Nebraska Authors

James C. Olson

Born 1917-01-01 Bradgate, IA (USA)

Died 2005-08-17
Kansas City, MO (USA)

Known to friends as a dry wit, Olson had distinguished careers as a historian and, later in life, as a university administrator. Olson served as a historian for the United States Army Air Forces in the Pacific Theater in World War II. After the war, from 1946-1956, he served as Director of the Nebraska State Historical Society and taught at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where he would later serve as Regents Professor of History, chair of the Department of History, dean of the Graduate College, director of Graduate Program Development, and vice chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research. His biography of J. Sterling Morton, his first book, was derived from his Ph.D dissertation at the University of Nebraska. He was also the author of the widely adopted school and reference text Nebraska History which first appeared in 1955, but has been kept up-todate in revised additions, with collaborators.

In 1968, after some hesitation, Olson accepted a position as chancellor of the University of Missouri–Kansas City. From 1976 to 1984 he would serve as chancellor of the University of Missouri system. While at Missouri, he wrote several books on university administration, and a very well received biography of (William) Stuart Symington, Democratic United States Senator from Missouri (1953-1976), first Secretary of the Air Force and one of the twentieth century's most influential political figures.


Places Lived

Late 1930s

Author Of

  • Biography
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction


History--American West; History--Nebraska; Biography; Native Americans--History; History for Children


AB, Morningside College, 1938
MA in History, University of Nebraska, 1939
Ph.D in History, University of Nebraska, 1942


Professor of American History
University Dean;

Places Worked

University of Missouri;


Nebraska 150 Books honor for History of Nebraska, 4th ed., 2017
University of Missouri Curators 2005 Award for Scholarly Excellence.


Board of the Harry S Truman Library Institute
Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee
Missouri Arts Council
Mid-America Arts Alliance
Organization of American Historians
American Heritage Editorial Board


James C. Olson.
J. Sterling Morton. 1942.
History of Nebraska. 1955.
History of Nebraska. 3rd Edition. 1997.
Nebraska Is My Home. 1956 and 1965 eds. w/Vera F. Olson. juv.
Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem. 1965.
Higher Education: A Short Look Ahead. 1979.
The University of Missouri: An Illustrated History. 1988.
Serving the University of Missouri: A Memoir of Campus and System Administration. 1993.
Stuart Symington: A Life. 2003.

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James C. Olson

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)