The Kansas City area has long been a place of intersection in American life. Here where the Missouri River turns east to start its run across Missouri, European Americans interacted with Native Americans, the populated East scattered to explore and inhabit the sparsely settled West, and North and South fought over the relationship between white and black. In the twentieth century, Kansas City served as the urban center for an extensive rural region, and reformers dueled with political bossism and organized crime. Inadequate housing, poor employment opportunities, and riots demonstrated that the intersection of racial relations remained troubled.
For Kansas City, America’s Crossroads, Diane Mutti Burke and John Herron, faculty members in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of History, selected fourteen essays that examine multiple facets of Kansas City’s history from articles published in the first one hundred volumes of the Missouri Historical Review. In an insightful introduction, the editors broadly sketch the history of Kansas City and examine how the essays contribute to an understanding of the city’s past and demonstrate the evolution of historical writing.
Beginning with events prior to the settlement of the area, the essays describe important episodes in the social, economic, racial, and political life of Kansas City. Boss Tom Pendergast, conflict between incoming Mormons and earlier settlers, and a young female teacher’s experience in the 1840s all figure into this rich history of the Kansas City area. The articles “illuminate key moments in the history of the city and the surrounding region” and demonstrate “how the writing of history changed (and continues to change over time.
About the Editors
Diane Mutti Burke is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her work has appeared in collections of essays about women’s history in Missouri and the South.
John Herron is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the coeditor of Human/Nature: Biology, Culture, and Environmental History and has published essays in works on environmental history.
Published by the State Historical Society of Missouri, 2007. 312 pages. 104 illustrations.
This is the second volume in the Century of Missouri History Scholarship Series.