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Kansas History - Forthcoming issue

Kansas History, Spring 2023Spring 2023

(Volume 46, Number 1)

“The First Kanza Agency and Treaty Community of Kansas” by James V. Ralston and Lauren W. Ritterbush

In 1825 the Kanza tribe, represented by White Plume and other influential Kaw, signed a land-cession treaty with the United States as presented to them by William Clark. To administer the treaty, the federal government built an agency in 1827 on the banks of the Kansas River east of the newly established Kanza reservation. The agency, consisting of several log cabins, was staffed by men with government and regional business connections or relationships to White Plume. Through their actions, the federal government sought to acculturate the Kanza and transform them into the Euro-American image of sedentary farmers. Although that goal was not realized, the agency acted as a magnet for the Kanza and many of the families that developed through the union of men of European descent with Kanza women. A diverse extended community formed around the agency including its staff and their families, French-Indian métis, Kanza, a trader, and missionaries. This community served as a focal point for the Kanza until the agency was decommissioned in 1834, by which time Kanza settlements had become established in the eastern portion of the nearby Kansas River reservation.

“The Salina Northern, Hunter, and the Twilight of Urbanization on the Kansas Frontier” by Tom Schmiedeler

The construction of the Salina Northern Railroad across north-central Kansas from Salina to Osborne from 1915 to 1917, and the platting of eight new towns along the route, seemed incompatible with social and economic trends emerging after the turn of the century. With the advent of the automobile, new railroad construction and related town development were relics of the past in this so-called “twilight of the frontier.” Relevant factors to this expansion included a declining population, the abandonment of rail lines and their towns, the emergence of transformative technologies in transportation and agricultural mechanization, rising costs of railroad construction, and financial difficulties afflicting major rail carriers. Hunter was the most successful of the eight towns on the Salina Northern. How Hunter’s railroad officials and proprietors accomplished this feat had much to do with geography, human ingenuity, and an understanding of the technological changes developing the 1910s.

“Why Museums Change: The Story of the Kansas Museum of History” by Bobbie Athon, Sarah Bell, and Mary W. Madden

During the Kansas Historical Society’s 148-year history, the agency has undergone three moves. The last move to the campus in west Topeka established the Kansas Museum of History in 1984. Those displays became dated over time and are currently being updated through a major renovation. As the gallery’s artifacts are being carefully removed and stored, updated scholarship, current technologies, and immersive experiences are being incorporated into the renovated gallery. Since the society’s founding, ideas about how to tell the story of Kansas history, and which objects to use in illustration, have broadened to tell a more inclusive history that includes a range of voices and perspectives. Curatorial and registration processes have also evolved that further professionalize the museum discipline, including an active collecting plan to ensure the museum’s artifact collections represent the diversity of Kansas history. The Kansas Museum of History, impacted by many of these changes over time, now enters its next phase. But it continues to keep its mission at the center: preserving and sharing Kansas history in order to enrich people’s lives.

Book Reviews

Book Notes