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Kansas History - Spring 2017

Kansas History, Spring 2017(Volume 40, Number 1)

Patricia Michaelis, “Crisis of Loyalty: Examples of Anti-German Sentiment from Kansas Memory.”

The upcoming centennial of the declaration of war by the United States against Germany in World War I has generated increased interest in studying this topic. The Great War impacted Kansans in many ways; by enlisting and serving in the military, developing military training facilities at Camp Funston near Fort Riley, coping with an influenza epidemic, and promoting support for the war on the home front. War fervor affected immigrants with German backgrounds who had settled in Kansas. In “Crisis of Loyalty,” Pat Michaelis reviews some of the primary sources concerning German Americans available on Kansas Memory, the Kansas Historical Society’s digital portal. Included are letters from Governor Arthur Capper’s papers identifying “slackers” who did not support Liberty Bond drives or the efforts of the American Red Cross as well as several newspaper clippings raising suspicions against Kansans of German descent or recent immigrants such as the Mennonites and other Germans from Russia who spoke German at home, in schools, and churches. The examples discussed in this essay illustrate the challenges faced by these immigrants of German descent who had chosen to make Kansas their home.

Marilyn Irvin Holt, Abilene. “Women as Casualties of World War I and Spanish Influenza: A Kansas Study.”

During World War I, servicemen who died in battle or from influenza were honored as casualties of war. This article demonstrates that women received the same recognition from their hometowns, the U.S. military, the medical community, and relief organizations such as the American Red Cross. The Kansas women featured in this study came from rural communities and from cities, and most were in their twenties. All expressed a desire to do their “bit” for the war effort, whether their skills were needed overseas or in the States. The Kansas casualties of war include a Red Cross aid worker, civilian nurses, and military nurses. The names of two women were given to American Legion posts. The individuals’ stories are set within the larger context of women in military service, the influenza epidemic in Kansas and at military installations, and a national impulse to publicly mourn and honor women who died while carrying out their duties.    

Taylor Bye, “Jayhawk Colonel: Daniel Read Anthony and the Union Officer in the Civil War.”

Since Stephen Starr published Jennison’s Jayhawkers in 1973, the dominant narrative of Daniel Read Anthony has been as a radical abolitionist whose views conflicted with the Union’s reluctance to emancipate slaves. A close study of Anthony’s personal correspondence, informed by the most recent advancements in Civil War scholarship, leads to a new interpretation of Anthony’s story. It is clear that Anthony possessed a particular logic about the type of war that he was engaged in. His logic was based on his experience in the Kansas-Missouri Border Wars. He applied that logic to his enactment of Union policy. Instead of entirely contradicting Union policy, Anthony interpreted and manipulated policies based on his perception of the war. His operational control as commander of the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry allowed him to do so. This article examines Anthony’s actions and responses by his superiors. It also compares his policies with those of his peers, and explains how both differed from official Union policy. Making these comparisons shows how individual Union unit commanders at the regimental and brigade level could determine how soldiers, slaves, and civilians felt about Union policy.

Thomas Prasch, edited and introduced by, “The Place of the Present in the Past: Diachronicity in Recent Kansas/Plains Films.”

Coming early this time around because of a special summer issue on the Chisholm Trail, the ninth installment of Kansas History’s biennial film review series opens with an introduction by the essay’s editor, Thomas Prasch, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Washburn University. Professor Prasch provides some useful context for a fascinating group of fifteen reviews that cover a lot of territory, from two Hollywood classics—Bonnie and Clyde, first released fifty years ago this year amid much controversy over its violence and its glamorization of criminality, and The Magnificent Sevenand its 2016 remake—to a pair of basketball themed films by University of Kansas professor and local film maker, Kevin Willmott: Fast Break, a documentary about coach John McLendon breaking through racial barriers in basketball, and The Profit, Willmott’s fictional film about the contemporary professional sports scene. This issue’s line up, as we are wont to do, also includes something for Dorothy, Toto, and company. L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) was one of many books that, at the turn of that century, imagined new and wonderful worlds. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, dystopic visions outnumber the utopian. The film Ozland, reviewed for us by Thomas Fox Averill, cleverly juxtaposes the idealized and the grim.

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