UMKC professor co-organizes Border Wars Conference at the Kansas City Public Library

Event precedes Department of History and Center for Regional Studies’ National Endowment for the Humanities-funded workshop

Kansas City, Mo. – Diane Mutti Burke, associate professor of History in the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) College of Arts and Sciences; Jonathan Earle, associate professor of History at the University of Kansas; and the Kansas City Public Library are co-organizing a Border Wars Conference — an academic symposium featuring 15 leading scholars of the Civil War-era conflict in Missouri and Kansas. The symposium will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch’s Truman Forum auditorium, 4801 Main St.

Michael Fellman, an American Civil War scholar and expert on the guerilla warfare that characterized the conflict in the Missouri-Kansas borderlands, will present the keynote address at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the presentation. Fellman will speak on “I Came Not to Bring Peace, but a Sword: The Christian War God, and the War of All Against All on the Kansas-Missouri Border”.

Fellman is a professor of history emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and the author of seven books, including “Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War,” “Citizen Sherman,” “Antislavery Reconsidered,” “Lincoln’s Generals” and “The Making of Robert E. Lee”.

A Border Wars book fair will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, November 11 at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch. A book signing by authors participating in the symposium will take place from 5 to 6 p.m.

“The experiences of Missouri and Kansas residents during the era of the Border Wars is a window on the issues and circumstances that shattered the union during the Civil War,” said Mutti Burke. “It was on the Kansas-Missouri border that Americans first grappled with the problem of liberty and slavery face to face — some even shedding blood in the interest of their cause. An exploration of this most uncivil of wars also provides insight into the ways in which societies can be fragmented by ideology and ultimately rebuilt upon different lines.”

Admission to the Thursday night keynote address, the Friday and Saturday conference sessions and the Friday book fair is free. Click here to RSVP or call (816) 701-3407.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, the Bernardin-Haskell Lecture Fund and Center for Regional Studies at UMKC, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas and the Kansas City Public Library.

“Crossroads of Conflict: Contested Visions of Freedom and the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars”

The conference precedes “Crossroads of Conflict: Contested Visions of Freedom and the Missouri-Kansas Border Wars” — a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded workshop that the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of History and Center for Regional Studies will host on the UMKC campus in the summer of 2012. The workshop will explore historic homes and public buildings, townscapes and museum collections in light of recent research to understand the clash of cultures and differing definitions of freedom that played out on the Missouri-Kansas border. Tour sites include the UMKC campus; historic Lawrence, Kan.; historic Westport, Mo.; Watkins Woolen Mill; John Wornall House; Jesse James Farm; Constitution Hall in Lecompton, Kan.; Steamboat Arabia Museum; and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“The workshop is an amazing opportunity for teachers,” Mutti Burke said. “Not only do they learn about of important and the complex history of the Border Wars, but they also get to work with motivated teachers from through the nation. We are very honored to receive this prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grant for the third time.”

Workshop participants will consider the forces and events that led to the abandonment of the understandings reached in the Missouri Compromise, the rejection of popular sovereignty in the Kansas Territory and the establishment of the shadow “Free State” government. They will examine the nature and intensity of the struggles between the Kansas Jayhawkers and Missouri Bushwhackers and the general mayhem these vicious disputes engendered along the Missouri-Kansas border during Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War.

More information will be available at

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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