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African Americans in Kansas and the West

In addition to this list, please search our online catalog for items cataloged since 1994 and Kansas Memory for items that have been digitized.

Black Cowboys and the Cattle Trail in Kansas

Durham, Philip. "The Negro Cowboy." American Quarterly 7 (Fall 1955): 291-301. Long neglected figure on trail and ranch; estimates that blacks accounted for one-fourth of all western cowboys.

Durham, Philip, and Everett L. Jones. The Negro Cowboys. 1965. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Coming to Kansas: Migration to Freedom

Athearn, Robert G. "Black Exodus: The Migration of 1879." The Prairie Scout 3 (1975): 86-97.

Athearn, Robert G. In Search of Canaan: Black Migration to Kansas, 1879-1880. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1978.

Entz, Gary R. "Image and Reality on the Kansas Prairie: `Pap' Singleton's Cherokee County Colony." Kansas History 19 (Summer 1996): 124-139. The author casts new light on this less than successful 1870s colonization effort.

Fleming, Walter L. "`Pap' Singleton, The Moses of the Colored Exodus." American Journal of Sociology 15 (July 1909): 61-68.

Frehill-Rowe, Lisa M. "Postbellum Race Relations and Rural Land Tenure: Migration of Blacks and Whites to Kansas and Nebraska, 1870-1890." Social Forces 72 (September 1993): 77-92. A quantitative analysis of census data leads the author to the conclusion that "significant determinants of migration varied between the groups."

Garvin, Roy. "Benjamin, or `Pap,' Singleton and His Followers." Journal of Negro History 33 (January 1948): 7-23.

Grenz, Suzanna M. "The Exodusters of 1879: St. Louis and Kansas City Responses." Missouri Historical Review 73 (October 1978): 54-70.

Hickey, Joseph V. "`Pap' Singleton's Dunlap Colony: Relief Agencies and the Failure of a Black Settlement in Eastern Kansas." Great Plains Quarterly 11 (Winter 1991): 23-36. Considered a "failure in terms of establishing a persistent farming community" and "a success in allowing individual black families to escape poverty and overcrowding."

Higgins, Billy D. "Negro Thought and the Exodus of 1879." Phylon 32 (Spring 1971): 39-52. The "spring frenzy" accounted for most of the relatively small total number (10-20 thousand) of immigrants and differences of opinion regarding "Exodus" that came from within black community.

Painter, Nell Irvin. Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. Based on a doctoral dissertation done at Harvard, 1974.

Painter, Nell Irvin. "Millenarian Aspects of the Exodus to Kansas in 1879." Journal of Social History 9 (Spring 1976): 331-338.

Pantle, Alberta, editor. "The Story of a Kansas Freedman." Kansas Historical Quarterly 11 (November 1942): 341-369. Larry Lapsley's story of his escape from slavery during Civil War and settlement in Saline County.

Peoples, Morgan D. "Kansas Fever in North Louisiana." Louisiana History 11 (Spring 1970): 121-135. Black Exodusters to Kansas, 1878-79. His 1950 LSU thesis was titled "Negro Migration from the Lower Mississippi Valley to Kansas, 1879-1880."

Promised Land on the Solomon: Black Settlement at Nicodemus, Kansas. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region, n.d.

Schwendemann, Glen. "The `Exodusters' on the Missouri." Kansas Historical Quarterly 29 (Spring 1963): 25-40. Wyandotte was destination of many blacks who made great 1879 exodus by riverboat with high hopes for "promised land."

__________. "Nicodemus: Negro Haven on the Solomon." Kansas Historical Quarterly 34 (Spring 1968): 10. Among other things, attention is given to three of the town's early leaders, John W. Niles, A. T. Hall, and E. P. McCabe.

__________. "St. Louis and the `Exodusters' of 1879." Journal of Negro History 46 (January 1961): 32-46. His 1957 master's thesis was titled "Negro Exodus to Kansas: First Phase, March-July, 1879."

__________. "Wyandotte and the First `Exodusters' of 1879." Kansas Historical Quarterly 26 (Autumn 1960): 233-249. Governor John P. St. John and efforts to provide relief for thousands of hopeful black settlers.

Sheridan, Richard B. "From Slavery in Missouri to Freedom in Kansas: The Influx of Black Fugitives and Contrabands Into Kansas, 1854-1865." Kansas History 12 (Spring 1989): 28-47.

Strickland, Arvarh E. "Toward the Promised Land: The Exodus to Kansas and Afterward." Missouri Historical Review 69 (July 1975): 376-412.

Van Deusen, John G. "The Exodusters of 1879." Journal of Negro History 21 (April 1936): 111-129.

Woods, Randall B., and David A. Sloan. "Kansas Quakers and the `Great Exodus': Conflicting Perceptions of Responsibility Within a Nineteenth Century Reform Community." The Historian 48 (November 1985): 24-40.

Newspapers and the African-American Experience in Kansas

Cooper, Arnold. "`Protection to All, Discrimination to None': The Parsons Weekly Blade, 1892-1900." Kansas History 9 (Summer 1986): 58-71. Shows "concerns of blacks in Kansas" during that era, as reflected in "colored" press.

Deacon, Marie. "Kansas as the Promised Land: The View of the Black Press, 1890-1900." Master's thesis, University of Arkansas, 1973.

Gatewood, Willard B., Jr. "Kansas Negroes and the Spanish-American War." Kansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Autumn 1971): 300. Focuses on black newspaper reaction but includes photos of 23rd Kansas, all black regiment commanded by black officers, which did garrison duty in Cuba.

Hamilton, Kenneth Marvin. "The Origins and Early Promotion of Nicodemus: A Pre-Exodus, All-Black Town." Kansas History 5 (Winter 1982): 220.

Haywood, C. Robert. "The Hodgeman County Colony." Kansas History 12 (Winter 1989/90): 210-221. Another pre-Exoduster black settlement in the town of Morton.

Klassen, Teresa C., and Owen V. Johnson. "Sharpening the Blade: Black Consciousness in Kansas, 1892-1897." Journalism Quarterly 63 (Summer 1986): 298-304. E. W. Dorsey and his Parsons Weekly Blade.

Moten, Rashey B., Jr. "The Negro Press of Kansas." Master's thesis, University of Kansas, 1936. Includes "Chronological List of Negro Newspapers In Kansas form 1876 to 1938."

Ratzlaff, Alene J. "Black press pioneers in Kansas: connecting and extending communities in three geographic sections, 1878-1900." [microform] Doc. diss., University of Florida, 2001.  Focuses on six newspapers: the Leavenworth Advocate, Leavenworth Herald, Topeka State Ledger, the Kansas City American Citizen, the Parsons Weekly Blade, and the National Reflector of Wichita.

Suggs, Henry Lewis, editor. The Black Press in the Middle West, 1865-1985. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. In addition to a Kansas article--"The Black Press and the Search for Hope and equality in Kansas"--by Dorothy V. Smith, the volume contains ten state focused essays, including studies of the neighboring states of Nebraska and Oklahoma and an interpretive conclusion by the editor.

Tuttle, William M., Jr., and Surenda Bhana. "Black Newspapers in Kansas." American Studies 13 (Fall 1972): 119-124. Lists 71 Black newspapers from 19th and 20th centuries.

Williams, Nudie E. "Black Newspapers and the Exodusters." Doc. diss., Oklahoma State University, 1977.

Williams, Nudie E. "Black Newspapers and the Exodusters of 1879." Kansas History 8 (Winter 1985/86): 217.

Woods, Randall B. "The Black American Press and the New Manifest Destiny: The Waller Affair." Phylon 38 (March 1977): 24-34. John L. Waller was a Kansas editor, lawyer, and diplomat in Africa.

Soldiers and the Military

Carroll, John M., editor. The Black Military Experience in the American West. New York: Liveright, 1971. A collection of primary and secondary materials.

Cornish, Dudley Taylor. "Kansas Negro Regiments in the Civil War." Kansas Historical Quarterly 20 (May 1953): 417-417. Story of two black regiments, very active militarily on western frontier; Kansas Sen. Jim Lane especially vocal in advocacy for using black troops. This article was reprinted as a booklet in 1969 by the Civil Rights Commission; Cornish's The Sable Arm concentrates on Black troops in the Civil War.

Fisher, Mike. "The First Kansas Colored Massacre at Poison Springs." Kansas History 2 (Summer 1979): 121-128. Action near Camden, Ark., April 18, 1864.

Fowler, Arlen L. The Black Infantry in the West, 1869-1891. Westport, Conn.: 1971. Deals with the 24th and 25th Infantry.

Leckie, William H. The Buffalo Soldier: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967. The standard account of the African American military experience during the Indian wars; still very reliable.

Leiker, Jim. "The Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Hays." Master's thesis, Fort Hays State University, 1992. A social history of the black troopers who played a significant role on Kansas' Indian frontier.

Civil Rights

Bordman, Marcia Beth. "Dear Old Golden Days: A Study in the Rhetoric of Separate-but-Equal in Roberts v. City of Boston (1849), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and Brown v. Board of Education (1954)." Doc. diss., University of Maryland, College Park, 1993. A study of how jurists exploited "long-lived American rhetoric to increase the emotional charge of their conventional arguments."

Carper, James C. "The Popular Ideology of Segregated Schooling: Attitudes Toward the Education of Blacks in Kansas, 1854-1900." Kansas History 1 (Winter 1978): 254.

Dunbar, Leslie W. "Not by Law Alone: Brown in Retrospect." Virginia Quarterly Review 70 (Spring 1994): 205-219.

Eick, Gretchen Cassel. Dissent in Wichita: the civil rights movement in the midwest, 1954-72. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2001.

__________. "'Lift every voice': the civil rights movement and America's heartland, Wichita, Kansas, 1954-1972." [microform] Doc. diss., University of Kansas, 1997.

Hart, Nettie Lee Collins. "African American community perspectives on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954." [microform] Doc. diss., University of Kansas, 1997.

Hulston, Nancy J. "`Our Schools Must Be Open to All Classes of Citizens': The Desegregation of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, 1938." Kansas History 19 (Summer 1996): 88-97. The interesting story of the admission of the first black student to the medical school's clinical program upon the insistence of Governor Walter A. Huxman.

Hunt, R. J. "The Brown Sculpture: A Project Brown. A Work of Sculpture to Commemorate the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Decision of 1954." Kansas Quarterly 9 (Fall 1977): 50-51.

Katz, Milton S., and Susan B. Tucker. "A Pioneer in Civil Rights: Esther Brown and the South Park Desegregation Case of 1948." Kansas History 18 (Winter 1995/1996): 234-247. Brown, a social activist who was later instrumental in the Brown v. Board case, played a lead role in the successful fight to get this Kansas City area school system to end illegal segregation.

Klarman, Michael J. "How the Brown Decision Changed Race Relations: The Backlash Thesis." Journal of American History 81 (June 1994): 81-118. Concentrates on the southern response to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision and its "indirect contribution to racial change" by focusing "on the backlash against Brown" and the resulting crystallization of "southern resistance to racial change."

Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. The most complete history of the five different public school cases that reached the U. S. Supreme Court as Brown. Considerable coverage of Kansas case.

Lawrence, Dennis. "The impact of local, state, and federal government decisions on the segregation and subsequent integration of Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas." [microform] Doc. diss., University of Kansas, 1997.

Masters, Isabell. "The Life and Legacy of Oliver Brown, the First Listed Plaintiff of Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas." Doc. diss., University of Oklahoma, 1980.

(McCoy), Sondra Van Meter. "Black Resistance to Segregation in the Wichita Public Schools, 1870-1912." Midwest Quarterly 20 (Autumn 1978): 64-77.

McCusker, Kristine M. "`The Forgotten Years' of America's Civil Rights Movement: Wartime Protests at the University of Kansas, 1939-1945." Kansas History 17 (Spring 1994): 26-37. Black and white students united in opposition to discriminatory policies on the university's Lawrence campus.

McKenzie, Sandra Craig. "Paul Wilson: Kansas Lawyer." University of Kansas Law Review 37 (Fall 1988): 1-59. Biographical essay which traces the life of Paul Wilson from his birth on a Osage County farm through his role in the landmark Brown case, to his retirement after 25 years on the Kansas University law school faculty.

Schulz, Harry Richard. "Brown v. Topeka: A Legacy of Courage and Struggle." Doc. diss., Ball State University, 1971.

Vandever, Elizabeth J. "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: Anatomy of a Decision." Doc. diss., University of Kansas, 1971.

Wilkinson, J. Harvie, III. From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration, 1954-1978. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Considers the legacy of Brown through subsequent segregation cases.

Wilson, Paul E. "Brown v. Board of Education Revisited." University of Kansas Law Review 12 (May 1964): 507-524. Wilson, one of four assistants to Attorney General Harold Fatzer, was counsel for the state of Kansas in Brown.

Wilson, Paul E. "Speech on Brown v. Board of Education, May 1, 1981." University of Kansas Law Review 30 (Fall 1981): 15-25. Some interesting anecdotal remarks.

Wilson, Paul E. A Time To Lose: Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995. A "thoughtful and engaging memoir" by the man, who as a young assistant attorney general, was assigned the task of defending "the indefensible" -- segregation in the public elementary schools of Topeka.

Wolters, Raymond. The Burden of Brown: Thirty Years of School Desegregation. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

Woods, Randall B. "Integration, Exclusion, or Segregation? The `Color Line' in Kansas, 1878-1900." Western Historical Quarterly 14 (April 1983): 181-198.

The Family and Community

Chaudhuri, Nupur. "`We All Seem Like Brothers and Sisters': The African American Community in Manhattan, Kansas, 1865-1940." Kansas History 14 (Winter 1991/92): 270-288. Correctly pointing out that, with a few important exception, Kansas' African American communities have not been adequately studied, the author explores experiences, culture, and institutions.

Cox, Thomas C. Blacks in Topeka, Kansas, 1865-1915: A Social History. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982. Based on Cox's doctoral dissertation, of the same name, completed at Princeton University in 1980.

Crockett, Norman I. The Black Towns. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1979. Nicodemus was one of the five featured towns.

Greenbaum, Susan D., et al. The Afro-American Community in Kansas City Kansas: A History. N.p.: City of Kansas City Kansas, 1982. For more than 100 years, "approximately one resident out of five" in Wyandotte, later Kansas City, Kans., has been African-American; this study looks at community development among blacks to about 1920, focusing on the turn of the century.

Hall, Johanna. "The African-American Community in Topeka, Kansas, 1940-1951: Crucial Years Before Brown." Master's thesis, University of Kansas, 1993.

Hamilton, Kenneth Marvin. Black Towns and Profit: Promotion and Development in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1877-1915. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. Author finds typical, frontier entrepreneurial spirit as motivating force behind founding of five black towns including Nicodemus, Kans., and Langston City, Okla.

Reese, Linda Williams. "`Working In The Vineyard': African-American Women In All-Black Communities." Kansas Quarterly 25 (no. 2, 1994): 7-16. Concentrates on Langston and Boley, Oklahoma, and mentions E. P. McCabe, Kansas state auditor in the 1880s and Langston City promoter.


Bruce, H. C. The New Man: Twenty-Nine Years a Slave. Twenty-Nine Years a Free Man. York, Pa.: P. Anstadt and Sons, 1895. Autobiography of a Missouri slave who escaped to freedom in Kansas and lived for some years in Leavenworth.

Berwanger, Eugene H. "Hardin and Langston: Western Black Spokesmen of the Reconstruction Era." Journal of Negro History 64 (Spring 1979): 101-115.

Davis, Frank Marshall, edited with introduction by John Edgar Tidwell. Livin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. The autobiography of a prominent African-American journalist who grew up in Arkansas City, attended Friends University and later Kansas State.

Schultz, Elizabeth. "Dreams Deferred: The Personal Narratives of Four Black Kansans." American Studies 34 (Fall 1993): 25-51. The words of Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, Frank Marshall Davis, and Grant Cushinberry allow the author to examine the "ambiguous and arbitrary racial atmosphere" of early twentieth-century Kansas, as well as "the persistence of Black Kansans in their efforts to survive and prevail."

Tidwell, John Edgar. "Frank Marshall Davis, `Ad Astra, Per Aspera'." Kansas History 18 (Winter 1995/1996): 270-283. Tidwell analyzes the Kansas experience of this famous African-American journalist and author.

Tillery, Tyrone. Claude McKay: A Black Poets Struggle for Identity. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. Biography showing McKay's Jamaican background, his several years in Kansas, and his Harlem experience. 2746.1

Woods, Randall B. "After the Exodus: John Lewis Waller and the Black Elite, 1878-1900." Kansas Historical Quarterly 43 (Summer 1977): 172. Lawyer, journalist, crusader for black civil rights, and government official, began as advocate of exodus and became prominent member of "black aristocracy" who advocated black colonization in late 19th century.

Woods, Randall B. A Black Odyssey: John Lewis Waller and the Promise of American Life, 1878-1900. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1981.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Cunningham, George Philbert. "Langston Hughes: A Biographical Study of the Harlem Renaissance Years, 1902-1932." Doc. diss., Yale University, 1983. Hughes lived for several years, prior to his 12th birthday, with his grandmother in Lawrence.

Dickinson, Donald C. A Bio-Bibliography of Langston Hughes, 1902-1967. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1967.

Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: An Autobiography. New York: Knopf, 1940.

__________. I Wonder as I Wander, An Autobiographical Journey. New York: Rinehart, 1956. Hughes' second autobiography.

Meltzer, Milton. Langston Hughes, a Biography. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes, Volume one: 1902-1941; I, Too, Sing America, and Volume two, 1941-1967; I Dream a World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986 and 1988.

Scott, Mark. "Langston Hughes of Kansas." Kansas History 3 (Spring 1980): 2-25. Born in Joplin, Mo., in 1902, Hughes "lived primarily in Lawrence" from 1903 to 1915. An abbreviated version of this article appeared in Journal of Negro History 66 (Spring 1981): 1-9.

Wintz, Cary D. "Langston Hughes: A Kansas Poet in the Harlem Renaissance." Kansas Quarterly 8 (Spring 1976): 58-71.

Gordon Parks (1912-2006)

Moore, Deedee. "Is There Anything Gordon Parks Can't Do?" Smithsonian 20 (April 1989): 147-164. Parks was born near Fort Scott, Kans., first gained notoriety as a photographer in the late 1930s, and published his best-known novel, the Learning Tree, in 1963.

Parks, Gordon. A Choice of Weapons. 1966. Reprint. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1986. An autobiography focusing on his young adult years.

__________. "A Look Back." Kansas Quarterly 7 (Summer 1975): 25-29.

__________. Gordon Parks: A Poet and His Camera. New York: Viking Press, 1968.

__________. Voices in the Mirror, An Autobiography. New York: Doubleday, 1990. Explores his ambivalent feelings about his native state, segregation problems in film the Learning Tree, and other issues.

Contributions Through Music

Boyer, James B. "A Voice From the Heart: Gospel Music in the African American Tradition." Kansas Heritage 1 (Spring 1993): 11-13. Concentrates on northeast Kansas.

Buckner, Reginald Tyrone. "A History of Music Education in the Black Community of Kansas City, Kansas, 1905-1954." Doc. diss., University of Minnesota, 1974.

O'Connor, Patrick J. "The Black Experience and the Blues in 1950s Wichita." Mid-America Folklore 21 (Spring 1993): 1-17. Surveys the growth and development of Wichita's black community and its musical experience.

General and Miscellaneous

Baigell, Matthew. "The Relevancy of Curry's Paintings to Black Freedom." Kansas Quarterly 2 (Fall 1970): 19-24.

Berwanger, Eugene H. The Frontier Against Slavery: Western Anti-Negro Prejudice and the Slavery Extension Controversy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967.

Berwanger, Eugene H. The West and Reconstruction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

Chafe, William. "The Negro and Populism: A Kansas Case Study." Journal of Southern History 34 (August 1968): 404-419.

Dann, Martin. "From Sodom to the Promised Land: E. P. McCabe and the Movement for Oklahoma Colonization." Kansas Historical Quarterly 40 (Autumn 1974): 370-378. McCabe, of Graham County, and others organized immigration society in 1889-1890; the former state auditor became a founder of Guthrie, Okla.

Gordon, Jacob U. Narratives of African Americans in Kansas, 1870-1992: Beyond the Exodust Movement. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993). Over 100 autobiographical essays and biographical sketches reflecting on the black experience in Kansas.

Haywood, C. Robert. "`No Less a Man': Blacks in Cow Town Dodge City, 1876-1886." Western Historical Quarterly 19 (May 1988): 161-182. At a time of severe social and economic oppression of blacks in America, "ranch-related jobs offered more dignity and more opportunity for self expression than any other employment available," but these positive relationships did not extend to town where "Prejudices were muted but not abandoned."

Hollon, W. Eugene. Frontier Violence: Another Look. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. Concludes that a substantial part of frontier violence was directed against minorities.

Kansas State Historical Society, Historic Sites Survey. Historic Preservation in Kansas. Black Historic Sites, A Beginning Point. Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1977. Narrative, with photos.

Lewallen, Kenneth A. "`Chief' Alfred C. Sam: Black Nationalism on the Great Plains, 1913-1914." Journal of the West 16 (January 1977): 49-56. Organizer in Oklahoma and Kansas of a "Back to Africa" movement.

Marshall, Marguerite Mitchell. An Account of Afro-Americans in Southeast Kansas, 1884-1984. Manhattan, Kans.: Sunflower University Press, Wheatland Books, 1986. This volume contains some general history of Blacks in Kansas, but the concentration here is on accounts, by descendants, of individual Blacks and their families in Pittsburg.

Miller, Timothy. "Charles M. Sheldon and the Uplift of Tennesseetown." Kansas History 9 (Autumn 1986): 125-137. Examines Sheldon's social service activity among the blacks of Tennesseetown in west Topeka.

Mitchell, Frank S. "The Development of Facilities for the Education of Negroes in Kansas, 1860-1950." Master's thesis, Northeast Missouri State, 1956.

Porter, Kenneth Wiggins. The Negro on the American Frontier. New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1971.

Quarles, Benjamin, ed. "John Brown Writes to Blacks." Kansas Historical Quarterly 41 (Winter 1975): 454. Six letters written by Brown and his eldest son, John, Jr., to Frederick Douglass for publication in black abolitionist's The North Star, 1851-1856.

Savage, W. Sherman. Blacks in the West. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976.

Smith, Leland G. "Early Negroes in Kansas." Master's thesis, Wichita State University, 1932.

Swan, Robert A., Jr. The Ethnic Heritage of Topeka, Kansas: Immigrant Beginnings. N.p.: Institute of Comparative Ethnic Studies, 1974. Publication grew out of dissertation research on four ethnic communities: Indians, Blacks, German-Russians, and Mexican-Americans.