Dorothy with Toto, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em on the Kansas farm, W.W. Denslow 1900.

"Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies..."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Kansas...There's No Place Like It!

"When Dorothy stood in the doorway of the farmhouse, and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions..."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

The Wizard of Oz/Dorothys' farmhouse in the Kansas cyclone.

Kansas aka the "Sunflower State", is a state within the United States of America. It also is the first setting the story takes place in L. Frank Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. The state is named after the Kansas "Native American tribes" who inhabited the area long before Caucasians came. The tribe's name (natively kką:ze), is often said to mean "People of the Wind " or "People of the South Wind."

Dorothy and Toto on the hot, flat and gray Kansas Prairies.

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story opens up with the first chapter titled The Cyclone and immediately introduces the reader to the main character and leading protagonist named Dorothy Gale, who lives on a small farm in the midst of the great Kansas prairies in circa 1899-1900 with her little pet dog named Toto and her two elder guardians; Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. During the time the book was written, Kansas was strictly a place for farming communities. It was also known for having powerful storms with deadly tornadoes that would destroy the farms and businesses of the impoverished settlers who came from all over the world (mainly parts of Europe and countries overseas such as New England, Ireland and Germany) to make their homes on the desolate prairies hoping to raise prosperous and healthy crops.

Dorothy and Toto on the Kansas Prairie in the Marvel Comic book version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

"The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else..."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Dorothy and Toto in Kansas. By Michael Hague.

In Baum's book, Dorothy's Kansas is described as being completely gray and colorless. A climate so harsh and dry that not even a tree nor river could be seen on the flat acres and fields. In the middle of this bleak setting Dorothy lives a rather isolated life as an orphan child raised by her Uncle Henry who was a seemingly very poor farmer and her Aunt Em, who was the farmer's Wife. The three of them lived in a one room farmhouse made of old wood which contained a rusty looking cooking stove, a wooden table, three chairs and two beds.

"Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar—except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole..."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

A Kansas Cyclone

"If Dorothy would only be contented to live in the Emerald City," continued the Scarecrow, "we might all be happy together." "But I don't want to live here," cried Dorothy. "I want to go to Kansas, and live with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry! "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

On a day that was described as being strangely "grayer" than usual, a storm came to the farmland and brought a deadly cyclone with it. Dorothy's Uncle Henry and Aunt Em saw the cyclone approaching and they were lucky enough to get into the storm cellar in time, but unfortunately for Dorothy, she was not fast enough to join them. This was because her dog Toto became frightened by the loud sound from the howling wind of the oncoming storm. Frightened by all the commotion, Toto jumped out of Dorothy's arms and ran under her bed to hide. Dorothy quickly went after him but by the time she caught Toto the wind swept up the tiny prairie farmhouse from its foundation and transported it, along with the girl and her dog far, far away to the undiscovered, magical Land of Oz.

"My one and only wish is to return back home, to Kansas!" Said Dorothy. "For Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me and Toto, and that will make her grieve and put on mourning; and unless the farm's crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it. Can you help me, will you help me?" Dorothy pleaded. Glinda the Good leaned forward and kissed the sweet, upturned face of the homesick little girl. "Bless your dear heart," she said, "I am sure I can tell you of a way to get back to your precious Kansas. "

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

When Dorothy learned that she and Toto were no longer in Kansas anymore, Dorothy embarked on a long journey throughout the land, and became determined to find a way back home again. After Dorothy had many fantastical adventures in Oz and made many unforgettable friends, she eventually returned home to Kansas in the end. After her first adventure, Dorothy did return to Oz from time to time and when Uncle Henry and Aunt Em were both facing foreclosure on the farm, they all immigrated to Oz to permanently live in the Royal Palace of Oz within the Emerald City with Dorothy's best friend known as Princess Ozma of Oz. Thus, leaving the stressful and bleak existence on the Kansas farm behind to live happily ever after as immortals.

  • Dorothy is now an official Princess of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz Cartoon 1933

Kansas 1933

The Wizard of Oz (1933) is an animated short film directed by Ted Eshbaugh. The story is credited to "Col. Frank Baum." Frank Joslyn Baum, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and eldest son of writer L. Frank Baum, was involved in the film's production, and may have had an involvement in the film's script, which is loosely inspired by the elder Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz 1939

"...Kansas she says is the name of the Star..."
Munchkins (1939)

Kansas 1939

In the 1939 film, Kansas is a colorless world as everything is seen in a brownish sepia tone. Dorothy and Toto live there with Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Professor Marvel, and the three wisecracking farmworkers named Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke. Also there is the malevolent spirited Miss Almira Gulch who is the Mayor of the Kansas town. She is an old bitter woman, who tries to put Dorothy's dog down after he allegedly got into her garden without her permission. Luckily, she never succeeded in doing so.

All of the Kansas characters except Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have counterparted-alter egos in the magical Land of Oz

Journey Back to Oz 1974

"It's more than a storm coming!", "make way for another Twister?!"
―Journey Back to Oz (1974)

In the all star cast animated sequel to the 1939 film titled Journey Back to Oz, Dorothy Gale and Toto are swept away from the farm once again and taken to Oz. Dorothy is voiced by Judy Garlands' daughter Liza Minnelli.

Journey Back to Oz 1974

In this movie, despite being a sequel to the 1939 film, Kansas in not in sepia tone of black and white.

Return to Oz 1985

"...Not thee Dorothy Gale, from Kansas? "
Nome King in Return to Oz (1985)
"...if this Oz Dorothy, I'd rather take my chances back in Kansas... "

Billina in Return to Oz (1985)

In Walt Disney's 1985 cult classic Return to Oz, the film opens up circa six months after the first story took place with an insomniac Dorothy Gale, who misses Oz and simply cannot stop thinking about her adventures and all the friends she made there. Resulting in Dorothy not being able to sleep the whole night through nonetheless stop her never-ending talk about Oz. To make matters worse, the Kansas farm is in a state of despair due to the tornado that hit the prairie in the first story. Surprisingly, 90% of the Kansas scenes were actually shot in Britain.

Kansas Farm in Return to Oz. 1985

In the end of the film, after Dorothy returned to Oz and saved it from the evil Nome King, Uncle Henry has finished building a brand new and even better farmhouse to replace the old one that had been swept away to Oz.

Oz the Great & Powerful

"Kansas is full of great men.."
Oscar Diggs (2013)

Oscar's 1880's Kansas.

In Walt Disney's live-action 2013 prequel film, Oz the Great and Powerful, everything is set about 20 years before Dorothy Gale's story takes place. In this film, a pre-Wizard by the name of Oscar is a phony Magician working at a carnival fair in circa 1905 Kansas. He is swept away to Oz via cyclone.

Legends of Oz, Dorothy's Return 2014

In Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) and Toto are now back in Kansas with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry who are devastated by the state of destruction the twister has left the small town they live in.

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