Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

May 1996


Published in Great Plains Research 6:1 (Spring 1996). Copyright © 1996 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Kansas was born in the bloody prelude to the Civil War, a contested territory between North and South. The settlement frontier had penetrated only the eastern third of the state before war broke out; the western two-thirds saw the frontier push westward for several decades after the war, from 1865 to 1885. In the state's extreme western parts the frontier expanded and contracted several times between 1890 and 1930. James Shortridge sets out to explore the origins of Kansas cultural geography with such questions as: Who were these "first effective" settlers on the Kansas frontier? Where did they come from? Were they Northerners or Southerners or Europeans? Did a vivid cultural mosaic emerge in Kansas?