From Pioneers to Wheat kings: The Development of Regional Image and Identity in Western Kansas, 1890-1929
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This analysis explores the shifting image and identity of the far western counties of Kansas from 1890-1929. The role of residents and outsiders in the formation of image and identity will be examined. Objective natural and economic events directly influenced the development of regional image and identity in western Kansas. Its economic and agricultural success was linked to the region's image and identity. Residents and outsiders shifted their views and descriptions of the area based on their purposes, whether politics, promotion, or requests for aid. Between the years 1890-1929, the United States became increasingly urban and industrial and the frontier experience as a reality receded further into the past while the myth of the frontier, with the work of Fredrick Jackson Turner, and others became an ever-growing part of the American psyche. In examining the regional characteristics of western Kansas during this period, a better understanding of the process of identity and image formation in the western United States emerges. Also the knowledge base of the sub-regions of the Great Plains is expanded and enhanced. Specific information about community organizations, promotion, and politics is added to the historical record. Most importantly, in terms of Western histriography, a regional study adds contours to what is often a flat, generic view of the American West.