About the collection

Kansas history, Westward expansion, agriculture, and rural life are integral to K-State’s identity. Preserved within the Kansas Life and Culture collections are documents, papers, and institutional archives of importance to the region’s economy and culture.  

Primary and secondary resources document Kansas history and historical aspects of beef and wheat production, grassland ecology, range management, water, Native Americans, rural sociology, and rural geography in Kansas and the Great Plains. Core collections in this area include the books and personal papers of Kansas and Western historians Homer E. Socolofsky and David Dary. Printed materials date from the earliest known in Kansas (1838) and continue to the present year. 

Topical areas of strength include “Bleeding Kansas”, settlement of Kansas, ranching, general agriculture, Santa Fe Trail, political history, railroads, military history, Prohibition, and the development of Kansas State University. The following subcategories further define this topical area.

  • Agriculture and rural life: Records of ranches, farms, milling companies, beef cattle industry, and allied agricultural businesses. Far-Mar-Co and Farmland records are the largest quantity of materials in this area. Also collected are personal papers and collections that uniquely document Great Plains rural history including settlement, homesteading, pioneer communities, and railroads.

  • Grain science and milling: Records of milling companies and allied businesses involved in crop production, breeding and genetics, crop protection, harvesting, transportation, post-harvest handling and storage, technical manuals printed prior to 1850, and early U.S. milling periodicals/journals, books, and other printed materials that detail the history of the grain industry in the state (1830–present).

A few selections include

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  • The Prairie Studies Initiative, a partnership that aims to inspire creative scholarship among those engaged in understanding the natural ecosystems, history, culture, and the livelihoods of the prairie. We also employ the arts to make this research meaningful to a wide public.

Donate to this collection

If you would like to donate materials to the Morse Department of Special Collections, contact David B. Allen, curator for Kansas Life and Culture, at (785) 532-7428 or dballen@k-state.edu.