and values of South Dakota's rural culture.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Rural Life

Young Bear, Severt, and Ronnie Theisz. Standing in the Light. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

A collaborative effort between Theisz, a professor of English and American Indian Studies, and his long-time friend Young Bear, a Lakota elder, this book records the wisdom and knowledge of the Lakota way of life as told by Young Bear and transcribed by Theisz. This engaging book is at once the story of Young Bear's life, a history of the Lakota people, and an astute cultural commentary on how the Lakota live and relate to each other and to the land.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays, Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American, Religion & Spirituality, Nature & Environment, Culture

Zitkala-Sa. Old Indian Legends. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

The author of this text, whose American name was Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, is one of the best known of the early 20th-century American Indian writers. First published in 1902, this is a strong collection of popular tribal stories voiced in the oral tradition way of telling. Of particular note are the five stories focused on the adventures of Iktomi, Spiderman, the Lakota trickster, an extraordinarily entertaining and informative culture character.

  • Place: South Dakota
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Great Books of the Great Plains: Nebraska

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Compiled by Michael Tate, Professor of History and Native American Studies, University of Nebraska-Omaha, and updated by Thomas Lynch, Professor of English, and Margaret Jacobs, Professor of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Abbott, E. C. (Teddy Blue) and Helena Huntington Smith. We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.

At the tender age of sixteen, Teddy Blue left the family farm near Lincoln, Nebraska, and sought employment in Texas as a cowboy. He made several trips up the Western Trail from Texas to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska, and later worked for Granville Stuart on the cattle ranges of Montana. His account, as told to Helena Huntington Smith five decades after the events, remains one of the true classics of trail and ranch life on the Great Plains.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Aldrich, Bess Streeter. A Lantern in Her Hand. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1928.

This novel draws upon the author's small town roots in Elmwood, Nebraska, to tell the story of self-sacrifice of grand ambitions to achieve a better world for future generations. It is a thoroughly sympathetic account of the pioneering process.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction, Children's Literature
  • Subject: European American, Folklife - Community Life

Aldrich, Bess Streeter. A White Bird Flying. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988.

In this sequel to A Lantern in Her Hand, Aldrich traces the experiences of Laura Deal, the granddaughter of Abby, the heroine from the previous novel, who has recently passed away. In this moving story, Aldrich is able to not only vividly recreate the realities of early adulthood but also more broadly the pulse of modernity and its effect on rural life.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction, Children's Literature
  • Subject: European American, Folklife - Community Life

Athearn, Robert G. Union Pacific Country. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971.

Utilizing a vast array of company records, Athearn presents an eminently readable account of the Union Pacific Railroad from its chartering in the 1860s through its going into receivership in the 1890s. Although considerable attention is devoted to financial matters, the strength of the book rests upon its coverage of the railroad's impact on rural settlement patterns, urbanization and the ranching and farming industries of the Plains.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Transportation

Aucoin, James. Water in Nebraska: Use, Politics, Policies. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

This book calls attention to the warning signs of water depletion in Nebraska from the rivers and lakes to the underground aquifer. The book focuses upon the shaping of state and federal water policies from the 1930s to the 1980s, and offers suggestions for dealing with the problems.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Baltensperger, Bradley H. Nebraska: A Geography. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1985.

Baltensperger's book constitutes the best recent geographical approach to explaining the state's historical development from the frontier era to the 1980s. It deals with landforms, physical geography and human geography.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment

Bennett, Richard E. Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852: "And Should We Die ...." Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

This represents the most complete account of the Mormons during their domicile in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area as they planned for and executed their mass movement to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Especially noteworthy is coverage of their relationships with local Omaha Indians and with the federal government, as well as social, religious and economic life at Winter Quarters.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Religion & Spirituality, European American

Bettelyoun, Susan Bordeaux, and Josephine Waggoner. Emily Levine, ed. With My Own Eyes: A Lakota Woman Tells Her People's History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

This unique source blends the recollections of two Lakota mixed-blood women who assembled their manuscript in the 1930s, based upon their personal experiences and Oglala and Brule oral traditions. Editor Levine's extensive endnotes help clarify many of the oblique references and provide further detail to this empathetic account of Lakota life during the second half of the 19th century.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Oral History

Bradbury, John. Travels in the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Originally published in 1815, this represents one of the earliest accounts of travel along the Missouri River that was accessible to the eastern public. Bradbury was a trained naturalist who capably captured key aspects of the environment and Indian life in eastern Nebraska.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph, Travel
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American, Culture, Nature & Environment, Travel

Bratt, John. Trails of Yesterday. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980.

Beginning as a bullwhacker out of Nebraska City in 1866, Bratt rose in importance in the freighting and sutler firm of Coe and Carter, which served Ft. Kearny. Within four years, he established one of the largest ranches in western Nebraska and became a civic leader in Frontier County. Anecdotes about cowboying and ranch life fill this reliable book.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life, European American

Bronson, Edgar Beecher. Reminiscences of a Ranchman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962.

Following a stint as a "tenderfoot rancher," Bronson established his own outfit near Ft. Robinson in 1878. His account of the 1870s and 1880s offers rich detail about ranch life, as well as major events associated with the Sioux and the Northern Cheyenne.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Brown, D. Alexander. The Galvanized Yankees. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1963.

In this book, Brown examines frontier military service in Nebraska and surrounding areas during the Civil War, mostly directed at protecting the overland trails from Indian attacks. Galvanized Yankees were former Confederate soldiers who were released from prisoner of war status based on their pledge to serve the Union army in the West.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Military

Buck, Solon Justus. The Granger Movement: A Study of Agricultural Organization and Its Political, Economic, and Social Manifestations, 1870-1880. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963.

Although somewhat outdated and devoted to the broader Granger Movement throughout rural America, this work offers a good understanding as to why the Grange would have found considerable support in Nebraska. It discusses the social origins of the movement and its political involvements, as well as the famous cooperatives and railway legislation.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Rural Life

Buecker, Thomas R. Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, and Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1999 and 2002.

This meticulously researched and well-written two-volume study of a Nebraska icon offers the final word about a military installation that served as a famous Indian wars fort, Indian agency, remount station, World War II prisoner of war camp, and finally, as a unique state historical park for today's vacationer.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Military, European American

Carleton, J. Henry. Louis Pelzer, ed. The Prairie Logbooks: Dragoon Campaigns to the Pawnee Villages in 1844, and to the Rocky Mountains in 1845. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

This frequently cited account of dragoon operations in Nebraska offers descriptions of the Pawnees in addition to efforts to stop inter-tribal warfare between Pawnees and Sioux.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American, Military

Carter, John E. Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Carter presents wonderfully reproduced copies of some of Solomon Butcher's most revealing photographs taken in Custer County during the pioneer era. Narrative sections and photo captions add immeasurably to the value of the book by placing Butcher and his photographic techniques within the proper context of the times. For more information on the people, see Butcher, Pioneer History of Custer County and Short Sketches of Early Days in Nebraska (1901, 1965).

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Cather, Willa.  My Antonia. Charles Mignon and Kari A. Ronning, eds., and O Pioneers! Susan J. Rosowski, Charles W. Mignon and Kathleen Danker, eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995 and 1996.

Cather's My Antonia and O Pioneers are arguably her most important Plains novels and they draw heavily from her real life Nebraska experiences. Definitive stories of Plains immigration and settlement, they are mythic and sweeping in conveying the extremes of hardship and optimism in the settlers' relationship to the land.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, European American

The Cellars of Time: Paleontology and Archaeology in Nebraska. Special issue of Nebraska History (Spring 1994).

This wonderfully illustrated special topical issue of Nebraska History (161 pages) offers general readers their best introduction to the state's paleontological and archaeological sites. The narratives are also well written for the general audience.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography, History, Nature & Environment

Cherny, Robert W. Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981.

This sophisticated statistical study focuses upon election returns to discern patterns of voting behavior. Each of the major elections is evaluated in terms of campaigns, issues and personalities. Profiles of ethnicity, income, occupation and place of residence help sharpen our understanding of voting tendencies.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Culture, European American

Chudacoff, Howard P. Mobile Americans: Residential and Social Mobility of Omaha, 1880-1920. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

This innovative statistical study interprets patterns of residential mobility, formation of ethnic neighborhoods, occupational patterns, urban housing markets and voting patterns.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Culture, European American, Urban Life

Cook, Harold J. Tales of the 04 Ranch: Recollections of Harold J. Cook, 1887-1909. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.

The author continues the story begun by his well-known father, James H. Cook, by detailing the social life associated with the Agate Springs Ranch southwest of Crawford, Nebraska. Also addresses problems associated with weather and fluctuating livestock prices, as well as scientific study among the Agate Fossil Beds.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American, Rural Life

Cook, James H. 50 Years on the Old Frontier as Cowboy, Hunter, Guide, Scout, and Ranchman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.

Cook helped drive one of the first Texas longhorn herds into western Nebraska, and in 1887 bought the 0-4 Ranch from his father-in-law, renaming it the Agate Springs Ranch. Much of his coverage of the Nebraska Panhandle concerns his Sioux neighbors and his efforts to protect the scientific value of the Agate Fossil Beds.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American, Rural Life

Cosmicki, Greg and Mary K. Stillwell, eds. Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry. Omaha: Backwaters Press, 2007.

A collection of poems by more than 80 contemporary Nebraska poets, including Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, Ted Kooser, and former Nebraska State Poet William Kloefkorn.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature- Poetry
  • Subject:

Creigh, Dorothy Weyer. Nebraska: A Bicentennial History. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1977.

Although the "States and the Nation Series" severely restricted the number of pages for each volume in this set, Creigh fashioned a useful thematic approach to the state's history, especially from the mid-19th century to the 1970s. No topic is rendered in great detail, but the author has captured the essence of the state and its identity as interpreted by most of its residents.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Culture, Cultural/Human Geography, European American, Rural Life

Danker, Donald F., ed. Man of the Plains: Recollections of Luther North, 1856-1882. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961.

This valuable array of reminiscences and letters documents many of the most important events of the famed Indian wars of western Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming between the Civil War and the Powder River Campaign of 1876. As co-commander of the famed Pawnee Scouts, along with his brother Frank, Luther North provided an insider's account of crucial military actions.

  • Place: Nebraska, South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American, Military

Danker, Donald F., intro. and notes. Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories, 1857-1866. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

The detailed and thoughtful entries in this journal offer a rich account of life on a homestead near Nebraska City between 1857 and 1860. At the later date, newly married Mollie Dorsey Sanford accompanied her husband to the recently opened mining district of Denver.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary, Memoir, Autobiography
  • Subject: Gender, History, Rural Life

Dick, Everett. Conquering the Great American Desert: Nebraska. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1975.

This remains one of the most thorough and readable accounts of Nebraska pioneer life in the post-Civil War era. Like Walter Prescott Webb, Dick stresses the adaptations undertaken to overcome the unique Plains environment in matters relating to water, fuel, fences, sod houses, fires, grasshoppers, weather and mechanization of the farm.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Dick, Everett. The Lure of the Land: A Social History of the Public Lands from the Articles of Confederation to the New Deal. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970.

Although Dick begins his study with land policies in the late colonial era and progresses into the Trans-Appalachian frontier, he primarily examines laws affecting the public domain on the Great Plains and in the Far West from the Civil War through the New Deal. He analyzes the forces and special interest groups that shaped government policies and the various impacts of those laws.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, European American

Dick, Everett. The Sod-House Frontier 1854-1890: A Social History of the Northern Plains from the Creation of Kansas and Nebraska to the Admission of the Dakotas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Dick emphasizes what life was like for people who dwelled on Great Plains farms and in small towns during the pioneer era. He maintains focus on the human element in relating information about preemption, vigilantism, colonizing agencies, social life, education, religion, medical care, lawyers, industries and merchants.

  • Place: Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Culture, Folklife-Community Life

Eiseley, Loren. Introduction by Kathleen A. Boardman. All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2000.

In remarkable prose, Eiseley narrates wide-ranging events that have indelibly contoured his identity, whether meditating on his secluded childhood upbringing, his experience of riding the rails, or his university years during which he developed a penchant and reverence for nature. This book simply represents a straightforward account of his life.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Society, Rural Life, Nature & Environment

Eiseley, Loren. Illustrations by Leonard Everett Fisher. Introduction by Gale E. Christianson. The Night Country. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

In this collection of autobiographical tales, Eiseley explores in compelling prose the wonders of nature and humanity's experience in it. His acute sensibility and his eclectic interests in which he seamlessly mixes literature and science are fully evident in this remarkable text. Although the author was a renowned scientist and anthropologist, his writing transcends limited appeal.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Emmons, David M. Garden in the Grasslands: Boomer Literature of the Central Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971.

Emmons offers an excellent survey of the various promotional efforts to attract settlers to the Great Plains. Railroads, land speculators and fledgling towns created an endless cycle of advertisements, broadsides and newspaper articles, often with exaggerated or outright fraudulent claims, to draw the greatest level of public interest.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Originally published in 1939, this book provides an overview of Nebraska during the Great Depression. Rather than assuming an interpretive approach, it offers profiles on each of the communities within the state, as well as chapters on history, government, agriculture, industry, ethnicity, arts, press and literature. It stands as a time capsule of Nebraska in a bygone era.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Culture, Cultural/Human Geography, European American, Folklife - Community Life

Fink, Deborah. Agrarian Women: Wives and Mothers in Rural Nebraska, 1880-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Fink turned to personal interviews, as well as archival and published materials, to construct this valuable study of women's concerns and evolving family structures during the pioneer and post-pioneer eras of Nebraska's rural development. Equally revealing are discussions of relatives, friends and community participation in dictating the realities of agrarian life.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Community Life, Gender

Fitzpatrick, Lilian L. Nebraska Place-Names. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1960.

This handy reference source on Nebraska's individual communities is arranged by counties and supplemented with selections from John Thomas Link's The Origin of the Place-Names of Nebraska (1933). In describing the origins of place names, this book blends history and folklore without always making a distinction.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Oral Traditions, Humor

Fletcher, Alice C., and Francis La Flesche. The Omaha Tribe. 2 vols. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.

This remains one of the most valuable studies ever prepared by the Bureau of American Ethnology. Originally published in 1911, it drew upon the talents of anthropologist Alice Fletcher and the oral accounts rendered by Omaha tribal member Francis La Flesche. Although other fellow tribal members have faulted La Flesche's biases in some of the reporting, this study of cultural dynamics stands as an essential source for researchers and today's Omahas alike.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph, Oral History
  • Subject: History, Native American, Culture

Flores, Dan. The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

Although this study covers a far larger geographical range than Nebraska, it is a thoughtful exposition on the Great Plains environment written from a naturalist's viewpoint. Its thorough documentation and cogent arguments about restoration work serve as clarion calls for the present generation to awaken to environmental destruction now.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Flowerday, Charles, ed. Flat Water: A History of Nebraska and Its Water. Lincoln: Conservation and Survey Division, University of Nebraska, 1993.

Numerous maps and photographs grace this wide assortment of multi-authored articles that deal with irrigation, climate and hydrology, industry, technology, economics, extension education, environmental quality, political policies and future uses of Nebraska water.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Forsberg, Michael. Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Photographer Michael Forsberg teams up with novelist Dan O'Brien, geographer David Wishart, and former U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser to present a literary and artistic journey into the remaining wild places on the Great Plains. Winner of the Center for Great Plains Studies Book Prize in 2009.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays, Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Photography

Glad, Paul W. The Trumpet Soundeth: William Jennings Bryan and His Democracy, 1896-1912. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1960.

Paolo Coletta's three-volume treatment of Bryan is more complete, but Glad's earlier interpretation retains its importance for scholars and general readers. This biography stresses Bryan's Nebraska roots and how they shaped his political views. Special emphasis is directed at his impact on Populism, Progressivism and Anti-Imperialism.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Harper, Ivy. Waltzing Matilda: The Life and Times of Nebraska Senator Robert Kerrey. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Traces Kerrey's Nebraska roots, heroism in the Vietnam War, business successes, service as Nebraska governor and U.S. senator, and his rising importance in national politics from the 1980s to 1992.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Politics

Hewitt, J. N. B., ed. Transl. by Myrtis Jarrell. Journal of Rudolph Friederich Kurz: An Account of His Experiences Among Fur Traders and American Indians on the Mississippi and the Upper Missouri Rivers During the Years 1846 to 1852. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970.

This books reprints Kurz's daily journal of his trip up the Missouri River and his observations about Native Americans and pioneer scenes along the eastern fringes of Nebraska. His original sketches of Omaha Indians are included.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Art, History, European American, Native American

Hickey, Donald R., Susan A. Wunder, and John R. Wunder. Nebraska Moments: Glimpses of Nebraska's Past. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

A new version of Hickey's 1992 classic keeps the format of distilling Nebraska history into vignettes that are well written for general audiences. They range from profiles of individuals such as J. Sterling Morton, Red Cloud, Charles Dawes, and Louise Pound, to diverse topics such as the Blizzard of 1888, Agrarian Protest, the Unicameral, Offutt Air Force Base and the High Plains Aquifer.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History

Hicks, John D. The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers' Alliance and the People's Party. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961.

Despite having been published in 1931, this remains an important book both historiographically and for its intrinsic factual information. Hicks sympathetically examined the growing agrarian discontent throughout the South, Great Plains and the Far West during the late 19th century, but his larger coverage is necessary for understanding Nebraska as a case study.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Hunt, David C., and Marsha V. Gallagher. Karl Bodmer's America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

This beautifully produced collection of Bodmer's watercolors and sketches stands as a landmark in capturing scenes along the Missouri River - especially scenes of Native Americans - during the 1833 excursion. Captions for each art work are extensive, and an Introduction by William H. Goetzmann and an Artist's Biography by William J. Orr round out this unique publication.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art, Native American, Nature & Environment

Hutton, Harold. Doc Middleton: Life and Legends of the Notorious Plains Outlaw. Chicago: Swallow Press,1974.

This biography imparts an understanding of the lack of law enforcement in vast sections of the Nebraska Panhandle during the late 19th century. It also helps explain why some residents viewed Middleton as a local hero, while others viewed him as a ruthless murderer.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

James, Edwin. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains Under the Command of Major Stephen H. Long. Barre, Massachusetts: Imprint Society, 1972.

Although Long's expedition was far from successful in a scientific record keeping sense, and although it did solidify the public's notion of the Plains as a Great American Desert, this book remains essential to modern readers. It is rich in detail about Native Americans and Plains landscapes, and should be read in conjunction with Harlin Fuller and Le Roy Hafen, eds., The Journal of Captain John R. Bell: Official Journalist for the Stephen Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1820 (1957).

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, European American, Native American

Janovy, John, Jr. Keith County Journal and Back in Keith County. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996 and 1984.

These two books constitute the highest level of naturalists' writings, complete with a transcendentalist eye on the intrinsic beauty of nature and its complex web of associations between life forms. They have often been compared to Aldo Leopold's classic, A Sand County Almanac.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Joern, Pamela Carter. The Floor of the Sky. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

Set in the Nebraska sandhills, Joern's novel traces the lives of three generations of a ranch family as they struggle to retain their land in the face of modern pressures. Joern, a playwright, has a sturdy and realist, but memorable prose style.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life, European American

Johnsgard, Paul A. The Platte: Channels in Time. and The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984 and 2001.

A brief book, The Platte offers a poetic view of the flora and fauna that stretch the length of the Platte River. Its beauty is revealed in the "small environments" that often go unnoticed by the casual observer.In contrast, the more encyclopedic Nature of Nebraska examines all regions and environments within Nebraska - forests, wetlands, rivers, lakes, tall grass prairies, short grass prairies, Sandhills - and provides a detailed checklist of key varieties of flora and fauna in particular areas. One brief chapter also laments the "sad stories" of ecological damage to some species.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference, Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Jones, Stephen R. The Last Prairie: A Sandhills Journey. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

Essayist Stephen Jones chronicles his travels through the Nebraska sandhills, discussing the natural and cultural history of the region and the threats to this unique environment.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Kees, Weldon. Introduction by Dana Gioia. Selected Short Stories of Weldon Kees. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2002.

The work of this enigmatic literary figure of the mid-twentieth century has undergone a recent renaissance. This collection of his best stories written mostly during his twenties and thirties offers a poignant look into rural life. In addition the stories allow a glimpse into the thoughts and world of the elusive Weldon Kees.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Rural Life

Kinsey, Joni. Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press for the University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1996.

The book offers a richly illustrated chronological survey of visual responses to the prairie as a type of landscape, focusing primarily on Euro-American representations of the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art, History, Nature & Environment

Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Birth of a Railroad, 1862-1893. Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1987; and Union Pacific: The Rebirth, 1894-1969. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1989.

This two-volume treatment represents the most complete financial history of the Union Pacific Railroad. The second volume is especially important because it carries the corporation from receivership status in 1893 through its rebirth and expansion in the 20th century.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Transportation

Kloefkorn, William. Swallowing the Soap: New and Selected Poems. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.

As reviewer Michael Sowder says, "Kloefkorn's ear for the midwestern rural vernacular is pitch-perfect, and his lines of dialogue and bits of country speech are alternately hilarious and deeply poignant." This collection brings together his best-loved poems from his forty-year career and is the indispensable compendium for this Nebraska State Poet.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject:

Kooser, Ted. Local Wonders: A Season in the Bohemian Alps. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

Winner of the 2003 Nebraska Book Award for nonfiction, Kooser offers in exquisite detail the Nebraska landscape, whether examining his backyard or encroaching urban development. Kooser illustrates his remarkable ability to reveal the extraordinariness of everyday life.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essay's
  • Subject: Rural Life, Folklife - Community Life, European American

Larsen, Lawrence H., and Barbara J. Cottrell. The Gate City: A History of Omaha. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

The authors offer an invaluable account of Nebraska's largest city, beginning with its founding in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and continuing chronologically to the mid-1970s. This well-written interpretive account is enhanced in the Enlarged Edition by Professor Dalstrom's updating of events to the end of the century.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Urban Life

Lass, William E. From the Missouri to the Great Salt Lake: An Account of Overland Freighting. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1972.

This meticulously researched study demonstrates the close connection between Nebraska's outfitting towns such as Omaha, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City and Brownville with the western mining areas and with the older Oregon and California Trails. Freighting operations of the 1850s and 1860s are the special focus of this work, which also demonstrates how the Union Pacific Railroad modified freighting patterns within the state.

  • Place: Nebraska Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Transportation, European American

Lommasson, Robert C. Nebraska Wild Flowers. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

Lommasson's book constitutes a handy reference tool for botanists, and provides color photographs of most plant specimens for weekend hiking enthusiasts.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies, Photography

Luebke, Frederick C. Immigrants and Politics: The Germans of Nebraska, 1880-1900. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969.

Excellent statistical study indicates that Nebraska Germans traditionally favored Democratic candidates but that party loyalty split in the 1890s with the rise of Populism and the fusionist movement.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, European American, Culture

Luebke, Frederick C. Nebraska, An Illustrated History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

This visual tour through Nebraska history surpasses all previous attempts at illustrated interpretations of the state. The photographs were chosen with care and their reproduction is of the highest quality. More important, Luebke's rich textual material amplifies the major themes and lifts this above the range of most visual treatments to the level of a solid interpretive work.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Magnuson, Stew. The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2008.

The Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota borders the state of Nebraska, leading to various conflicts, in particular the sale of alcoholic beverages by Nebraska stores to residents of the "dry" reservation. Focusing on the murder of Lakota tribal member Raymond Yellow Thunder, Magnuson traces the historical roots and current implications of the racially troubled area.

  • Place: Nebraska, South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Mattes, Merrill J. The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline via Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1969.

This award-winning study remains the most complete account of the Nebraska portions of the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails between 1841 and 1866. Mattes examined a vast array of diaries, journals, letters and military reports to describe human responses to every significant landmark along the line of march.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Nature & Environment, Travel

Mattes, Merrill J. Indians, Infants and Infantry: Andrew and Elizabeth Burt on the Frontier. Denver: Fred A. Rosenstock, 1960.

Much of this book is presented in the original words of Andrew and Elizabeth Burt during their years of military service on the Northern Plains between 1866 and 1898. Their descriptions of life at Nebraska posts - Omaha, McPherson, Sidney Barracks and Robinson - have been utilized frequently by modern researchers because of the high quality of details.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Military, European American, Native American

Menard, Orville D. Political Bossism in Mid-America: Tom Dennison's Omaha, 1900-1933. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc., 1989.

This excellent study of boss rule in Omaha examines how a political machine was created, how it worked, and what led to its demise. Individual chapters especially document the workings of the Association, elections, courts and the business communities.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Urban Life

Miewald, Robert D., ed. Nebraska Government and Politics. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

This excellent collection of multi-authored articles analyzes various aspects of state government, political parties, and citizens' political behavior.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Politics, Folklife - Community Life, Rural Life

Milner, Clyde A., II. With Good Intentions: Quaker Work Among the Pawnees, Otos, and Omahas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982.

This thoroughly researched account presents case studies of three Nebraska tribes that came under the administration of the Society of Friends during President Grant's so-called Quaker Peace Policy. Despite the good intentions of the Quaker agents, attendant policies proved destructive to the various Indian people.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American, Religion & Spirituality

Morris, Wright. Introduction by Keith Botsford. Ceremony in Lone Tree. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2001.

Set in small-town Nebraska during the mid-twentieth century, members of an extended family converge in Lone Tree to celebrate their father's ninetieth birthday. A once prosperous town, Lone Tree is now occupied by one person, the family's patriarch who lives in a hotel along the railroad tracks. Morris creates a fascinating cast of characters, including one based loosely upon Charles Starkweather, the man whose weeklong killing spree across the state terrified Nebraskans in early 1958. This dark comedy offers an intriguing examination of Nebraska during the 1950s.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Rural Life, European American

Morris, Wright. Introduction by Charles Baxter. Plains Song for Female Voices. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2000.

Winner of the National Book Award in 1980, Morris traces three generations of Nebraskan women and their lives beginning in the late nineteenth century. In doing so, Morris offers vivid and fascinating insights into women's experiences on the plains.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Gender, Folklife - Community Life, European American

Moulton, Gary E., ed. The Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

Moulton's definitive thirteen-volume rendering of the Lewis and Clark journals, as well as an atlas and the journals of enlisted men John Ordway, Charles Floyd, Patrick Gass and Joseph Whitehouse serve as a milestone in historical editing. Its rich details of editorial comment add further value to the original passages and the cumulative index (vol. 13) makes this massive set very usable. It is also available online at http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/. This one-volume abridgment will serve the needs of the casual print reader.

  • Place: Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, Cultural/Human Geography, European American

Nasatir, Abraham P., ed. Before Lewis and Clark: Documents Illustrating the History of the Missouri, 1785-1804 Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

This rare gem is an essential tool for researchers and casual readers who wish to know more about eastern Nebraska and bordering states along the Missouri River during the two decades before Lewis and Clark traveled upriver. Most of the contents are translations of important Spanish documents, but Nasatir's lengthy Introduction and editorial notes make the collection even more valuable.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment, European American

Norris, George W. Fighting Liberal: The Autobiography of George W. Norris. New York: MacMillan Co., 1945.

Although Richard Lowitt has penned a three-volume exhaustive study of Norris' career, the general reader might be better served by reading Norris' own words about his Nebraska roots, political philosophies and distinguished public career.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Politics

O'Gara, W. H.,compil. Ed. by Ora A. Clement. In All Its Fury: A History of the Blizzard of January 12, 1888. Lincoln: Doris Jenkins, 1973.

Although no systematic interpretation is offered, this book provides accounts of the 1888 blizzard in Nebraska by 300 survivors who recalled the death, devastation and resourcefulness of people.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction -,Monograph
  • Subject: History

Oglesby, Richard Edward. Manuel Lisa and the Opening of the Missouri Fur Trade. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.

An excellent study of this Spanish-American fur trader who helped found the Missouri Fur Company and who, for a time, operated from the area of present-day Omaha. The book is especially strong at identifying the reasons for company retrenchment and eventual sale to competitors.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

O'Kieffe, Charley. Western Story: The Recollections of Charley O'Kieffe, 1884-1898. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1960.

A moving tale of growing up on a northwestern Nebraska homestead under the Kinkaid Act and later in Rushville, as well as relations with the nearby Oglala Sioux. This is a good book to compare with Mari Sandoz's Old Jules since they overlap in time and place.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Community Life, European American

Olson, James C. J. Sterling Morton. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1942.

Excellent biography of Morton's important Nebraska political career, his role in formulating Arbor Day, and his building of Nebraska City's Arbor Lodge.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Politics

Olson, James C. Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965.

This solid interpretation of government relations with the Lakota people demonstrates federal duplicity, pioneer pressures on the Indian land base, and the assault on native culture by well-intentioned but myopic reformers. In precise detail it treats all the important events from the 1866 war on the Bozeman Trail through the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.

  • Place: South Dakota, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Olson, James C. and Ronald C. Naugle. History of Nebraska. 3rd edition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

This remains the best overview of Nebraska from prehistoric peoples to the present, both in terms of readability and accuracy. It assumes a chronological approach and the lengthy "Suggestions for Further Reading" section offers readers an excellent guide for following up the discussion of specific topics.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Opie, John. Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land. Second edition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Although Opie looks at all landscapes that are affected by the Ogallala Aquifer - Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico - much of his attention is devoted to Nebraska, which encompasses the largest share of the aquifer. He examines not only traditional concerns about irrigation and water allotment to communities, but also the more recent impact of industrial hog farming in Plains states.

  • Place: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Ostler, Jeffrey Don. Prairie Populism: The Fate of Agrarian Radicalism in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, 1880-1892. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.

Ostler partially rejects the notion that greater economic disparity explains why Kansas and Nebraska welcomed Populism while Iowa remained somewhat distant from the agrarian protest movement. He argues that Iowa's Republican and Democratic parties responded more favorably to farmers' demands than did the same parties in Kansas and Nebraska, so much of the drive for political activism was deflected.

  • Place: Nebraska, Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Overton, Richard C. Burlington West: A Colonization History of the Burlington Railroad. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1941; and Burlington Route: A History of the Burlington Lines. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965.

The earlier of Overton's two masterful economic studies is about the acquisition of large land holdings by the railroad, their sale to private and corporate entities, and the accompanying sales techniques used to advertise and dispose of the lands. The later volume is an exhaustive financial history of the Burlington rail system from its modest beginnings in the pre-Civil War era through the end of World War II. Because of the complexities of financial dealings in acquiring other lines over time and modifying the system, this book is a difficult read but a rewarding one for the persistent scholar.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Transportation, Cultural/Human Geography

Parkman, Francis. The Oregon Trail. Ed. by E. N. Feltskog. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

In 1846, the proper Bostonian historian and essayist Francis Parkman undertook a trip on the Oregon Trail as far west as Laramie Peak, Wyoming before returning to Missouri via the Arkansas River. His account of that adventure thrilled readers in the East and it remains one of the most valuable accounts of trail life along the Platte River even today.

  • Place: Nebraska, Kansas, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American

Paul, R. Eli, ed. The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

This anthology of a dozen articles, ten of which were previously published in Nebraska History, offers a good overview of military relations with the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne during major phases of the Indian wars. Original endnotes are printed with the articles that were written for researchers and general audiences alike.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American, Military

Pederson, James F. and Kenneth D. Wald. Shall the People Rule? A History of the Democratic Party in Nebraska Politics, 1854-1972. Lincoln: Jacob North, Inc., 1972.

This competent biography of the Democratic Party is organized around specific time periods, but it focuses upon the contributions of key party leaders.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Pipher, Mary. The Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town. New York: Harcourt, 2002.

Mary Pipher, a clinical psychologist who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, gained international attention for her book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (Penguin, 1994). In this book, she describes her experience working with refugees from Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and other global trouble spots, helping them adapt and survive in their new home. Transplanted from often horrifying circumstances, many suffer from a deep malaise despite their awareness of new possibilities. Pipher offers practical ways to empathize.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life

Powers, Richard.The Echo Maker: A Novel. New York: Picador, 2007.

After a beef-processing plant worker suffers brain damage in an automobile accident, his sister hires a famed neurologist to help nurse him to recovery against the backdrop of the sandhill crane migration along the Platte river. Winner of the National Book Award, this is an ambitious, complex and rich novel of emotional cognition.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life, Nature & Environment

Reidel, James. Vanished Act: The Life & Art of Weldon Kees. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Reidel traces the life of Nebraskan and literati Weldon Kees from his childhood days in Beatrice to his tragic disappearance and probable suicide in July 1955 when his car was found abandoned near the Golden Gate Bridge. This book offers an incisive portrait of the talented and enigmatic Kees, in addition to the broader twentieth-century and post-war American cultural milieu.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Art

Richards, Bartlett, Jr., and Ruth Van Ackeren. Bartlett Richards, Nebraska Sandhills Cattleman. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1980.

Many homesteaders viewed Richards as a wealthy cattle baron who blocked their chances to acquire their fair share of land and water in Nebraska's Sandhills. But among cattlemen he was a champion who fought the unrealistic and unjust land laws that favored agriculturalists. This book should be read in conjunction with Mari Sandoz's Old Jules, which portrayed Jules Ami Sandoz in conflict with Richards.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Community Life

Sandoz, Mari. Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas. 50th Anniversary edition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

Although Sandoz took liberties with the facts and accepted some rumors uncritically, she crafted one of the most empathetic biographies of a Plains Indian leader. On a more positive note, she made good use of the rich E. S. Ricker Interviews and the Hinman-Sandoz Interviews with aged Sioux people.

  • Place: Nebraska, South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American

Sandoz, Mari. Old Jules. 50th Anniversary edition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

This is a "must-read" for persons who wish to better understand the pioneering experience in Nebraska's Panhandle during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mari wrote about her entrepreneurial father Jules Ami Sandoz who made so many outsiders feel welcome in the pursuit of homesteads, while simultaneously abusing his four wives and children. One cannot read this family story without being strongly affected by it.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life, European American, Rural Life

Schlesier, Karl H., ed. Plains Indians, A.D. 500-1500: The Archaeological Past of Historic Groups. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

This collection of fourteen separately authored articles treats a variety of Great Plains archeological topics, but the essays by R. Peter Winham, Edward J. Lueck, Jeffrey L. Eighmy and Patricia J. O'Brien remain the most relevant for Nebraska. They primarily address a scholarly audience that is familiar with the archeological debates and previously published sources.

  • Place: Nebraska Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Native American, Cultural/Human Geography

Schneiders, Robert Kelley. Unruly River: Two Centuries of Change Along the Missouri. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999.

During the 19th century, the Missouri River served as a natural highway for people and commerce to the Northern Plains and beyond, and it also defined settlement patterns in eastern Nebraska. The Pick-Sloan series of dams, established during the mid-20th century, defined the river's uses for good and ill to the present.

  • Place: Nebraska, South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Transportation, Nature & Environment, European American

Settle, Raymond W., and Mary Lund Settle. Saddles and Spurs: The Pony Express Saga. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.

Although this book is too brief and superficial to serve as the definitive interpretation of the Pony Express, it provides a good read for general audiences.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Transportation

Settle, Raymond W., and Mary Lund Settle. War Drums and Wagon Wheels: The Story of Russell, Majors and Waddell. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

The firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell dominated freighting along the Platte River Road during the late 1840s and 1850s, and it operated a second headquarters at Nebraska City. Its effort to gain the largest share of the federal mail contract by creation of the short-lived Pony Express in 1861 spelled further debt for the company and eventual extinction.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Transportation

Sheldon, Addison E. "Land Systems and Land Policies in Nebraska." Publications of the Nebraska State Historical Society, XXII. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1936.

A masterfully detailed and well-documented study that begins with Indian land titles and then provides chapters on issues such as preemption and land warrants, railroad grants, scrip, Homestead Act, Kinkaid Act, conflicts between farmers and cattlemen, frauds, state lands, and new policies in the early 1930s.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural Human Geography, Native American, European American

Sheldon, Addison E. Nebraska: The Land and the People. 3 vols. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1931.

This remains the best of the early efforts to relate the state's history in a massive way (2,133 pages). The first volume treats in detail a full range of chronological topics from Nebraska Indians (not so good) to the Political Campaign of 1928 (much better). Volumes 2 and 3 offer extensive biographical profiles about prominent leaders within the state.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, European American

Snyder, Grace, and Nellie Snyder Yost. No Time on My Hands. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Snyder recalls her childhood in a Custer County sod house and the rigors of homesteading in a pioneer agricultural environment. Following her marriage, she moved to a ranch in the Sandhills. In later life she became nationally known for her folk art expressed in quilt making.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Community Life, Material Culture

Spring, Agnes Wright. The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1948.

The important network of trails that developed during the late 1870s linked the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne, Wyoming, with the newly opened Black Hills mining areas. The westernmost counties of Nebraska profited considerably from the commerce along these routes, but they also felt the lawlessness associated with the growing prosperity.

  • Place: Nebraska, South Dakota
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Transportation

Starita, Joe. I am a Man: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice. New York: St. Martin's, 2010.

In 1877, Chief Standing Bear's Ponca tribe was forcibly removed from its Nebraska homeland and marched to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Standing Bear pledged to return the body of his deceased son for burial to Nebraska's Niobrara River valley, setting in motion a series of events that led to the first U.S. court ruling that a Native American could be considered a "person" in the eyes of the law and was therefore entitled to the same rights as other American citizens.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Stauffer, Helen W. Mari Sandoz: Story Catcher of the Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982.

A sympathetic view of Sandoz and her struggle to gain literary fame by writing about the people and realities she experienced in her own life. She emerged as a prolific author of both history and fiction.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American

Svoboda, Terese. Bohemian Girl. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

Set in the late 19th century, this picaresque novel follows the adventures of a young girl sold by her father into slavery to a Pawnee Indian in order to settle a gambling debt. The premise provides a unique perspective on women, race and culture on the Plains.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American, Rural Life

Tate, Michael L., compil. Nebraska History: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1995.

This reference work lists books, articles, government documents, master's theses and doctoral dissertations on all phases of Nebraska life, ranging from geology to literature. Annotations alert researchers to the strengths and weaknesses of individual sources, and provide brief descriptions of contents.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Fiction, European American, Native American, Nature & Environment

Tate, Michael L. Indians and Emigrants: Encounters on the Overland Trails. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.

Tate finds that these encounters were far more often characterized by cooperation than conflict, even in the 1860s. He seeks to dispel the persistent cultural stereotype of Indians as the pioneers' worst enemy. Won the Center for Great Plains Studies Book Prize for 2006.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - History
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American

Tong, Benson. Susan La Flesche Picotte, M.D.: Omaha Indian Leader and Reformer. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

This warm treatment of the life of the nation's first female Native American medical doctor examines her traditional Omaha tribal culture, her education in eastern boarding schools, and her unwavering service to her own Omaha people. She not only provided years of medical service, but also was a promoter of social reform and an advocate for native land rights.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American

Unruh, John D., Jr. The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1979.

This prize-winning book is absolutely essential for understanding all phases of the overland migration across Nebraska to Oregon, California and Salt Lake City. Throughout its massive assembly of detail, it remains very engaging and it provides strong bibliographical sections to spur further research.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, European American

Warren, Louis S. Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

The most comprehensive critical biography of William Cody in forty years, Warren places American's most renowned showman in the context of his cultural worlds in the Far West, in the East and in Europe. A revealing biography and social history of a cultural icon.

  • Place: Nebraska, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, European American

Webb, Walter Prescott. The Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981.

Although chapters 3 and 4 of this book are outdated and racially biased, this remains one of the true classics in interpreting the development of the American West. Webb's theme of "institutional and technological adaptability" west of the 98th meridian provided a departure point for so many other interpretations of the Great Plains that were published after his.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, European American

Welsch, Roger L. Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980; and My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad, and the Husker. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2006.

As Nebraska's best-known folklorist today, Welsch has long kept his eye peeled and his ears open to the voices of people at the grassroots level. From them he has assembled a collection of tall tales, lies and comic descriptions of Plains life. In My Nebraska, he trains his insightful eye and wit on rural and small town daily life in the state.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Wilhelm, Paul, Duke of Wurttemberg. Translated by W. Robert Nitske and edited by Savoie Lottinville. Travels in North America, 1822-1824. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.

This book represents the definitive edition of the Duke of Wurttemberg's immensely valuable journals of his 1823 ascent of the Missouri River. His lengthy descriptions of eastern Nebraska scenes, Native Americans, fur traders and Ft. Atkinson soldiers are virtually unmatched for that era.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American

Wilson, D. Ray. Nebraska Historical Tour Guide. Carpentersville, Illinois: Crossroads Communications, 1983.

Intended for "weekend historians" wishing to visit important Nebraska sites, and it provides brief data about each site, with directions and tips for visiting the location.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Travel

Wishart, David J., ed. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

With 1,316 entries contributed by more than one thousand scholars, this reference work captures what is vital and interesting about the Great Plains--from its temperamental climate to its images and icons, its historical character, its folklore and its politics. Thoroughly illustrated, annotated and indexed, and now searchable online at http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/, this compendium of information and analysis will prove the definitive and indispensble resource on Nebraska and the Great Plains for many years to come.

  • Place: Great Plains, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject:

Wishart, David J. The Fur Trade of the American West, 1807-1840: A Geographical Synthesis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

An excellent interpretation of western Nebraska's major role in the early fur trade, and the Bellevue-Omaha area's role as supply center.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment

Wishart, David J. An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

This meticulous and judicious study of the decline of native land bases in Nebraska during the 19th century exceeds the quality of all previous sources. Wishart focuses upon the Pawnee, Omaha, Oto-Missouria, and Ponca tribes in relation to treaty cessions, allotment, government payments, and outside pressures to liquidate the Indian domain.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Wood, Raymond W. Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

This valuable source recounts the Mackay-Evans expedition up the Missouri River in 1797 to build an Indian trading post in northeastern Nebraska while the area was still under Spanish imperial control. Lewis and Clark borrowed from the Mackay maps and reports for their 1804 expedition.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Travel

Yost, Nellie Snyder, ed. Boss Cowman: The Recollections of Ed Lemmon, 1857-1946. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969.

As a teenager, Lemmon witnessed the 1864 Indian raids along the Little Blue River of western Nebraska. He later carried the mail, worked as a cowboy, participated in the Nebraska range wars, managed the Flying V Ranch, and maintained relationships with Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Zabel, Orville H. God and Caesar in Nebraska: A Study of the Legal Relationship of Church and State, 1854-1954. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Studies, No. 14, 1955.

Excellent study, which includes such legal issues as tax exemptions, Sunday laws, degree of religious instruction in public schools, and state relationships with religious schools.

  • Place: Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Religion & Spirituality

Great Books of the Great Plains: Kansas

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Compiled by Tom Averill, Associate Professor of English, and Amy Fleury, Assistant Professor of English, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas. Updated by Jim Hoy, Professor of English, Emporia State University, Kansas.

Ambrose, Stephen. Eisenhower. New York: Touchstone Books, 1991.

This comprehensive biography begins with Ike's Kansas boyhood and follows through his life as a World War II general and ultimately president of the United States.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Military

Ascher, Carol. The Flood. Willimantic, Connecticut: Curbstone Press, 1996.

Against the backdrop of Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, and the Flood of 1951, Eva Hoffman comes of age. A precocious ten year old, daughter of a brooding psychiatrist recently immigrated to Topeka to work at the famous Menninger Clinic, Eva works hard to understand her parents' awkwardness in the new country, the race relations of her new community, and the role of charity and goodness after her mother takes in a "redneck" family from across the river. The accumulation these concurrent events make Eva's challenge great, her understanding deep.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: African American

Averill, Thomas Fox. Secrets of the Tsil Cafe and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. New York: BlueHen, 2001 and 2003.

These two coming of age novels are set in Kansas City and the fictional Scottish immigrant town of Glasgow, Kansas. Wes Hingler's father runs the Tsil Cafe, and cooks only with foodstuffs indigenous to the Western Hemisphere before Columbus; his mother runs Buen AppeTito catering, specializing in Italian food. Ewan MacPherson's love story has a backdrop of bagpiping, Robert Burns' poetry and single-malt Scotch.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Folklife - Cuisine, Community Life; European-American

Averill, Thomas Fox. What Kansas Means to Me: 20th-Century Writers on the Sunflower State. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.

This collection of affectionate pieces traces the positives of landscape, people, culture and history from the perspectives of such writers as William Allen White, Karl Menninger, Robert Day and William Least-Heat Moon.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Bader, Robert Smith. The Great Kansas Bond Scandal. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1982.

In the midst of the Depression, banker and confidence man Ronald Finney bilked the state of Kansas in addition to individual banks and depositors in excess of one million dollars. In what has become known as the "Great Bond Scandal," the author explores the genesis of the affair and the subsequent trial and aftermath. While outlining the scandal and fallout, the author offers a fascinating image of Kansas in the 1930s.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Bader, Robert Smith. Hayseeds, Moralizers and Methodists: The Twentieth-Century Image of Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988.

Bader's book traces the rise and fall of the cultural image of Kansas from within and outside the state. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Kansas was perceived as the forefront of political thought and a cultural barometer of the nation, the result of its history of populism, progressivism, and prohibition. The onset of the Depression and the devastation of agriculture during the Dust Bowl left Kansas weakened in the eyes of the nation, shifting its elevated status to the brunt of jokes and an object of cultural derision. Bader concludes the survey by urging people to reassess the often overlooked strengths of the state.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Rural Life

Bailey, Beth. Sex in the Heartland. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

In the 1960s American society and political institutions experienced fundamental changes. In contrast to general studies or local studies that focus on such places as Berkeley, San Francisco, or Greenwich Village, Beth Bailey examines how life and behavior in Lawrence, Kansas was transformed by the sixties. The author examines the social and cultural life of Lawrence, Kansas, and argues that the social changes and sexual revolution that reshaped American life are more complicated than is generally believed. This is an essential book for those wishing to understand the roots of contemporary American society.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Gender

Bair, Bruce. Good Land: or, My Life as a Farm Boy. South Royalton, Vermont: Steerforth Press, 1997.

Journalist Bair grew up on a western Kansas wheat farm and writes a chip-on-the-shoulder account of life with a difficult father in a difficult landscape during a time of transition to bigger and bigger farms.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Bair, Julene. One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter. Nashville, Tennessee: Mid-List Press, 2000.

These essays meditate on the challenges of family dynamics, farming in western Kansas, and the complexity of gender roles that enter into both. This book provides a feminine perspective of the family story, which is also recounted in Bair's brother Bruce's sardonic memoir, Good Land.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Gender, Rural Life

Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. New York: HarperCollins, 1987, facsimile.

Although this classic from 1900 needs no introduction, the book should not be confused with the film. In the book, Kansas may be nightmare, but Oz is not a dream. And Dorothy, in her genuine desire to return home to reality, shows all the virtues of a true Kansas pioneer-she is practical, accepting, a believer in justice, democratic, focused and unflappable.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel, Children's Literature
  • Subject: Culture, Politics

Brackman, Barbara, and Cathy Dwiggins. Backyard Visionaries: Grassroots Art in the Midwest. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

The authors of this book are all members of the Kansas Grassroots Art Association-the oldest organization in the U.S. to work towards preserving sites of what is often called primitive, or outsider art. With more than 150 photographs of the familiar (Garden of Eden, Lucas) and the unfamiliar, this book is dedicated to help us understand, appreciate and preserve this unique form of art that seems to bloom all over the Great Plains.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art, Photography

Brackman, et. al. Kansas Quilts and Quilters. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.

This book grew out of the Kansas Quilt Project: Documenting Quilts and Quiltmakers. Thoroughly researched and elegantly illustrated, the book moves from the historical past to the quilting groups of today. As the introduction claims, the history of quilts helps tell the history of women in Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Hobbies, Folklife - Material Culture

Brown, John Gary. Soul in the Stone: Cemetery Art from America's Heartland. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

John Gary Brown is a photographer and intrepid traveler to cemeteries all over the Midwest, motivated in part by his discoveries of the uniqueness of cemetery art: among them an Egyptian sphinx, a gigantic baseball, a salesman's suitcase, a rolltop desk, a car engine shrine and plexiglass-enclosed dolls. The more traditional statuary-the hovering marble angels, the elaborate wrought iron crosses, the granite and marble-also tell their stories of grief and hope, of the deaths that prompt the desire not to be forgotten. Certainly, Brown finds the memorable.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Art

Brown, Lauren. Grasslands (A National Audubon Society Nature Guide). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.

This is the definitive field guide to the various grassland habitats throughout North America, with particular emphasis on the American Great Plains. In addition to including detailed descriptions of vegetation, wildlife, climate, physical features and range of grasslands, this book has an extensive collection of color photographs to aid in identification. Durable, portable, and informative, Grasslands is a great volume to take hiking, camping, and exploring.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Travel, Nature & Environment

Buchanan, Rex, and James R. McCauley. Roadside Kansas: A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987.

This guide travels along nine major by-ways of Kansas, pointing out geological formations and historical landmarks along the way. A compendium of information and anecdotes about old forts, frontier trails, sinkholes, limestone cliffs, and other interesting features, this book also includes an abundance of photographs and helpful maps.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Travel
  • Subject: History, Travel

Buchanan, Rex. Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.

Filled with photos, figures, drawings, and maps, this geological guide to the state is written for the general reader. This book is an accessible introduction to the geological features of Kansas and their formation, including sections on regional landscapes, sedimentary rocks, and the vast array of fossils to be found in the state.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Chalfant, William Y. Hancock's War: Conflict on the Southern Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press/Arthur H. Clark, Co., 2010.

When Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock led a military expedition across Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska in 1867, his purpose was to intimidate the Indian tribes -- mostly southern Cheyennes, Lakotas, southern Arapahoes and Kiowas -- and curtail raiding sparked by the Sand Creek massacre of 1864. But the havoc Hancock wrought on the Plains only served to inflame passions on both sides, disrupting United States-Indian relations for more than a decade.In the foreword, Jerome Greene says "Chalfant offers the most comprehensive, well-documented and accurate treatment of the so-called Expedition for the Plains to date. Using techniques that have defined his other works about Indian-white warfare on the Plains, Chalfant employs Indian and non-Indian sources to create a narrative reflecting multiple cultural perspectives. This fine work will stand as a literary cornerstone in the history of the West." Winner of the Great Plains Book Prize of 2010.

  • Place: Kansas, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Military

Cox, Thomas C. Blacks in Topeka, Kansas, 1865-1915. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

Thomas Cox probes deeper into the exoduster migration in which thousands of ex-slaves migrated to Kansas to escape debt and racial animosity. Building on Nell Irvin Painter's pioneering work that is also on this list, the author traces not only the reasons and realities of the exodus to Kansas but also examines the development of the black community in Topeka.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Politics

Cable, Ted T., and Wayne Maley. Driving Across Kansas: A Guide to I-70. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.

A mile-marker by mile-marker guide to landmarks, historical movements, industry, people and the significant events of Kansas as they intersect with the Interstate.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Travel
  • Subject: Culture, History, Travel

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York: Random House, 1965.

When persons unknown killed Herb Cluttter and his family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959, Capote set out for Kansas determined to write what he would call the "nonfiction novel." The result is a classic work in American letters that captures both our fascination with Middle America as a safe and innocent place, and as a place where violence can erupt as quickly and as devastatingly as a cyclone.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Rural Life

Carey, Frank, and Jayni Nass. The Kansas Cookbook. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

After Charles Kuralt said that there was "nothing to eat" in the "gastronomic wasteland of America" between Kansas City and Denver, the authors of this book put out a call for recipes from Kansas. They serve up a wonderful season of Kansas menus, from the traditional midwestern fare of fried chicken and cherry pies to the food that reflects the ethnic diversity of the state's population-from cassoulet to kabob to Croatioan povotica.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Folklife - Cuisine, Hobbies

Castel, Albert. Civil War Kansas: Reaping the Whirlwind. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997.

Kansas achieved statehood just two and a half months before the onset of the Civil War. A free state, Kansas was embattled from the east by slave state Missourians and many border skirmishes took place. In its infancy, the first four years of statehood, Kansas was forged by the experience of the Civil War.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, African American, Military

Chalfant, William Y. Hancock's War: Conflict on the Southern Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.

Winner of the Center for Great Plains Studies Distinguished Book Prize for 2010, Chalfant offers the most comprehensive and accurate treatment of the so-called Expedition for the Plains to date. General Winfield Scott Hancock led a military expedition across Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska in 1867 to intimidate the tribes--mostly southern Cheyennes, Lakotas, southern Arapahoes and Kiowas. But the havoc he wrought served to inflame passions on both sides and led to the wars of 1868. Chalfant employes Indian and non-Indian sources to describe the vastly different ways of life that separated the Cheyennes and U.S. policymakers and to argue that neither side was willing or able to understand the other.

  • Place: Kansas, Nebraska
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American, Military

Clair, Maxine. Rattlebone. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.

Clair's group of connected stories tell the coming of age of Irene Wilson in the context of her all black neighborhood, called Rattlebone, a part of Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1950s. In the course of the stories, Irene must weather racial prejudice, adulterous parents, death, her own budding sexuality, and challenges to her friendships-all towards realizing her own promise and standing up for herself.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: History, African American

Coburn, Carol. Life at Four Corners. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

Subtitled "Religion, Gender, and Education in a German-Lutheran Community, 1868-1945," Coburn's book about Block, Kansas, traces the power of ethnicity, religion and social cohesion in a small town. Coburn shows both the inner life of a rural community as well as the exterior pressures, particularly after World War II, that work against community.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Community Life

Coldsmith, Don. Tallgrass. New York: Bantam Books, 1997.

A saga of the tallgrass land of Kansas, this novel spans from the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors through the nineteenth-century pioneer boom. This story encompasses the lives of the native peoples, a freed slave who travels with the Corp of Discovery, as well as those who come to settle from other lands. Perhaps most importantly, Tallgrass tells the story of Kansas itself.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Native American, African American, European American

Collins, Joe, et. al. Kansas Wildlife. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.

Because of its central location in North America, Kansas is home to an astonishing variety of wildlife. This guide offers 130 full color photographs accompanied by descriptions of habitats and behavior of the many species that inhabit the state.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Photography

Connell, Evan S., Jr. Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1959 and 1969.

Evan Connell, who grew up in Southeast Kansas, writes wonderfully insightful fiction about there and the University of Kansas (in The Anatomy Lesson) in addition to Kansas City's Country Club Plaza in the years between the world wars (in the classic 1959 Mrs. Bridge, and its companion Mr. Bridge, 1969). In a luxurious world of things and money, India Bridge and her husband Walter both yearn for more-more meaning, more intimacy, more understanding of themselves-and yet they are trapped by formalities, obligations, social pressure and niceties. These are deeply felt, yet satiric novels.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: History, Society, European American

Cordier, Mary Hurlbut. Schoolwomen of the Prairies and Plains. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992.

This book explores and celebrates the experiences of the women who educated the children in isolated, rural areas from the 1860s through the 1920s. Cordier provides a detailed portrait of the physical and social landscapes in which these women worked to meet their students' needs as well as to extend their own educations.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Community Life

Cutler, Bruce. A West Wind Rises: Massacre at Marais des Cygnes. Topeka, Kansas: Center for Kansas Studies/Woodley Press, 1999.

In May of 1859, a band of Missourians rode into Kansas and perpetrated what became known as the Marais des Cygnes Massacre against eleven men they rounded up for being "Free-staters." Bruce Cutler did a masterful job of research to create this narrative poem with multiple voices and perspectives.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: History

Courtright, Julie. Prairie Fire: A Great Plains History. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2011.

A thoroughly researched, well-written account of the role fire, both its presence and its absence, has played in shaping the ecology, history and landscape of the North American plains, from pre-history to the present.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Non-Fiction-History
  • Subject: Nature and Environment

Dallas, Sandra. The Persian Pickle Club. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.

This novel celebrates the supportive network of a quilting circle in Depression-era Kansas. These women gather together to quilt, gossip, and help each other throughout historically and personally challenging times.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Folklife - Material Culture, Hobbies

Dancer, Daniel. The Four Seasons of Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001 (revised edition).

In 105 photographs, one of Kansas' best photographers captures the state in its four seasons. As Dancer himself says, "Much of my adventures in Kansas have been spent in pursuit of what I call 'wild space'-uncluttered landscapes that embody a quiet beauty that eludes the hurried and undiscriminating eye. Kansas abounds in such beauty, and the photographs I've chosen for this book are intended to celebrate its abundance and variety." Dancer accomplishes that celebrative goal.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Photography, Art, Nature & Environment

Day, Robert. The Last Cattle Drive. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1977.

A rollicking, raucous novel set in 1970s Kansas, narrated by the tenderfoot school teacher Leo, who takes a summer job with a local rancher and ends up on a cattle drive from Gorham/Hays all the way to the Kansas City stockyards. Besides the wonderful humor and the accurate geography, the novel is an excellent introduction to the big differences between Eastern and Western Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography

Dean, Virgil W., ed. John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006.

This anthology contains brief biographies and analyses of the work of twenty-six Kansans whose lives had a national or international impact. Arranged chronologically from Territorial times to post-World War II, the essays, each written by a different author, are about men and women who were military leaders, politicians, journalists, artists, business leaders, social leaders--all of them visionaries.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction--Biography
  • Subject: Politics, Society, History

Dickenson, James R. Home on the Range: A Century on the High Plains. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Now a journalist in Washington, Dickenson grew up in McDonald, Kansas (pop. 200, Rawlins County, on US 36). He returned for family stories, for his own past and for the story of the Great Plains-its settlement, its depopulation, its stories of victory and defeat.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Rural Life

Dodd, Elizabeth. Archetypal Light. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2001.

Populated with birdcall and bones, cottonwoods and canvases, this collection of poems gazes intensely at and listens intently to the natural world, rendering it with lyricism and deep respect.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Dodd, Elizabeth. Prospect. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2003.

This essay collection leads readers into complex and varied American landscapes, ranging from islands to prairies, mountains to marshes. Thoughtfully observed and finely detailed, Dodd's view of ecosystems and cultures radiates from the centering influence of her home in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Draper, Edythe Squier. As Grass. Topeka, Kansas: Center for Kansas Studies, 1994.

These six short stories, set in Southeast Kansas between the world wars, concern themselves with abused women and neglected children, poor blacks and other people at the fringes of the small towns and communities in which they live. Edythe Draper was well-published and honored as a story writer, then became the Oswego correspondent to the Parsons Sun in the last part of her life. An introduction by Jeffrey Ann Goudie puts Draper's stories in the context of her interesting and unusual life.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short stories
  • Subject: African American, Rural Life

Dykstra, Robert R. The Cattle Towns. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968.

In what remains a classic, Robert Dykstra explores the development and transformation of Kansas's cattle towns from the emergence of the cattle industry in the late 1850s to its heyday when cattle were driven north on trails to the cattle towns in the 1870s, to the relative decline that occurred with the arrival of the railroad and farmers. In addition to exploring economic development, Dykstra traces the development of local society and the dynamics of community building in the nineteenth-century cattle towns.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Eick, Gretchen Cassel. Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-72. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Americans typically assume that the first sit-in protest occurred in 1960 at a local Woolworth drug store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Gretchen Cassel-Eick, however, situates the origins of a new phase in the civil rights in a boycott against a Wichita drugstore in 1958. She examines how the interplay between local and national politics caused fundamental social and political change in the 1960s.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Politics

Elliott, Harley. Darkness at Each Elbow. New York: Hanging Loose Press, 1981.

Salina poet and artist Harley Elliott writes with historical knowledge, keen sense of place and an imagination that shows anything is possible, whether it's "Walt Whitman Caught Stealing Corn," "Self Portrait As Crazy Horse," or "Struck In The Forehead By A Sparrow I Begin To Get A Clue."

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Culture

Etcheson, Nicole. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004.

Etcheson's Bleeding Kansas is a keen examination of how the Kansas Territory became the proving grounds for the warring ideologies that fueled the nation's greatest internal conflict. This book goes beyond just the moral and economic considerations behind the free-state movement to look at concerns regarding the threat to self-governance and political liberties. Key events and figures, such as John Brown, Sam Jones, and Jim Lane, are also closely considered.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American

Evans, Terry. The Inhabited Prairie. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Evans is known for her prairie photography; however, this collection of photographs distinguishes itself by not merely beholding only the landscape but by noticing the effects caused by its inhabitants. We can see how people have cut roads and fields into the land and examine the presence of cemeteries and grazing cattle and deer - all shaping and changing the environment.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Photograph, Nature & Environment

Fairchild, B. H. Art of the Lathe. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 1998.

Fairchild depicts the aspirations of working people-farmers, machinists, welders, even Latin professors. Not since Phillip Levine has there been such a thorough and probing exploration of work in America, particularly the work of the Midwest. Other Fairchild collections that capture a similar essence of Kansas and the Great Plains include The Arrival of the Future and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Subject: Society

Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration. The WPA Guide to 1930s Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.

During the "make work" of the 1930s, the WPA put writers, photographers, historians and folklorists to work creating state guides. The Kansas guide is full of history, folklore, songs, poetry, travel tips and all kinds of facts and lore about the state. The University Press of Kansas had the wisdom to reprint the guide, with an introduction by cultural geographer James Shortridge, and though some of what is here is dated or disappeared, the book is a wonderful document of what once was, and what, in ruin, shade, or survival, still is here.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Folklife - Community Life

Fitzgerald, Daniel. Ghost Towns of Kansas: A Traveler's Guide. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988.

After the Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854, scores of towns sprouted up across the prairie. Many, however, fell victim to the frontier boom to bust economy, eventually dwindled and were abandoned. This traveler's guide is equipped with maps and directions to former town sites (many of which have reverted to pasture), as well as lots of black and white photos of the towns during their heydays. Fitzgerald includes intriguing stories of the towns' formations, like that of Octagon City whose inhabitants were allowed to purchase land at $1.25 an acre from the Vegetarian Settlement Company by signing an oath to swear off the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and animal flesh.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Travel
  • Subject: History, Travel, Cultural/Human Geography

Friedman, Lawrence J. Menninger: The Family & the Clinic. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

This book doubles as a biography for the Menninger family and a history of the world famous psychiatric clinic. This account takes the reader from the foundation of the clinic by brothers Karl and Will to its establishment as a corporation by Will's son, Roy. The once strong and prominent mental health care mecca has since left its long-time home in Topeka for Houston, Texas, but this biography serves as a chronicle of its Kansas roots.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

Glenn, Andrea, ed. Kansas in Color. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1982.

The photographs compiled, selected by Kansas! Magazine, are remarkable in their variety, emblematizing the seasons, subjects, and regions of Kansas. The book is introduced by Zula Bennington Greene, aka "Peggy of the Flint Hills," who wrote a deeply felt, eloquent and loving essay typical of those who admit the power of Kansas over them.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Photography

Great Plains Flora Association. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

A descriptive compendium of all vascular plants that grow in the region, Flora of the Great Plains is the result of a massive and comprehensive specimen collection.

  • Place: Kansas, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Gress, Bob, and George Potts. Watching Kansas Wildlife: A Guide to 101 Sites. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.

Situated in the nation's center, Kansas affords wildlife enthusiasts a diverse cross-section of environments in which to observe a multitude of species. From marshland to grassland to woodland, one can see various fishes, insects, mammals, reptiles, and birds. This guide to 101 sites provides a list of types of animals that can be found, along with maps, photos, and directions to each site.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Reference, Travel

Haldeman-Julius, Marcet and Emanuel. Dust & Short Works. Topeka, Kansas: Center for Kansas Studies, 1992.

As a writing couple, Emanuel Julius, Jew, socialist and publisher of the Little Blue Books, and Marcet Haldeman, Christian and bank president, had unique insights into the Southeast Kansas town they called Fallon. Dust, a novel of pioneering, shows the terrible cost of materialism over the soul of a farmer. The short works are humorous portraits of small town life, including class, pretension and bourgeois happiness.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel, Short Stories
  • Subject: European American, Folklife - Community Life

Haywood, Robert C. Cowtown Lawyers: Dodge City and its Attorneys, 1876-1886. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

Adding additional plurality to the cast of characters associated with Dodge City and further debunking the stereotypical cow town atmosphere, Robert Haywood traces the rise of the judicial system and the bench and bar in Dodge City. In addition to exploring the apparatus of lawmaking, peacekeeping, and justice, Haywood examines the professional culture among lawyers and provides character and personal sketches of lawyers and judges in the legal system.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Haywood, C. Robert. Tough Daisies: Kansas Humor from "The Lane County Bachelor" to Bob Dole. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

From the survival humor of the pioneers to the plight of contemporary Kansans trying to survive in a world which often makes them the butts of jokes, Kansans have had much to poke fun of, most generously themselves. Historian Haywood takes a look at our doctored postcards (jackelopes and wagon-sized potatoes), our political cartoons (Bob Dole's hatchet jobs), our songs (from "Beulah Land" to "Allergy Land"), our tall tales, our Dust Bowl exaggerations and our role as the place not to be from ("Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." This is great Kansas history, all derived from the funny bone.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor, Folklife-Community Life

Haywood, Robert C. Victorian West: Class and Culture in Kansas Cattle Towns. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991.

Many readers interested in Kansas's history conflate Dodge City or Wichita with gun men and cattle depots rather than middle class people. Haywood explores how the arrival of middle class individuals seeking to establish booster institutions and associations, implement social reform, and cultivate the culture of gentility tamed the rougher cattle town culture that prevailed and made the cattle towns "civilized" outposts of Victorian middle class culture.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Folklife - Material Culture

Heitz, Lisa Hefner. Haunted Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1997.

Heitz has carefully and cleverly recounted the state's best tales, legends and ghost stories. The book haunts the memory with the eerie, the pathetic, the tragic and the bizarre. With folkloric study, with a good sense of place, this book adds to the understanding of Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Heldrich, Philip. Good Friday. Huntsville, TX: Texas Review Press, 2000.

These poems span the cultural and natural landscape of the Great Plains like a heat-blistered interstate. Heldrich finds the holy in the motels, taverns, and meat processing plants of Kansas and Oklahoma, the sacred in the migrating geese and streaking meteors in the sky above.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry,
  • Subject: Rural Life, Nature & Environment

Herd, Stan. Crop Art and Earthworks. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994.

Perhaps the world's most famous crop artist, Stan Herd makes his art on the canvas of acres of land, using a tractor and various crops to shape images that are best seen from the air. This collection of aerial photographs includes Herd's depictions of Van Gogh's sunflowers, Kansas aviator Amelia Earhart, and many others, which are visually stunning, in subject and scope.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art, Nature & Environment

Herring, Joseph B. The Enduring Indians of Kansas: A Century and a Half of Acculturation. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.

In the mid-nineteenth century thousands of Native Americans were forced to leave their lands and move west of the Mississippi River, where they were settled in eastern Kansas. By the end of the century only a few hundred remained, mostly Kickapoo, Iowa, Potawatomi, Fox, Sac, and Chippawa. Herring makes the argument that it was acculturation on their own terms that enabled these people to keep their promised lands and persist through generations in Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Hind, Steven. In A Place With No Map. Topeka, Kansas: Center for Kansas Studies/Woodley Press, 1997.

Steven Hind knows the Flint Hills of Kansas better than any other poet, and he writes of his territory with plain language ("Prairie: you were born a member of a tribe who took to the lean feast in that name"), genuine affection ("the land says because you love me, your job is to stay with the world"), and tremendous insight ("Nail-stained houses/ float like arks/ on the empty fields./ How many harvests/justify their grim doors?").

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Hope, Holly. Garden City: Dreams in a Kansas Town. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

In this personal look at her home town, Holly Hope moves, like many Kansans do about the state, between respect and ridicule, sarcasm and admiration, cynicism and nostalgia, rejection and romance. Garden City is a finely detailed and interesting look at the traditions, history and culture of one of the most interesting Western Kansas towns.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Rural Life, Cultural/Human Geography

Hoy, Jim, ed. Prairie Poetry: Cowboy Verse of Kansas. Wichita, KS: Wichita Eagle and Beacon Press, 1995.

For years, Jim Hoy, who was raised in the Flint Hills of Kansas in a ranching family, has been collecting the folklore, stories and poetry of cowboys. These verses are full of the lives of past and present cowboys and versifiers inspired by the land, the horses and cattle, the humor and tall tales that accompany the range, the cattle drive and the ranch.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Rural Life, Folklife - Oral Traditions

Hoy, Jim. Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass Prairie. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006.

Part history, part ethnography, part memoir, this book details the folklife in the Flint Hills, the last remnant (under 4% remaining) of a tallgrass prairie that once stretched from Canada to Texas, from Indiana to the Great Plains. The distinctive ranching practices here are detailed, along with tales and legends of the cowboys and outlaws (human and animal) who have lived here.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction--History; Memoir
  • Subject: Rural Life, Folklife - Oral Traditions; Ranching

Hughes, Langston. Not Without Laughter. New York: Scribner's, 1930, reprint 1995.

Hughes' novel is set in Stanton (Lawrence), Kansas, around the time of the First World War. Young Sandy Rodgers, who is African-American, comes of age in a time of racial prejudice. He has many influences and philosophies clamoring for attention in his life, and finally he sets out to live up to his grandmother's dream that he will someday become a great man and help the whole black race.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: African American

Inge, William. Four Plays. New York: Grove Press 1958, reprint 1990.

With Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, Inge ruled as one of the princes of Broadway during the 1950s. His four plays are "Come Back, Little Sheba," "Picnic" (which won the Pulitzer Prize), "Bus Stop" and "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs." Though not as popular as they once were, Inge's plays still reveal the essential heart of Kansans and the Kansas small town of the 1920s.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Plays
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life

Ise, John. Sod and Stubble. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

John Ise, long-time economics professor at the University of Kansas, first published the account of his parents' lives in central Kansas in 1936. Sixty years later, Von Rothenberger created an unabridged and annotated edition, complete with photographs and family records. What remains true to both editions is the gritty, hopeful story of two people making a home near Downs, Kansas, between 1873-1909. These pioneers came not only to live but also to make a better living for their children, and nine of the eleven surviving Ise kids left the farm for higher education.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, European American

Johnsgard, Paul A. Prairie Birds: Fragile Splendor in the Great Plains. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001.

Ornithologist Johnsgard describes the habitats, migratory patterns, behavior, and appearance of thirty-three species of prairie birds. This guide offers a list of sanctuaries and preserves, extensive drawings, and graphic keys to birdsongs.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Johnson, Osa. I Married Adventure. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1997.

In 1910 seventeen-year-old Osa married Martin Johnson in Chanute, Kansas, and soon after they embarked on over twenty years of adventure together. These Kansans became famous to a public eager to view the documentary films and photographs of exotic locales, such as Borneo, Kenya, the Congo, and New Hebrides. Originally published in 1940, this book is Osa's personal account of their many travels and experiences.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Travel

Junker, Patricia, et. al. John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West. Manchester, Vermont: Hudson Hills Press, 1998.

One of the three most influential American Regionalists of the twentieth century, native Kansan Curry, along with Iowan Grant Wood and Missourian Thomas Hart Benton, documented rural and small town life in the Midwest in vivid paintings and murals. As well as his many narrative artworks showing the daily life of plains people, he also painted interpretations of political and cultural histories, including the famous Kansas statehouse mural of the tornadic, charismatic John Brown, brandishing both Bible and rifle. A number of scholarly essays about the art and influence of John Steuart Curry accompany these plates.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art

Killoren, Robert, ed. Late Harvest: Plains and Prairie Poets. Kansas City, Missouri: BookMark Press, 1977.

In addition to offering selections of poetry by Robert Bly, Bruce Cutler, Dave Etter, James Hearst, Dan Jaffe, John Knoepfle, Ted Kooser, Thomas McGrath, and William Stafford, this collection includes a critical essay on the work of each of these influential Plains poets.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry, Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Culture

Koch, William E. Folklore from Kansas: Customs, Beliefs, and Superstitions. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1980.

William Koch was the primary collector of Kansas folklore items for years, and in this volume of over 5,000 items, the reader sees both the universality of our folklore and the particularity of its expression in Kansas. Here, over half the items are related to health, weather and luck, not surprising for a state that still relies so heavily on agricultural production for its economy and well-being.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor, Rural Life

Lambert, Don. The Life & Art of Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton. Waco, Texas: WRS Publishing, 1995.

When Don Lambert first saw the self-portrait contour drawings of Elizabeth Layton he knew he was looking at genius. Layton, who called herself "Grandma," and who had used her drawing to bring her out of a years-long depression, went on to exhibits at the Smithsonian and in Paris, France. Her work is revealing, deeply-felt, wonderfully funny and full of commentary about women, politics, history and culture.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Art, Gender

Least Heat-Moon, William. PrairyErth (a deep map). New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Heat-Moon explores Chase County in the Flint Hills of Kansas, what many Americans consider to be "fly-over country," via dirt and gravel roads, providing a "deep map" of the grassland landscape. This book celebrates the beauty of the state and admires the character of its people while dispelling the stereotypes that are often held by outsiders.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Society

Lehrer, Jim. Kick the Can. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.

Blinded by a childhood game of Kick the Can, One-Eyed Mack is unable to pursue his dream of following his father's profession to be a state trooper. Instead, he opts for more wayward adventure. This picaresque novel by PBS news anchor and Kansas native, Jim Lehrer, explores the sensibilities and politics of the Midwest.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Fiction
  • Subject: Folklife - Community Life, Politics

Leiker, James N. and Ramon Powers. The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011.

The exodus of the Northern Cheyenne in 1878 and 1879, an attempt to flee from Indian Territory back to their Montana homeland, is an important event in American history. It is equally important in the history of towns like Oberlin, Kan., where Cheyenne warriors killed more than 40 settlers. The Cheyenne, in turn, suffered losses through violent encounters with the U.S. Army. Leiker and Powers explore the ways in which that exodus has been remembered, told and retold. The authors examine the recollections of Indians and settlers, and of their descendants, to see how they recount these events, and why. Leiker and Powers challenge stereotypes. "The Cheyennes' flight," they write, "had left white and Indian bones alike scattered along its route from Oklahoma to Montana. The degree of reverence with which those bones have been treated depends on living people's interpretation as to the story's heroes and victims." Winner of the Great Plains Book Prize for 2011.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, European American, History, Military

Low, Denise. New and Selected Poems, 1980-1999. Middletown, California: Penthe Publishing, 1999.

This collection spans eight books of poetry and almost twenty years of writing by one of Kansas' pre-eminent poets. These deeply meditative poems are populated with Kansan towns and sweeping prairie landscapes.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Rural Life, Native American, Asian American

Low, Denise. Touching the Sky. Middletown, California: Penthe Publishing, 1994.

Fifth-generation Kansan Denise Low assembles a cohesive collection of essays that celebrate life in Kansas. From depictions of the Haskell Indian Nations Earthwork Medicine wheel to meditations on the vernacular in Kansas literature, Low gets at the heart of life in the state. The essays are accompanied by the evocative Flint Hills photography of George Kren.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: Native Americans, Photography, Hobbies, Folklife - Material Culture

McCoy, Joseph G. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest. Kansas City, Missouri: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson, 1874, reprint, Philadelphia: Porcupine, 1974.

In the only contemporary account of the great trail drives from Texas to Kansas after the Civil War during the era of open-range ranching, McCoy described the conditions that led to the drives on the Old Chisholm Trail and thus to the creation of the archetypal cattle town (Abilene) with its saloons, cowboys and near-mythic lawmen (Wild Bill Hickok). He also gives perhaps the first description of the raucous drover, who would become the American cowboy and folk hero.

  • Place: Kansas, Texas
  • Genre: Nonfiction--History
  • Subject: Folklife; Rural Life

McCoy, Sondra Van Meter, and Jan E. Hults. 1001 Kansas Place Names. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

From Abilene to Zurich, this guide provides insight to the name origins of Kansas towns, counties, rivers and landmarks. Kansas founders, speculators and pioneers took names from Native Americans, the Old Country, and historical figures and gave them to the burgeoning settlements and newly discovered natural features of the state.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History

McNall, Scott G. The Road to Rebellion: Class Formation and Kansas Populism, 1865-1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Scott McNall examines the Kansan social and economic landscape that included figureheads such as Mary Elizabeth Lease and "Sockless" Jerry Simpson to explain why the contentious national, state, and local political debates of the 1890s largely dissipated by the early 1900s. The author offers an engaging look into not only Kansas politics but also the broader political and economic cultures of the Gilded Age. The author argues that although farmers united to formulate a class identity and articulate political and economic visions that contrasted the Republican agenda, the agrarian nature of the platform hindered widespread class appeal.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Cultural/Human Geography

Miner, Craig. Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

This history of the state chronicles Kansas from the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the turn of the millennium, covering every major cultural and historical event in between and demonstrating the state's rich and varied heritage.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Miner, Craig. West of Wichita. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

The challenges of early Plains settlers-extreme weather, grasshopper plagues, Indian raids, and high mortality rates-are placed in the context of the economic climate of the period.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American

Monhollon, Rusty L. This is America? The Sixties in Lawrence, Kansas. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave, 2002.

This book represents the author's attempt to understand both the social and political upheaval of the 1960s and also its historical legacy. The author provides greater insight and understanding of the national milieu by examining social change and politics in Lawrence as a microcosm. Although local details altered Lawrence's experience in subtle ways from the experience of urban centers, at stake in the 1960s in Lawrence, as elsewhere, was a struggle to define fundamental American social and political values.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Politics

Moriarty, Laura. The Center of Everything. New York: Hyperion Press, 2003.

Young Evelyn Bucknow lives with her irresponsible and immature mother, Tina, in a small Kansas town. Her coming-of-age story demonstrates the resilience of a girl who manages to thrive despite poverty and disadvantage.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life

Moses, Edwin. One Smart Kid. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1982.

When a stranger comes to Fox Creek, Kansas, and checks into the local motel, he and the proprietor, a widow and friend of Marvin Hollowell, the novel's thirteen year-old narrator, come under the suspicion of the town gossips. This book dramatizes the troubles that ensue when McCarthy-ism strikes the heart of America.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Politics, Rural Life

Napier, Rita. Kansas and the West: New Perspectives. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.

A fine group of contributors that tackles the myths of the West and shows the complex interchange between people, places and themes in light of race, class, gender and environment.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Gender, Nature & Environment, Society

Nelson, Antonya. Living to Tell. New York: Scribner, 2000.

Winston Mabie returns to the rambling family home in Wichita, Kansas, after five years in prison for the death of his grandmother (he was driving her, and was drunk, and she was killed in the accident he caused). Also living at home are the Mabie's two adult daughters, one who has cancer and small children, the other who has a disastrous love life. All the Mabies work for and against their sense of family, and their moves towards forgiveness and love make for rich insight and heart-wrenching truths about how we live our lives.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Society

Painter, Nell Irvin. Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1977.

Escaping virulent Southern racism and in search of land and opportunity, African-Americans in the spring of 1879 migrated northwest to Kansas where they established new lives throughout the state. Irvin-Painter traces the roots of the migration of African-Americans from the South - known as the exodusters - and places their experience within their broader regional and national social context. In doing so, the author exhumed the exoduster experience from historical obscurity in the 1970s.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American

Parks, Gordon. The Learning Tree. New York: Fawcett Crest (Ballantine Publishing Group), 1963.

Parks calls his coming of age story, set in Southeast Kansas between 1924-1928, a "novel from life." Gordon Parks has said he was lucky to survive Kansas, and the violence and racial prejudice in the novel-Parks grew up in Fort Scott-prove him right. On the other hand, Kansas is where Newt Winger learns the important lessons of courage, bravery, truth-telling-where he finds the tools to propel him to a better life after the death of his mother.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: African American, Society

Penner, Mil. Section 27: A Century on a Family Farm. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

In Section 27, Mil Penner chronicles his family's more than century-long stewardship of a farm in MacPherson County, Kansas. Part celebration and part elegy, this memoir traces the personal consequences of American agriculture's historical arc, beginning with Penner's great-grandfather busting sod in 1874 with a walking plow drawn by a team of horses and following through the increasing mechanization and specialization of twentieth century farming practices

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life, Nature & Environment

Pickard, Nancy. Bum Steer. New York: Pocket Books, 1990.

Fairway, Kansas, mystery writer Nancy Pickard brought her Massachusetts detective Jenny Cain to the Kansas Flint Hills for this traditional who-dun-it. But her love of place shines, and the story integrates the beauty and charm of the largest unspoiled grasslands in Kansas and the nation.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Mystery & Crime
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. Volume I: I Too, Sing America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Hughes scholar and biographer Rampersad covers the poet's Kansas boyhood in the early part of this biography, providing an account of his formative years in Topeka and Lawrence. This volume follows Hughes' life until the early 1940s.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: African American

Rawley, James A. Race and Politics: "Bleeding Kansas" and the Coming of the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Prolific author and historian James A. Rawley synthesizes the central role of racial prejudice in defining the 1850s political debate and explores the integral role Kansas played in national politics from 1854 to 1858.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Reichman, O. J. Konza Prairie: A Tallgrass Natural History. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987.

The Konza Prairie, covering over 8,600 acres in the Flint Hills of Kansas, is the largest uncultivated and preserved tract of tallgrass prairie in the nation. Biologist Reichman explores the tallgrass ecosystem, its wildlife, and the crucial processes-fire, weather, photosynthesis-by which the prairie persists. The text is accompanied by stunning color photographs.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Photography

Ruby, Lois. Steal Away Home. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Twelve-year-old Dana is helping her parents renovate a Lawrence, Kansas, house into a bed and breakfast when she discovers a skeleton and a diary, and finds the Quaker roots of a house once a part of the Underground Railroad. Ruby is a fine writer, living in Wichita, Kansas, and her books combine history and sense of place with good writing and satisfying plots.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Children's Literature
  • Subject: History

Rutledge, Carol Brunner. Dying and Living on the Kansas Prairie. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

This is a fine and moving diary of the three months before the death of the author's mother and the drives across the Kansas Flint Hills from Topeka to Hope, Kansas, to visit, to reflect, to grieve and to come to peace. By turns descriptive, meditative, narrative and philosophical, Rutledge's book is at times intensely personal, and most often universally important.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Religion & Spirituality

Sachs, David, and George Ehrlich. Guide to Kansas Architecture. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

The authors have compiled a collection of over 700 structures throughout the state, providing maps and addresses for the curious traveler. From the stately to the quirky, from the courthouse to the barn, this book offers an interesting, diverse view of the history and culture behind the buildings of Kansas.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Architecture, Travel

Schulz, Constance, ed. Bust to Boom: Documentary Photographs of Kansas, 1936-1949. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

Many never-before published photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration, the Office of War Information, and Standard Oil of New Jersey are assembled here, chronicling Kansas through the Dust Bowl devastation to the economy-boosting war years. Daniel Worster's introduction offers an historical context for these striking photos by some of the era's most respected photographers of railroad workers, drought-ravaged wheat fields, and waning rural life.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Photography, History, Rural Life

Schwarm, Larry. On Fire. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2003.

Inaugural winner (from over 500 submissions) of Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman Foundation Book Prize in Photography, this book comprises over five dozen spectacular images of the annual spring burning that has taken place on ranches in the Flint Hills since Territorial days, a continuation of the Plains Indian practice of intentional burning of the prairie.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Photography; Nature and Environment

Shannon, George. Climbing Kansas Mountains. New York: Bradbury Press (Macmillan), 1993.

Gorgeously illustrated by Lawrence artist Thomas B. Allen, this is a story about young Sam, whose dad takes him to climb a Kansas mountain-a grain elevator. There he sees a different view of his little farm town and the fields that surround it. This book celebrates the quiet beauty of the Kansas landscape and the bond between a father and son.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature Children's Literature
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Culture

Sheldon, William. Retrieving Old Bones. Topeka, Kansas: Woodley Memorial Press, 2002.

Hutchinson poet Bill Sheldon explores the elegiac landscape of memory in this collection: walks on dirt roads, the companionship of dogs, cold days hunting quail, the loss of a child. A thoughtful reverence pervades these poems.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Rural Life

Shortridge, James R. Our Town on the Plains: J.J. Pennell's Photographs of Junction City, Kansas, 1893-1922. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.

J. J. Pennell's photographs of Junction City, Kansas from 1893-1922 capture the lives of a people and town undergoing profound transformation. As railroads and then automobiles replaced carriages, local life was gradually transformed by the increased penetration of national markets, politics, and culture, into local life. Pennell's work earned state and national recognition both during his lifetime and beyond. In addition to the widely known collection of photos, many of which present timeless images of small town life in the Midwest a century ago, James Shortridge's prose provides a wonderfully detailed historical and cultural analysis that deepens one's understanding of the meaning of the photos.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Shortridge, James R. Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

This history of immigration to Kansas is nicely graphed and tabled and mapped. For anyone who wants to know who settled in Kansas, and why, and how they persisted or failed, this book covers it all: land speculation, railroad promotion, homesteading laws, political and social movements, geography, weather and just plain stubbornness.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography, History

Shortridge, James R. The Middle West: Its Meaning in American Culture. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

A cultural geographer at the University of Kansas, James R. Shortridge has long been as interested in the perceptions as well as the realities of place. In this attempt to define the underlying character of the Middle West as a region, Shortridge examines the contradictory images of heartland, pastoral paradise, metaphor, and rural backwater.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography, Nature & Environment

Smiley, Jane. The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. New York: Knopf, 1998.

Lidie Harkness, an awkward, soon-to-be spinster from Quincy, Illinois, meets Bostonian abolitionist Thomas Newton, who fires her heart, her need for change, her adventuring spirit. They marry, and off they go to Lawrence, Kansas Territory, where in just over a year's time Lidie homesteads, loses Thomas, dresses as a man as she seeks revenge in Missouri for Thomas' murder, and finally ends up back home, saying that, "after K.T., . . . nothing ever surprised" her again. Extremely well-researched, the book is written like the travelogues of the mid-19th century.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History

Sorace, Adaline Rogler, as told to Deborah Sorace Prutzman. Addie of the Flint HIlls: A Prairie Child During the Depression (1915-1935).Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 2009.

Adaline Rogler spent all but three of her childhood and teenage years at Matfield Green, in the heart of the Kansas Flint Hills. Written with the assistance and encouragement of her daughter, while in her early nineties, this is no sentimental, good-old-days reminiscence, for the sharp wit and clear insights of this remarkable woman are evident throughout.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction-Autobiography/Memoir
  • Subject: Rural Life, Society

Stafford, Kim. Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford. St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2002.

In a finely written book that is part biography of his father, part explication of his father's work, part memoir of his own relationship with his father, Kim Stafford gives a beautiful portrait of a man and his family and their fundamental relationship to Kansas and Oregon.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Culture

Stafford, William. Denise Low, ed. Kansas Poems of William Stafford. Topeka, Kansas: Woodley Press, 1990.

William Stafford, winner of the National Book Award for Traveling Through the Dark, was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914. One of the foremost and prolific poets of the 20th century, Stafford maintained a special affection for Kansas and the Great Plains.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Culture, Nature & Environment

Stafford, William. The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1998.

After William Stafford's death in 1993, the poet's estate and Graywolf Press put together this 250-page collection of some of his best work, from his first book, West of Your City (1960) to the poetry written right up until the day he died. The simple language of complicated life, the respect for the landscape of Kansas and the Great Plains and the welcoming inclusiveness in these poems are the region's quintessence.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Stratton, Joanna. Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981.

A detailed portrait of women's lives on the Kansas frontier, Stratton's book is bolstered by the numerous autobiographical accounts of homesteaders, Native Americans, and immigrants, who detailed their challenges and experiences of pioneering. This book was one of the first to truly acknowledge the extent to which women influenced and contributed to the settling of the territory.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, European American, Gender

Stuewe, Paul, ed. Kansas Revisited: Historical Images and Perspectives. Second Edition. Lawrence: Division of Continuing Education, University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Paul Stuewe, who teaches history at Lawrence High School, has put together a wonderful collection of historical articles about Kansas, from its environment and geography, its settlement to its future, its historical prominence to its struggle with the Depression and Dust Bowl. Stuewe's work represents one of the best overviews of Kansas through a series of "case studies."

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Creative Nonfiction/Essays
  • Subject: History, Cultural/Human Geography, Politics, Nature & Environment, African American

Sudlow, Robert. Landscapes in Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987.

One of Kansas' best-known and best-loved artists explores his paintings and drawings and speaks to his ideas about art and the Kansas landscape.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art, Nature & Landscape

Svobida, Lawrence. Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-hand Account from Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

First published in 1941, Farming the Dust Bowl is Lawrence Svobida's autobiographical account of Kansan farm life during the Dirty Thirties. In addition to detailing the devastation, Svobida also argued for better agricultural practices, making him an early voice in the conservation movement. Historian R. Douglas Hurt introduces this new edition.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Unrau, William. The Kansa Indians: The History of the Wind People, 1673-1873. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.

Unrau makes a study of the Kansa Indians, tracing them from their origins in the eastern United States to their settlement along the Kansas River and ultimately through their last forced migration to the Indian Territory in 1873.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American

Voss, Ralph F. A Life of William Inge: The Strains of Triumph. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

Although Inge was one America's best-known playwrights in the 1950s, and won the Pulitzer for Picnic and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Splendor in the Grass, his life-long struggles with alcohol and his unresolved homosexuality haunted him up until his suicide in 1973. This biography has the depth of understanding, the cultivated sympathy, the insights and the readability to help all Midwesterners appreciate the life of a man who said so much about us, and rendered so well our accents, ambitions, struggles and triumphs.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Art, Gender

West, Elliott. Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Elliot West offers a panoramic look at the intersection of the environment, indigenous peoples, goldseekers, farmers, and merchants that collided on the Kansas prairies in the late-1850s and mid-1860s. Combining fine structural analysis with vivid description, West provides a rich portrait of how the Plains had already been fundamentally changed before the Civil War.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, European American, Nature & Environment

White, William Allen, and Sally Foreman Griffith, eds. The Autobiography of William Allen White. Safety Harbor, Florida: Simon Publications, 2001.

Both a personal story and an historical account of Kansas and the nation, this Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography of the famous editor of The Emporia Gazette details his life as a journalist, family man, and political commentator.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. New York: Avon, 2003.

Beloved classics of children's literature, the Little House series tells the story of the Ingalls family life on the Great Plains frontier. This title, popularized by the 1970s television series, tells of Pa's decision to leave the Big Woods of Wisconsin for the less-crowded Kansas prairie. Wilder's account of the long covered wagon trek, the Ingalls' hard work to establish a new home, and the uncertain encounters with the neighboring Osage Indians offers adventure for readers, young and old.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction, Children's Literature
  • Subject: History, European American, Native American

Wilson, Paul E. A Time to Lose: Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

Paul Wilson was an assistant attorney general in Kansas when he was assigned "to defend the indefensible"-the policy of "separate but equal" school segregation being challenged by the NAACP legal team headed by Thurgood Marshall. His account is wide-ranging and smart as he reviews 1950s Kansas, the politics of race in America, and the odd role Kansas played as both defender of school segregation and planner for school desegregation.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Politics, European American, African American

Wolfe, Edgar. Widow Man. Topeka, Kansas: Center for Kansas Studies/Woodley Press, 2003.

Just re-released for its 50th anniversary, Ed Wolfe's novel is set in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kansas. In it, Tom Way, a white man newly widowed by his black wife, must decide whether to move from his mostly black neighborhood, or whether to stay. A new courtship, with Tunsie, another black woman, helps him make up his mind. This short novel, published around the time of Brown v. Board of Education, is a remarkably human look at race and class, segregation and coming together.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Society, African American, European American

Wood, John. The Gates of the Elect Kingdom. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997.

The long title poem of this collection is a narrative about the fictional, though utterly believable, figure of Wilhelm Johannes Hoade, a messianic utopianist settled in the fertile and hopeful land of Kansas. Set in the progressive mid-nineteenth century, the Hoadites are called from their native Germany to "God-touched" Kansas, awaiting the arrival of Christ.

  • Place: Kansas
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: History, European American

Wood, Raymond, ed. Archaeology on the Great Plains. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

For almost 12,000 years before the arrival of Europeans, farmers and nomadic hunters inhabited the Great Plains. The contributors to this book use archaeological artifacts to show how native peoples adapted to the climate and environment of the North American grasslands. Maps and illustrations detail the various patterns of settlement and cultural practices of the peoples.

  • Place: Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography, History, Native American, Nature & Landscape

Great Books of the Great Plains: Oklahoma

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Compiled by Danney G. Goble, Professor of Classics, University of Oklahoma, and updated by Brad D. Lookingbill, Professor of History, Columbia College, Missouri.

Albert, Carl, with Danney Goble. Little Giant: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

Carl Albert served Oklahoma's Third District in the United States Congress for three decades. As its forty-sixth Speaker, he also guided the House of Representatives through the Watergate crisis, while also engineering a long-overdue reworking of the Congress, itself. This is his version of the story that took an Oklahoma boy from the cotton patch to the highest pinnacles of power.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Askew, Rilla. Foreword by Babb, Sanora. Fire in Beulah. New York: Viking, 2001

Written from multiple perspectives, Fire in Beulah interweaves the stories of many characters who differ in race, class, gender, and status but who share the one quality that gives this novel both its historical setting and its narrative power: the combustion of greed and racism that ignited Tulsa's infamous race war of 1921.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: African American, Urban Life

Askew, Rilla. Harpsong. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

In this novel inspired by Oklahoma folk heroes, Rilla Askew tells the story of Dust Bowl residents who did not relocate to California during the Great Depression. It is a tale of love and loss, of adventure and renewal, and of a wayfaring orphan's search for home. It accentuates the strength and resilience of people who, in the face of unending despair, preserved their faith in the land.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: European American, Rural Life

Baird, W. David and Danney Goble. The Story of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

Although originally produced for use as a textbook in ninth-grade courses in Oklahoma history, many consider this book the best overview of Oklahoma's history for general readers as well. If so, the reason may lie in its title: this is history told as stories rather than as old facts set down in a textbook.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Baker, T. Lindsay and Julie P. Baker. The WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

Although a few of the oral histories that the Works Progress Administration recorded with elderly ex-slaves living in Oklahoma can be found in previously published collections, the great bulk of those known to have been taken were thought to have been lost. Discovered by the Bakers, these presumed lost accounts fill more than 500 printed pages to provide incomparable testimonies from hundreds of slavery's witnesses and victims.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Oral History
  • Subject: History, African American

Beard, Darleen Bailey. The Flim-Flam Man. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998.

The year is 1950; the setting is Wetumka, Oklahoma; and the triggering event is the arrival of a slick-dressed, swift-talking con man. Even though he proceeds to swindle almost everyone in town, he inadvertently enriches the lives of two young girls. Theirs is the tale told here.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life

Billington, Monroe Lee. Thomas P. Gore: The Blind Senator from Oklahoma. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1967.

In 1907, T. P. Gore became one of Oklahoma's original United States senators but seemingly ended his political career in 1918 over his opposition to President Wilson. A dozen years and one Great Depression later, Oklahomans returned him to the senate - and Gore returned to his independent ways, this time in opposition to Franklin Roosevelt. This straightforward account focuses on Gore's public life, but it captures, too, something of the contentious personality, which seems to have been passed down to the senator's favorite grandson and namesake, novelist Gore Vidal.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Bittle, William E. and Gilbert Geis. The Longest Way Home: Chief Alfred C. Sam's Back-to-Africa Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964.

Described by some as a deluded deadbeat and others as a conniving fraud, Chief Alfred Sam chanced across the right audience at the right time - black Oklahomans, in 1914. Seeing in Chief Sam their heaven-sent deliverer who would return them to the promised land - Africa, hundreds of black Oklahomans became his followers and his victims.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American

Blackburn, Bob L. Images of Oklahoma: A Pictorial History with Text. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1984.

First produced as part of a multifaceted study of Oklahoma and its many diverse peoples, this is easily the finest collection of historic photos available for Oklahoma. The book's worth is made greater still by a beautiful sepia-toned printing, a strong and compelling narrative, and an organizational scheme imaginative enough to include a compelling section of children's photographs.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Bryant, Keith L, Jr. Alfalfa Bill Murray. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968.

Probably every historian of Oklahoma would identify William Henry David Murray as the early state's most significant public figure. Chairman of Oklahoma's constitutional convention, Speaker of its first house of representatives, a United States congressman, and Depression-era governor, Murray invariably tried to shape public affairs in ways befitting this semi-educated rustic who proudly bore the title Alfalfa Bill.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Butler, Cleora. Cleora's Kitchens: The Memoir of a Cook and Eight Decades of Great American Food. Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1985.

Born in Muskogee in 1901, Cleora Butler relocated to Tulsa, where she entered one of the few professions open to a twenty-two year-old black woman - domestic service, particularly as a cook, to what became a series of prominent Tulsa oilmen. Part memoir of a life well-lived, part instructions for dishes well-prepared, this remarkable book also won national awards for design and graphic production.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: African American, Folklife - Cuisine

Carter, Forrest. The Education of Little Tree. New York: Delacorte Press, 1976.

This book gained dubious fame when its later reissue led journalists to look into what had been presented as the folksy memoir of a rough but loving Cherokee upbringing. It turned out that the book was pure fiction, written by a gifted pensman formerly known as Asa Carter. By then dead, he had always been known before as Forrest Carter and known, too, for any number of sometimes-verbal, sometimes-physical racist outrages. Its teller aside, the tale itself is a very moving and all too convincing yarn.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American

Clark, Marian. Introduction by Michael Wallis. The Route 66 Cookbook. Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1993.

Here we have what the author describes as "over 250 time-tested recipes from places like . . . the Pig Hip Restaurant, . . . Miz Zip's Caf?, . . . and the Yippie Yi Yo Caf?." What more needs be said?

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Folklife - Cuisine, Travel

Conley, Robert J. Mountain Windsong: A Novel of the Trail of Tears. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Both an accomplished author and member of the Keetoowah band of Cherokees, Robert Conley tells here a story in a way appropriate to both. It is a skillful blend of past and present, of oral traditions rooted in distant places, and of both Anglo and Cherokee perspectives on what Conley's own ancestors called the Trail of Tears.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions

Crawford, Bill. All-American: The Rise and Fall of Jim Thorpe. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

In this revealing and accessible biography, Bill Crawford brings a Native American sports legend to life for a new generation of readers. He tells the story of Jim Thorpe's rambunctious childhood on the Sac and Fox Indian reservation in Oklahoma and describes his football career at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He also recounts Thorpe's winning of two gold medals during the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Biography
  • Subject: Sports, Native American

Cross, George L. Blacks in White Colleges. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.

Perhaps the University of Oklahoma's most respected former president, George Lynn Cross, elevated the post-World War II institution from its pervasive mediocrity to two positions of national prominence. The first was as a perennial power in football, the other as the public university at the center of the unfolding legal strategies that culminated in the dismantling of Jim Crow schooling in every state and in every form. Here, his story is the second.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Politics

Cunningham, William. The Green Corn Rebellion: A Novel. New York: Vanguard Press, 1935.

The so-called Green Corn Rebellion was a short-lived but deeply revealing spasm of violence that shook Oklahoma's South Canadian River valley just after America's declaration of war in 1917. Though a fictive account, this novel captures the spirit of desperation and revolutionary zeal involved, perhaps because its author was another Oklahoman given to politics of the most radical order, in Cunningham's case the Communist Party.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Rural Life, Politics

Debo, Angie. Prairie City: The Story of an American Community. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1944.

Only the author's absolute integrity puts this book in the category of fiction. Everything that she recounts did, in fact, happen. And everything except one tiny episode happened in her hometown: Marshall, Oklahoma. (That one happened in a neighboring community.) History or novel, Prairie City really is The Story of an American Community - of many communities, in fact.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Rural Life, Folklife - Community Life, Society

Debo, Angie. And Still the Waters Run: The Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes. Indians, Outlaws, and Angie Debo, an early broadcast of the Public Broadcasting System. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1940.

PBS's American Experience series introduced a national audience to this author, until then too long ignored, to this book too long unknown, and to its subject too soon forgotten. The subject is the incredible yet systematic theft of property worth untold millions that had once belonged entirely - and by treaty pledge permanently - to the Indians then called the Five Civilized Tribes.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

Debo, Angie. Oklahoma: Foot-Loose and Fancy-Free. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949.

Neither historical survey nor scholarly monograph, this singular book might be described as a very informed impression of Oklahoma and its people. Certain sections are invariably dated now, but no visitor or newcomer will find a more inviting introduction to the state's natural features and most of its history.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

England, Gary. Oklahoma Weather. Oklahoma City: England and May, 1975.

This little paperback surely must include everything that the lay reader might care to know about the subject that so many Oklahomans talk about but so few understand and none can change. Packed with graphs, charts, tables, and a glossary of technical terms, it also includes information of special interest to sportsmen, aviators, and gardeners. Nor surprisingly, its section on tornados has particular relevance.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. Red Dirt Country: Growing Up Okie. London and New York: Verso, 1997.

This book's author is a leading voice of contemporary feminism, and hers is a thoroughly American story of what it means to have grown up poor and marginalized in an isolated, backwater village (here, Piedmont, Oklahoma), then to discover a much larger outside world. The greatest discovery, though, is of a legacy from small-town Oklahoma richer than she had ever imagined.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Rural Life, Gender

Everett, Diana, ed. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Two Volumes. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009.

To commemorate the Centennial of Oklahoma Statehood in 2007, the Oklahoma Historical Society developed this comprehensive reference work to inform and educate citizens, students, historians and the world about the fascinating history of the state. Supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the two volumes contain articles written by leading scholars of Oklahoma. An online edition is available at http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject:

Fall, Thomas. The Ordeal of Running Standing. New York: McCall Publishing Co., 1970.

Set in Oklahoma's reservations as they are being dissolved, this novel's central figure is a young Kiowa, Running Standing to his people, Joe Standing to their conquerors. Significantly, the ultimate conquest occurs not on battlefields but in classrooms, those at Carlisle Indian School to be exact. Tracing one character's personal ordeal, the book explores both the process and the limits of that conquest.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Native American

Fisher, Ada Lois Sipuel with Danney Goble. A Matter of Black and White: The Autobiography of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

To legal scholars and constitutional historians, Ada Lois Sipuel is simply the name of the plaintiff in one the most significant legal battles in the past century, one that was a turning point in the long struggle to end Jim Crow schooling. Her autobiography - at times moving, at times funny, always compelling - gives both flesh and soul to that name.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, African American, Politics

Franklin, Jimmie Lewis. Journey Toward Hope: A History of Blacks in Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

Without question the best introduction to the difficult history that blacks both made and endured in Oklahoma, this book is particularly notable for its sensitivity to just how and why that history has been so diverse. Other special strengths are its coverage of black institutions and of black-led efforts to integrate those institutions into the wider society while also preserving as much of their autonomy as possible.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Society

Franklin, John Hope and John Whittington Franklin, eds.  My Life and Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

B. C. Franklin, John Hope Franklin, John Whittington Franklin - three names, three generations brought together in this singular project. The first was a Tulsa attorney, without whom the history of black Oklahomans, though poor, would have been poorer still. The second is his son, who arrived in Tulsa amid the rubble of the 1921 race riot and left it to earn a Harvard doctorate and launch a distinguished academic career. The third was born to very different circumstances yet was indebted first to his grandfather, who, though born of one-time slaves, rose to champion so many.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, African American

Franks, Kenny. The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry. Norman: Published for the Oklahoma Heritage Association by the University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.

No other work examines with such broadness or with such detail what oil has meant to Oklahoma, particularly between the 1880s and 1940s. The organization is both chronological and geographical, since it moves from one booming oil field to another. Along the way, it introduces readers to everything from the most innovative oilfield technologies to the most colorful of the low lives and high jinks to be found in Oklahoma's oil days.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Gates, Eddie Faye. They Came Searching: How Blacks Sought the Promised Land in Tulsa. Austin: Eakin Press, 1997.

Long and deeply immersed in the history of Tulsa's blacks and their community, the author has produced a singular book that is as much biographical as it is historical. The reason is that it interweaves intensely personal oral histories with thoroughly researched social analysis.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, Folklife - Oral Traditions, Folklife - Community Life, Urban Life

Gilbert, Claudette Marie and Robert L. Brooks. From Mounds to Mammoths: A Field Guide to Oklahoma Prehistory. 2nd ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

Covering the approximately 30,000 years of prehistory that ended with the arrival of Europeans, this book is organized chronologically. Each chapter must take in large chunks of time, but the level of detail to be found in each is as surprising as it is fascinating. This is especially the case with this edition, for it draws upon the considerable archaeological work done in Oklahoma since 1980, when the book first appeared.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Cultural/Human Geography

Glancy, Diane. The Mask Maker: A Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

Edith Lewis, this novel's central character, is a recently divorced, mixed-blood American Indian who travels across contemporary Oklahoma. Moving from school to school, she teaches the art and customs of traditional mask-making; and as she follows that path she learns as much - maybe more - than she teaches.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American

Goble, Danney. Tulsa! Biography of the American City. Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1998.

Lavishly illustrated and handsomely produced, this is the history commissioned to celebrate Tulsa's first century as an incorporated city. Its story is no mere celebratory puff-piece, however. It is the story, warts and all, of what Tulsans were doing over those hundred years, sometimes doing for themselves, sometimes doing unto others.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Urban Life

Greene, Candace S. One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record. Foreword by Ellen Censky. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

Prior to widespread literacy, the Kiowa people recorded their history in pictorial calendars, marking an entry for each summer and each winter. Ethnologist Candace Green presents a recently discovered calendar, which was created by the Kiowa master artist Silver Horn. Covering the period from 1828-1928, the pictures offer an indigenous perspective on a critical period of Oklahoma history.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Art, Native American

Greene, Jerome A. Washita: The U.S. Army and the Southern Cheyennes, 1867-1869. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Synthesizing primary and secondary sources, Jerome Greene recounts what happened on the snowy banks of the Washita River on November 27, 1868. The subsequent U.S. military victory signaled the end of the Cheyenne way of life and resulted in the death of Black Kettle, their most prominent peace chief. Long considered a watershed event, the Washita received formal national recognition in 1996 when the site became a unit of the National Park System.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Military

Gregory, Robert. Oil in Oklahoma. Muskogee: Leake Industries, 1976.

This is the byproduct of the finest documentary series ever produced in Oklahoma. Then vice-president for Tulsa's KTUL-TV, Bob Gregory both told and showed what oil has wrought in Oklahoma, and the station's ownership then produced this more permanent form. The text is essentially the series narrative, and the illustrations are some of the best of its still-photos.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Photography

Griffis, Molly Levite. The Rachel Resistance. Austin: Eakin Press, 2001.

Because the town of its fictional setting numbers fewer than two thousand and because the one who carries its story is a mere fifth-grader, one might expect little of this tale of Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. Its rewards, however, exceed such expectations. That is because it turns a deceptively simple tale into some very deep reflections upon very big subjects.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Society

Guthrie, Woody. Introduction by Studs Terkel. Bound for Glory. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1976.

This may be the most charming book ever written about an Oklahoman or by an Oklahoman, especially when the two are one. Generations of Americans have come to know and love Woody Guthrie for his music. As great and as moving as his best songs are, this remarkable memoir may be even greater and more moving.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Folklife - Music

Hagan, William Thomas. Quanah Parker, Comanche Chief. The Oklahoma Western Biographies Series. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Few Plains Indians have been as famous or remain as controversial as the one his father's people called Quanah. The Parker of his name came from Cynthia Ann Parker, captured as a child and raised to become the wife of one Comanche warrior (Poco Nocono) and mother of another: Quanah. No less complicated was her son's life once the Comanche's warrior days ended. Though concise, Hagan's biography embraces all of that complexity.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Native American

Hassrick, Peter H. Treasures of the Old West: Paintings and Sculpture from the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art. New York: Abrams, 1984.

What Tulsans informally call the Gilcrease Museum has a singular history. Originally accumulated by oilman Thomas Gilcrease, its incomparable treasures were later purchased by the City of Tulsa, thereby saving Gilcrease from ruin and giving Tulsans an incomparable collection of American art and artifacts. This book, originally prepared for an exhibit lent other galleries, presents some of the best of the art of the American West to be found anywhere.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art

Henderson, Arn, Frank Parman, and Dortha Henderson. Architecture in Oklahoma: Landmark and Vernacular. Norman: Point Riders Press, 1978.

Forever home to many peoples, key moments in Oklahoma's history - particularly in its economic history - happened to coincide with significant changes in architecture. Moreover, architects as significant as Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff, Solomon Layman, and Herb Green have left their notable marks upon the state. The book includes a valuable selective bibliography.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Architecture/Design

Henderson, Caroline. Edited by Alvin O. Turner. Letters from the Dust Bowl. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

Caroline Henderson's articles, first-person accounts of life in the heart of the Dust Bowl, first appeared in Atlantic Monthly in 1931; and they have long been admired as much for their eloquence as for their realism. For this edition, Alvin O. Turner has reproduced all of Henderson's original public writings and considerably enriched them with new materials drawn from her personal correspondence.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Rural Life, European American

Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. New York: Viking Press, 1967.

Even had Francis Ford Coppola not turned it into a motion picture, S. E. Hinton's novel still could lay claim to being the outstanding piece of young-adult fiction ever set in Oklahoma. What makes it remarkable is that its author (Susie Hinton) began it as a high school sophomore, worked on it through her junior year, and signed the contract to publish on her graduation day from Tulsa's Will Rogers High School.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Urban Life

Hirsch, James S. Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and Its Legacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

A forbidden subject for decades, Tulsa's 1921 racial bloodletting has recently become the subject of several books, some better than others but none quite like this one. The reason is that the author is concerned equally with two related yet ultimately different things. The first involves what happened (and why) during a few horrible hours in a Tulsa of long ago. The second ponders how Tulsans, both black and white, have so differently remembered and understood what happened. In this telling, those differences are at least as revealing as the event itself.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, African American, European American, Urban Life

Hunt, David C. The Lithographs of Charles Banks Wilson. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Few would dispute that Charles Banks Wilson is Oklahoma's best known and most successful living artist. His oil paintings or prints made of them have appeared everywhere from the inner rotunda of the state capitol to the covers of Southwestern Bell telephone books. Lithography is another of his favorite forms, and this handsome 270-page book reproduces some of the best that the process has yielded.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Art

James, Marquis. The Cherokee Strip: A Tale of an Oklahoma Boyhood. New York: Viking Press, 1945.

Later honored as a biographer, journalist, and recipient of two Pulitzer prizes, the author came to a rural claim staked by his father in the Cherokee Strip, in 1893. Much of his growing-up years were spent in the area's one "city" of any size, Enid, where his father had been so determined to erect the community's first two-story residence that he threw one up without a connecting stairway. That and other tales make their way into an account that manages to be both utterly incredible and perfectly believable.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Rural Life, Folklife - Community Life

Joyce, Davis D., ed. Alternative Oklahoma: Contrarian Views of the Sooner State. Foreword by Fred R. Harris. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.

Davis D. Joyce presents fourteen essays that interpret Oklahoma's unique populist past and address current political and social issues. Joyce invited scholars and political activists to opine on subjects ranging from gender, race and religion to popular music, the energy industry and economics.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction- Essays
  • Subject: Politics, Society, Gender

Keith, Harold. Rifles for Watie. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1957.

There was a time in which every Oklahoma schoolchild learned that the last Confederate general to surrender was the Cherokee Stand Watie - a "fact" that however pointless was thought to convey great importance to the state's history. General Watie and his doomed Cause provide the backdrop for this first-rate young reader's introduction to Oklahoma's own Civil War, one that added homegrown tragedies.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Children's Literature
  • Subject: History, Native American, Military

Keith, Harold. Foreword by Barry Tramel. Forty-seven Straight: The Wilkinson Era at Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

The number forty-seven, the name Bud Wilkinson, and the University of Oklahoma share a meaning for anyone with a passion for football. Forty-seven was the still-unapproachable number of consecutive victories that Bud Wilkinson earned while coaching the OU Sooners between 1953 and 1957. Writing as the university's long-time director of sports information, Harold Keith has enriched this account with the reflections of sixty-one men who played during that streak.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Sports & Leisure

Kimball, Yeffe and Jean Anderson. Foreword by Will Rogers, Jr. The Art of American Indian Cooking. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1965.

Although its reach extends beyond Oklahoma, this book is well-matched to the state that eventually became home to so many tribes from so much of America; and its presentations say as much about traditional cultures as they do traditional cooking. Its recipes are however adapted to what is at hand in today's kitchens and markets.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Cuisine

Klein, Joe. Woody Guthrie: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982.

Between stints first as entertainment columnist for Rolling Stone and political reporter for The New Yorker, Joe Klein encountered the story of a man he then knew only as Arlo Guthrie's father, Woody. With full access to the memories and correspondence of Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo's mother and Woody's widow, Klein went on to produce this first-rate biography of the singer/writer who was half-man, half-legend, and all Oklahoman.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: Folklife - Music, Rural Life

Lanham, Edwin. Introduction by Lawrence R. Rogers. The Stricklands: A Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Originally published in 1939, this is the story of two brothers, both tenant farmers, each faced with losing his faint grip upon his land in 1930s Oklahoma. No novel - not even John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath - so starkly or so movingly captures the gritty reality of life in rural Depression-era Oklahoma.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Rural Life

Lafferty, R. A. Okla Hannali. Garden City, New Jersey: Doubleday, 1972.

Primarily known for science fiction, the author here turns to historical fiction, with a short work that encompasses most of the nineteenth century. He tells it as the fictional life of Innominee, a Choctaw of the Okla Hannali clan, and witness to everything from the tribe's removal, to Oklahoma's statehood. His Innominee is a fully developed character with a personality as memorable as any experiences.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Native American

Letts, Billie. Where the Heart Is. New York: Warner Books, 1995.

Even before its selection for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club multiplied its readers exponentially, this novel enjoyed an appreciative if considerably smaller audience. Beginning when seventeen-year-old Novalee Nation, seven months and seven days pregnant, with just $7.77 to her name, finds herself abandoned at an Oklahoma Wal-Mart, the novel that unfolds is light enough, precious enough, and profound enough to serve as a modern American fairy tale.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Gender

Linenthal, Edward T. The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Until the horror of nine-eleven, no comparable event had so shaken and disturbed so many as the bombing of Oklahoma City's Murrah Building. Befitting a scholar whose previous work involves the commemoration of the Holocaust and the Smithsonian Institution's star-crossed attempt to mount an exhibit on the Enola Gay, this study only briefly addresses what happened in a few terrible minutes in a single American city. Instead, it ponders the many ways that Americans have struggled to understand what happened.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics, Society

Mankiller, Wilma and Michael Wallis. Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1993.

The first woman elected chief of a major tribe, Wilma Mankiller may have achieved initial notice with that striking last name, but her eventual importance transcends any accidents of surname, perhaps even of gender. Written with Michael Wallis, her story is part-memoir, part-history, and part-reflection upon what it means to be female and Indian and human in modern America.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Native American, Gender

Marriott, Alice. The Ten Grandmothers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1945.

Structured around thirty-three stories covering the years between 1847 and 1944, this book takes its title from the ten medicine bundles that the Kiowa have traditionally considered sacred. Following just a few Kiowa families through all those years, it captures both the language and the spirit of those families, the author's principal sources.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions, Religion & Spirituality

Marsh, Ralph, in collaboration with Gene Stipe. A Gathering of Heroes. Heavener, Oklahoma: Spring Mountain Press, 2000.

Years before surrendering his state senate seat in the wake of certain campaign irregularities, McAlester's Gene Stipe already had earned the honor of being the planet's longest-serving elected lawmaker (ever). He also had acquired the reputation of being Oklahoma's "Prince of Darkness," a title assigned him in a New Yorker article and accepted with pride. This is his story told his way, a way that includes stories of others who came from the hills of Oklahoma's Little Dixie to refashion an entire state in their image.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Politics

Mathews, John Joseph. The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.

As much epic as history, this very long book devotes itself to the Indians that called themselves the Little Ones. Others - Native Americans and everyone else, too - had no illusions about their stature, however. Fierce and proud, the Osage have lived in Oklahoma longer than any other peoples; and the tribe's history is in many ways the state's history. Mathews tells it thoroughly and sympathetically, even poetically.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Native American

McCoy, Doyle. Roadside Flowers of Oklahoma. Lawton: C and J Printing Co., 1976.

This handsome and convenient series of field collection booklets for Oklahoma wildflowers combines both text and photographs by a respected authority on the state's native plants. Grouped by flower color, its color photographs are printed against a black background to enhance their detail. The primary focus is upon plants large enough to be seen while driving down Oklahoma's highways.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Photographs, Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Milburn, George. Catalogue. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936.

All but forgotten now, George Milburn was considered a marvel by his contemporaries, beginning with fellow students at the University of Oklahoma. Even then, his wit and irreverence were so highly barbed and polished that he earned his living as a published writer - published by H. L. Mencken, no less. With Catalogue, Milburn hit the peak of his form with a sometimes hilarious, sometimes cruel depiction that drew (loosely) upon what he had detected and despised in his hometown, Coweta, Oklahoma.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life

Momaday, N. Scott. Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

A mute Indian boy meets then follows a figure he believes to be his beloved, dead grandfather. Over the course of that journey, the child enters into a circle binding him with all creation in a moment of peace and good will. Such, it appears, is this book's simple story. In Momaday's gifted hands, however, there is nothing at all simple about it.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Children's Literature
  • Subject: Native American, Religion & Spirituality

Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1964.

Honored with a Pulitzer prize for fiction and acclaimed for his mastery of every literary genre from poetry through children's stories, N. Scott Momaday is one thing when doing everything. He is Kiowa. With this book (its title referring to the Oklahoma site held to be the sacred center of the Kiowa universe), he unfolds his people's ancient legends and collective stories with singular talents.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Short Stories
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions, Religion & Spirituality

Morgan, Anne Hodges and Rennard Strickland. Oklahoma Memories. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981.

The idea behind this book must have been so obvious that no one thought of it, not until these authors collected a set of stories, all about growing up in Oklahoma. They vary from the oddly curious to the profoundly moving. Among the first are the memories Pearl Mesta, the Washington grand hostess who was raised in an Oklahoma City hotel. Among the latter, none is more powerful than Colonel Robinson Risner's recalling how his own Oklahoma memories sustained him through seven years of imprisonment and torture in North Vietnam.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History, Folklife - Oral Traditions, European American

Morris, John W., ed. Geography of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1977.

The work of twelve academic geographers, this collection takes the diversity characteristic of the modern discipline and applies it systematically to Oklahoma. Scarcely any aspect of the state lies beyond the geographers' collective reach; and nearly everything about Oklahoma profits with their examination.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Cultural/Human Geography

Morris, John W., Charles R. Goins, and Edwin C. McReynolds, comp. Historical Atlas of Oklahoma. 3rd ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

Eighty-three maps, each matched to a contextual essay, cover everything from Oklahoma's geography and prehistory through the distribution of its modern cities and industries. Maps and essays almost always interweave to illustrate and explain what has happened where and why.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Cultural-Human Geography

Musselwhite, Lynn and Suzanna Jones Crawford. One Woman's Political Journey: Kate Barnard and Social Reform, 1875-1930. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

Once famous but long forgotten, Kate Barnard, no less than Jane Addams or Florence Kelley was regarded an exemplar of what women could do in the cause of social reform. Oklahomans in 1907 elected her the first woman to occupy any statewide office in any state - the only woman to do that until woman's suffrage was nationally achieved (in 1920). After years of painstaking research and the careful crafting of their prose, these authors make her story one deservedly remembered.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Political History, Gender

Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma, compiled by the Writers' Program of the Works Progress Administration. With a restored essay by Angie Debo and a new introduction by Anne Hodges Morgan. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

Most of this book appeared in 1941 as part of the WPA series of state "Guides," so much of it will be dated, some out-of-date entirely. Nonetheless, the great bulk of it is just as useful now as then, and the single significant difference between the reprint and the original makes it still more valuable. The difference is that the 1941 original substituted an insipid, even ignorant, introduction for the one that Angie Debo had labored to write, without the bother of informing her or even removing her name as its author. Herein "restored," the still-penetrating essay says almost as much about the true Oklahoma as does its censoring.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History

Padgett, Ron. Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

This book's author is a poet of national reputation. Its subject - the poet's father - enjoyed a reputation neither as widespread nor as respectable. Wayne Padgett's business was bootlegging, and running illegal booze may have been among the least of his crimes.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

 Pasture and Range Plants. Hayes, Kansas: Fort Hayes State University, 1989.

First published in 1963 by Phillips Petroleum Company, this is an excellent introduction to the identification of prairie plant life. The printing is in a large format, using watercolors against a black background, to identify sixty-seven grasses, thirty-six legumes, and fifty-one forbs significant for grazing animals. A panel of text accompanies each drawing.

  • Place: Oklahoma, Great Plains
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Phillips, George R., Frank J. Gibbs, and Wilbur R. Mattoon. Forest Trees of Oklahoma and How to Know Them. Oklahoma City: Forestry Division, State Board of Agriculture, 1973.

Field botanists consider this a useful introduction to the identification of Oklahoma's woody species, including its shrubs and vines as well as trees. Each species receives a full-page, which includes line drawings of its leaves and, in some cases, its fruit.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment

Portis, Charles. True Grit. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.

Intellectuals generally dismiss Western literature as an oxymoron. Add the fact that Hollywood forever identified the novel with John Wayne, and one would be surprised to learn that respected literary critics consider Charles Portis a twentieth-century Mark Twain and True Grit his equivalent to Huckleberry Finn. Agree or not, there is no escaping the charm and drama of this mismatched pair's wanderings through the Indian Territory in search of justice and Lucky Ned Pepper.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History

Posey, Alexander. Edited by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., and Carol A. Petty Hunter. The Fus Fixico Letters: A Creek Humorist in Early Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002.

Alexander Posey was a Creek journalist, poet, and humorist with a national reputation in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. His most enduring literary creation was Fus Fixico, a Native American whose "conversations" with other fictional characters were every bit as humorous - and as insightful - as those of Finley Peter Dunne's famed Irishman, Mr. Dooley.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Native American, Folklife - Oral Traditions/Humor

Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows: The Story of Two Dogs and a Boy. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1961.

Well before Hollywood turned it into a "family" film, this simple story of a coon-hunting boy and his two beloved hounds neared perfection as a picture of a time and life that might already have been lost forever. As rustic and archaic as the story might sound, there is something in Wilson Rawl's telling of it that reaches beyond place and time to touch the human heart wherever and whenever it beats.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: Rural Life

Red Corn, Charles H. A Pipe for February: A Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002.

An incredible oil boom in the 1920s briefly made the Osage rich, incredibly rich. With fortune came homicide, most famously a series of murders committed by an intermarried white man whose victims included his wife's Osage relatives. Drawing upon Osage lore, Red Corn writes that story as the Osage have told it.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: History, Native American

Reinking, Dan L., ed. Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Drawing upon the work of more than a hundred volunteers and professionals who spent more than five years surveying nearly six hundred sites, this reference work offers a full array of data on both common and rare bird species to be found in Oklahoma. Entries include detailed specie counts and descriptions of plumage, habitat, nesting, eggs, and the young. More than two hundred color photos and maps add immeasurably, both to its ease of use and to its sheer beauty.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Revard, Carter. An Eagle Nation. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993.

Paradox may best describe this gifted poet, who was born in Pawhusaka, Oklahoma, raised in Buck Creek Valley, and educated in the community's one-room, eight-grade school. Better things lay ahead, however: a degree from the University of Tulsa, a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, a doctorate from Yale, and a series of prestigious teaching positions. Considered the most powerful of his poetry collections, An Eagle Nation is also the most personal, for it bears the distinct mark of the poet also known as Nompewathe, his Osage name, given him by his Osage grandmother.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Poetry
  • Subject: Native American

Riggs, Lynn. Green Grow the Lilacs: A Play. New York: S. French, 1930.

Outside of his home state, few are likely to know the name of this writer from then-small Claremore, Oklahoma. Fewer still might recognize this obscure play. But almost everyone is familiar with what happened to this little play when Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein added music and renamed it Oklahoma!

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Play
  • Subject: History, Society

Rodgers, Lawrence R. Whose Names are Unknown: A Novel. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

Born in Oklahoma Territory in 1907 and raised on its high plains, Sanora Babb was one of the tens of thousands who fled to California in the 1930s. In this quite personalized novel, she relates as fiction real experiences that she knew only too well.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Rural Life, European American

Ross, Glen. On Coon Mountain: Scenes from a Boyhood in the Oklahoma Hills. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

Few Oklahoma regions are as well known to state residents as the Cookson Hills. Once part of the Cherokee Nation, life in the hills had scarcely changed when Glen Ross was born near Coon Mountain in 1929. This book's main tale, what it means to have grown up there, is just as captivating as its closing pages, in which Ross contrasts the life he had known to the one he later found.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Native American, Rural Life

Ruth, Kent and Jim Argo. Edited by D. Ray Wilson. Oklahoma Historical Tour Guide. Carpentersville, Illinois: Crossroads Communications, 1992.

This book is both written and structured for the historic-minded traveler of Oklahoma. It takes the reader down one highway after another, until crisscrossing the entire state. At each of hundreds of stops along the way, the reader/traveler learns something of the history of this community or that site, often with precise driving directions to reach others lying off the main-traveled roads.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Travel, History, Rural Life

Rutland, Robert Allen. Boyhood in the Dust Bowl, 1926-1934. Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1995.

In academic circles, the author is known either as the scholar who edited several volumes of James Madison's papers or as the historian who wrote the definitive history concerning the Bill of Rights. Those who met Bob Rutland in this book, however, likely will leave it oblivious to any of that but fascinated by his ability to tell a tale able to capture the hearts of both the young and the not-so-young.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: History

Scales, James Ralph and Danney Goble. Oklahoma Politics: A History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982.

Covering essentially the period that opened with Oklahoma's statehood, in 1907, and ran into the 1970s, this is a thorough history of what, in Oklahoma, is as much a rough-and-tumble sport as it is policy-making. The organization is primarily by gubernatorial elections and administrations, but Oklahoma's place in national politics receives due attention.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Politics

Shirk, George H. Oklahoma Place Names. Revised Edition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

This classic reference work will have special value to newcomers to the state and to those who travel through it, in fact to anyone who wonders "Where did they come up with that name?" Starting with every Oklahoma community that once maintained a post office and including all seventy-seven counties as well as virtually every stream and mountain in the state, this book explores the Indian Territory period as well as the modern era.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Travel, History

Shirley, Glenn. Law West of Fort Smith: A History of Frontier Justice in Indian Territory; and West of Hell's Fringe: Crime, Criminals, and the Federal Peace Officer in Oklahoma Territory, 1889-1907. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.

More than common authorship and similarity of titles makes these books a natural pair. Covering only the old Indian Territory - essentially modern Oklahoma's eastern half - the first concentrates on the justice side, especially the justice meted out by the famed "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker. The second covers modern Oklahoma's western portions, those once collectively called Oklahoma Territory, and its emphasis is the opposite: upon the criminals and gangs that so badly tested any notion of justice.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Singer, Mark. Funny Money. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

When one year's oil boom turned into another year's oil bust, the first casualties included an undistinguished little bank set down in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City shopping center. But the collapse of Penn Square Bank proved to be the first domino to fall in a long chain that nearly toppled the nation's entire banking industry. This eminently readable account explains how and why that could happen.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Smith, Annick, Photographs by Harvey Payne. Big Bluestem: A Journey into the Tall Grass. Tulsa: Council Oak Books, 1996.

Beautifully illustrated and handsomely presented, this may be as much a work of history and sociology as it is of ecology. The subject is 37,500 acres of stunning prairie land that lie near Pawhuska, in Osage county, Oklahoma. Moreover, its story is the fate of what had been Osage hunting lands then part of the sprawling Chapman-Barnard Ranch before becoming owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy and called the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment

Stanley, Jerry. Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the Weedpatch Camp. New York: Crown, 1992.

The book is about Oklahomans-in-exile, the most vulnerable ones at that. It tells of migrant children called Okies, of what they and their families had left behind, and of the world they, themselves, had to build. It is written for today's children of the sixth grade and up, and those who read it will learn just how resourceful and how brave children can be.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Society

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking Press, 1939.

Easily the book most often associated with Oklahoma, this also is the book most likely to cause some Oklahomans to insist that it was written by a non-Oklahoman, who had never as much as visited Oklahoma and who obviously knew nothing about Oklahoma. That such passion persists bespeaks its importance, but Steinbeck's insights make it a masterpiece.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Historical Fiction
  • Subject: Rural Life

Stewart, Roy P. Born Grown: An Oklahoma City History. Oklahoma City: Fidelity Bank, 1974.

This is a journalistic history of Oklahoma's capital city, starting before it was the capital, before it was a city, before it even existed. Within minutes of high noon, April 22, 1889, it did exist, though, having been "born grown." Oklahoma City's passages through its awkward years and into maturity complete the tale.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Urban Life

Strickland, Rennard. The Indians in Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.

Prepared to be one of ten short histories of ten Oklahoma ethnic groups, this volume stands alone, and the reason transcends even the importance of this particular group. Because he sees history as the act of remembrance, the author weaves into his scholarly account innumerable examples of Indian poetry, painting, prose, and countless artifacts. This history of Oklahoma's Indians thus becomes, in its own right, a piece of Indian culture.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Culture, Native American

Sutton, George Miksch. Fifty Common Birds of Oklahoma and the Southern Great Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.

This is a personal work done by the ornithologist famed (in some circles) for his Oklahoma Birds: Their Ecology and Distribution, with Comments on the Avifauna of the Southern Plains. Those of plainer bent will appreciate much more the fifty beautiful illustrations and Dr. Sutton's almost chatty account of each species, including its favored habitat and characteristic nests, eggs, and songs.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Switzer, Barry with Bud Shrake. Bootlegger's Boy. New York: W. Morrow, 1990.

Between 1973 and 1989 Barry Switzer gave the University of Oklahoma a football program known almost as well for its indiscretions off the field as for its success on it. Three national championships, a small army of All-Americans, almost routine conference championships - these were parts of Switzer's legacy. In this remarkably frank autobiography, Switzer talks candidly about all that and about a lot more.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Diary/Memoir/Autobiography
  • Subject: Sports & Leisure

Thomas, Joyce Carol. Marked by Fire. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Joyce Carol Thomas left for an upbringing in California when she was ten. It is to Oklahoma that she so often returns, however, and her stories resonate with Oklahoma language, Oklahoma rhythms, and Oklahoma sensibility. None do that better than this tale of Abyssinian Jackson and of a life in which romance and remorse interact with loss and hope.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Fiction and Literature - Novel
  • Subject: African American, Folklife - Community Life

Tiger, Peggy and Molly Babcock. The Life and Art of Jerome Tiger: War to Peace, Death to Life. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980.

Although just twenty-six when his life ended in a gun accident, Jerome Tiger is famed for a style of painting that earlier Native Americans had developed and he perfected. Clean and uncluttered, their fine lines and exquisite colors seem to flow together and suggest both movement and emotion. With its compelling text and full-color illustrations, this beautiful book reveals the visual effects, but it can only hint at the inner genius behind them.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Art

Tyrl, Ronald J., Terrence G. Birdwell, and Ronald E. Masters, illus. by Bellamy Parks Jansen. Field Guide to Oklahoma Plants: Commonly Encountered Prairie, Shrubland, and Forest Species. Stillwater: Department of Plant and Soil Science, Oklahoma State University, 2002.

Equally superior for its written descriptions and its accompanying line drawings, this field guide identifies 203 species of plants commonly found in Oklahoma, with an emphasis upon the non-woody types. For each species, the authors systematically provide critical diagnostic characteristics; other plants with which it is commonly confused; both former and current names commonly in use; and extended remarks that typically touching upon the plant's regional distribution, ecology, economic significance, and importance to wildlife.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: Nature & Environment, Hobbies

Van Riper, Guernsey. Will Rogers: Young Cowboy. Childhood of Famous Americans Series. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril, 1951.

One of Oklahoma's two choices for the Capitol's Statuary Hall (Sequoyah is the other), Will Rogers mastered every form of entertainment in his day. Young readers today will find his life as a boy - a boy who was both cowboy and Indian - just as entertaining now.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History

Wallis, Michael. The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Although it covered some 100,000 acres and styled itself the nation's largest integrated agricultural operation, the 101 Ranch was best known neither for its size nor for its husbandry but for its road show, a spectacle of cowboy daring-do that toured the globe, leaving behind what many came to believe was "real" about the "wild west." This book shows that what was real about the 101, itself, was at least as romantic and maybe just as wild as any show it produced.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History

Wallis, Michael. Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

With the possible exception of Alfalfa Bill Murray and the obvious exception of Will Rogers, no one was more identified with Oklahoma in the 1930s than Pretty Boy Floyd. Although it painstakingly leads readers through the short life that began in the hills of eastern Oklahoma and ended in a hail of gunfire from the F.B.I., this book's real worth involves what appears along the way: an entire culture, one vast enough, thick enough, and complex enough to produce Pretty Boy Floyd and a lot more as well.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, Society

Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl: The Southern Great Plains in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Written from an ecological perspective, this account of the famous 1930s disaster probes beneath the howling wind and churning dust and examines the mix of geography and culture that briefly turned portions of western Oklahoma into a Dust Bowl. Its conclusion that a fragile environment simply could not (and cannot) tolerate the unrestrained drive to turn nature into profit likely will be preposterous to some, unsettling to others, and obvious to many.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: History, Nature & Environment, Rural Life

Wright, Muriel H. A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951.

This reference work is the indispensable introduction to the sixty-seven Indians tribes that have found homes in Oklahoma. Some receive more coverage than others, but the basic and essential information is available for all, including each tribe's origins, history, customs, government, and present location.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Reference
  • Subject: History, Native American, Cultural/Human Geography

Wycoff, Lydia L., ed. Visions and Voices: Native American Painting from the Philbrook Museum of Art. Tulsa: Philbrook Museum of Art; distributed by University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

Although known primarily for its holdings of European art, Tulsa's Philbrook Museum also has collected the art of American Indians. This book's 304 pages present much of that art, many represented in full-color. Accompanying essays survey the history of Native American paintings and explore the unique role that tiny Bacone College has played in Indian art over the twentieth century.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Monograph
  • Subject: Native American, Art

Yagoda, Ben. Will Rogers: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1993.

If largely unknown to recent generations, Will Rogers was for many of their ancestors the personification of all that was best about Oklahoma - not least for his sense of humor and proportion. Yagoda's book, a full-life biography of this larger-than-life figure, manages to pull Rogers out of the past and set him squarely before the most contemporary of audiences.

  • Place: Oklahoma
  • Genre: Nonfiction - Biography
  • Subject: History, European American