I just finished reading Four Centuries in Kansas by Bliss Isely and W.M. Richards. There are several versions of this book, and I have the hardcover version, written in 1944. I got this book in one of those free book kiosks on campus, and am really happy I picked it up.
I must say, I really liked this book. Not only did it highlight the history of one of my favorite states, the book is also a piece of history itself. Several times, it highlights the blossoming aircraft industry, which was quite important during World War II, when this revision of the book was published.
The book is written for approximately middle school audiences, though, by today’s standards, the average high school student would be challenged with the content and the suggested activities at the end of each chapter.
Kansas was quite a different state than the others. It joined the union as a free state a few years before the civil war. Pro-slavery Missouri residents would sneak across and flood local Kansas elections to try to elect slavery-friendly leaders (116-143). Multiple times there were separate state governments with separate self-declared capital cities and legislators (116-143). Relationships with the native populations were relatively friendly, until politicians decided to violate existing agreements with the natives (48-51). It was one of the first states to consider integration, and the African American vote. It was also one of the first states to consider women’s suffrage, as many women were pioneers and farmers, just like the men (326-327).
I really enjoyed reading this book. Every time I picked it up, I had trouble putting it down. I highly recommend this book. I’m even going to take it on my next storm chasing trip with high school kids and have them read parts of it, if we end up chasing storms in Kansas.
I did some research on these authors in hopes that they had written similar books about other states, but it appears that almost all of their books are about Kansas. I will have to read some of the other ones as well.
Thank you for reading my post.