The scholars who portray Chautauqua characters share the prominent books that inform their research. Your book club is invited to select a book(s) that deepens your knowledge of the fascinating personalities who are featured at High Plains Chautauqua each year. These books provide a rich context for individuals who have impacted history and are sure to provoke lively discussion.  FOR A PRINTABLE PDF COPY, CLICK HERE.

2015 High Plains Chautauqua Reading List

Bertha Spears

Lesley Poling-Kempes. The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West. Da Capo Press, 1989.


Helen Hunt Jackson

Hunt Jackson, Helen. A Century of Dishonor: The Classic Expose of the Plight of Native Americans. Dover Publications, 2003.

Hunt Jackson, Helen, Ramona. Signet Classics, 2002.

Hunt Jackson, Helen, and Mark I West. Selected Colorado Writings. Filter Press, 2002.


Rosamund Underwood

Dorothy Wickenden. Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.  Scribner, 2011.


George Catlin

Catlin, George.  North America Indians, Ed. Peter Matthiessen. Penguin Books, 2004.

Catlin, George, and Heyman, Therese Thau. George Catlin and His Indian Gallery. Washington: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2002.

Dippie, Brian and Hassrick, Peter H., contributors. Redrawing Boundaries:  Perspectives on Western American Art. Denver: Institute of Western American Art, Denver Art Museum, 2007.  Call number N8214.5 w4 R43 2007.

Pratt, Stephanie and Troccoli, Joan Carpenter.  George Catlin: American Indian Portraits.  London: National Portrait Gallery, 2014.


Father Pierre John De Smet

Carriker, Robert. Father Peter John De Smet: Jesuit in the West.  University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

De Smet, Pierre Jean S. J. Letters and Sketches: With a Narrative of a Year’s Residence Among the Indian

Tribes of the Rocky Mountains. Nabu Press, 2010.

Killoren, John J. Come Blackrobe: De Smet and the Indian Tragedy. University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

Peterson, Jacqueline and Laura Peers. Sacred Encounters: Father De Smet and the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.


Augusta Tabor

Moynihan, Bett. Augusta Tabor: A Pioneering Woman. Cordillera Press, 1988.

Nolte, Judy. Baby Doe Tabor: The Mad Woman in the Cabin.  University of Oklahoma Press, 2009.

Smith, Duane. Horace Tabor: His Life and Legend. Colorado Associate University Press, 1973.

West, Elliot. These Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado.  University Press of Kansas. 1998.


Mark Twain

Loving, Jerome.  Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens. University of California Press, 2010.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dover Publications,1994.

Twain, Mark. Roughing It. Signet Classics, 2008.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Dover Publications,1998.


Theodore Roosevelt

Brinkley, Douglas. The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.  HarperCollins, 2009. A thoroughly readable 940 page romp chronicling TR’s conservation legacy.

Egan, Timothy. The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2009. The riveting story of the August 1910 forest fire that raged through Northeast Washington, Northern Idaho, and Northwestern Montana, burning over three million acres and claiming as many as one hundred lives.  This is also the story of the founding of the United States Forest Service and the preservation of the great western forests.

Goodwin, Doris. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Simon & Schuster, 2013.  A longer read, Goodwin looks at the complicated friendship of TR and his chosen successor and later opponent through the prism of a new kind of journalism practiced by such journalistic luminaries as S.S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, William Allen White, and Lincoln Steffens. 

McCullough, David. Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt. Simon & Schuster, 1981.  My favorite, because it focuses on the young boy, known to his family affectionately as Tee-dee.  It is often said, “The boy is the father to the man.”  With magnificent prose, McCullough introduces the reader not only to the sickly boy who would become the famous outdoorsman, but we also learn of his siblings, parents, and grandparents, those loved ones who imprinted themselves on the future president.  Readable and half as long as many of the other biographies.

Millard, Candice. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, Broadway Books (Doubleday), 2005.  A brilliant telling of TR’s successful, post-presidential, near-death exploration of an Amazon Jungle river.

Miller, John J. The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football. HarperCollins, 2011.  A must-read for any fan of college football. 

Morris, Edmund. The Colonel. Random House, Inc., 2010. 

Morris, Edmund. Theodore Rex. Random House, Inc., 2001.

Morris, Edmund. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1979.

The three works above are tremendously detailed and accurate, dealing, in turn, with TR’s pre-presidential experience, his presidency, and his post presidential years.  The first work won the Pulitzer Prize for biography and has long been reported to be a “next project” by director Martin Scorsese and producer/actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Roosevelt, Theodore. Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography. Macmillan, 1913.  In the chapter on his early political lessons as a young member of the New York General Assembly and his chapter titled “In Cowboyland,” detailing his years as a cattle rancher, TR is at his best. This book is a gift of wordsmithing and wit by TR.


Chief Standing Bear

Starita, Joe. “I am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice, St. Martin's Press, 2010. 


Will Rogers

Yagoda, Ben, Will Rogers: A Biography.  University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

Carter, Joseph, The Quotable Will Rogers.  Gibbs Smith, 2005.

White, Richard D., Jr., Will Rogers: A Political Life.  Texas Tech University Press, 2011.

Will Rogers: American Politics.  DVD. RSU Public Television, 2012.  Website of the Will Rogers Memorial Museums (access to writings, virtual tour, podcasts about Rogers, and more).


William Jennings Bryan

Cherny, Robert W., A Righteous Cause: the Life of William Jennings Bryan.  Paperback ed. Oklahoma University Press, 1994.

Farris, Scott, Almost President: the Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation. Paperback ed.  Lyons Press, 2013.

Kazin, Michael, A Godly Hero: the life of William Jennings Bryan.  Knopf, 2006.

Larson, Edward J., Summer for the Gods: the Scopes Trial and American’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion.  Basic Books, 1997.

Wills, Gary, Under God: Religion and American Politics.  Simon & Schuster, 1990.