Category Archives: Nebraska Memories

Friday Reads: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Today I’m writing about a book I’m not done reading yet, because I already know I can recommend it—especially to any Nebraskan who wants to know more than they (might have?) learned in school about Malcolm X.

Manning Marable worked for years on “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” and it’s a book that combines extensive research with skillful storytelling and readability. Marable died shortly before the book was published in 2011. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, and gathered both wide acclaim and bitter detraction.

It was a labor of love for Manning Marable, who was Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS), which is responsible for the The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University. Marable takes a more academic, yet still very readable, approach to the life of Malcolm X than the book you might already be familiar with, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was a collaboration between X and Alex Haley. If you’re not already familiar with that book, which came out in 1965 shortly after the death of Malcolm X, we have copies in our book club kit collection here, and it’s also recommended. It made the Nebraska 150 Books list.

Marable’s detractors fault him for being perhaps too eager to present details that the autobiography may have glossed over, enhanced, or simply left out. Each book has a different goal, to be sure, and to my mind it seems that the persona that is set forth in the autobiography was one that Marable accepted, and that he knew to be secure and strong in the minds of readers—and so his unexpected explorations are really a testament to his faith in the significance and consequence of Malcolm X as an individual. When you’ve centered so much of your professional life around someone’s legacy, as Marable did, especially when that someone is as complex as Malcolm X, appreciating and acknowledging that complexity is what separates dedication from devotion, or veneration from worship.

I can understand why such honesty might not seem refreshing, however, given the context of the current struggle for racial justice, whether it’s 1965, 2011, or 2018. There are plenty of other voices who can speak to this more eloquently and appropriately than I can. (I already have A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X [ed. Ball and Burroughs] checked out to read next, in order to better understand these objections.)

Of particular interest to Nebraskans, Marable’s book gives more context to the Omaha life of the family of Malcolm X than Nebraskans might know, and you’ll read disturbing details of KKK activity in Lincoln and Omaha in the early 1900s. This is a part of Nebraska history you also might not have learned about in school. To put that in some context, we’re coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the Omaha race riot of 1919, where a mob of white people stormed the Douglas County Courthouse and lynched a black man, Will Brown, awaiting trial for a crime he most likely did not commit. The mob also fatally wounded the Omaha mayor, Edward Smith. For more background on the event, see this recent addition to Nebraska Memories, and also this pdf from the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. New York: Viking, 2011. Print.

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Scores of Love

Are you still looking for a unique way to express your love to a special someone today? Can you sing, play the piano and/or play the ukulele? If you answered yes, I have a few scores for you. One of the participants in Nebraska Memories is the Polley Music Library. Included in their collection are 256 musical scores. The complete scores are available so if you have the skills you can perform one these love songs for your special someone.

  • Written by Sara S. Green and Frances M. Green of Beatrice, Nebraska.
  • First line of the chorus: “Lovin’ you, that’s all I do”

Let me sail on the ship of love
Let me sail on the ship of love

  • Written by Elsie Butz of Talmage, Nebraska.
  • Chorus:
    “Let me sail on the ship of love,
    And dream the whole time thru,
    Let me sail on the ship of love,
    ‘Way from all trouble too,
    Where there is no cloud or sorrow
    Only ones you have to borrow,
    Let me sail on the ship of love,
    With dreams of love and you.”

Love’s faithLove's faith

  • Written by Edith Louise Neumann and Carleton Everett Knox of Wymore, Neb.
  • First line: “My faith in you clear heart is fixed”

 

 

By the waters of Minnetonka: an Indian love songBy the waters of Minnetonka: an Indian love song

  • The sheet music was written by Thurlow Lieurance who was a facility member at the University School of Music, Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • This version of the song does not including lyrics.
  • You can also listen to this song being played on the piano.

 

Sweet memories of love : a beautiful songSweet memories of love : a beautiful song

  • Written by Louis Chobar while he was serving time in a Nebraska prison for a murder conviction.
  • First line: “Years slowly pass since we parted”
  • This piece includes an arrangement for the ukulele.

 

When you're really and truly in loveWhen you’re really and truly in loveWhen you're really and truly in love

  • Written by Richard Lieurance.
  • First line: “There’s a time in your life when struggle and strife seem to bed each other adieu.”
  • This piece includes an arrangement for the ukulele.

 

Two little songs

  • This score contains two songs, Cupid’s Calendar and Sweetheart.
  • Written by J. A. Parks
  • Here are the lyrics for Cupid’s Calendar:
    “When I’m with you, dearest one, the hours as minutes fly,
    And Love cheats Time so sweetly, that his calendar’s awry;
    But Cupid finds an easy way, to set the time-card true,
    For minutes drag to hours, dear heart, when I’m away from you!”
    Two little songs

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Beautiful Snow

After the recent snowstorm, I saw many beautiful pictures of the snow. The pictures were taken by both friends and strangers from across Nebraska. Some were taken to show the amount of snow received while others were taken to show nature’s beauty. As I was looking at the images in Nebraska Memories today, I noticed a number of similar images of snow taken 100+ years ago. Here are a few of my favorites.

Beautiful Snow

Beautiful Snow

Cedar River

Cedar River

The first four photos in this post were taken by John Nelson. John Nelson was born in Sweden and moved to Wheeler County Nebraska with his parents when he was a young man. Eventually he opened a photography studio in Ericson Nebraska. While we don’t know the exact dates these photos were taken, we believe they were taken sometime between 1907 and 1918.

The above stereoscopic photograph shows antique farm machinery covered in snow. On the right image, in the bottom left corner, someone wrote “The Beautiful Snow”.

The next photo shows the banks of the Cedar River covered in snow. The Cedar River is a long winding river that starts in northern Nebraska, goes by Ericson, and finally joins the Loup River west of Fullerton, NE.

Snow covered trees and field

Snow covered trees and field

Farmhouse in snow

Farmhouse in snow

The second stereoscopic photograph shows snow covered trees and field. Images like this are timeless. It’s easy to imagine someone taking a photo like this during the last snowstorm.

The fourth picture shows Nels and Bengta Nelson’s farmhouse. They were John Nelson’s parents. The snowdrifts look large and the tracks in the snow look deep.

Clarkson Hospital

Clarkson Hospital

Photos of two other buildings caught my attention. This photo of the Clarkson Hospital in Omaha from the early 1900’s shows a portion of 21st Street in Omaha. The street looks to be snow packed and a little rough. I don’t think it would be a fun street to drive down.

I was surprised when I first saw this postcard of the Nebraska State Capitol in winter. This was the first time I’d seen a postcard of the second capitol with snow on the ground.

State Capitol in winter, Lincoln, Neb.

State Capitol in winter, Lincoln, Neb.

While the capitol may look nice surrounded by snow not everyone was impressed with the building. This postcard was never mailed but someone did write a note on the back. Here are their thoughts on the building. “This is an old “ramshackle” place surrounding by a park as shown in picture.” The person’s description of the building was probably correct. Construction on this capitol was completed in 1888 however, the construction was supposed to have been poor. In 1919, the Legislatures passed a bill providing for the construction of a new capitol that still stands today.

The last three images I would like to highlight are postcards of Hanscom Park in Omaha. Hanscom Park is located about a block west of Interstate 480 and the Martha Street exit. The land for the park was donated in 1872 and was improved in 1889. The park appears to have been a popular spot or at least a popular spot to take photographs. There are 30+ images on Hanscom Park in Nebraska Memories.

Winter scene in Hamscom Park, Omaha, Nebr.

Winter scene in Hamscom Park, Omaha, Nebr.

Winter beauty, Hanscom Park, Omaha, Neb.

Winter beauty, Hanscom Park, Omaha, Neb.

Hanscom Park in winter, Omaha, Nebr.

Hanscom Park in winter, Omaha, Nebr.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Throwback Thursday: John Ellis Album

Happy #ThrowbackThursday from Nebraska Memories.

We’re changing it up a little this week to showcase the wide variety of documents in the Nebraska Memories archive. While photographs are visually captivating, Nebraska Memories contains so much more than just photos. Today we have just such an example with a Mr. John Ellis’s autograph album. Containing inscriptions from the 1880’s, take a little time to read through them. We’ve only included a few in this post, but another fifteen are available for your perusal on the Nebraska Memories website. Check them out, there are some really comical and interesting inscriptions!

This 5″ x 3″ autograph album has a cover with a floral design on it. The pages of the album are filled with inscriptions addressed to “John” or “Johnnie.” Some of the inscriptions have dates from years in the 1880s.

Johny Ellis 
Some write for plesure [pleasure]
Some write for fame
But I write simply to sine my name. 
Franklin. C Compton. 
Genoa. Neb. [Nebraska] Feb. [February] 24. 1888

Friend Johnnie
If in this world of grief and pain
My friend..we never meet again
Oh.. my we meet beyond the the skies
Where friendship blooms and never dies
Your well wisher
Lennie[?] Foster
Genoe [Genoa] Neb [Nebraska] Mar [March] 4th 1881

Dec. [December]  18th 1887 
Friend John 
Remember me when far far off
Where the woodchucks die
Of whooping cough.

Yours Truly
John T. Nutcher
Reed Box Butte Co. [County]
Nebr. [Nebraska]

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive!

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Sam Kills Two

#ThrowbackThursday takes a look at what’s inside the Nebraska State Historical Society collection today.

Sam Kills Two works on the Big Missouri Winter Count

Sam Kills Two, also known as Beads, works on his Winter Count, a historical calendar with painted pictographs on a stretched animal skin outside a tipi. The death of Turning Bear, killed by a passenger train in Valentine, Nebraska, in 1912, is shown in the second row just above Kill Two’s left foot by the picture of a locomotive. Kills Two is dressed in native clothing and wears two feathers in his hair. The photograph was taken at the Rosebud Reservation.

Kills Two, a Brule Sioux medicine man, provided a written interpretation of the Winter Count which is held by the Sioux Indian Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation is located nine miles north of Valentine, Nebraska, in South Dakota.

This photo is a part of the Nebraska State Historical Society digitized content from the John Nelson collection. John Nelson was born in Harestad, Sweden, in 1864. He came to Nebraska with his parents at the age of seventeen. His photographs tell the story of small town life in Nebraska during the first decades of the twentieth century. His subjects included local businesses, community activities, and early automobiles.

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive!

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Nebraska Wesleyan University 1889, Old Main

This week’s #ThrowbackThursday takes a look at Nebraska’s higher education!

Nebraska Wesleyan University 1889

This black and white photograph, 9 3/4″ X 7 3/4″, of the north and west side of Old Main, comes from the Nebraska Wesleyan University, Cochrane-Woods Library Collection. In 2008, the archives launched an effort to digitize, catalog, and describe photographs of NWU’s campus buildings. The collection consists of mainly exterior shots of individual buildings, along with several views of the campus layout as it evolved from 1891 through the 1970s.

Old Main was the primary building on the Nebraska Wesleyan campus in 1889. Three white buildings appear on the right edge of the photograph and it appears that three men are reclining on the lawn in front of the building. “#39” is written on the front of the photograph in the bottom left corner, while “NE Wesleyan UN-1889” is written on the back.

Nebraska Wesleyan University was chartered on January 20, 1887, and is affiliated with the Methodist Church. Old Main was constructed in a Richardsonian Romanesque style beginning in 1887.

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive!

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Interior of a Telephone Office

Listen up! We’ve got a new #ThrowbackThursday for you!

Located at 325 6th Avenue, the telephone exchange owned by the Nebraska Telephone Company was established in Fairmont in 1882. By 1884, 30 instruments were in use in Fairmont with the central office attending to 300 calls per day, on an average. This picture was taken in 1923 with Lawava Abrams, Mae Crooker McMahon, May Walker, Bess Storm and Alice Crooker Peters.

There was also an Independent Telephone company at this time in Fairmont and rivalry between the two companies was high. Cedar Hill Telephone Company and Scott Telephone Company were also vying for a part of the telephone interest. The Nebraska Telephone Company was bought out by Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company on January 22, 1912. One of the first, possibly the very first, Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph exchange was located on the south side of Jefferson Street on the second floor of the building in which the real estate office of Tom Wright was located. At the time, the Independent Telephone Company was housed in the second floor of a building across the street north of Wright’s office.

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive!

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Santa Claus distributing presents to children

Happy Holidays from #ThrowbackThursday!


This week we get to highlight a man who did so much for a community they named a library after him. In our humble opinion that’s quite the honor. This week’s #ThrowbackThursday post is a 10″x8″ black and white photograph showing Charles B. Washington (left) with another man, both dressed as Santa Claus. Seated back-to-back, the men reach into black bags, distributing presents to a crowd of children. Charles B. Washington was a American civil rights activist, and journalist from Omaha. On September 14, 1986, the North Branch of the Omaha Public Library was renamed after Washington. This photo is a part of the Charles B. Washington Collection in Nebraska Memories Archive.

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive!

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Football game near Old Main

Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s celebrate with a 1907 Thanksgiving #ThrowbackThursday!

Football game near Old Main

Back in 1907, fans and spectators gathered to watch Nebraska State Normal School (NSNS) at Kearney play Doane College in a Thanksgiving day football game. In this 5-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ black and white postcard, we can see the two football teams facing off, a group of spectators standing against a tall wooden plank fence, and in the background, the NSNS Administration Building. Written at the bottom of the card is: “Doan Colage and Kearney State Normal, Thanksgiving ’07 By SD Butcher & Son”.

Interested in Nebraska history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive! Photo provided by the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Archives, Calvin T. Ryan Library located in Nebraska Memories.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Old Style Threshing Outfit

It’s a tribute to the harvest season with this week’s #ThrowbackThursday!

Old style threshing outfit, Nebraska

This week we have a 1907-1917 black and white photograph on a postcard. It depicts a group of men threshing wheat with horses attached to a threshing machine as they walk in a circle. In the background is a stack of hay or wheat and more men. Information printed on item: 567 Old Style Threshing Outfit, Nebraska.

Are you interested in Nebraska’s history? Find out more about this photo in the Nebraska Memories archive! Photo provided by the Nebraska State Historical Society located in Nebraska Memories.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Throwback Thursday: Nebraska Veterans

NLC is proud to honor Nebraska’s many Veterans with this week’s #ThrowbackThursday.

Lieutenant M.J. Coulter bomber crew group This week we have an 8″x10″ glass plate negative of Lieutenant M.J. Coulter and bomber crew, taken December 6th, 1943. Identified in the photograph are M. Coulter, standing second from the left; W.H. Field, bottom row right and R.D. Espana, bottom row center.

Are you interested in Nebraska’s military history? Find out more about this photo and other military items in the Nebraska Memories archive! Photo provided by the Townsend Studio collection located in Nebraska Memories.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. The Nebraska Memories archive is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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Looking at the Postmarks

Hanson's Cafe, Omaha, Neb. There are over 1,000 postcards in Nebraska Memories and many of them include images of both the front and backs of the cards. I’ve always found it entertaining to read the messages written on the postcards. It wasn’t until the past year or so that I started to really pay attention to the postmarks on the cards. I’ve always looked at the postmark to see what year the card was sent but the postmarks can provide additional information.

Let’s start with the basics first. Most, if not all of the postmarks that I’ve looked at in Nebraska Memories include the day, month, year and time of day along with the name of the town. The postmark above is on the back of a postcard of the Hanson’s Café. You can see that it was postmarked on July 13, 1909 at 12 midnight. This card was sent from South Omaha, Nebraska. In 1909, SouthPost office, South Omaha, Neb. Omaha was its own town. South Omaha was annexed by Omaha in 1915. On a side note, I always like it when I can connect unrelated items in Nebraska Memories to each other. In this case, there is a postcard of the South Omaha Post Office in the collection. The post office building was completed in 1899 so it’s possible that the postcard of Hanson’s Café passed through that building. The post office building is still being used as a post office today.

Omaha Boulevard, South West, Omaha, Nebraska Some postmarks contain more information. The image on the left is the postmark on the back of the Omaha Boulevard, South West, Omaha, Nebraska card. Do you see where it says Union Depot Postal Site? I think the last word is “site” it is hard to read. I’m assuming that means the card was cancelled at the Union Depot.

State Capitol, night scene, Lincoln, Nebr. This postcard of the state capitol at night was postmarked On Mary 14, 1912 at Station C in Lincoln. I know Station C doesn’t mean a lot on its own but I checked a few of my favorite research sources and found just what I was looking for in the 1918 Lincoln City Directory. 1918 Lincoln City DirectoryPage 49 in the book provides a wealth of information about the post offices in Lincoln. The book provides the location of the main Lincoln post office plus the locations of stations A, B, C and 1-7. According to this information, Station C was located at 716 N 27th street. That’s about at the corner of 27th and Vine Street.

Scribner High School, Scribner, Neb. Another interesting postmark I ran across was the received postmark. It appears that some items were marked as received when they reached their destination. I was curious to see how long it took a postcard to reach its destination in the late 1900’s so Post Headquarters and barracks, Fort Crook, Neb.I put together the chart below. It shows the date, time and location of both postmarks. For the last column, I wanted a general idea of the distance between the two locations so I used a map to find the shortest distance. I was surprised to see how quickly the cards reached their destination. (Click on the town names listed in the Mailed From column to see the postcards.)

Mailed From Postmark Sent Mailed To Postmark Received Miles between
Hastings Feb 24, 1908 at midnight Kearney Feb 24, 1908 at 6:00 AM 57
Lincoln Feb 21, 1908 at 8:00 AM Hastings Feb 21, 1908 at 4:00 PM 108
Lincoln Sep 10, 1907 at 8:00 AM Moulton, IA Sep 11, 1907 at 7:00 AM 282
Omaha Feb 12, 1907 at 4:30 PM Corning, IA Feb 13, 1907 at 7:00 AM 80
Omaha May 13, 1905 at 7:00 AM Union City, MI May 15, 1905 at 8:00 AM 623
Omaha Apr 16, 1908 at 7:30 PM Woodbridge, NJ April 18, 1908 at 2:30 PM 1,251
Scottsbluff Jun 23, 1906 at 5:00 PM Omaha Jun 24, 1906 at 7:00 AM 451
Scribner Aug 16, 1907 at 8:00 AM Ansley Aug 17, 1907 at 7:00 AM 170

Grand Island, Nebraska The last type of postmark I want to highlight is the RPO postmark. RPO stands for Railway Post Office. I didn’t know anything about RPO until I started doing some research for this blog post. I learned that mail clerks road on the train and sorted the mail as they went and it was a dangerous job. If you would like to know more about railway mail service, the Smithsonian provides a great history of the service.

Residence of Colonel W. F. Cody, (Buffalo Bill) North Platte, Neb. There are two postcards in Nebraska Memories that have RPO postmarks. They are both for the Omaha & Ogden (Utah) route. The postmarks contain the date and time information along with one unique piece of information. The postmarks also include the train number. An article in the Jan 1909 edition of the Omaha BeeJan 1909 edition of the Omaha Bee talks about how the increase in mail required more clerks on the railroad lines west of the Missouri river. To the left is first paragraph of the article that talks about the Omaha & Ogden route.

I hope you enjoyed learning about a few of the different postmarks. Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Throwback Thursday: 1951 Halloween Party

1951 Halloween party, Nebraska Children's Home Society

NLC is getting all geared up for Halloween with this week’s #ThrowbackThursday! Photograph of children and teenagers at a Halloween party for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society in 1951.

Photo provided by the Nebraska Children’s Home Society collection located in Nebraska Memories.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information.

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What Goes Around

Some people say change is inevitable, but how much have things really changed over the past 100 years?

In 1917, the Nebraska Telephone Co. Building at left was completed in Omaha with a “modern telephone exchange” (Omaha Public Library Collection). There were over 6,000 independent telephone companies in the United States at that time with a fair number in Nebraska. Over the years many of those companies merged or were bought out. Today with the cell phone technology, different service providers, who buy out and/or merge with each other regularly, are again working to provide a new “telephone exchange” by expanding cell phone service to the more rural areas of Nebraska.

Transportation was in flux in 1917. While horse-drawn vehicles were still in use in some rural areas, motorized vehicles were taking over–both gas and electric. This brought about the building of automobile dealerships, gas stations, garages, solid-surface roads, and more. The Osborne Garage in Sidney at right was one of many such businesses being built in Nebraska (Cheyenne County Historical Society and Museum Collection). Mechanics today use computers to tune-up cars and trucks, but the basic need is still there for new tires, oil changes, etc. Now new dealerships and their garages are being built on the outskirts of town. And while gas cars won out for a number of decades, electric cars are making a comeback and bringing about the construction of re-charging stations. And who doesn’t run into road construction–or the need for it–on a regular basis?

The population growth in early twentieth-century Nebraska brought a demand for amenities such as public libraries. At least 72 Nebraska towns erected new public library buildings between 1900 and 1920. 1917 alone saw the construction of at least nine public library buildings, two of which are still used as libraries: Cordelia B. Preston Memorial Library in Orleans and Arcadia Public Library at left (Nebraska Library Commission Collection). Other libraries have had to move on from old buildings to new buildings as technology has brought demands for different services. In 2017, Blair Public Library and Scribner Public Library both celebrated grand openings of their new facilities.

Live entertainment was popular in 1917 as it is today. In the Boileau Chautauqua Company photograph at right cast members in costume pose in a car. (Townsend Studio Collection).  As the banner on the rear promotes the model of the car, perhaps this is an early example of promoting products for corporate sponsorship. While many people still traveled by train in 1917, touring cars (open cars that could carry five or more passengers a long distance) would become popular. A car allowed more flexibility in timetables and destinations. Today many entertainers move on to their next venue in tour buses.

So visit Nebraska Memories and see what old things or concepts are new again among the many historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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The Undivided Back

Scandinavian Young Women's Christian Association of AmericaWhen looking at old postcards in Nebraska Memories have you noticed that some of them have writing on the front of the card or that there is a lot of white space around the picture on the postcard? This may be because in the early days people were not allowed to write a message on the back of the postcard next to the address.

The Smithsonian Institution provides a nice history of postcards starting in 1861 when the US Congress passed an act that allowed privately printed cards to be sent in the mail.

A Promenade, Krug Park, Omaha's Polite ResortLater legislation passed in 1873 allowed the government to produce postcards with a message on one side and an address on the other side. These government postcards could be mailed for 1¢ however privately created postcards cost 2¢ to mail. In 1898 the prices were changeed so all postcards required just a 1¢ stamp. Other laws were enacted between 1898 and 1906 that changed the requirements on what information must be printed on the back of a postcard however; people were still not allowed to write a message on the back of the card next to the address.

Americans were finally allowed to write on the backside of the postcards in 1907. According to the 1906 Post-Office Department Annual Reports for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1906, this change came about after the meeting of the Universal Postal Union that took place in Rome. After a bit of research, I learned that Universal Postal Union (UPU) is the international organization that sets the rules for international mail exchange. The UPU was established in 1874.Scotts Bluff, Nebr.

The change to allow writing on both sides of the card came about because of public request. Folks did not want to write a message on or next to the images on the front side of the cards. European countries were the first to make this change. Starting on October 31, 1906 the US Post Office started allowing postcards mailed from foreign countries to be delivered in the US with writing on the back. On March 1, 1907, the US Post Office allowed postcards mailed domestically to have written messages on the left side of the card next to the address. If you read the original text in the 1906 US Post  Office report, you will see that they refer to the side of the postcard that contains the address to be the front of the postcard.

This period between 1901 and 1907, when folks were not allowed to write on the back of the postcard has become known as the Undivided Back Period. All of the postcards included in this post are from Nebraska Memories and examples from the Undivided Back Period. Looking at the back of these postcards, you will see that all of them contain a printed message that makes it clear that the only thing that can be put on the back of the postcard is the address.

U. S. Post Office, Omaha, Nebr.Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Caring for the Children

Nebraska Memories Archive: Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital

If you lived in a small rural town in the early 1900s, would you expect your local physician to be able to handle a case of Pott’s disease or a cleft palate? In 1905, the Nebraska Legislature believed children with deformities needed extra help and funded what was first known as the Nebraska State Hospital for Crippled, Ruptured and Deformed Children but soon became the Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital. As reported in the Biennial Report of The Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital for the period ending November 30, 1908, the hospital was established “by act of the Legislature … to provide hospital care for the crippled and deformed of this state who by such hospital treatment might be converted from wards of the municipalities or counties from which they came into individuals who in one way or another might become self-sustaining and independent.” As further biennial reports show, the patients were not all children.

Half of the $10,000 budget for the first year was used to remodel the boys’ dormitory on the campus of the Home for the Friendless. The hospital then opened for patients on October 1, 1905. The first year’s report to the governor, while describing its work with 106 patients, outlines the problems of not having a newly built hospital with all the facilities needed to treat and rehabilitate patients.

In 1908, the Lincoln City Directory lists the hospital’s address as 2129 S. 11th Street and directs visitors to take the S. 10th Street streetcar. No matter how patients arrived, they came from all parts of the state, including Sioux County in the farthest northwest corner.

Over the next few years, the hospital took over additional buildings on the campus and extensions to the buildings were added, like the sleeping porches at right. Fresh air was considered important in recuperation, and without air conditioning, sleeping quarters with as many windows as possible made things more comfortable. As a number of the patients stayed for an extended period of time, various services needed to be provided such as a teacher to school classes and a gymnasium for physical training.

By 1915, the hospital had its new building (shown at left) at 1041 South Street, a block away from the old one. According to the biennial report of 1916, this building included “new and modern office rooms, library, reception rooms, dining rooms, school rooms, laboratory, surgical department complete, and three wards with a capacity of forty beds. … the different floors communicate by inclines instead of stairways.” But the report also includes recommendations for further updates of the other buildings.

The State Library Commission was in charge of furnishing the new library at right, as well as stocking it with materials and supervising it. The library served both patients and employees. Students of the nursing school established at the hospital would have found many useful materials here. The school started in 1906, provided two years of training, following which some graduates went on to study for higher degrees. The students provided extra help with nursing duties and probably cut down on salaries that would have been paid to full-time staff.

The children’s ward at left looks rather spartan but was probably very easy to keep clean. Patients didn’t necessarily stay in the wards all the time. In addition to fresh air, the doctor’s also promoted the benefits of sunshine and activity. Vocational training was encouraged for those who could manage it. Visitors were permitted for a few hours every day. And the entertainment was provided, especially in later years. For example, in the 1950s, Jock Mahoney, an actor, stuntman, and former stepfather of actress Sally Field, visited with patients in the hospital.

The hospital continued to add buildings and make improvements over the years. In the 1920s a cottage was built for the superintendent, and a separate dormitory was built for the nurses. A dental department was added and the physiotherapy equipment expanded in the 1930s.

Although the hospital admitted and treated 1,587 patients in the 1970-1971 biennium, the 1971 Legislature decided to accept the recommendation of a 1968 study which said the hospital should be closed.

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Nebraska Hall of Fame Newest Inductee Selected

Hallway in the Nebraska State CapitolOn August 2, 2017, the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission selected Thomas Rogers Kimball, a Nebraska architect, as its newest inductee. The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to recognize prominent Nebraskans. As of 1998, only one person is added to the Hall of Fame every five years. Busts of Hall of Fame members are placed in the Nebraska State Capitol. An induction ceremony for Kimball will be planned in 2019.

Thomas Rogers Kimball was born in Ohio in 1862 but moved to Omaha with his family when he was in his early teens. Kimball studied at the University of Nebraska then went on to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1891, Kimball returned to Omaha and opened an office.

Kimball designed numerous buildings, many of which are still in use today. In Nebraska Memories, there are images of fourteen different buildings that Thomas Rogers Kimball designed. Here are few of the buildings you may recognize.

Entrance to Burlington Station, Omaha, Neb.

Entrance to Burlington Station, Omaha, Neb.

Omaha Public Library

Omaha Public Library

 

 

St Philomena Catholic Church Omaha Nebr

St Philomena Catholic Church Omaha Nebr

 

Paxton & Gallagher Co., Omaha, Neb.

Paxton & Gallagher Co., Omaha, Neb.

St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, Neb.

St. Cecilia’s Cathedral, Omaha, Neb.

Hotel Fontenelle, Omaha, Neb.

Hotel Fontenelle, Omaha, Neb.

 


In addition to designing buildings, Kimball also served as an architectural adviser on numerous projects both in Nebraska and in other states. The two most notable projects in Nebraska included the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and the State Capitol. Rogers along with C. Howard Walker were co-architects-in-chief of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition and designed a few of the buildings. Kimball also served as an architectural advisor for Nebraska State Capitol Commission. He was involved in organizing the competition that lead to the design of the current Capitol.

Thomas Rogers Kimball died in September 1934 just after the Nebraska State Capitol was completed.

Thomas Rogers Kimball residence

Thomas Rogers Kimball residence

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Public Library, Holdrege, Nebr.

Public Library, Holdrege

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Over There

The Great War (later known as World War I) was the first large multi-country conflict in which United States forces fought. Although the U.S. took an non-intervention stance when the war started in 1914, Congress declared war and joined the Allies in April 1917 after Germany returned to torpedoing U.S. ships and offered Mexico financing to attack the U.S. on its southern border. While it took almost a year for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to arrive in France in great numbers, AEF was established one hundred years ago this month under the command of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.

Pershing started his military career at forts in the western territories after graduating from West Point in 1886. After fighting in several Indian campaigns, he was assigned to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln as a professor for military science and tactics and Commandant of Cadets (at left Pershing with some of his staff at the University, Townsend Studio Collection) . While there, Pershing formed a drill company which was later renamed the Pershing Rifles. Pershing attended the UNL law school and took his degree in 1893. Pershing is remembered in the naming of several buildings in Lincoln, including an elementary school and an event facility. And while they may have been singing Gershwin’s “Over There” on Broadway, Fall City’s own Harold Spencer honored Pershing with “General Pershing’s Grand March” (above right, Polley Music Library Collection).

Young men such as Marvin Murphy (above, Butler County Gallery) volunteered from towns across Nebraska joined the fight. Of course this photo was taken a few years before Marvin served in France and Germany at the age of twenty-two. As did many Nebraska veterans, Marvin returned to Nebraska, raised his family, worked in the family business, and served in a civic capacity.

Some families saw more than one son off to war. The two youngest sons of Joseph Welty both served in the war (at left, Butler County Gallery). Herbert would also have been twenty-two and Paul twenty-six. Three of the sons already had military experience, serving with the Nebraska National Guard during the Mexican insurrection in 1916. And, as happens in small towns, relatives through marriage also served in the military. Louis Welty, the second oldest son, married Mary Rosetta Delaney (standing at far right in the photo at right) whose younger brothers Charles (seated next to their mother) and Michael (seated next to Mary) were two of the older participants in the Great War. Charles was thirty-five in 1918 and Michael thirty-eight.

 

 

 

Not all the volunteers served in the army or overseas during the war. From the George Schweser family (at left, Butler County Gallery), Harold, the oldest served as a lieutenant in the Balloon Service in Oklahoma. Closer to home, at Fort Omaha, was the Balloon School (at right, Omaha Public Library Collection) which taught about 800 men for the Signal Corp in the war. Carl, the second oldest Schweser, served as an airplane mechanic at Camp Taylor in Alabama. And, Robert, the third in line, served in the navy.

Not all those who served made it back home from the Great War. Some died in the training camps from measles, flu, dysentary, or other diseases. Some died when their ships were sunk on the way to Europe and many more, like Albin Folda (at right with his father and sister at his mother’s grave, Butler County Gallery) died on the battlefield. Albin’s grandparents had emigrated from Bohemia, looking for a better life in the United States. They found it on a Nebraska farm they homesteaded fifty years before their twenty-four year old grandson died in France.

 

Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.

Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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Throwback Thursday: Hotel Loyal, Omaha, Neb.

Picture postcard of the Hotel Loyal, Omaha, Neb., approximate date early 1900s.

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Preserving the Past

Souvenir postcard of Crawford, Nebraska, #1

Your library has boxes and boxes of old photographs, documents and who knows what else. They’re old. They’re dusty.  Some are labeled. Some aren’t. They’ve been in those boxes for years. You don’t know what to do with them. You’d like find a way to preserve them, preferably in digital form, but this type of project seems overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you get started?

The good news! You don’t have to go at it alone. If your town is like the one I grew up in, there’s always someone or some group looking for a project.  In fact, your local historical society or museum would make a fantastic partner.  Chances are, they have the resources to help you identify those photographs.  Also, projects are easier (and more fun) when you share the workload. East side of Main Street, Neligh Nebraska

But wait! There’s more good news! The Nebraska Library Commission manages Nebraska Memories, an online archive of digital Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials. Funded through a combination of funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Nebraska Library Commission, Nebraska Memories contains images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials. Working either independently or with a partner, Nebraska cultural institutions have digitized and contributed more than 5,000 items to Nebraska Memories.

Burlington & Missouri River Railroad train pass

Libraries and other institutions that have partnered to digitize and upload materials to Nebraska Memories include the Antelope County Historical Society and Tilden’s Raymond A. Whitwer Memorial Library; the Crawford Historical Society and Museum and the Crawford Public Library and the High Plains Historical Society and Museum and the McCook Public Library.

I hope after reading this post, you’ll find the prospect of a digital preservation project less overwhelming. Also, you might decide to reach out to a local historical society or museum in order to host a program or two on local history. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/participation.aspx for more information, contact Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.

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