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Kansas History - Forthcoming issue

Kansas History, Autumn 2023Autumn 2023

(Volume 46, Number 3)

Autumn 2023, Vol. 46, no. 3

“The Stern Old Bachelor, Arthur L. Stokesberry, and His Ballad: Reigniting Research in Great Plains Folksong”
by Thomas D. Isern

"The Stern Old Bachelor," originally entitled “Kansas Bachelor Song,” is a fixture in the canon of Great Plains balladry. Now, the digitization of primary sources makes it possible to trace this song, like many other prairie ballads, to its previously unknown genesis. The establishment of the song's authorship by a denizen of Kingman and Lane counties, Arthur Loreny Stokesberry, suggests the potential for new lines of research on old songs. Moreover, every such breakthrough in ballad lineage reopens the great debate over ballad origins that, a century ago, pitted Louise Pound and other prairie songcatchers against established literary theorists. Stokesberry in the 1880s was a schoolteacher in Kingman County, then a homesteader, a businessman, and a Republican politician in Lane County before relocating to the Cherokee Strip in the 1890s. A fiddler and a raconteur, he wrote his “Kansas Bachelor Song” from his Lane County homestead in 1887. Stokesberry is representative of the balladeer as folk artist on the Great Plains and is parcel to a regional efflorescence in folksong to which Kansas was central.

“Blue Sky, or Buyer Beware: The Moun Day Investment Scheme Tests Kansas’s Pioneering 1911 Regulation”
by David Ress

Kansas was first in the national effort to regulate how stocks and bonds were sold to the public. The Blue Sky Act of 1911 reflected approaches to commerce and to financing business that were common in the state at the time but fading elsewhere. The first legal test came when a Topeka promoter of a sugar-farming and processing venture, Don Moun Day, challenged it as unconstitutional. This trial reflected Kansans’ attitudes when it upheld the view that state regulation was an appropriate exercise of police power. Although federal judges overturned other states' laws modeled on the Kansas Blue Sky Act in the years that followed, the Kansas approach provided effective protection against financial abuse. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this approach.

“‘Americanism Transplanted’: Carl Becker’s Kansas”
by Carl Becker, with a foreword by Eric Brandom and Kristen Epps

This article is the first installment in a new series revisiting articles published in the Kansas Historical Quarterly, offering classic research with updated forewords for a new generation. The series begins with a foreword by Eric Brandom and Kristen Epps about an article that did not appear in the Quarterly, but that nevertheless remains relevant to Kansas historians. In his 1910 essay “Kansas,” Carl Becker wrote about what Kansas is, what it means to those who live there, and how it embodied the spirit of America and all of her virtues. He focuses his American idealism on how Kansas had a worthy past distinguishing it from other states. He also contemplates the paradoxes bound to American culture and their relation to the identity of Kansas and her inhabitants. Complementing the longer essay is a one of his lesser-known publications, a newspaper editorial from the Larned Tiller and Toiler, also published in 1910. There Becker responds to those who question the value of universities, lauding higher education’s ability to produce upstanding citizens and leaders for a democratic society.

Editor's Note

Book Reviews

Book Notes