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 African American Resources at the Nebraska State Historical Society

The following African American resources are available in the Nebraska State Historical Society's Library/Archives Division. These materials, and many more fascinating documents, are available for use in the public reading room of the NSHS at 1500 R Street in Lincoln.

For additional information about any of these collections, please contact our Library Staff.


RG5440: ADAMS-DOUGLASS-VANDERZEE-MCWILLIAMS FAMILIES: Papers relating to Alice Cox Adams, former slave and adopted sister of Frederick Douglass, and to her descendants: the Adams, McWilliams and related families. Includes correspondence between Alice Adams and Frederick Douglass [copies only]; Alice's autobiographical writings; family correspondence and photographs, reminiscences, genealogies, general family history materials, and clippings. The collection also contains a significant collection of the writings of Ruth Elizabeth Vanderzee McWilliams, and Vanderzee family materials. That the Vanderzees were talented and artistic people is well demonstrated by the collected prose, poetry, music, and artwork of various family members.

RG2301: AFRICAN AMERICANS: A collection of miscellaneous photographs of and relating to African Americans in Nebraska. [photographs only]

RG4250: AMARANTHUS GRAND CHAPTER OF NEBRASKA EASTERN STAR (OMAHA, NEB.): The Order of the Eastern Star (OES) is the women's auxiliary of the Order of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Founded on Oct. 15, 1921, the Amaranthus Grand Chapter is affiliated particularly with Prince Hall Masonry, the African American arm of Freemasonry, and has judicial, legislative and executive power over subordinate chapters in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Grand Island, Alliance and South Sioux City. The collection consists of both Grand Chapter records and subordinate chapter records. The Grand Chapter materials include correspondence, financial records, minutes, annual addresses, organizational histories, constitutions and bylaws, and transcripts of oral history interviews with five Chapter members. The collection also contains financial records, correspondence, minutes and charters from fifteen subordinate Nebraska OES chapters, although the bulk of that material is from Shaffer Chapter #1 in Omaha. For more information about Prince Hall Masonry and the OES, see Nebraska History (Spring 1995, Vol. 76). [microfilm only]

RG2973: ANDERSON, ROBERT BALL, 1843-1930: This collection contains some background information about the Box Butte County homesteader and former slave. Also included is a Historic Preservation report on the Robert Ball Anderson homestead by Judy Gasseling.

RG4708: BAILEY, ISAAC, 1861- : The collection contains the Certificate of Honorable Discharge issued to Isaac Bailey, 1st Sergeant, Troop B, 10th Cavalry, on May 5, 1908. His military record is on the back. An oral history interview with Bailey's wife, Madge, is also part of the collection. She describes life in the military, with particular emphasis on service at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, during the period ca. 1902-1907.

RG5503: BROWN, MILDRED D.: The collection consists of a scrapbook with 26 letters of tribute, May-June of 1984, written to Mildred D. Brown in honor of her career as founder, owner and publisher of The Omaha Star newspaper, and in acknowledgement of her community leadership and civil rights activism. Also includes images of Mildred Brown meeting politicians, in group photos, and in individual portraits. [Copies only]

RG3248: BURCKHARDT, O.J. (OLIVER J.), 1868-1949: This collection relates to African American settlers in Nebraska, and in particular, to their migration to Cherry County in 1908. Along with biographical materials about the Reverend Burckhardt, the collection includes a small amount of his writings and correspondence, as well as miscellaneous items.

RG3249: BURDEN, HENRY: Henry Burden was a former slave and Civil War veteran who homesteaded in Saline County, Nebraska. The collection contains three photographs relating to his homestead and family. [photographs only]

RG1583: CITIZENS AGAINST RACISM AND PREJUDICE (LINCOLN, NEB.): A Lincoln-based, non-profit organization, its mission was to fight "hate crimes and discrimination caused by bigotry, prejudice, and racism." The collection contains records, 1987-1995, including administrative and committee materials, correspondence, activity files, and publicity materials.

RG3697: DANNER, EDWARD, 1901-1970: The collection relates to Danner's career as a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature, 1961-1970, representing the near North Side district of Omaha (11th District). It contains correspondence and issue files, many of which deal with civil rights. Danner was especially interested in employment and housing issues.

RG0938: DAY, AVA SPEESE: Letters, 1964, written to the Nebraska State Historical Society by homesteader Ava Speese Day, describing the experiences of African American homesteaders in the Nebraska Sandhills. Her grandfather, father, uncle, and husband all filed claims near Brownlee. Includes a map, hand-drawn by Ava, transcripts of the letters by NSHS staff, and clippings.

RG5349: FOLLEY, RUTH GREENE: Personal papers and photographs relating to Ruth Greene Folley and the Greene and Folley families. Also includes some materials relating to the Malone Center. Most of the materials in the collection date from the 1940s-1960s.

RG1580: HALL, NORMAN C.: Notebooks, 1989-1991, containing Hall's records of Prince Hall Mason activities during his tenure as Worshipful Grand Master. [microfilm only]

RG0301: LINCOLN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (LINCOLN, NEBRASKA): Report, 1972, written in response to the Cleveland Randolph charge of police brutality. 2 volumes. Volume one contains transcripts of hearing proceedings, including interviews with Randolph, the police, and others. Volume 2 presents the summaries of findings of the commission and statements of facts.

RG4669: LUTHERAN FILM ASSOCIATES: A Time for Burning, a 1966 award-winning documentary film about race relations in Omaha, Nebraska.

RG2759: MALONE, ROBERT THOMAS, 1891-1963: Papers, 1925-1963, relating to social and welfare legislation, race relations, and associated problems. The collection contains personal correspondence, 1925-1963; extensive Urban League materials; speeches; and includes files on Clyde Malone, social legislation, housing, labor, unemployment compensation, and social justice, among other topics.

RG3206: MASTON, GEORGE A., 1849-1912: One poem written in 1904 by George Maston, minister, teacher, and barber.

RG5410: MCINTOSH, C. BARRON (CHARLES BARRON): Research on the African American settlements of Cherry County, Nebraska, including maps, and information about filing dates.

RG5145: MCWILLIAMS FAMILY: Copy photographs (digital images) of the McWilliams family of Lincoln, Nebraska, related families, and friends. The original photographs are not in the NSHS collections.

RG1254: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NEB.): Records of the NAACP in Nebraska, arranged in two subgroups: 1) NAACP Branch Files, 1913-1939 [film only]; and 2) Records of the University of Nebraska Student NAACP, 1948-1949. The Branch materials of Subgroup 1 consist of activity files, reports finance and membership records, etc. sent to the National office from Lincoln, Omaha and Alliance, Nebraska. The files also include information relating to lynching in Nebraska. The original Branch files are housed in the collections of the Library of Congress Manuscript Division; only the microfilm copies are available at NSHS. Subgroup 2 contains a small amount of minutes and other records documenting the activities of the University of Nebraska Student NAACP group in the later 1940s.

RG3957: NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE (OMAHA AND LINCOLN, NEB.): Records and publications of the Lincoln and Omaha Urban Leagues which comprise a portion of the records of the National Urban League at the Library of Congress. The records document the activities of the Lincoln Urban League, 1932-1954, and the Omaha Urban League (now known as the Nebraska Urban League), 1929-1961. The materials consist mostly of printed matter, such as reports, programs, newsletters, and special events files. [filmed together; microfilm only]

RG4795: NEBRASKA BLACK ORAL HISTORY PROJECT: Interviews conducted over a two-year period, 1980-1982, for a project funded by the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities, and sponsored by the Black Studies Department, UNL; The Great Plains Black Museum; and the Nebraska Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Interviewees were chosen for four research areas: Outstate Nebraska, Lincoln, Older Omaha Residents, and Active members of the Omaha Black Community. Sound recordings and transcripts are available.

RG1300: PETERSON, PETE (HARRY W.), 1924- : Scrapbook, 1969, of city council campaign materials including letters, buttons, clippings, news releases, position statements, and a petition. Peterson was the first African American elected to the Lincoln, Nebraska, City Council.

RG3430: PLUMMER, HENRY VINTON, 1844-1905: Records relating to the military career of Henry Vinton Plummer, who was born a slave in Maryland, but became the first African American chaplain to serve in the post-Civil War United States Army. After ten years of service he was dismissed from the army for conduct unbecoming an officer. See also "Chaplain Henry V. Plummer, His Ministry and Court Martial," in Nebraska History, Vol. 56, No. 1, Spring, 1975.

RG4244: PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE OF NEBRASKA (OMAHA, NEB.) Records, 1912-1986: In 1919, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Nebraska was formed in Omaha. As Grand Lodge it gained jurisdiction over subordinate, or blue, lodges located throughout Nebraska. This collection is arranged in two subgroups: 1) Filmed records, 1912-1986; and 2) Census research files, unfilmed. Subgroup 1 consists of eleven reels of microfilm containing correspondence, financial records, Grand and Annual Communications, legal documents, committee and officer reports, agendas, minutes and historical materials. Most of the material is from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, although there are items from subordinate Nebraska lodges as well. The records in Subgroup 1 were loaned for filming; the originals are not in the NSHS collections. Subgroup 2 contains United States Census forms, 1900-1920, listing vital statistics of Prince Hall members, mostly in Douglas County, but also Jefferson, Lancaster, Adams, Hall, Seward, Buffalo, Box Butte, Morrill, Otoe, and Scottsbluff Counties, Nebraska. For more information about Prince Hall Masonry in Nebraska and its female auxiliary, the Order of the Eastern Star, see Nebraska History (Spring 1995, Vol. 76).

RG0950: ROESER, EMIL F., 1887-1982: Reminiscences about Grand Island and Hall County written by Emil Roeser, the "unofficial historian of Hall County," Nebraska. One of the five manuscripts in the collection is a story titled, "Thomas Goodchild, Negro Barber."

RG5337: SOCIAL SETTLEMENT ASSOCIATION OF OMAHA (OMAHA, NEB.): Records and photographs, 1924-1988, mostly 1924-1947, including bylaws and articles of incorporation; board of directors materials (minutes, monthly and annual reports, etc.); committee files; publications; Woodson Center files, 1932-1938; and scrapbooks. Social Settlement of Omaha was established in 1908 to help immigrant families with at least one member employed at the Omaha Stockyards as they adapted to life in America, and to teach neighborhood residents the value and duties of American citizenship. In 1930 the Culture Center was moved to a larger facility at 30th and R Streets in order to better serve the neighborhood's growing African American population. Although the Settlement functioned on a semi-segregated basis, in theory arranging for separate use of the facilities according to race from 1908-1926, the necessity of sharing resources and building space created a great deal of interaction and cooperation between the Culture Center [later Woodson Center] and the Settlement House (see photo collection). The main Settlement House was eventually relocated to 4686 Q Street, but both houses continued to offer a wide variety of recreational, educational, and community-wide improvement clubs for their members.

RG0539: UNITED STATES. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Malcolm X surveillance files, 1953-1971. Two reels of microfilm consisting of information on Malcolm X compiled by the FBI. Included is biographical information, excerpts of his speeches, reports on his activities and public appearances in various U.S. cities, television and radio interview transcripts, articles about him, and information about attempts on his life, including his assassination in 1965. [microfilm only]

Note: A more extensive compilation of ten reels, which supersedes this two-reel set, has become available, but at the cost of $1300, we do not have plans to purchase it. However, if someone would like to donate this to our collection, we'd be thrilled to have it.

RG5335: URBAN LEAGUE OF NEBRASKA (OMAHA, NEB.): Records, 1928-1994, mostly 1928-1979, including administrative and board of directors materials; constitution and bylaws; committee records; special project files; publications; and photographs.

RG5000: VERTICAL FILE COLLECTION: A miscellaneous collection of clippings, articles, and other materials about African Americans in Nebraska.

RG0515: WORKS PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION: Interviews of Nebraskans conducted by WPA workers during the 1930s. The interviews are arranged by county, then by ancestry, including a large number of African Americans.



General Books:

325/Sm5b: Black Nebraskans: Interviews from the Nebraska Black Oral History Project II, compiled by Alonzo N. Smith, 1982
326/J63b: Black Oral History in Nebraska, by Brenda B. Johns and Alonzo N. Smith, 1980
978.2/C163v: Visions of Freedom on the Great Plains: An Illustrated History of African Americans in Nebraska, by Bertha W. Calloway and Alonzo N. Smith, 1998
929.73/W819a: African American Genealogy: A Bibliography and Guide to Sources, by Curt Bryan Witcher, 2000
978/A258a: African Americans on the Western Frontier, edited and with an introduction by Monroe Lee Billington and Roger D. Hardaway, 1998

African American Newspapers:

The Library/Archives has several African American newspapers, all of which were published in Lincoln or Omaha. All of them are available on microfilm and can be viewed in our Reference Room or via interlibrary loan. Duplicate film reels can also be purchased. Our holdings are not complete, but here are the titles and dates available:

Review (Lincoln): May 17, 1937 (978.2651/R32 on Filmstrip Reel 33, Item 6)
Weekly Review (Lincoln): Jan. 12 and 26 and Mar. 30, 1933 (film 326/W41)
Enterprise (Omaha): 1895-1897; 1908-1911 (film 326/Om1e)
New Era (Omaha): 1922-1926 (film 326/Om1n)
Omaha Guide (Omaha): 1932-1947; 1954-1958 (film 326/Om1g)
Omaha Monitor (Omaha): 1915-1929 (film 326/Om1m)
Omaha Star (Omaha): 1938-present (film 326/Om1s)
Progress (Omaha): 1890-1891 (film 326/Om1p)

Nebraska History magazine and other NSHS publications:

References to pertinent materials can be found under "Black," "Blacks," "Negro," "Negroes," and "African Americans" in the Nebraska History Index, or ask the Reference Staff for assistance.

For additional information about any of these collections, please contact our Library Staff.


 African American Resources at the Douglas County Historical Society

The following African American resources are available at the Douglas County Historical Society in Omaha. For additional information see their website: Douglas County Historical Society.

  1. Microfilm - Records of the Omaha Urban League of Nebraska 1927-1960; Records of the Lincoln Urban League of Nebraska 1933-1954.
  2. Microfilm - Manuscript collections of Prince Hall grand Lodge and Amaranthus Grand Chapter Eastern Star.
  3. Audio Tapes - 16 oral history interviews with members of the Prince Hall Masons, interviews by Dennis Mihelich.
  4. Audio Tape and Typed Manuscript - oral history interview with Arthur B. Pittman, DVM, Pittman Animal Hospital, interview done by Dennis Mihelich.
  5. Audio Tape and Typed Manuscript of oral history interview with Robert L. Myers - owner of Myers Funeral Home, interview by Dennis Mihelich.
  6. Manuscript - "Your Right to Know" - The closed hearing of Eddie Chambers before the Omaha School Board , Presented by: The School Community Advisory Board, January 1972 (2nd edition)
  7. Manuscript - United Press International interview with Ernie Chambers, 2-9-1968.
  8. Photos:
    Bob Boozer, ca. 1970
    Judge Elizabeth D. Pittman, ca. 1970
    Bob Gibson, ca. 1967
    Preston Love, nd
    Great Plains Black Museum, 1984
    Johnny Owens, various, 1927-1936
    Herman Cain, ca. 1990
    Omaha Urban League, ca. 1930
    National Committee to Combat Fascism, Ed Poindexter, Clarence Williams and Linda Clark, 5/27/70
    Masonic Lodge Prince Hall Affiliation, Flag Raising, 5/30/43
    Dan Desdunes Band in Omaha, 1922
    Will Brown, ca. 1919
    Unidentified photos from the Wentworth Collection: Jazz Musicians; Orchestra; Entertainers
  9. NEWSPAPER CLIPPING FILES - Omaha area businesses and people, late 1930s to the present.


 African American Resources at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

The following African American resources are available at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island. For additional information see their website: Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer.


Cloud, Beverly Joan [1987/04, interview on African-American families in Grand Island; by Mary Cloud, 60-minute tape, transcription on file]
Lewis, Aaron [1985/09/25, interview on history of African-Americans in Grand Island; by Jo Riedy interviewee relative of Dan Gates of Grand Island 60-minute tape]
Gates, Dan [1983/07/21, interview on history of African-Americans in Grand Island; by Bob Perry 90-minute tape]
Gairey, Arthur [1987, interview on history of African-Americans in Grand Island; by Tom Anderson, 90-minute tape]
Dixon, John [1977/02/16, interview on history of African-Americans in Grand Island; by George Kuester, 90-minute tape, transcription on file]


African-American Family Index: Index of 113 African-American families represented in the Stuhr Museum Family Genealogy Vertical Files. Local historian and Stuhr Museum volunteer Jo Reidy completed much of the research. Several of the key family histories have been indexed separately.

Anthony Young family history
Fears Family history
Flippin family history
Gairey family history
Goodchild family history
Hunter family history
Jackson family history
Locke family history
Young, Anthony family history
Young, Robert family history

African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1912-1976: Index of materials relating to the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Grand Island, NE.

St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church: Index of materials relating to the African-American congregation of the St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church in Grand Island, NE.


Grand Island: Ethnic: African American:
Census, 1940
Grand Island Cemetery Burials
General Information
Ku Klux Klan
Masonic Lodge

Hall County: Ethnic: African-American
African-Americans in Hall County Census

Nebraska: Ethnic: African-Americans:
Adams County
Anderson, Robert Ball
Biography: Flippin, Dr. George
Box Butte County
Buffalo County
Cherry County
Civil Rights
Custer County
Dawson County
Fort Robinson YMCA 1902-1907: A Social Org. in a Black Regiment
Franklin County
Gage County
Hamilton County
Harlan County: Suggs Family
Harris, Amos
Johnson Heavyweight, Jack - His Omaha Image
KKK in Nebraska 1920-1930 (book by Michael Schuyler)
Lancaster County
Lincoln County: North Platte Racial Incident: Black-White Confrontation, 1929
Merrick County
Nebraska History magazine articles
Nebraskans: Oral History interviews, 1980s
Negroes of Nebraska: WPA report 1940
Otoe County: Nebraska City
Valley County
Wheeler County

Non-Nebraska: Ethnic: African-American
General Information
Miscellaneous Articles
Black Iowans Before the Civil War
Black Women in Western Prisons
Civil War: Confederates
Civil War: Kansas [American Heritage, February 1992]
Civil War: Kansas [Kansas History, Winter 1983/1984]
Biography: Henson, Matthew
Buffalo Soldiers [Smithsonian, December 1998]
Kansas: Exodusters
Kansas: Nicodemus [Kansas Historical Quarterly, 1968]
Kansas: Spanish-American War
"Story of Auntie Lee" (from Wamego, Kansas)

Photographs: Portraits and snapshots of Hall County African-American families represented in the Family Genealogy Vertical Files, such as the Flippin family and the Young families.


 African American Resources at the Plainsman Museum

The following African American resources are available at the Plainsman Museum in Aurora. For additional information see their website: Plainsman Museum.

Bates, Brevet Brigadier General Delevan, 1840-1918. Bates commanded the 121st New York Infantry, a "colored" regiment, in the Civil War. At the Battle of the Crater he was shot in the face, and his troops saved his life by pulling him off the battlefield against direct orders. Files include published bibliographies, obituary, and photographs. Listed under Delevan Bates.

Goodrich/Goodrick, Hubbard B., 1836-1887. Goodrich served in the Civil War. He "mustered out March 17, 1864, for promotion of First Lieutenant in a Colored Regiment" (the 70th United States Colored). Files included obituary and related information (listed as Goodrick, Hubbard B.) in the Aurora Civil War Burials Book compiled by the Plainsman Museum/Hamilton County Historical Society.

Harris, J. Frank 1863-1937. A former slave, Harris arrived in Hamilton County and purchased land in 1880 at age 17. He was a charter member of the United Brethren Church. He married Martha Wood, and together they ran a small orchard in Aurora and cooked at the Tuttle and Aurora houses. Files include plat atlases (1903, 1916, 1923), photographs, obituaries, and related information (listed as John Harris).

Harris, John S., 1885-1966. The son of J. Frank and Martha (Wood) Harris. Born in Aurora, and a graduate of the Aurora Normal and Business College (1907). Served in World War I. Files include plat atlases (1888, 1903), a photograph of African American soldiers preparing to leave for World War I, and a photograph of the 1907 graduating class of the Aurora Normal and Business College.

Mitchell, Bob, ? - 1923. Little is known about Mitchell. His 1923 newspaper obituary describes him as "a Negro" who had lived in Aurora for forty years. The obituary reports that he had moved to Hamilton County from Iowa, but did not know his exact age. Files include obituary.

Patrick, David, 1850-1903. A former slave, Patrick moved to Hamilton County with his wife, Hannah, in 1873. He was elected president of the Lincoln Valley Cemetery Association Board on March 6, 1886. He is said to have been a rider for the Pony Express. Files include plat atlases (1888, 1903); Lincoln Valley Cemetery Association minutes book; photographs of Patrick, his wife, children, and home; obituaries and related information.

Patrick, Hannah Virginia (Wood) 1850-1913. Wife of David Patrick, she had been a schoolteacher in Missouri before they married and moved to Hamilton County, Nebraska, in 1873. Files include plat atlas (1916); photographs of Hannah and David Patrick, their children, and homes; obituaries and related information (listed under David Patrick).


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