Kansas History - Forthcoming Issue
Dennis M. Dailey, “Josiah Miller, an Antislavery Southerner: Letters to Father and Mother.”
Arriving in Lawrence, Kansas Territory, in the fall of 1854, where he and his friend and business partner, Robert G. Elliott, established the Kansas Free State, Josiah Miller was for the next sixteen years active in journalism, local and territorial politics, and a wide variety of business activities. Miller was born and raised in northern South Carolina, but his family and religious community were antislavery, an increasingly dangerous thing to be in the South during the late antebellum period. So Josiah Miller moved north to attend college and study law, and once settled in Kansas he sought to facilitate a similar exodus for his father, mother, and several siblings. “It took until April 1858 for Miller’s family to join him in Kansas Territory,” writes Professor Dennis M. Dailey, “and in the years between his arrival and theirs, they kept up a correspondence on matters personal and political that survives as a witness to the struggles of frontier life during the days of Bleeding Kansas.”
Ryan M. Kennedy, “‘Drunk and Disorderly’: The Origins and Consequences of Alcoholism at Fort Hays.”
Established after the end of the Civil War, Fort Hays was positioned to protect the Smoky Hill Trail, the most efficient route to the gold fields of Colorado. While the trail wound through well-established Indian hunting grounds and initially caused friction between Indians and whites, by 1870 the “Indian problem” had largely abated. Unlikely to engage in combat with Indians, soldiers at the fort instead served mostly as laborers, in nearby Hays City, with the railroad, and at the fort itself. The tedious, routine-driven lifestyle enforced by Fort Hays commanders, in combination with feelings of frontier isolation and boredom, often led to resistance in the form of alcohol use. Utilizing court-martial records, Post Orders, and soldier journals, Ryan Kennedy argues that the barren circumstances at Fort Hays created an atmosphere ripe for alcohol abuse. Additionally, “Drunk and Disorderly” outlines the history of alcohol usage within American culture, the consequences of alcohol abuse in the frontier military, and the effects of excessive alcoholism on temperance policies.
Thomas Prasch, editor, “From Projections of the Past to Fantasies of the Future: Kansas and the Great Plains in Recent Film.”
In his introduction to the seventh installment in the journal’s biennial film review series, Washburn University history professor Tom Prasch notes that many of the films under consideration look forward as much as they look back, for“just as Kansas’s past has a walk-on part in the cinema’s most significant recent historical epics, its future plays a part on the silver screen as well.” Twenty films are reviewed here by a diverse group of fine Kansas scholars: the classic Splendor in the Grass (1961), an ill-fated love story set in 1920s Kansas; the PBS documentary The Abolitionists (2013), which focuses on John Brown as one of five individuals who pushed forward the antislavery cause; two quite different documentaries on the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Ken Burns’s The Dust Bowl (2012) and Harvesting the High Plains (2012); Sandzén: Ecstasy of Color (2010), an exploration the life and work of Kansas artist and art booster Birger Sandzén;Earthwork (2011), a feature film about the life and work of Kansas “crop artist” Stan Herd; Barbara Johns: The Making of an Icon (2012), which remembers the experience of one of the eventual plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas;a documentary on the rise and decline of Florence, Kansas (2011);She Told Me Stories (2013), a weaving together of the oral histories of Kansas’s women; seven short films sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, A Drive through History along the Post Rock Scenic Byway (2009),C. L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony, 1872–1935 (2012), Kansas State Penitentiary: An Institution and a Neighbor (2008), Strugglers Hill: A People, A Community (2011), Oil and Gold: The McPherson Globe Refiners Basketball Story (2012), Preserving the Past: Topeka’s Jayhawk Theatre (2011), Uncommon Ground: A Century of Bartlett Arboretum (2011); Lawrence-based filmmaker Kevin Willmott’s sci-fi send-up Destination Planet Negro! (2013); Hollywood’s Cowboys and Aliens (2011), in which sci-fi meets Western; and, lastly, two Wizard of Oz reimaginings, Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) and After the Wizard (2011).