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American Memory Project

Collections from the Nebraska State Historical Society Join American Memory

photo of The Chrisman sisters in front of the sod house

The Chrisman sisters in front of the sod house on one sister's claim. All four sisters eventually took Nebraska homesteads.

For nearly forty years the photographs of Solomon D. Butcher (1856-1927) and the letters of Uriah Oblinger (1842-1901) and his family have been used to tell the story of settlement on the Great Plains, most recently in Ken Burns' and Stephen Ives' epic television production, "The West."

Now these powerful photographs and moving letters are available to all Nebraskans via the World Wide Web. The Library of Congress selected these collections from the holdings of the Nebraska State Historical Society to add to their prestigious American Memory site. As part of the library's National Digital Library Program, American Memory, which has received substantial funding from the Ameritech corporation, provides an electronic gateway to the nation's cultural treasures. American Memory allows the American citizen to directly interact with his or her own past.

The Solomon D. Butcher Collection comprises 3,300 glass plate negatives crafted between 1886 and 1912. Butcher photographed actively in central Nebraska, including Custer, Buffalo, Dawson, and Cherry counties. His photographs of sod houses have graced textbooks and histories of the American West for more than three-quarters of a century, and are familiar to most Americans.

Uriah Oblinger came to Fillmore County to homestead in 1872. In the eloquent letters exchanged with his wife, Mattie, and other family members, Oblinger expresses a very personal insight into the joy and despair that accompanied settlement on the Plains.

"We are both pleased and proud," said Lawrence Sommer, director of the Nebraska State Historical Society, "to have these two very important collections added to the celebration of America's story on the American Memory website."


See the completed project

Discover history hidden within Butcher photographs.



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Last updated 30 May 2001

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