Member Blogs > Kristian Strom, BooksellerMy 5 Favorite Out-of-Print Books about Wichita History: Book Scouting for Local History

  • Fri, 24 Aug 2012 01:57:50    Permalink
    Contrary to what some of my friends and family back East might believe, the buffalo don't roam wild in Wichita anymore and you won't witness old-fashioned, revolver toting duels downtown on Douglas. Cowboys and Indians are a rare sight these days. You are more likely to see a few fellows in souped up pickup trucks and an extraordinary sculpture along the Arkansas River honoring the "Keeper of the Plains".   Also, next time you're down on Douglas make sure to check out the old Sam Zelman clothing store location for the incredible window display that Seth Blume and his brother created for the Friends of the Wichita Public Library.

    Yes, I do realize that stereotypes about Wichita are plentiful and often less than laudatory, but after having lived here for over ten years I have come to love the city that I now call home.  Wichita also happens to be a great town for bibliophiles (luckily for me) and there is no shortage of bookstores, book sales and estate sales.  Garage sale-ing is something of a Thursday morning Olympic sport in these parts.
    In every city and county in America there exists a slew of books which will be plentiful at every type of local book sale and will consistently sell in the $25-75 range either online or at your booth in the local antique mall.  One of the greatest advantages of having an online bookselling presence is being able to market your local history volumes worldwide for those folks who have relocated or have family in the area and have retained a particular interest in your area but are much less likely to come across these relatively common books in their neck of the woods.

    Here are 5 of my favorite books to look for in and around Wichita.  By no means is this a comprehensive list, or even a list of the most valuable and sought after local history volumes.  These are ones I have come across time and time again that are either well-written, profusely illustrated or personal favorites.  What are the top 5 regional history books in your area?

    1. Peerless Princess of the Plains: Postcard Views of Early Wichita (Hardcover)
    These used to go for much closer to three figures, but the price has come down a bit in the last year.  Softcover copies are also available, but not nearly as valuable.  Also, be careful to notice any binding issues with the softcover edition.

    2. The Daylight Station of America by Craig Miner
    Anything written by the late and great local historian Craig Miner is worth picking up.  Not only was Craig THE local history expert, he has written several books on the entire state as well.  This is one of his more scarce volumes.

    3.  Frank Lloyd Wright and Wichita: The First Usonian Design by Pamela Kingsbury
    For more information on the Allen-Lambe house (built in 1916) you can visit this link.
    For photographs of the Juvenile Cultural Center turned Corbin Education Center (1957) go here.
    Wright designed the first of his many "Usonian" houses for a family here, although it was never built, but became the basis for other homes across the country.  Here is that story:
        4.  Wichita Century: A Pictorial History of Wichita, Kansas 1870-1970 by R.M. Dick Long
    Supply is on the high side for this one, but so is demand.  I've probably sold 10 copies online and 10 more at the Antique Mall in the last three years.  Values range from $25-100 depending on condition and the presence of a signature.  Please refrain from childish jokes regarding the author's name.

    5.  Midian, Kansas: The history of an oil boomtown with an overall history of the El Dorado Oil Field by William Allen Green
    Last but certainly not least, I can't believe I'm letting the cat out of the bag with this one, but I do hope that other local booksellers can profit from this little gem as long as I'm not around at the same sale haha!  Here's a book I've consistently scouted and sold in the area (and online all over the country) for $75 at least five or six times. 
    I couldn't tell you exactly why demand remains strong for this discrete paperback (especially considering that today the town of Midian, which was actually located just outside Wichita in Butler County, officially exists only in cyberspace), but the link below will give you an idea.  To add to the mystique of the story, the town was so named Midian was so named because of its mystical connections to the Masonic Order of the Midian Shrine and the biblical Midian, fourth son of Abraham and founder of a kingdom known by the same name.  Local legend has it that in the basement of one of the small farm houses near the former site of Midian, a truly ancient Midianite shrine, possessed of supernatural powers, rests, long since forgotten.  You can read more about the legend from the Kansas State Historical Society here.

    Thanks for reading, and remember to comment, tell us about your top 5 regional volumes, share this post and share the love:)  Also a brief reminder that anyone who shops on Amazon can use the banner at the top of my blog to be directed to the site to make their purchases and I will receive a small affiliate credit.  If you benefit from reading the blog, I appreciate you using the banner link.  Every little bit helps.

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