Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2021


University of Nebraska Press


In his invitation to participate in this symposium on Russell Nye’s Midwestern Progressive Politics: A Historical Study of Its Origins and Development, 1870-1950, Jon Lauck gave us free rein. He did, however, suggest that we comment on how the book has aged and what Nye missed; how the reform era can be seen in regional terms; and whether Midwestern reform was moderate or radical. To address his first possibility: upon re-reading this classic, my overall reaction was decidedly mixed. In many ways, the book is emphatically a product of 1951. In contrast to today’s political histories, the lacunas are jarring: the political importance of gender, race (including whiteness as well as the contributions and experiences of people of color), ethnicity, and global context are either barely mentioned or ignored entirely. It would take an essay much longer than this one to show how scholars have worked to expand our horizons over the decades.


Copyright @ 2021 University of Nebraska Press. Reprinted with permission. Final version can be found at



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