and ledger drawings, diaries, autograph albums, scrapbooks, photograph
albums, memory quilts, and home movies from the collections of
the Nebraska State Historical Society.
We want to remember and to be remembered. Simple as that. Family and friends, special moments
and important events---those good things in our lives-are the
memories we treasure.
We hope others remember us--- our friendship,
the good times we share, the difference that we made in their
lives. We hope our memories are
strong, strong enough to endure, but we learn to hedge our bets
with physical reminders, visual and tactile representations of
that specific past we want to recall. It doesn't take much-a
cryptic note, an image, a swatch of fabric, or simply a signature.
Just enough to jump start a memory. "When this you see,
remember me" entreats a traditional autograph book inscription.
These objects of memory from the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society are some
of the many kinds of physical reminders that we fashion to preserve
Hide Paintings and Ledger Books
Sam Kills Two, also known as Beads, works on his winter count. The death of Turning Bear, killed by a locomotive
in 1910, appears in the second row just above Kills Two's left
John Anderson. RG2069: PH: 2-1
The picture is the rope
that ties memory solidly to the stake of truth was the saying
of the old band historians.
Sandoz in her Introduction to A Pictographic History of the
Native American tribes of the Great
Plains have long recorded heroic deeds and significant events
by painting on hide or canvas.
For the Lakota, pictographic calendars of a community's history,
called winter counts, were important mnemonic devices, helping
community historians remember the sequence of events that were
the tribe's history. While not all paintings on hide or canvas
are arranged sequentially to serve as calendars or winter counts,
the events that they portray are usually experiences that the
tribe or band wished to remember.
Few painted hide or fabric objects are
winter counts, but rather non-
chronological representations of the past. This Crow man's wearing
robe dates to about 1865 and was collected by Charles H. Dietrich
(later to be Nebraska's governor) in the Black Hills in 1876.
As is true for many, if not most, of this type of record, the
story that goes with these drawings is lost.
Ledger Art, painting or drawing images
on the blank or nearly blank pages of ledger or other types of
commercially produced volumes,
is a continuation of that tradition of recording significant
events in visual representations. As new materials, such as paper,
ink, pencils, and colored pencils became available, the images
created by American Indian artists became more detailed. But
they were still designed to serve primarily as catalysts for
the stories that provided a more complete accounting of an event.
This book belonged to William Henry Keeling
of Falls City, Nebraska. In the
1860s, Major Keeling served with the army in Montana and this
ledger book was probably obtained at Camp Cooke, Montana, in
1866-67. The initial inventory record for this item reads "Book
of Indian Drawings, history of the Nez Perces Indians."
This ledger book includes many drawings of battles, both American Indians
fighting soldiers and tribes fighting other tribes. The book
also shows buffalo hunting, traditional courting activities,
and a railroad train.
diary containing American Indian drawings came to the Nebraska State Historical Society
in 1928, a gift of P.K. Moore of Lushton, Nebraska. The only
information that he could provide was that his father purchased
it from "a derelict returning from the Black Hills in 1877."
It was, he was told, taken from the body of an Indian who had
been killed by soldiers the previous year.
Moore speculated that the book might
have been lost by its first owner,
likely a soldier from a cavalry company that left Fort Sill,
Indian Territory, shortly after the Battle of the Little Big
Horn heading to the Black Hills. Or perhaps the soldier had been
killed in fighting and the volume taken by his enemy. Either
way, it came into the possession of the Indian artist who filled
its pages with images of horses and of battles with soldiers.
Diaries and Journals
J.A. Hill, Civil
W. Richards, Surveyor
J.S. Morton, Statesman
Sara J. Price, Teacher
W. Danley, Businessman
J. & E. Green, Farmers
S. Buck, Farm Wife
S. & E. Allis,
E. & L. Correll,
W.J. Bryan, Orator
Lucy Drexel, Student
Viola Barnes, Student
Willa Cather, Author
C. Calvert, Educator
Myrtle Soulier, Student
B. Watson, Porter
Margaret and Edward
Frances M. Creech,
Sierra Nevada Bunnell,