Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 26:4 (Fall 2006). Copyright © 2006 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


No scholar might be better qualified to write a biography of Calamity Jane than James McLaird. During a protracted career as a professor of history at Dakota Wesleyan University, he prepared a grassroots bibliography for South Dakota and published articles about exploration west of the Missouri River while he collected and marketed rare books about the history of the northern Great Plains. He makes the point that had Calamity Jane never existed, substantive themes in either state or regional history would not have been affected but western folklore would have diminished.