A process of early diagenetic partial oxidation of organic matter and sulfides has altered the chemical composition of the Middle Pennsylvanian Excello Shale Member of the Fort Scott Limestone and equivalents in the northern Midcontinent region. This process was identified by comparison of organic carbon contents, Rock-Eval hydrogen indices, organic carbon δ13C and element compositions of core and surface mine samples of the Excello Shale Member with analyses of three other underlying and overlying organic-matter-rich marine shales (offshore shale lithofacies) from southern Iowa, northern Missouri, eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. The end product of the partial oxidation process is shale with relatively low contents of hydrogen-poor, C13-enriched organic matter, lower contents of sulfur and sulfide-forming elements, and relatively unchanged contents of phosphorus and many trace elements (e.g. Cr, Ni, and V). However, because of lower organic carbon contents, element/organic carbon ratios are greatly increased. The partial oxidation process apparently took place during subaerial exposure of the overlying marine carbonate member (Blackjack Creek Member of the Fort Scott Limestone) following a marine regression when meteoric waters percolated down to the level of the Excello muds allowing oxidation of organic matter and sulfides. This hypothesis is supported by earlier workers, who have identified meteoric carbonate cements within, and soil horizons at the top of the Blackjack Creek Member. The period of oxidation is constrained in that organic matter and sulfides in the Little Osage Shale Member of the Fort Scott Limestone and equivalents (immediately overlying the Blackjack Creek Member) appear unaltered. Similar alteration of other shales in the Middle and Upper Pennsylvanian sections may be local to regional in extent and would depend on the extent and duration of the marine regression and be influenced by local variations in permeability and topography. The partial oxidation process has likely led to a redistribution of sulfur and sulfide-forming elements into other organic-rich lithologies in the section. The altered/oxidized shales are nongenerative with respect to hydrocarbon generation.