Book Study of Missouri Yesterdays

Study of Missouri Yesterdays:

Stories of the Romantic Days of Missouri

Kimberly Rainey Woolery

San Jose State University

Prof. Elizabeth Wrenn-Estes

LIBR 280-12

April 25, 2012

When my grandfather died in 1995, my grandmother gave me a collection of books and school materials that had belonged to the two of them.  Missouri Yesterdays: Stories of the Romantic Days of Missouri by Louise Platt Hauck was part of that collection.  Though Missouri Yesterdays remains in print both in physical book form and digitally, this original 1920 print offers a fascinating glimpse into Midwestern printing in the early part of the 20th century.  This study will examine the physical characteristics of the book, the history of its authorship and publication, and the historical context surrounding the time in which it was written and published.


Historical Context
Title and Author
Publication and Printing
Physical Format

Historical Context


The period of the 1920s brought about vast cultural, social, and political change.  It was the first time in American history that more people lived in cities than on farms.  There was a rise of “consumer culture.”  The loosening of moral conservatism in some sections of the population clashed with the Victorian sensibilities of others. Young women were participating in society in a way they never had before.  Racial tension was growing. The “Roaring Twenties” were a turbulent and exciting time for America (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2012; “Learn about the 1920s,” 2012).

Consumer Culture

Due to the ability of companies to advertise, manufacture, and ship products more easily, Americans consumers were able to buy the same products in cities all around the country.  The economic prosperity in the time period led to many people purchasing goods at a rate that had never been seen before (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2012; Whitley, 2011).  With the creation of installment payment plans, consumers were able to buy more expensive items, such as appliances, that were previously only available to the wealthy (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2005). Radios became poplar purchases when the first commercial radio station began in Pittsburgh in 1920.  Within just three years, more than 500 stations had been created around the country.  However, arguably the most important product of the 1920s was the automobile. The low prices and installment plans made affording a car easy for many Americans.  By 1929, there was one car for every five Americans (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2012).


With the addition of the 18th amendment, the federal government made the manufacturing, transporting, and sale of beverages with more than 0.5% alcohol illegal.  On January 16th, 1920, they shut down all bars and taverns across the country (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2012).  However, instead of curtailing the drinking of “intoxicating beverages” and lowering the crime rate, prohibition simply sent the production and consumption of alcohol underground.  This led to the creation of speakeasies, illegal distilleries, and smuggling rings.  Organized crime flourished during this time (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2005).  As more and more people began to buy and consume alcohol illegally, the crime organizations grew.

Role of Women

Women began to be able to have more control over their own lives.  The 19th amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, prohibit the denial of voting rights based on sex, allowing women to more actively participate in the government.  Birth control devices became more easily accessible, allowing women to have more control over their bodies.  More and more women were able to hold jobs outside the home (“The Roaring Twenties,” 2012; Whitley, 2011).

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Title and Author


Missouri Yesterdays: Stories of the Romantic Days of Missouri is a collection of twelve short stories that first appeared in the St. Joseph Sunday Gazette (Hauck, 1920).   Many of the stories in the book center on the Civil War era and include elements of romance, family, social customs, and the metaphysical.  Some of the stories also include poems or songs, such as that of “Mammy’s Song” in the story “The Ghost that Walks in the Full of the Moon.”  The stories employ a conversational style, often addressing the reader directly.  This direct address technique lends a folkloric feeling to the book that is appropriate to the subject matter and the era and area in which it was published.


Louise Platt Hauck was born Fairy Louise Healy in 1883 to Elizabeth Landon Prescott and William Healy in Kansas.  Her mother divorced her father and, in 1891, married a man named Emory Melzar Platt.  Louise took her stepfather’s name.  The family moved to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1892 where her stepfather founded Platt Commercial College (D C, n.d.; “Emory M. Platt,” n.d.; Missouri Western State University Library, n.d.).   Little else is known about her early life until her marriage to Leslie F. Hauck.  The two had three children named Jean, Leslie, and Elizabeth (United States Census Bureau, 1930).

Despite living in a time when women were expected to be focused on their home life, Hauck was a historian, a participant in many civic clubs, and a very prolific writer.  (Louise Platt Hauck n.d.; Missouri Western State University Library, n.d.).  She was first published in 1915, after years of struggling for success.  Her daughter Jean recalls the years of rejections and criticisms:

 “The lower drawer of her dresser was filled with rejects, write it all over again, tell it from another point of view she was advised. . . start with a new idea, and then discard it! This was all part of our childhood background, we seldom heard the tired sigh from Mother, when another script was tossed into that drawer, a full month’s work gone . . .” (Missouri Western State University Library, n.d.)

After her first story was accepted for publication, Hauck published 64 books and numerous articles and hundreds of short stories.  Her first books, Missouri Yesterdays and The Mystery of Tumult Rock were published in 1920.  Hauck continued to publish two or three novels and multiple short stories and articles every year until her death in 1943.  She published under her own name and four pseudonyms: Lane Archer, Peter Ash, Louise Landon, and Jean Randall (Missouri Western State University Library, n.d.).

Her writing was considered “romantic” and often centered on Missouri life and history.  Her own mother criticized her work as being “trashy pot-boilers,” but her writing was wildly popular at the time and still remains so in many circles today.  She is now considered a writer for both adults and youth, though there was little distinguishing between the two at the time of her publications (Missouri Western State University Library, n.d.).

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Publication and Printing

Printer and Publisher

Missouri Yesterdays was published by the Burton Publishing Company in 1920.  The Burton Publishing Company was founded by Ollie David “O.D.” Burton in 1908 after spending nine years working as a salesman for Apple Press and Century Press (Rochelle, 1980).  Burton had dreamed of owning his own publishing company since the age of 18 when he worked for a bookstore in Hastings, Nebraska.  Twenty-two years later he was able to move to Kansas City and make that dream a reality.  In 1913,  Burton’s sister Mattie moved to Kansas City to help him run the company. Mattie would read the manuscripts and respond to the authors.  She also handled the secretary and treasurer responsibilities.  Burton would handle the general operations and the printing and selling of the books.  The company location moved twice before ending up at the house at 3629 Central.  Burton and Mattie lived in the same house where they ran the business.  Mattie assisted Burton until 1957 when he died at age 89.  After that, she took over as president of the company.  She attempted to sell the company in 1980 due to her inability to keep up with the operations.  She then died in 1982 at the age of 99.

In the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the company flourished and the siblings hired two more employees to help with the business (Rochelle, 1980).  In the 1940s and 50s, Burton converted two station wagons into bookmobiles to deliver the books the company printed (Missouri Valley Special Collections, n.d.a; Missouri Valley Special Collections, n.d.b).

The company primarily specialized in books related to Midwestern history and folklore. In the 72 years of the company’s history before the attempted sale, they published more than 225 titles.  In 1970, approximately 200 of the original printing of these titles were donated to the Kansas City Public Library where they remain in their Missouri Valley Room (Rochelle, 1980).


Place of Publication

In 1834, John McCoy founded the Westport Landing to serve as a trading area along the Missouri Area.  The population of the area grew in size during the 1840s and, in 1850, it official became the Town of Kansas.  In 1853, Missouri incorporated the area and renamed it the City of Kansas.  The population continued to grow rapidly following incorporation (ByCityLight, n.d.).

During the years prior to the Civil War, many pro-slavery advocates began to cross the border from The City of Kansas into Kansas in order to encourage Kansas to adopt slavery.   These advocates clashed with the abolitionists in the area, often in violent ways.  In 1856, a group of slavery advocates burned Lawrence, Kansas, igniting what would come to be known as the Border Wars. Violence erupted on both sides of the border, eventually causing President Buchanan to send troops into The City of Kansas to quell the violence (“History of Kansas City”, 2012).

During and after the Civil War, the population continued to grow rapidly.  The building of the Hannibal Bridge in 1869 contributed greatly to the population boom, as did the building of many stockyards.  By 1871, Kansas City was second only to Chicago in livestock production.  In 1889, the city’s name was officially changed to Kansas City (“History of Kansas City”, 2012; “Kansas City, Missouri”, 2012).

In 1899, the first of the city-built fountains was erected.  Forty-seven more public fountains would follow, leading Kansas City to eventually be known as the City of Fountains (City of Fountains Foundation, n.d.).  The early 1900s was also the era in which Kansas City became known for its contribution to Jazz and its barbecue.  Kansas City style barbecue is still renowned worldwide.  Kansas City was also known for its free-flowing liquor during an era when many states were enacting Prohibition. Individuals would cross the border from Kansas to drink it its numerous taverns.  Even after national prohibition was enacted in 1919, Kansas City was essentially unaffected thanks to Democratic political bosses James and Tom Pendergast and the many political officials under their pay (“History of Kansas City”, 2012; “Kansas City, Missouri”, 2012).

Following the World Wars, Kansas City experienced a sprawl as many residents began to move to the suburbs, forming the Kansas City metropolitan area.  In 1940, what was then the city proper had 400,000 residents.  By 2000, the same area had only 180,000. This urban exodus was also exacerbated by the race riots that occurred in the 1960s and the formation of many inner city slums (ByCityLight, n.d.).

Today, Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri, with 510,245 residents.  Its metropolitan area contains 2.2 million residents.  It covers 316 square miles in the city and 584 in the metro area (“Kansas City, Missouri”, 2012).

Printer’s Device and Print

The book is printed with a serifed Roman typeface.  It’s very similar in style to Times New Roman; however, since Times New Roman wasn’t created until 1936, it isn’t a definite match (Times New Roman, 2011).  No italics are used and bold type is only used for story or poem titles.

Roman typeface is one of the three major typefaces in Western typography; Italic and Blackletter being the other two.  It is the most widely used of the three typefaces.  Roman refers to any upright (non-slanted or script) typeface, but is usually associated with serifs (Bear, n.d.b).  It was called Roman due to the belief that it was similar to typefaces used in ancient Rome; however, some modern historians believe this is a misnomer. Instead, they believe this particular typeface was more likely developed for Charlemagne in the 9th century (“Roman”, 2012; “History of Charlemagne,” n.d.). By the end of the 15th century, Roman typefaces were coming into mainstream use (“Brief History,” 2010). Since then, hundreds of variations of both serif and sans serif Roman typefaces have been created, many of which are almost indistinguishable from each other by any other than the most practiced eye.

The book was printed using only black ink.  No rubrication or other colored text is included

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Physical Format

Size and Format

The book’s cover is 7 1/2 inches by 5 inches and the pages are 7 3/8 inches by 5 inches.  The size of the book indicates that it would be considered a crown octavo by traditional book size standards or a duodecimo by the American Library Association standards (Book sizes, n.d.).  A quarto size indicated that the paper was folded 4 times and cut to make 8 sheets.  A duodecimo size indicated the paper was folded 6 times to make 12 sheets.

Collation Paper

The paper has no discernible watermarks.  The paper is rough and, while not low quality, it isn’t very high quality either.  It was originally cream colored, but has become stained and slightly yellowed with age.

Foliation and Pagination

Page numbering begins on page 9 with the first story and ends on page 207 with the last story.  For the beginning page of each story the text uses drop folios. The number is centered to the text on the line directly below the text area.  For all other pages the number is at the top of the text, in line with the book title running head.   On recto pages it is on the right; on verso pages it is on the left.

Page layout

The page layout is very simple.  For the first page of each story, the text is 3.75 inches tall and 3 inches wide.  On the rest of the pages, the text covers an area 3 inches wide by 5 inches high.   Though the text is centered on some pages, leaving a margin of roughly 1 inch all around, other pages the text is off centered by as much as half an inch one way or the other.  An example of the difference can be seen below:

At the top of the text block for most pages is the title of the book in all capitals as a running head.  Next to that is the page number.  For the first page of each story, the running head is replaced with the title of the story in bold.  The page number is moved to the bottom of the text block.

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Missouri Yesterdays contains bifoliated quires.  Each section contains 4 biofolios forming eight leaves, making it a quaternion (“Bookbinding,” 2012). There are 14 quaternion sections forming the book.  Each section is loosely sewn together through the fold.  The 14 sections were then sewn together as a whole forming a codex.   They were also glued to a paper or other material across the spines of the sections for a stronger hold.

The book is bound to a board forming a hard cover.  The pastedown sheets are attached to the cover, forming the primary bond.  However, there is evidence that the material the sections were glued to has also been attached to the cover in some places.

The board is covered in simple dark green cloth.  The cloth has the title and author embossed on the front in gold ink. It has become discolored and worn with age, but is still in fairly good shape.  The binding, though becoming loose in some places, has also held up well over the years.

Endleaves and Flyleaves

Endleaves are blank pages included at the beginning and ending of a bound book.  The outermost leaves are often glued to the binding board and referred to as a pastedown sheet.  Those that are not glued down are referred to as flyleaves.  The practice of “marbling” or decorating the endleaves became popular in Western culture in the 16th century (Princeton University Library, 2004).  Missouri Yesterdays does include endleaves and flyleaves, though they are blank rather than marbled.  The beginning of the book contains one pastedown sheet and two flyleaves.  The end contains one pastedown sheet and one flyleaf.

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Title Page

The title page appears on the third page of the book, following two blank leaves.  Centered at the top is the title and subtitle.  Below this are the author information and the publisher information.  This page also contains the only illustration within the book.

The page is printed slightly crookedly.  Though still a Roman typeface, this page appears to be a different font than the rest of the book.  Even more interesting, the letters themselves are inconsistent.  Most noticeably, the two letters “f” in the subtitle are different in shape from each other.  Other letters also are also slightly different, as well as varying in darkness and clarity.  When compared to a modern book, this inconsistency really illustrates the advancements in printing technology


When considering a printed text, a colophon can be defined in two ways.  Traditionally, the colophon was placed at the end of a manuscript to identify the production information such as the printer, typefaces, or materials used, much like the colophons in medieval manuscripts identified the scribe or illuminator (“Colophon,” 2009; Bear, n.d.a.).  Modern books sometimes place the colophon on the title page or title page verso rather than the end of the book.  The publisher’s emblem or trademark can also be called the colophon (“Colophon,” 2009)

The book does not have a traditional, full colophon as defined above.  Instead, on the verso of the title page, there is limited publication information.  It states that the book was copyrighted in 1920 by Burton Publishing Company.  The page also states, “These stories first appeared in the St. Joseph Sunday Gazette.”

Incipit and Explicit

The incipit was once popularly used to identify texts without official titles.  Instead, the first words or lines of a work was the “title” (“Incipit,” 2012).  This book contains no definite incipit, however.  Instead, the book contains and title and subtitle as its identifying factor.  The book also contains no definite explicit.

Decoration, Illumination, and Painting

The only decorative detail in this book occurs on the title page.  Between the author’s name and the name of the publisher, there is an image of a book, ink, and quill.  It is printed in the same black ink as the rest of the book.  No other illustrations or decoration are included in the book.

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The societal evolution occurring in the 1920s both nationally and in Kansas City, Missouri was an appropriate setting for a woman writer to become so popular and prolific.  Though the country was moving towards a new, more modern existence, the past was not easily forgotten.  Traditional, folkloric stories, written by a woman and published by a company partly ran by one, really evince the juxtaposition between the old and the new that was such a defining part of that time period.  It’s also appropriate that it was printed by a publisher that specialized in historical books, but was partly ran by a woman.

On a more personal note, being able to study a book that was once purchased and owned by my grandparents made me really appreciate the physical aspects of it’s aged condition.  Though in good condition, the book is far from pristine.  However, each tear or stain or worn spot is just a reminder that this was a book that was appreciated enough to be used as it was intended and then kept to pass on.  The history of a book is just as much about that as anything else.

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