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Why Dorothy’s ‘Not in Kansas Anymore’ Still Resonates 75 Years Later

On the 75th anniversary of the iconic classic The Wizard of Oz movie (released in August 1939), Dorothy’s “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” remains among the most referenced quotes in movie history—especially for citizens of Kansas and Kansas City who travel. (Through the years, those of us who lived in Kansas and Kansas City have suffered through iterations of variations of the “you’re not in Kansas anymore” line.)

It’s probably the most oft-quoted catchphrase in movie history and, according to the American Film Institute, it’s the fourth most memorable line (Gone with the Wind's “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” being number one). It may also be the most misquoted line. In fact, the AFI got it wrong the first time out—listing it as “Toto, I’ve got a feeling…” rather than the correct version: “Toto, I’ve a feeling...” In L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 book, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says “Toto, I have feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The line has not only kept its pop-culture currency—endlessly popping up in newspaper headlines and ledes, TV shows and movies—it’s grown to have a deeper meaning, becoming a cultural metaphor for personal growth, knowledge and experience in America. The versatile catchphrase can cover moving from the country to the city, learning to travel, learning a trade, working out of your comfort zone, starting a new career—and basically any kind of coming-of-age event.

In The Wizard of Oz story, Dorothy learns much from her journey, including what it means to have a heart, brains and courage. She matures from a scared and insecure little girl to a relatively self-reliant and responsible young adult. Along the way, she makes some friends, and together they solve their problems.