Bibliography on the History of the North American Plains

By Tom Isern

The main purpose for this annotated bibliography is support of "The North American Plains" and other college courses on the Great Plains of North America that I teach. It also will be consulted, I suspect, by a variety of users other than my students. The publication data in the third column includes the original edition as a baseline. Also commonly listed is some other, recent edition commonly available. Occasionally listed is some intermediate edition of particular note. In the fourth column are my own annotations. In the fifth column are links to resources on the book or author on the World Wide Web, including any known online edition of the text. In the far-right column, for benefit of my students at NDSU, I add notes on where the books here listed are locally available: SU = NDSU Libraries, TC = Tri College.








Adams, Andy

Log of a Cowboy: A Narrative of Old Trail Days

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1903

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1964

The classic work on cattle-trailing, depicting a composite cattle drive from the Rio Grande to Montana.

Handbook of Texas: Adams, Andy


Adams, Howard

Prison of Grass: Canada from the Native Point of View

Toronto: General Publishing, 1975

Adams, a Metís, views settlement as colonialism. He seeks to "unmask both the white-supremacist and the white-liberal view that the natives were warring savages without any government, who craved white civilization." A Metís history from Metís activist perspective.

Native American Authors profile: Howard Adams


Adelman, Jeremy

Frontier Development: Land, Labor, and Capital on the Wheatlands of Argentina and Canada, 1890-1914

New York: Oxford U. Press, 1994




Allen, John L.

Passage Through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest

Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 1975




Ambrose, Stephen E.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996

A good, readable history of the Lewis & Clark expedition, in the context of a biography of Lewis.



Andreas, Carol

Meatpackers and Beef Barons: Company Town in a Global Economy

Niwot: U. Press of Colorado, 1994




Archer, John H.

Saskatchewan: A History

Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980

The standard history of the province.



Artibise, Alan F.J.

Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914

Montreal: McGill-Queen's U. Press, 1975

By western Canada's premier urban historian. Develops concepts of a "commercial elite" and a "growth ethic" manipulating the development of the city. Discusses ethnic problems in urban growth, also class divisions.



Baker, T. Lindsay

A Field Guide to American Windmills

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1984

A marvelously exhaustive history and guidebook to windmills, which are one of the great symbols of technological adaptation on the plains.



Baker, T. Lindsay and Billy R. Harrison

Adobe Walls: The History and Archeology of the 1874 Trading Post

College Station: Texas A & M U. Press, 1986




Barbour, Barton H.

Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trade

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 2001

A comprehensive and competent history of this citadel of the American Fur Company. The author defends the company against its harsher critics, who have scored the fur traders for bespoiling the western environment and native cultures.



Bement, Leland C.

Bison Hunting at Cooper Site: Where Lightning Bolts Drew Thundering Herds

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1999

Description of a Folsom bison hunt site in northwestern Oklahoma, including the discovery of the famous lightning bolt skull--a Bison antiquus skull with a red zigzag mark on it.



Bennett, John W.

Hutterian Brethren: The Agricultural Economy and Social Organization of a Communal People

Stanford: Stanford U. Press, 1967

A study of six Hutterian colonies in southwestern Saskatchewan, with a comparison to Israeli communes. An "ecological" study by an anthropologist. Studies relation of social and economic behavior to natural environment, in what he calls "dynamic adaptation."



Bennett, John W.

Northern Plainsmen: Adaptive Strategy and Agrarian Life

Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1969


4th Ed., Arlington Heights: AHM Publishing Company, 1976

Studies Indians, ranchers, farmers, and Hutterites, each of whom found a "niche" on the plains. Explicitly cites W.P. Webb as inspiration for his work, which he calls here "cultural ecology." Study area is Saskatchewan, in fictional locality of "Jaspar."



Bennett, John W. and Seena B. Kohl

Settling the Canadian-American West, 1890-1915: Pioneer Adaptation and Community Building

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1995

A study of settlement on the Saskatchewan-Montana border that relies heavily on local histories, using them to explore the common mythology of frontier community formation.



Benson, Jackson J.

Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work

New York: Penguin, 1996

This is the standard biography of Stegner, and a serviceable one, but its treatment of Stegner's Saskatchewan roots is the weakest part of the book.



Berlo, Janet Catherine

Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of the Lakota World

New York: Braziller, 2000

Outstanding study of ledger art that takes the work seriously as art, not just ethnography.

Plains Indian Ledger Art


Berthrong, Donald J.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Ordeal: Reservation and Agency Life in the Indian Territory, 1875-1907

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1976

The confinement of the Cheyenne and Arapaho on a reservation in Oklahoma, attempts to acculturate the Indians (including attempts to make them into farmers or stockmen), conflicts with traditional culture, and eventual allotment of the reservation.



Berthrong, Donald J.

The Southern Cheyennes

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1963

The old standard history of this central plains nation.



Bicha, Karel Denis

The American Farmer and the Canadian West, 1896-1914

Lawrence: Coronado Press, 1968

History of the emigration of American farmers of the "western Middle West" to Saskatchewan and Alberta, with reference both to American conditions provoking emigration and to Canadian efforts to attract immigration.



Biolsi, Thomas

Organizing the Lakota: The Political Economy of the New Deal on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations

Tucson: U. of Arizona Press, 1992




Bissinger, H.G.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

Reading: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1990

The story of a high-school football season, that of the Permian Panthers (Odessa, Texas), 1988--and the social context thereof. Besides exploring the place of school sport in Odessa, the book treats such other important developments as race relations and boom-and-bust in the oil industry.



Blaine, Martha Royce

Pawnee Passage, 1870-1875

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1990




Blasingame, Ike

Dakota Cowboy: My Life in the Old Days

New York: Putnam, 1958 

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1985




Blodgett, Jan

Land of Bright Promise: Advertising the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, 1870-1917

Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1988

A study of land-company promotion of regional settlement.



Bolton, Herbert E.

Coronado on the Turquoise Trail: Knight of the Pueblos and Plains

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1949

Biography of Coronado, best-known Spanish explorer of the plains, by the historian who founded the school of borderlands historiography.



Bonnifield, Paul

The Dust Bowl: Men, Dirt, and Depression

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1979

One of several good secondary books on the Dust Bowl. Notable for its regional, anti-government perspective.



Bowman, Isaiah

The Pioneer Fringe

New York: American Geographical Society, Special Publication No. 13, 1931

Work derives from an intercontinental geographic study of "the pioneer fringe," or frontier of settlement, in various countries. Includes sections on the American and Canadian plains. A good work for comparative context as of its time of publication.



Brackman, Barbara, and Cathy Dwigans, Eds.

Backyard Visionaries: Grassroots Art in the Midwest

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1999

S.P. Dinsmoor (the Garden of Eden, Lucas) and other eccentric outsider artists are treated in this anthology assembled by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association.



Breen, David H.

The Canadian Prairie West and the Ranching Frontier, 1874-1924

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1983

A solid history of ranching in the Canadian west, which was not just a matter of American intrusion, but a development of British and eastern Canadian enterprise. Details leasing system, society of ranching, coming of homesteaders, hard winter of 1907, and "dark years" of 1905-1911.



Brown, Dee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970

A landmark book in the reinterpretation of the so-called Indian wars of the plains, taking a view wholly sympathetic to the Indians. Unfortunately, it also consigned Plains Indians to victim status; it would be the next generation of histories that would restore agency to them.



Bucko, Raymond A.

The Lakota Ritual of the Sweat Lodge: History and Contemporary Practice

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1998

An anthropologcal study that includes historical texts describing the ritual of the inipi and traces it to present in Lakota culture.



Burnet, Jean

Next-Year Country: A Study of Rural Social Organization in Alberta

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1951

A sociologist's study of the Hanna vicinity in eastern Alberta, where failure to adapt by Anglo-Canadian and German-Russian cultures produced failure to create stable society. Excellent analysis of social structure of town and country. Vol. 3 of Social Credit in Alberta Series.



Butler, William Francis

The Great Lone Land: A Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the North-west of America

London: S. Low, Marston, Low & Searle, 1875. Reprint, Edmonton: M.G. Hurtig, 1968

Narrative of a British army officer who came west to suppress the Red River Rebellion, was commissioned by the Canadian government to report on Indian affairs and governmental needs in the west, and explored the plains and Rockies. Wrote other adventure books of exploits in other parts of British empire, but this is the best.



Capote, Truman

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

New York: Random House, 1965

A "nonfiction novel" (so the author termed it) about the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959.



Carlson, Paul H.

The Plains Indians

College Station: Texas A & M U. Press, 1998

A sound, concise treatment of Plains Indian culture, focusing on Plains culture traditionally defined, following European contact.



Carr, Joe, and Alan Munde

Prairie Nights to Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music in West Texas

Lubbock: Texas Tech U. Press, 1995




Carrels, Peter

Uphill Against Water: The Great Dakota Water War

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1999

Well-researched history, by a writer from Aberdeen, of the grassroots opposition to the Oahe Diversion in South Dakota.



Carriker, Robert C.

Father Peter John De Smet: Jesuit in the West

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1995

A sound biography treating a religious figure who cultivated a close and cordial relationship with the Indians of the northern plains.



Carter, John E.

Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1985

Butcher is the most illustrious photographer of the homesteading era on the plains; the book offers a splendid selection of images, along with biographical background.



Carter, Sarah

Prairie Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy

Montreal: McGill-Queen's U. Press, 1990




Cather, Willa

My Antonia

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918

Scholarly Edition, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994

The best-loved novel by the greatest novelist ever to hail from the plains.



Chalfant, William Y.

Cheyennes and Horse Soldiers: The 1857 Expedition and the Battle of Solomon's Fork

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1989

An authoritative work on the Sumner expedition and on the fight on the Solomon, in western Kansas.



Chalfant, William Y.

Dangerous Passage: The Santa Fe Trail and the Mexican War

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1994




Chalfant, William Y.

Without Quarter: The Wichita Expedition and the Fight on Crooked Creek

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1991




Chiel, Arthur A.

The Jews in Manitoba: A Social History

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1961

One of the few good studies of Jews in the plains region. Part of a series on ethnic groups sponsored by Manitoba Historical Society and the provincial government.



Cleveland, Ceil

Whatever Happened to Jacy Farrow?

Denton: U. of North Texas Press, 1997

This is the autobiography of the woman who was the prototype for Jacy Farrow in Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. That gives it a certain literary interest, but it also has distinct documentary value—as a narrative of a young woman growing up in the Last Picture Show generation, and more to the point, as a study in why women of that generation left the plains.



Coburn, Carol K.

Life at Four Corners: Religion, Gener, and Education in a German-Lutheran Community, 1868-1945

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas




Connell, Evan S.

Son of the Morning Star

Berkeley: North Point Press, 1984

An exhaustive treatment of the Battle (and legend) of the Little Bighorn.



Connor, Seymour and Jimmy Skaggs

Broadcloth and Britches: The Santa Fe Trade

College Station: Texas A & M U. Press, 1977

A sound secondary work on the trade.



Corcoran, James

Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus: Murder in the Midwest

New York: Viking Penguin, 1990

An account of the rise of the Posse Comitatus (a right-wing protest group), culminating in 1983 with the shooting of federal marshals in North Dakota and the manhunt for Gordon Kahl. Written by a journalist who covered the Kahl case.



Cordier, Mary Hurlbut

Schoolwomen of the Prairies and Plains: Personal Narratives from Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, 1860s-1920s

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1992





Cowie, Isaac

The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson's Bay Company During 1867-1874, on the Great Buffalo Plains

Toronto: William Briggs, 1913

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1993

Highly descriptive personal narrative. Notable for impressions of people encountered on the plains--American whiskey traders, Red River colonists, Indian nations



Critchfield, Richard

Those Days: An American Album

Garden City: Doubleday, 1986




Crouse, Nellis M.

La Verendrye: Fur Trader and Explorer

Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1972

Competent biography of this explorer of the northern plains. Includes sons, Pierre and Louis-Joseph. Fur trading; search for the western sea.



Crow Dog, Mary, and Richard Erdlos

Lakota Woman

New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990

Autobiography of a Brule woman from Rosebud Reservation, who is married to medicine man-AIM activist Leonard Crow Dog. Emphasis on AIM and on the siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, but quite a bit of cultural insight as well.



Cunfer, Geoff

On the Great Plains: Agriculture and Environment

College Station: Texas A&M U. Press, 2005

A powerfully revisionist work on the relationship between agriculture and environment on the plains, arguing that agricultural enterprise is sustainable in the long term and questioning the “declensionist narrative” of previous writing.

Geoff Cunfer


Custer, George A.

My Life on the Plains, or, Personal Experiences with Indians

Reprint, Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1962.


Kansas Collection, KU: My Life on the Plains online


Dale, Edward E.

The Range Cattle Industry: Ranching on the Great Plains from 1865 to 1925

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1929

Classic work on the range cattle industry. In mid-20th century Osgood and Dale shaped our historic views of the 19th-century range cattle industry in the U.S. Like Osgood’s day of the Cattlemen, Turnerian in its orientation.



Danbom, David B.

Our Purpose Is to Serve: The First Century of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station

Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1990

A general history of the station, full of insights about agricultural science in the public service.



Danysk, Cecilia

Hired Hands: Labour and the Development of Prairie Agriculture, 1880-1930

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995

A sound work that concludes that farm workers and farmers shared common aspirations during the settlement era, but with farm consolidation and mechanization, class distinctions increased.



Dary, David A.

The Buffalo Book.

Paperback, New York: Avon Books, 1975.

A compendium on the animal and its role in the history of the plains.



Dary, David

Cowboy Culture

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981

A fine treatment of the customs and material culture of the American cowboy. Emphasizes the Hispanic origins of cowboy culture.



Davidson, Arnold E.

Coyote Country: Fictions of the Canadian West

Durham: Duke U. Press, 1994

A collection of essays composing a post-modern survey of Canadian prairie literature. Work chronicles the de-centering of regional literature, whereby no voice is dominant.



Davis, John W.

Wyoming Range War: The Infamous Invasion of Johnson County

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010

The biggest treatment of the Johnson County War, based on grassroots research in Johnson County, rather than biased accounts from the big stockmen.

Dawson, C.A.

Group Settlement: Ethnic Communities in Western Canada

Toronto: Macmillan, 1936

Vol. 7 of the Canadian Frontiers of Settlement Series. By a sociologist much concerned with assimilation. Group settlement made for greater "residential stability" and cultural persistence. Wishes to promote assimilation of Doukhobors, Mennonites, German Catholics, French-Canadians.




Dawson, C.A. and Eva R. Younge

Pioneering in the Prairie Provinces: The Social Side of the Settlement Process

Toronto: Macmillan, 1940

Vol. 8 of the Canadian Frontiers of Settlement Series. By a sociologist concerned with the development of communities and institutions, including education, religion, and health concerns. Chapter on agricultural practices.



Deloria, Vine, Jr.

Custer Died for Your Sins

New York: Macmillan Co., 1969





Den Otter, A.A.

Civilizing the West: The Galts and the Development of Western Canada

Edmonton: U. of Alberta Press, 1986





Dick, Everett

The Sod-house Frontier, 1854-1890

New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1937

Reprint, U. of Nebraska Press, 1979

Covers the same general events as does Fite in Farmer's Last Frontier, but emphasizes everyday life and hardship as social history.



Dickenson, James R.

Home on the Range: A Century on the High Plains

New York: Scribner, 1995

A history-memoir by a Washington journalist who grew up in McDonald, northwest Kansas.



Dobie, J. Frank

Some Part of Myself

Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1967




Dodge, Richard Irving

The Plains of North America and Their Inhabitants: A Critical Edition, ed. by Wayne R. Kime

Newark: U. of Deleware Press, 1990

Narrative by a career military officer on the plains, emphasizing experiences in hunting and observations on Indian life.



Dorman, Robert L.

Revolt of the Provinces: The Regionalist Movement in America, 1920-1945.

Chapel Hill: U. of North Carolina Press, 1993

 Dorman's work places Webb, Cather, and other writers into the context of assertive regionalism.



Drache, Hiram M.

The Day of the Bonanza: A History of Farming in the Red River Valley of the North

Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1964

A history of the wheat boom of the 1880s. First of several works by Drache treating large-scale agriculture.



Droze, Wilmon H.

Trees, Prairies, and People

Denton: Texas Woman's U. Press, 1977

A history of tree-planting on the plains, with emphasis on the shelterbelt project of the 1930s.



Drumm, Stella M., Ed.

Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1926

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1982

The diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin on the Santa Fe Trail, just at the outbreak of the Mexican War.



Dudley, Joseph Iron Eye

Choteau Creek: A Sioux Reminiscence

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1992

A personal reminiscence of growing up on the Yankton Reservation in the 1940s and 1950s.



Dykstra, Robert

The Cattle Towns

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1983

Set in the railroad cowtowns of Kansas, but particularly notable for developing the theme of community cleavage and conflict on the frontier—internal divisions in the towns, urban-rural conflicts.



Elias, Peter Douglas

The Dakota of the Canadian Northwest: Lessons for Survival

Winnipeg: U. of Manitoba Press, 1988




Ellis, Clyde

A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 2003

Ellis traces the origins of modern powwow to tribal societies; chronicles the survival of dance traditions on the rez, their renewal in the 20th century, and the rise of pan-tribal dance traditions and a powwow circuit. A strong interpretive work. (Reviewed in Plains Folk #1078.)



Ellis, Clyde

To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893-1920

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1996




Emmons, David M.

Garden in the Grasslands: Boomer Literature of the Central Great Plains

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1971

Surveys the promotional literature used to lure immigrants to the American plains.



Ens, Gerhard J.

Homeland to Hinterland: The Changing Worlds of the Red River Metís in the Nineteenth Century

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1996




Etcheson, Nicole

Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 2004

The contest for Kansas Territory is presented as a conflict over definitions of liberty and rights for white settlers—not as conflict over slavery.



Fairbairn, Garry Lawrence

From Prairie Roots: The Remarkable Story of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool

Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1984

History of this cooperative marketing organization in western Canada, formed in 1923. Its collapse during the depression, survival, and continued operation.



Fairbanks, Carol

Prairie Women: Images in American and Canadian Fiction

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1986




Fenneman, Nevin M.

Physiography of Western United States

1st Ed., 4th Imp. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1931

With its companion volume, Physiography of Eastern United States, this was the standard work of American physiography for a generation. Notice that it was published the same year as Webb's Great Plains. Chapter 1 is "Great Plains Province."



Fink, Deborah

Agrarian Women: Wives and Mothers in Rural Nebraska, 1880-1940

Chapel Hill: U. of North Carolina Press, 1992




Finkel, Alvin

The Social Credit Phenomenon in Alberta

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1989




Fite, Gilbert C.

The Farmer's Last Frontier, 1865-1900

New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1966

The standard history of agricultural settlement on the Great Plains frontier.



Fleharty, Eugene D.

Wild Animals and Settlers on the Great Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1995

An interesting compilation of primary accounts, mainly from newspapers, of settlers' encounters with wildlife.



Fleming, R.B.

The Railway King of Canada: Sir William Mackenzie, 1849-1923

Vancouver: U. of British Columbia Press, 1991




Flores, Dan

Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the Near Southwest

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1999

Essays on history and nature in the “Near Southwest,” which spans the southern plains. Personal and insightful, these pieces are particularly notable for a revision in the conception of wilderness and for the author’s struggle to achieve an aesthetic and moral peace with the landscape.



Flores, Dan

The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains

Norman: U. Oklahoma Press, 2001




Foster, Morris W.

Being Comanches: A Social History of An American Indian Community

Tucson: U. of Arizona Press, 1991




Fowke, Vernon C.

The National Policy and the Wheat Economy

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1957

Vol. 7 in the Social Credit in Alberta Series

Puts wheat in the context of the National Policy and staples theory. General economic history with emphasis on marketing--local elevators and monopoly, wheat pools, the wheat board.



Fowler, Loretta

Shared Symbols, Contested Meanings: Gros Ventre Culture and History, 1778-1984

Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1987




Frazier, Ian

Great Plains

New York: Farrar/Straus/Giroux, 1989

A traveler's narrative (although organized in thematic chapters) with several excellent reflective chapters (such as the one reflecting on the power of history in the region). Full of factual inaccuracies, but representaive of the continuing romance of the Great Plains landscape.



Freeman, John F.

High Plains Horticulture: A History

Boulder: University Press of Colorado


Friesen, Gerald

The Canadian Prairies: A History

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1984

The standard, comprehensive history of the Canadian plains. Notable both for sound narrative and for judicious historiography, evaluating major themes and interpretations of Canadian historians.



Frison, George C.

Prehistoric Hunters of the High Plains

New York: Academic Press, 1978

Treats the northwestern high plains of the United States as an "ecological area." Review of archeology: band-level adaptation to environment through hunting of mammoth, bison, and later species. "The area has been a testing ground for human ingenuity."



Fuller, Wayne

The Old Country School: The Story or Rural Education in the Middle West

Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1982




Furman, Necah Stewart

Walter Prescott Webb

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1976

A sound biography.




Gard, Wayne

The Great Buffalo Hunt

New York: Knopf, 1959

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1972

Concentrates on the era of buffalo-hunting, thus not as comprehensive as Dary's book. Reflects understanding of bison history in mid-20th century, a simple matter of commercial slaughter.



Gilfillan, Archer B.

Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range

New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1929

Reprint, Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1993

A first-person account with excellent detail on the daily and yearly routine in the life of a herder. Charming, humorous, yet literary style.



Giraud, Marcel

The Metís in the Canadian West, translated by George Woodcock

2 vols., Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1986




Grant, Michael Johnston

Down and Out on the Family Farm: Rural Rehabilitation in the Great Plains, 1929-1945

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002




Gray, James H.

Men Against the Desert

Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1967

Farming the Palliser Triangle "the greatest Canadian success story since the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway," for "Canada could not have existed without the settling and farming of the Palliser Triangle." Story of conservation and farming after the 1930s blow-out--the PFRA and other efforts. Includes out-migration of farmers.



Gray, James H.

The Winter Years: The Depression on the Prairies

Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1966

Part anecdotal and descriptive history, part memoir. No particular regional consciousness, but emphasis on boyhood and hardship in Winnipeg.



Great Plains Committee

The Future of the Great Plains

Washington: Government Printing Office, 1937

The New Deal view of social, environmental, and economic problems of the region. Contains recommendations for resettlement and conservation, based on regional, environmental view of proper institutions and land use.



Green, Donald E.

Land of the Underground Rain

Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1973

An outstanding history of ground water irrigation in West Texas.



Greene, Candace & Russell Thornton, Eds.

The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007




Greene, Jerome A.

Washita: The U.S. Army and the Southern Cheyennes, 1867-1869

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press

Solid, authoritative exposition of the events leading up to the Battle of the Washita, the battle itself, and the consequences.



Gregg, Josiah

Commerce of the Prairies

New York: H.G. Langley, 1844. Reprint, Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1990

The standard primary narrative on the Santa Fe trade.



Gump, James O.

The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1994

A nifty piece of comparative work, beginning with Isandhlwana and Little Big Horn, then broadening out to consider conflicts attendant to imperialist expansion against native cultures.



Hagan, William T.

Quannah Parker, Comanche Chief

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1993




Hamalainen, Peter

The Comanche Empire

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008

A sweeping revision of Comanche history emphasizing native agency and assertiveness. This work is a touchstone for the reinterpretation of Indian-white relations on the plains.  



Hampsten, Elizabeth

Read This Only to Yourself: The Private Writings of Midwestern Women, 1880-1910

Bloomington: Indiana U. Press, 1982




Hampsten, Elizabeth

Settlers' Children: Growing Up on the Great Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1991

A history of children's experiences in the settlement generation of North Dakota. Hampsten, in a rather bleak depiction of children's lives, poses a distinctly different interpretation from that of Elliot West (see below).



Hargreaves, Mary Wilma M.

Dry Farming in the Northern Plains, 1900-1925

Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1957

The standard work on dry farming in the region.



Hargreaves, Mary Wilma M.

Dry Farming in the Northern Great Plains: Years of Readjustment, 1920-1990

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1993

Takes up where the author's earlier work left off chronologically. The second book makes important points about land use vs. land retirement on the northern plains.



Harris, Katherine

Long Vistas: Women and Families on Colorado Homesteads

Boulder: U. Press of Colorado, 1993

Focus on northeastern Colorado. This author interprets homesteading as a broadening opportunity for women, giving them the chance to acquire control over capital and providing the setting for flexibility in gender roles.



Harrison, Dick

Unnamed Country: The Struggle for a Canadian Prairie Fiction

Edmonton: U. of Alberta Press, 1977

A literary history focusing on "the struggle for an indigenous prairie fiction." Two influences: landscape, and "inherited culture." Best single secondary work on prairie fiction. Strong treatment of literary themes and symbols.



Harrod, Howard L.

Becoming and Remaining a People: Native American Religions on the Northern Plains

Tucson: U. of Arizona Press, 1995

Focusing on the Mandan and Hidatsa, Harrod deals with origin myths, culture heroes, renewal rituals, and religious adaptation among these village farming peoples.



Haywood, C. Robert

Cowtown Lawyers: Dodge City and Its Attorneys, 1876-1886

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1988




Haywood, C. Robert

Victorian West: Class and Culture in Kansas Cattle Towns

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1991




Hewes, Leslie

The Suitcase Farming Frontier

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1973

Geographer's view of the phenomenon of suitcase farming--the practice of owning and farming land on the high plains, but living in towns elsewhere--a device for the manipulation of scarce capital on the plains.



Hickey, Joseph V.

Ghost Settlement on the Prairie: A Biography of Thurman, Kansas

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1995

A community study focusing on the "post office community" of Thurman, in the Flint Hills of Kansas. A good combination of grass-roots research and social-science theory, this book chronicles a failed community.



Hill, Pamela Smith

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life

Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2008

Literary biography of Wilder, which not only chronicles her writing life but also deftly sorts out the nature of the collaboration with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane



Hoig, Stan

The Sand Creek Massacre

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1961

Sound narrative history of one of the most infamous incidents in the history of United States Indian relations.



Holder, Preston

The Hoe and the Horse on the Plains: A Study of Cultural Development among North American Indians

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1970

This is a classic work dealing with cultural change among plains Indians and with the contrasting (as well as complementary) cultures of riverine horticulture and open-plains bison hunting.



Hope, Clifford R., Jr.

Quiet Courage: Kansas Congressman Clifford R. Hope

Manhattan: Sunflower U. Press, 1997

Congressman Hope, of Garden City, as ranking member and as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, was an important figure in the shaping of farm policy from the 1930s to the 1950s and a spokesman for the interests of the wheat belt.



Howard, Joseph Kinsey

Strange Empire: A Narrative of the Northwest

New York: William Morrow & Co., 1952

Reprint, Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1994 




Howard, Joseph Kinsey

Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1943

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1983




Hoxie, Frederick E.

Parading Through History: The Making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935

New York: Cambridge U. Press, 1995




Hoy, James F.

The Cattle Guard: Its History and Lore

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1982

Along with Baker's Windmills, one of the few good studies of material culture on the plains. (Cattle guards are grids used in place of gates to hold cattle in a pasture but admit autos.)



Hoy, Jim and Tom Isern

Plains Folk: A Commonplace of the Great Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1987

A collection of personal essays in the history and folklore of the North American plains.



Hoy, Jim and Tom Isern

Plains Folk II: The Romance of the Landscape

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1990

Continuation of Plains Folk--essays on folklife of the Great Plains.



Hunter, J. Marvin

The Trail Drivers of Texas

Nashville: Cokesbury, 1925

Reprint, Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1985

A collection of first-person accounts by cowboys and drovers who went up the trail. A classic primary source.



Hurt, R. Douglas

The Dust Bowl: An Agricultural and Social History

Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1981

The most balanced of the various recent histories of the Dust Bowl.



Hyslop, Stephen G.

Bound for Santa Fe: The Road to New Mexico and the American Conquest, 1806-1848

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 2002




Innes, Harold A

A History of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1923

The Innes approach: "The history of the Canadian Pacific Railroad is primarily the history of the spread of western civilization over the northern half of the North American continent." Highly nationalistic--how the National Policy accomplished the "diversion" of western Canadian commerce to eastern Canada.



Innis, Harold A.

The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History

Revised edition, Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1962

The premier work of an old-time political economist, in his time Canada's premier historian. Two-fold importance: classic account of the fur trade as economic history; and statement of staples theory, which presents Canadian nationhood in economic and geographic terms.



Iorio, Sharon Hartin

Faith's Harvest: Mennonite Identity in Northwest Oklahoma

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1999




Irving, John A

The Social Credit Movement in Alberta

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1959

Last volume (10) of Social Credit in Alberta Series, sponsored by Social Science Research Council of Canada. Treats Social Credit as "a phenomenon of mass psychology" based on social unrest and dissatisfaction. Social Credit, through its prophet, William Aberhart, addressed the shortage of consumers by paying dividends.



Ise, John

Sod and Stubble: The Story of a Kansas Homestead

New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1936. Reprint, Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1996

The best memoir of pioneer life on the American plains (set in northwest Kansas). A wealth of cultural history in this account by a natural resource economist from the University of Kansas, the son of German immigrant homesteaders.



Iseminger, Gordon L

The Quartzite Border: Surveying and Marking the North Dakota-South Dakota Boundary, 1891-1892

Sioux Falls: Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 1988




Isenberg, Andrew C

The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000




Isern, Thomas D

Bull Threshers and Bindlestiffs: Harvesting and Threshing on the North American Plains

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1990




Isern, Thomas D

Custom Combining on the Great Plains: A History

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1981

A history of a classic agricultural adaptation to the Great Plains, the system of itinerant wheat harvesting outfits that originated during World War II and still work the harvest from Texas to Saskatchewan



Isern, Thomas D

Dakota Circle: Excursions on the True Plains

Fargo: NDSU Institute for Regional Studies, 2000

Essays in the history, folklife, and culture of the northern plains, drawing on the author's newspaper column, Plains Folk



Iverson, Peter

When Indians Became Cowboys: Native Peoples and Cattle Ranching in the American West

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1994




James, Marquis

The Cherokee Strip: An Oklahoma Boyhood

New York: Viking Press, 1965

A memoir of growing up in the Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma



Jenish, D’Arcy

Epic Wanderer: David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2003

Outstanding biography of this explorer of the Canadian West, the first European to descend the Columbia to the Pacific. As a map-maker Thompson greatly advanced knowledge of the geography of the northern plains.



Jones, David C.

Empire of Dust: Settling and Abandoning the Prairie Dry Belt

Edmonton: U. of Alberta Press, 1987

A readable, insightful history of how settlement tried and failed in southeastern Saskatchewan



Jordan, Terry G.

Trails to Texas: Southern Roots of Western Cattle Ranching

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1981

A major re-interpretation of the history of the range cattle industry, emphasizing its origins in the American South, stretching west from Carolina, rather than its Hispanic origins. (Jordan holds the Webb Chair at the University of Texas.)



Jordan, Terry G.

North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers: Origins, Diffusion, and Differentiation

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1993




Killoren, John J.

"Come, Blackrobe": De Smet and the Indian Tragedy

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1994

A life-and-times treatment of De Smet emphasizing the decline and end of Plains Indian buffalo culture.



Kostash, Myrna

All of Baba's Children

Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1977

Ostensibly a history of Ukrainian Canadians, but more than that. Statement of modern Canadian Ukrainian seeking roots, rejecting romanticization of history and trivialization of culture, rejecting consensus view of immigration experience (a stolid peasantry fitting into the national design).



Kraenzel, Carl Frederick

The Great Plains in Transition

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1955

By a sociologist, the greatest of the refiners of Webb's thesis. Suggests that adaptation to the plains is not confined to settlement times, but needs to continue in contemporary times. Sketches a model of community organization on the plains. Identifies mobility, flexibility, and reserves as keys to survival on the plains.



Kramer, Reinhold, and Tom Mitchell

Walk Towards the Gallows: The Tragedy of Hilda Blake, Hanged 1899

New York: Oxford U. Press, 2002




Lamar, Howard Roberts

Dakota Territory, 1861-1889: A Study of Frontier Politics

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1956. Reprint, Fargo: NDSU Institute for Regional Studies, 1996

Sound political history of the formation of Dakota Territory, the working of the territorial system, the division and statehood movements, and the rise of agrarian insurgency



Lamb, W. Kaye

History of the Canadian Pacific Railway

New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1977

Uses the CPR company records. Covers not only construction, but also developments to the 1970s--competition from other lines, nationalization, the Crow's Nest Pass Agreement, good years leading to depression, modern diversification. The standard work on the CPR.



Lass, William E.

Navigating the Missouri: Steamboating on Nature's Highway, 1819-1935

Norman: Arthur H. Clark, 2008

Navigation of the Missouri to the 1930s, from the opening of the fur trade to the short-haul days of the 20th century.

Lawson, Michael L

Dammed Indians: The Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux, 1944-1980

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1982




Laycock, David

Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 1910-1945

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1990




Leckie, William H

The Military Conquest of the Southern Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1963

A classic account of army-Indian conflict on the southern plains.



Lindgren, Elaine

Land in Her Own Name: Women as Homesteaders in North Dakota

Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1991




Lipset, Seymour Martin

Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan

Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1950




Loewen, Royden K

Family, Church, and Market: A Mennonite Community in the Old and New Worlds, 1850-1930

Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 1993




Lookingbill, Brad

Dust Bowl, USA: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941

Athens: Ohio U. Press, 2001




Low, Ann Marie

Dust Bowl Diary

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1984

Primary account of North Dakota in the 1930s.



Lowie, Robert H

Indians of the Plains

New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954. Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1982

This is a good synthesis of anthropological work to the 1950s, particularly strong on aspects of material culture.



Luciuk, Lubomyr and Bohdan S. Kordan

Creating a Landscape: A Geography of Ukranians in Canada

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1989




Lynch, Gerald

Roughnecks, Drillers, and Tool Pushers: Thirty-Three Years in the Oil Fields

Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1987




Lynn-Sherow, Bonnie

Red Earth: Race and Agriculture in Oklahoma Territory

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 2004

Environmental and cultural history of territorial Oklahoma. Exploring settlement patterns of whites, blacks, and Kiowas, Lynn-Sherow concludes that whites’ mechanized agriculture predominated, producing ecological “simplification.”



Lysenko, Vera

Men In Sheepskin Coats: A Study in Assimilation

Toronto: Ryerson, 1947

Narrative and anecdotal history of Ukrainian immigration. An odd balance--glorification of Ukrainian culture, while exalting assimilation. The "destiny" of Ukrainians in western Canada.



MacGregor, James G

A History of Alberta

Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1972

The standard history of the province



MacGregor, James G

Vision of an Ordered Land: The Story of the Dominion Land Survey

Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1981

Survey according to section-range-township pattern began in 1869. Good narrative history of activities of some 1300 surveyors.



Mackintosh, W.A.

Economic Problems of the Prairie Provinces

Toronto: Macmillan Company, 1935

The peculiar economic conditions of Alberta and Saskatchewan, emphasizing local government, marketing, the wheat economy, taxation, and impact of depression. Definite regional slant, not frontier. Vol. 4 of Canadian Frontiers of Settlement.



Mackintosh, W.A.

Prairie Settlement: The Geographical Setting

Toronto: Macmillan Company, 1934

Still the standard source for the physical geography of the Canadian plains. Some topical chapters and some regional chapters. First volume of Canadian Frontiers of Settlement Series.



Macleod, R.C.

The NWMP and Law Enforcement, 1873-1905

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1976

Tries to explain success and popularity of NWMP. Considers them generally exemplary, but not a whitewash. Origins, administrative history thereafter, then topical chapters--liquor laws, for instance.



MacPherson, Ian

Each for All: A History of the Co-operative Movement in English Canada, 1900-1945

Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada, 1979

Covers all of Canada, but prairies most of all. Mainly marketing pools, but some attention to cooperative stores and other enterprises.



Magnuson, Stew

The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder and Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns

Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2008

Racially charged incidents and conflicts, with the 1972 death of Raymond Yellow Thunder in Gordon, Nebraska, as focus.



Malin, James C

The Grasslands of North America: Prolegomena to Its History with Addenda

Lawrence: The Author, 1961

A monumental work on the environment, scientific thought, and human culture of the plains. Impossible to characterize



Malin, James C

Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas: A Study in Adaptation to Subhumid Geographical Environment

Lawrence: U. of Kansas Press, 1944

A well-focused study of agricultural adaptation in a sub-region of the plains. Malin is among the most important refiners of the Webb thesis.



Malone, Michael P

James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1996




Mandelbaum, David G

The Plains Cree: An Ethnographic, Historical, and Comparative Study

Washington: American Museum of Natural History, 1940

Reprint, Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1979




Manfred, Freya

Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers

St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1999

The focus of the memoir is on the time immediately preceding Manfred's death in 1994, but the work in general is highly illuminating as to the place of this author in regional literature and culture.



Martynowych, Orest T

Ukrainians in Canada: The Formative Period, 1891-1924

Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1991




Mattes, Merrill J

The Great Platte River Road

Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1969

History of the Overland Trail with emphasis on the Great Plains portion.



Matthews, Anne

Where the Buffalo Roam

New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1992

A chronicle of the controversy over the "buffalo commons" proposal of Frank and Deborah Popper.



Mayhall, Mildred P

The Kiowas

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1962

2d Ed., 1971




McCourt, Edward A

The Canadian West In Fiction

Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1949

Use with Harrison on literature of the Canadian west. Essays on: Charles William Gordon, Frederick Niven, Frederick Philip Grove, and "some others."



McCoy, Joseph G.

Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest


Reprint, Washington: Rare Book Shop, 1932

This memoir is a primary source on the origins of the long drive, McCoy being the entrepreneur who brought the cattle trade to Abilene. Notable illustrations by the artist Henry Worrall.

Kansas Collection, KU: Historic Sketches online


McIntosh, Charles Barron

The Nebraska Sand Hills: The Human Landscape

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1996

An impressive work of historical geography about a distinctive sub-region of the plains. Wonderful, if somewhat complex, maps.



McMurtry, Larry

The Last Picture Show

New York: Dial Press, 1966

New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1994

Besides being a fine novel by Texas's best crafter of fiction, this work is a literary depiction of the collapse of small-town culture on the plains during the generation after World War II.



Mellis, Allison Fuss

Riding Buffaloes and Broncos: Rodeo and Native Traditions in the Northern Great Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 2003

This work treats Indian rodeo as an instrument whereby the tribes adapted and persisted in their identities, subverting white officials’ attempted to force assimilation. Concentrating on the Crow, Lakota, and Northern Cheyenne, Mellis chronicles the rise of Indian rodeo in the first half of the 20th century and the crystallization of an all-Indian rodeo circuit in the second half of the century.



Meredith, Howard

Dancing on Common Ground: Tribal Cultures and Alliances on the Southern Plains

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1995




Micheaux, Oscar

The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer

Lincoln: Woodruff Press, 1913

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1994

Narrative of a black settler in South Dakota, including treatment of claim-seeking, town speculation. The author dedicated his work to Booker T. Washington.



Miller, David Humphreys

Ghost Dance

New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1959

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1985

Miller, John E.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend

Columbia: U. of Missouri Press, 1998

Wonderfully judicious biography of the famed author.



Miller, John E.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town: Where History and Literature Meet

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1994

This work of social history provides context for the famous Little House series--and also has broader applicability to community history on the plains.



Milloy, John S.

The Plains Cree: Trade, Diplomacy, and War, 1790-1870

Winnipeg: U. of Manitoba Press, 1987

Classic work by the artist-historian, Miller, who shaped our perceptions of the Ghost Dance phenomenon.



Milner, Clyde A., II, & Carol A. O'Connor

As Big as the West: The Pioneer Life of Granville Stuart

New York: Oxford University Press, 2009

Miner, Craig C.

West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1986

Superb cultural history; shows the value of focus on a sub-region within the plains, thereby revealing the interaction of regional and local conditions in everyday life.



Momaday, N. Scott

The Way to Rainy Mountain

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1969




Monnett, John

The Battle of Beecher Island and the Indian War of 1867-1869

Denver: U. Press of Colorado, 1992




Montoya, Maria E.

Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840-1900

Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2002




Mooney, James

The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890

Reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1991

Classic work of ethnography originally published in 1896 by U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology.



Moore, John H

The Cheyenne Nation: A Social and Demographic History

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1988




Moore, Richard R

West Texas after the Discovery of Oil: A Modern Frontier

Austin: Jenkins Publishing Co., 1971

Poorly written, but full of useful information on the oilfields developed in West Texas and the impact of such development on towns in the region.



Morton, Arthur S

A History of the Canadian West to 1870-71

London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1939

Exploration, fur trade, and initial colonies in the west, especially Red River. Not Nationalist, but British in perspective.



Morton, W.L.

Manitoba: A History

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1957

Called "a general history of Manitoba for Manitobans." Has "agricultural settlement as its central theme." Asserts "superficial friendliness" as character attribute in "a truly plural society." No geographic cultural influence: "If indeed anything distinctive in the arts and letters were to arise in the province, it would come from the mingling and fusion of its many peoples. Otherwise, Manitoba's culture was merely part of the Canadian aspect of North American civilization."



Murchie, R.W

Agricultural Progress on the Prairie Frontier

Toronto: Macmillan, 1936

Vol. 5 in Canadian Frontiers of Settlement Series

Concerned with farming systems, settlement, land tenure, land use.



Nelson, Paula M

After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-builders in Western South Dakota, 1900-1917

Iowa City: U. of Iowa Press, 1986




Nelson, Paula M

The Prairie Winnows Out Its Own: The West River Country of South Dakota in the Years of Depression and Dust

Iowa City: U. of Iowa Press, 1996




Newgard, Thomas P., William C. Sherman, and John Guerrero

African Americans in North Dakota: Sources and Assessments

Bismarck: U. of Mary Press, 1994




Norall, Frank

Bourgmont, Explorer of the Missouri, 1698-1725

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1988

A biography of the noted French explorer of the Missouri River and of central Kansas..



Noyes, Stanley

Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1993




O'Brien, Sharon

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice

New York: Oxford U. Press, 1987

A detailed and thoughtful literary biography treating Cather's family, background, youth, and literary maturation, leading up to the writing of O Pioneers.



Oliva, Leo E

Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1967

Military movements and forts on the trail; Indian relations.



Olson, James C

History of Nebraska

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1955. 3d Ed., with Ronald C. Naugle, 1997

The standard state history, and a good one.



Opie, John

Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1993




Osgood, Ernest Staples

The Day of the Cattleman

Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1929

Classic work on the range cattle industry. Clear Turnerian orientation, beginning with discussion of cattleman’s frontier, focusing in mid-book on the stockmen’s reinvention of democracy and social organization on the open range. In mid-20th century Osgood and Dale shaped our historic views of the 19th-century range cattle industry in the U.S.



Ostler, Jeffrey

The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee

Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 2004

A reinterpretation of Indian-White relations through the “lens” of colonialism. Ostler argues that agency was constrained by the imperatives of colonial US policy.



Otis, D.S.

The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Land

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1973

More political than ethnographic.



Ottoson, Howard W. et al

Land and People in the Northern Plains Transition Area

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1966

Emphasis on agricultural economics, but attention also to social problems, especially those peculiar to the eastern fringe of the plains.



Overfield, Richard A

Science with Practice: Charles E. Bessey and the Maturing of American Botany

Ames: Iowa State U. Press, 1993




Owram, Doug

Promise of Eden: The Canadian Expansionist Movement and the Idea of the West, 1856-1900

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1980

The west as an issue in Canadian nationalism--how national needs compelled the conversion of the desert image to the garden image, and how the Canadian government developed policies for the region. About ideas about the west. Compared to H. N. Smith, Virgin Land.



Palliser, John

Solitary Rambles and Adventures of a Hunter in the Prairies

Reprint, Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1969

Adventures of Palliser hunting on the northern plains, 1847-1848, before leading the British North American Exploring Expedition of 1857. Account of a traveler and sportsman with the American Fur Company on Upper Missouri.



Parkman, Francis

The Oregon Trail

Reprint, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1931

A travel narrative and classic primary account of northern plains Indian, immigrant, and mountain man life. By a great early historian of English-French conflict in North America.

Available on-line at University of Virginia Hypertexts


Parrish, Randall

The Great Plains: The Romance of Western American Exploration, Warfare, and Settlement, 1527-1870

Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1907

Lightly researched, covering standard nineteenth-century topics, this work is a source on the image of the plains in its time: "Heretofore the romantic history of the Plains has never been condensed within the limits of a single volume."



Pate, J'Nell L

Livestock Legacy: The Fort Worth Stockyards, 1887-1987

College Station: Texas A & M U. Press, 1988

Comprehensive history of the largest terminal livestock market in the Southwest. Details the role of big packers in establishing the stockyards and documents the business methods and life associated with them.



Peers, Laura

The Ojibwa of Western Canada, 1780 to 1870

St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1994




Peters, Virginia Bergman

Women of the Earth Lodges: Tribal Life on the Plains

North Haven: Archon, 1995




Peterson, Larry Len

L.A. Huffman: Photographer of the American West

Missoula: Mountain Press, 2005




Powell, J.W.

Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States

Washington: Government Printing Office, 1878

An influential document on land use in the American west. By the director of the U.S. Geological Survey.



Price, Catherine

The Oglala People, 1841-1879: A Political History

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1995




Quantic, Diane Dufva

The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1995

This survey of Great Plains lit is organized according to historical themes, here termed "myths," and comprises an impressive body of regional fiction, threated in plot-summary and interpretive fashion



Raaen, Aagot

Grass of the Earth: Immigrant Life in the Dakota Country

Northfield: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 1950

Reprint, Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1994

A narrative of Norwegian immigrant settlement in North Dakota, focusing on the lives of the two daughters of the family.



Rees, Ronald

New and Naked Land: Making the Prairies Home

Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988

A synthetic work by a geographer, notable for its treatment of psychological and emotional impressions of and reactions to the landscape.



Rees, Tony

Arc of the Medicine Line: Mapping the World’s Longest Undefended Border Across the Western Plains

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007

Detailed account of the joint survey parties fielded by Canada and the US in the 1870s.



Regehr, T.D

The Canadian Northern Railway: Pioneer Road of the Northern Provinces, 1895-1918


An attempt to rehabilitate the image of the CNR and see how it met the needs of the country. Closes with takeover by CPR.



Rennie, Bradford James

The Rise of Agrarian Democracy: The United Farmers and Farm Women of Alberta, 1909-1921

Buffalo: U. of Toronto Press, 2000




Rich, E.E

The Fur Trade and the Northwest to 1857

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1967

Good for Canadian context, but also for discrete chapters set in the west--"The Saskatchewan and the Prairies," "The English on the Prairies," and the Red River colony. Unlike American experience, much of the fur trade is on the plains.



Richmond, Robert W

Kansas: A Land of Contrasts

2d Edition, Arlington Heights: Forum Press, 1980

The standard state history.



Riegert, Paul W

From Arsenic to DDT: A History of Entomology in Western Canada

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1980




Rikoon, J. Sanford

Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains

Bloomington: Indiana U. Press, 1995




Riley, Glenda

The Female Frontier: A Comparative View of Women on the Prairie and the Plains

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1989




Riney-Kehrberg, Pamela

Rooted in Dust: Surviving Drought and Depression in Southwestern Kansas

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1994

A grassroots history treating everyday life in the region during the 1930s.



Robinson, Doane

A History of the Dakota or Sioux Indians

Aberdeen: News Printing, for State of South Dakota, 1904

Reprint, Minneapolis: Ross & Haines, 1956

Pioneering work that reveals the state of knowledge among white scholars in the early 20th century.


Robinson, Elwyn B.

History of North Dakota

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1966

This is the standard history of North Dakota, well-known for its seven-point interpretation of state history.



Rollings, Willard H.

The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains

Columbia: U. of Missouri Press, 1992




Ronda, James P.

Lewis and Clark Among the Indians

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1984




Ronda, James P.

Finding the West: Explorations with Lewis and Clark

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 2001




Roosevelt, Theodore

Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail

Paperback reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1983

TR's memoir of ranching and hunting on the plains.



Rosier, Paul C.

Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation, 1912-1954

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 2001




Ross, Alexander

The Red River Settlement: Its Rise, Progress, and Present State

London: Smith, Elder & Company, 1856

Excellent primary source on the colony to 1852. Treats colony and Lord Selkirk as agents of empire, civilization, and Christianity, under incredible hardship.



Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life


Regina: Government of Saskatchewan, 1955-1957

Fourteen reports: Scope and Character of the Investigation; Mechanization and Farm Costs; Agricultural Credit; Rural Roads and Local Government; Land Tenure; Rural Education; Movement of Farm People; Agricultural Markets and Prices; Crop Insurance; The Home and Family; Farm Electrification; Service Centers; Farm Income; A Program of Improvement for Saskatchewan Agriculture and Rural Life. Commission, chaired by W. B. Baker, said farm mechanization created both problems and also opportunities "for further extending the amenities of rural life." Compare with Kraenzel, and with Great Plains Committee report.



Rozier, Paul C

Rebirth of the Blackfeet Nation, 1912-1954

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 2001




Samek, Hana

The Blackfoot Confederacy, 1880-1920: A Comparative Study of Canadian and U.S. Policy

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1987




Sandoz, Marie

Old Jules

Paper reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1962

Classic biography of the author's visionary and cantankerous father, Old Jules Sandoz, pioneer of the Nebraska sandhills.



Schlebecker, John T.

Cattle Raising on the Great Plains, 1900-1961

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1963

Not spicy reading, but covers developments after the open range.



Sears, Paul B.

Deserts on the March

10th printing, Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1980

A landmark work, inspired by the Dust Bowl, in the tradition of grasslands ecology, on the environmental problems of the Great Plains.



Settle, Raymond W. and Mary Lund Settle

Saddles and Spurs: The Pony Express Saga

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1955

The standard work on the Pony Express.



Shannon, Fred A.

An Appraisal of Walter Prescott Webb’s The Great Plains: A Study in Institutions and

New York: Social Sciences Research Council, 1940

Reprint, Westport: Greenw2ood, 1979

Sharp, Paul F.

The Agrarian Revolt in Western Canada: A Survey Showing American Parallels

Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1948

"Identical environment" produced parallel developments and same proposed solutions. Also the factor of American immigration.



Sharp, Paul F.

Whoop-Up Country: The Canadian-American West

Reprint, Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1973

Country along the Whoop-Up Trail--Fort Benton, Montana, to Fort McLeod, Alberta. Trade from the Missouri River, Indian affairs, law enforcement, ranching, sodbusting, Cypress Hills Massacre, NWMP-- all in international perspective.



Shepard, R. Bruce

Deemed Unsuitable: Blacks from Oklahoma Move to the Canadian Prairies in Search of Equality in the Early 20th Century only to Find Racism in Their New Home

Toronto: Umbrella Press, 1997




Shoptaugh, Terry L.

Roots of Success: History of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers

Fargo: Institute for Regional Studies, 1997

Based mainly on oral interviews, this work focuses on the growers--their methods, their acquisition of American Crystal Sugar Company, and their success as a producer-owned cooperative.



Shortridge, James R.

Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1995




Siggins, Maggie

Revenge of the Land: A Century of Greed, Tragedy, and Murder on a Saskatchewan Farm

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1991

The author extends the story of a notorious murder into a broader commentary on tragedy in regional life.



Slatta, Richard W.

Cowboys of the Americas

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1990




Smiley, Donald V., Ed.

The Rowell-Sirois Report: An Abridgement of Book 1 of the Royal Commission Report on Dominion-Provincial Relations

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1963

Commission to study changes in Canadian constitution. For plains, important for Chapter 3, "The Wheat Boom, 1896-1913." Recognition of National Policy and wheat as staple export.



Smith, Henry Nash

Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth

New York: Vintage, 1957

An indispensable work for interpretation of the western American experience in American literature, mythology, and image.

Available on-line at University of Virginia Hypertexts


Solberg, Carl E.

The Prairie and the Pampas: Agrarian Policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930

Stanford: Stanford U. Press, 1987




Sprague, D.N.

Canada and the Metis, 1869-1885

Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier U. Press, 1987




Springer, Marlene and Haskell Springer, eds.

Plains Woman: The Diary of Martha Farnsworth, 1882-1922

Bloomington: Indiana U. Press, 1986




Spry, Irene M.

The Palliser Expedition: An Account of John Palliser's British North American Expedition 1857-1860

Toronto: Macmillan Company, 1963

A solid narrative history of the expedition, with biography on Palliser.




Stafford, William

The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems

St. Paul: Greywolf Press, 1998

This retrospective collection is an excellent introduction to the greatest poet of the plains.



Stanley, George F.G.

The Birth of Western Canada: A History of the Riel Rebellions

Longmans, Green & Co., 1936

Reprint, Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1963




Stanley, George F.G.

Louis Riel

Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1963

An authoritative biography. Covers political and social context of the Red River and 1885 rebellions, but mainly biography.



Starrs, Paul F.

Let the Cowboy Ride: Cattle Ranching in the American West

Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1998

A historical geography presents a balanced view of ranching, land use, and environmentalist demands in western America, arguing for the continued presence of the pastoral tradition.




Stegner, Wallace

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954

Fine biography of a highly influential critic of land use in the American west.



Stegner, Wallace

Wolf Willow: A History, A Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier

Paperback reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1980

If you read only one book by Stegner, make it this one. Set on the Montana-Saskatchewan border.



Steinbrook, Gordon L.

Allies & Mates: An American Soldier with the Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam, 1966-67

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1995

Letters and memoirs of a Nebraskan who served as a forward observer for Aussie and Kiwi artillery units in Vietnam.



Stonechild, Blair, and Bill Waiser

Loyal till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion

Calgary: Fifth House, 1997




Stratton, Joanna L.

Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981

Reprint, 1982

A collections of women's reminiscences. Although a good source of details of life in the region, it is to an extent a contrived source, and may be more useful as legend than as history.



Svingen, Orlan J.

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, 1877-1900

Boulder: U. Press of Colorado, 1993

The story of the location of elements of the Northern Cheyenne on the Tongue River of Montana, the gathering of additional Northern Cheyenne from Indian Territory and Pine Ridge into the Tongue River Reservation, and the struggle to establish and preserve their tenure there against the pressures of white settlement.




Svobida, Lawrence

An Empire of Dust

Caldwell: Caxton Printers, 1940

Memoirs of a wheat farmer in southwest Kansas during the 1930s. (Reprinted in 1986 in paperback by the University Press of Kansas under title, Farming the Dust Bowl.)



Sylvester, Kenneth Michael

The Limits of Rural Capitalism: Family, Culture, and Markets in Montcalm, Manitoba, 1870-1940

Buffalo: U. of Toronto Press, 2001




Thacker, Robert

The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination

Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press, 1990




Thompson, Era Bell

American Daughter

Reprint, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1986

This work recounts Bell's background on a North Dakota farm and its influence on her career as a writer and editor.



Thompson, John Herd

Forging the Prairie West

Toronto: Oxford U. Press, 1998

An unusual photo-history in that Thompson consciously strives to illustrate the origin and growth of a mythic identity for the prairie region.



Thompson, John Herd

The Harvests of War: The Prairie West, 1914-1918

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1978

Effects of war on Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Effects on economy, ethnic minorities, as well as commonalities of mobilization, conscription, wartime controls.




Thorson, John E.

River of Promise, River of Peril: The Politics of Managing the Missouri River.

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1994




Tobey, Ronald C.

Saving the Prairies: The Life Cycle of the Founding School of American Plant Ecology, 1895-1955

Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1981

The origins and immense influence of grasslands ecology, as developed at the University of Nebraska under Charles Bessey.



Tobin, Gregory M.

The Making of a History: Walter Prescott Webb and The Great Plains

Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1976

Not a full biography, but how the book and thesis came to be.



Toole, K. Ross

The Rape of the Great Plains: Northwest America, Cattle and Coal

Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1976

Mainly about strip mining on the northern plains.



Troper, Harold Martin

Only Farmers Need Apply: Official Canadian Government Encouragement of Immigration from the United States, 1896-1911

Toronto: Griffin Press, 1972

Canadian government efforts during the Wilfred Laurier administration to recruit American settlers to the prairie west. Researched in Canadian manuscripts, thus a good counterpart to Bicha.



Turner, Frederick Jackson

Frontier and Section: Selected Essays of Frederick Jackson Turner

Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1961

The standard anthology for reference to America's premier frontier historian.



Utley, Robert M.

Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1988

The best and most current biography of Custer.




Utley, Robert M.

The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993




Utley, Robert M.

The Last Days of the Sioux Nation

New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1963

The standard source on the defeat of the Sioux.



Van Kirk, Sylvia

"Many Tender Ties": Women in Fur-Trade Society in Western Canada, 1670-1870

Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer Publishing, 1980

Comprises Indian, white, and Metis women. Social history of the fur trade. "Fundamental to the growth of a fur-trade society was widespread intermarriage between the traders and the Indian women." Not "casual, promiscuous encounters," nor "womanless frontiersmen," but "marital unions which gave rise to distinct family units."



Vestal, Stanley

Queen of Cowtowns: Dodge City, "The Wickedest Little City in America," 1872-1886

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1952

Reprint, 1972

 a.k.a. Walter Stanley Campbell, Vestal was a major figure in the golden age of nonfiction writing on the American West, producing works intended for popular consumption, works with profound influence on American conception of the region.

OSU bio of Stanley Vestal


Short Grass Country

New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1941

Sitting Bull, Champion of the Sioux: A Biography

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1957

Reprint, 1989

Voisey, Paul

Vulcan: The Making of a Prairie Community

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press

An outstanding community study, consciously blending interpretive themes from Canadian and American historical literature to analyze the development of Vulcan, Alberta, and vicinity.



Waiser, W.A.

The Field Naturalist: John Macoun, the Geological Survey, and Natural Science

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1989

Botanist and naturalist Macoun was the explorer chiefly responsible for convincing Canadians that their prairie region was arable and worth developing.



Walker, Mildred

Winter Wheat

New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1944

A novel set on a wheat ranch in Montana.



Wallace, Ernest and E. Adamson Hoebel

The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1952

The standard work on this southern plains nation.



Wardhaugh, Robert A.

Mackenzie King and the Prairie West

Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 2000




Weaver, J. E. and F. W. Albertson

Grasslands of the Great Plains

Lincoln: Johnson Publishing Company, 1956

The best statement of grasslands ecology in full flower.



Weaver, J.E.

North American Prairie

Lincoln: Johnson Publishing Co., 1954

Weaver's report of science and statement of creed in regard to the grasslands.



Webb, Walter P.

The Great Frontier

Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1964

This is the reprint edition, with an introduction by Arnold Toynbee. Although this is a work of comparative frontiers and not regions, nevertheless, Webb dwells on plains and steppe frontiers for many of his examples, and the whole work shows the interaction of such regions with global imperialism.



Webb, Walter P.

The Great Plains

Paperback reprint, Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1981

The work with which all historical study of the Great Plains begins. The Webb thesis: adaptation to environment.



Wedel, Waldo R.

Prehistoric Man on the Great Plains

Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1961

An authoritative synthesis of archeological work on the plains as of the date of publication. A major point is refutation of the vacuum interpretation in plains prehistory, that is, showing that the plains were occupied continuously by human cultures, were never vacant.



Welk, Lawrence, with Bernice McGeehan

Wunnerful, Wunnerful! The Autobiography of Lawrence Welk

Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971

Includes Welk's boyhood in the German-Russian district of Strasburg, North Dakota, and his exploits as a regional bandsman.



West, Elliott

The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado

Lawrence: U. Press of Kansas, 1998




Wetherell, Donald G.

Town Life: Main Street and the Evolution of Small Town Alberta, 1880-1947

Edmonton: U. of Alberta Press, 1995




Wilson, Raymond

Ohiyesa: Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux

Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983

The standard and authoritative biography on Eastman.


Wishart, David J.

An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians

Lincoln: U. of Nebraska Press, 1994




Wood, Charles

The Kansas Beef Industry

Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1980

Excellent history of the industry in Kansas; particularly strong in treatment of problems in the industry, such as animal disease.



Worster, Donald

Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s

New York: Oxford U. Press, 1979

Interpretation of the causes of the Dust Bowl as the extension of capitalism--cash grain farming--onto the plains.




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