Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The problem for this thesis was to examine the historiographical material on Populism as a historical movement and relate it to a county in Kansas. The county selected for this study was Kearny, a county in the southwestern section of the state. In the study the general assumptions of the major writers on the subject were examined critically against research findings of this local investigation. Many of the assumptions and generalizations that have been accepted by historians in the past are in need of clarification or modification. The assumption by John D. Hicks in The Populist Revolt (1931) that out of the period 1888 to 1898 there were only two good crop years in Kansas is inaccurate. The high mortgage rate that writers contemporary to Populism referred, as well as Hicks, must be modified to take into consideration the nature of many of the loans that were made during the boom period from 1885 to 1888. While Allan Bogue in his Money at Interest (1955) has provided a brief survey of the loan and mortgage problem much more work needs to be done in Kansas on their effect upon the political development of this period. There is tentative evidence that the rhetoric and reality were different. In addition this study has indicated that Populism had greater support in the western areas of Kansas than had formerly been assumed. On the local level it was found that local conditions in Kearny played an important role in whether Populism was accepted. Local newspapers provided primary material about conditions in the county during the Populist period, 1890-1898. The Kearny County Advocate, Lakin Index and Lakin Pioneer Democrat were the papers used. Count y records, the Biennial Reports of the various state departments and a local history, History of Kearny County, were used to reconstruct the county historically. The Kansas State Historical Society was utilized for newspaper research, census reading and manuscript evaluation.


James Forsythe

Date of Award

Summer 1969

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1969 Harold Ray Smith


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