Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

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Overview


The Encyclopedia of the Great Plains is a cooperative project of the Center for Great Plains Studies and the University of Nebraska Press, with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and the Nebraska Humanities Council.

The Great Plains is a vast expanse of grasslands stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River and from the Rio Grande to the coniferous forests of Canada--an area more than eighteen hundred miles from north to south and more than five hundred miles from east to west. The Great Plains region includes all or parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The region, once labeled “the Great American Desert,” is now more often called the “heartland,” or, sometimes, “the breadbasket of the world.” Its immense distances, flowing grasslands, sparse population, enveloping horizons, and dominating sky convey a sense of expansiveness, even emptiness or loneliness, a reaction to too much space and one's own meager presence in it.

The Plains region is the home of the Dust Bowl, the massacre at Wounded Knee, the North-West Rebellion, the Tulsa race riot, the Lincoln County War, the purported Roswell alien landing, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. From it have emerged furs, cattle, corn, wheat, oil, gas, and coal, as well as jazz, literature, and political reform. It has been inhabited for more than twelve thousand years, since Paleo-Indians hunted mammoth and bison. More recent emigrants came from eastern North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, resulting in a complex and distinctive ethnic mosaic.

With 1,316 entries contributed by more than one thousand scholars, this groundbreaking reference work captures what is vital and interesting about the Great Plains--from its temperamental climate to its images and icons, its historical character, its folklore, and its politics. Thoroughly illustrated, annotated, and indexed, this remarkable compendium of information and analysis will prove the definitive and indispensable resource on the Great Plains for many years to come.

Listen to an interview with David J. Wishart from Nebraska Public Radio

"Wishart and the staff of the Center for Great Plains Studies have compiled a wide-ranging (pun intended) encyclopedia of this important region. Their objective was to 'give definition to a region that has traditionally been poorly defined,' and they have admirably succeeded. Twenty-seven thematic chapters (agriculture, folkways, Native Americans, water) offer overview essays followed by alphabetically arranged entries. Many map and black-and-white photographs supplement the text."--"Reference that rocks," American Libraries, May 2005.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
More than 1,000 scholars participated in the creation of this massive, 940-page reference, the most comprehensive ever published about the region. The 1,316 entries cover the entire region, from "armadillos," "Fred Astaire," and "Gene Autry," to "Frank Lloyd Wright," "Neil Young," and "Zitkala-Sa." A lifetime's worth of browsing.
Booklist

"[A] unique reference book. . . . This volume is valuable for a wide variety of user groups. . . . It is highly recommended for most libraries in the heartland as well as for all academic and large public libraries."—Booklist
The Atlantic Monthly

"Especially strong on Native American history and warfare (refreshingly, stressing competition and conflict among the tribes) and on perhaps the Plains' most characteristic features: weather and physical environment."—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly

— Benjamin Schwarz

New Mexico Historical Review

“The Great Plains comprises about 30 percent of the land in the United States and has played a critically important role throughout U.S. history. Not until now, however, has there been a single volume that assembles everything of significance related to the region. Historical geographer David J. Wishart and his team succeeded admirably in this effort. . . . Students and scholars seeking a solid introduction to a myriad of issues related to the Great Plains, whether in the United States or in Canada, will welcome this excellent resource. Wishart and his team of contributors deserve a hearty round of applause from scholars and the reading pubic for completing this great work.”—Barton H. Barbour, New Mexico Historical Review

— Barton H. Barbour

North Dakota History

“Wishart, a geographer by training, and the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska are to be congratulated for having ably woven a complex and interdisciplinary fabric. . . . The casual reader and the seasoned researcher each will find items of interest and use in this nicely edited and well-illustrated work.”—Paul R. Picha, North Dakota History

The Atlantic Monthly - Benjamin Schwarz

"Especially strong on Native American history and warfare (refreshingly, stressing competition and conflict among the tribes) and on perhaps the Plains' most characteristic features: weather and physical environment."—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly
New Mexico Historical Review - Barton H. Barbour

“The Great Plains comprises about 30 percent of the land in the United States and has played a critically important role throughout U.S. history. Not until now, however, has there been a single volume that assembles everything of significance related to the region. Historical geographer David J. Wishart and his team succeeded admirably in this effort. . . . Students and scholars seeking a solid introduction to a myriad of issues related to the Great Plains, whether in the United States or in Canada, will welcome this excellent resource. Wishart and his team of contributors deserve a hearty round of applause from scholars and the reading pubic for completing this great work.”—Barton H. Barbour, New Mexico Historical Review

Library Journal
This reference work on the Great Plains captures the region's character through annotations, scholarly analysis, and 249 black-and-white illustrations. Editor Wishart (geography, Univ. of Nebraska) defines the Great Plains Region as approximately 900,000 square miles located between the Rocky Mountains, the Missouri River, the Rio Grand, and the Canadian Parkland Belt. Here he presents 1,316 signed entries, written by some 1000 scholars and divided according to 27 topics that range from the Paleo-Indians to the 2000 census. The contents of each topic are outlined with an introductory essay, followed by specific articles arranged alphabetically within the topic. Historical figures are listed under their common names rather than their formal names. For example, Calamity Jane is indexed under "Calamity Jane," even though her given name of Martha Canary is included in the article. Other entries include Malcolm X, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Katherine Porter, numerous Indian tribes, and Brown v. The Board of Education at Topeka. A detailed general index includes both specific articles, as well as events, places, and people mentioned. Cross references indicate the topic and entry in which the desired information is located. Bottom Line This affordable and thorough resource on a subject not often covered in reference format is suitable for all libraries.-Laurie Selwyn, Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803247871
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 940
  • Product dimensions: 8.88 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 1.96 (d)

Meet the Author


David J. Wishart is a professor of geography at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians and The Fur Trade of the American West: A Geographical Synthesis, both published by the University of Nebraska Press.
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