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Harney County History Books and Publications
The following are books written during the past 50 years that deal primarily with Harney County history or communities in Harney County. If you have additional books to suggest, please complete this form. You may also use this [ PDF ] version.
This listing is merely to inform people of some of the available history books. It is not an endorsement of any or all of the publications.
Gray, Edward. “Life and Death of Oregon ‘Cattle King’ Peter French 1849-1897.” Eugene, OR: Edward Gray. Photographs, Maps, Illustrations, Appendices, Bibliography. 204 pages.
An in-depth study of Peter French, an early settler of Harney County.
Griffin, Dorsey. Starting at the Narrows: A History of Southern Harney County, Oregon. 2 volumes. Netarts: The Griffin Press, 1990. Photographs, Illustrations, Endnotes, Index. 598 pages. 
A general history of the town of Narrows that began during the 1890s and had declined by the 1950s.  Includes a collection a stories taken mostly from oral histories provided by the Harney County Public Library Oral History Project, and other primary sources. 
Harney County Chamber of Commerce Centennial Committee. A Lively Little History of Harvey County: A Centennial Souvenir Album, 1889-1989. Burns: Harney County Chamber of Commerce, 1989. Maps, Photographs. 68 pages.
Contains a general, celebratory history of Harney County through a collection of stories of the area that highlight the county’s social, economic, and political history over a 100 year period since the county’s inception.  Includes some reprints of early newspaper articles, a “Firsts” page, and information about specific families, churches, and organizations.  Information was compiled from primary, secondary, and oral history sources.
Jackson, Royal, and Jennifer Lee. Harney County: An Historical Inventory. Burns: Harney County Planning Commission and Harney County Historical Society, 1978.  
Collection of survey documents for individual properties in Harney County divided into categories based on the resource’s historic use. Topics include: The fur trade, the Oregon trail, the mining frontier, the cattlemen’s empire and agriculture, commerce and industry, transportation and communication, and education among other topics. Entries for each resource have a lengthy description of each resource and its history, including its use and ownership at the time of the survey. PDF  [7 MB]

Luckey, Eugene E. Oregon True Stories. N.p., 1991. Photographs. 149 pages.
Contains a collection of stories from Harney County, including early settlement, the murder of a Harney County sheriff during the 1920s, sawmilling, and early aviation in the county.  Collected primarily from oral histories.  Contains multiple photographs.
Simpson, Peter K. The Community of Cattlemen: A Social History of the Cattle Industry in Southeastern Oregon, 1869-1912.  Moscow: The University of Idaho Press, 1987. Endnotes, appendices, bibliography, maps, index.
Publication is a scholarly social history of the cattle industry in southeastern Oregon, with particular attention paid to Harney County, from late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century.  The study borrows methodology from history, anthropology, geography and sociology.
Smyth, Johnie (Cactus) and Marilyn Carter, eds. Footloose and Ahorseback: Memories of a Buckaroo on Steens Mountain, Oregon. Bend: Maverick Publications, 1984. Photographs, maps, illustrations. 235 pages. 
Publication is the personal account of the life of cowboy Johnie (Cactus) Smyth during the twentieth century.  Includes historical information about Harney County, excerpts from newspapers, and chapters on the “Place Names in the County,” “Harney County Brands,” and “Old Cowboy Songs and Poems.”  Information was compiled from oral histories, and some primary sources.