Nebraska Authors

Roger L. Welsch

Born 1936-11-06 Lincoln, NE (USA)

Died 2022-09-30
Dannebrog, NE

The fact that Roger Welsch is Nebraska's most famous and recognizable humorist and story teller might obscure his achievements as one of its great scholars of folklore. Welsch introduced his 1966 collection A Treasury of Nebraska Folklore with observations by Louise Pound. Pound started a remarkable scholarly tradition of the study of regional culture and folklore at the University of Nebraska that included people like Lowry Wimberly and Benjamin Botkin. Welsch has been the beneficiary and perhaps the last widely read scholar of that tradition. In his 1981 collection of old time horse trading tales Mister: You Got Yourself A Horse, we find Welsch digging the files of the WPA's Nebraska Federal Writers' Project of the 1930s out of Omaha basements and lost file cabinets in Washington, D.C., and corresponding with the Project's editor, Rudolph Umland. The 1930s effort was led behind the scenes by Lowry Wimberly and Mari Sandoz. Welsch recovered, analyzed, and mined its materials for his own books.

Welsch's wider fame as a public story teller began in 1974, when he ran for a seat on the Lancaster County Weed Control Authority on a pro-weed platform. With slogans like "if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em," he won the seat. The campaign attracted the attention of CBS reporter Charles Kuralt, and Welsch appeared on Kuralt's "On the Road" CBS news segment, sharing a meal of weeds with Kuralt. He formed a friendship with Kuralt, and appeared on several "On the Road" segments. Then in 1988, Welsch began to present "Postcards from Nebraska" as a regular segment on CBS News Sunday Morning, lasting for 13 years. From 1987-1996, Welsch's newspaper column, "Rodger and Out," appeared in newspapers around the state, exploring all kinds of issues from Welsch's unique local and regional perspective. "Roger Welsch and ..." was a long-running interview program on NET in which Welsch interviewed Nebraska writers and other local characters. These efforts made Welsch a permanent public presence.

It was always clear that Welsch was inspired by the atmosphere of the 1960s and idealism of the hippie generation. In the 1980s he published a guide to the city of Lincoln, Inside Lincoln (the things they never tell you), that irritated some of the straight-laced inhabitants of the Capitol City, but delighted its young people.

Also in the mid 1980s, as a scholar and as a friend of Native American tribes, Welsch entered into bitter conflict with the direction and the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Newspapers of the time make it clear that there were many issues of controversy--nepotism, fossilized attitudes and administration, lack of transparency in spending, and so on. For Welsch, the most salient issue was the bald refusal of the Nebraska State Historical Society to repatriate human remains of Native Americans, mainly Pawnee. But those remains were eventually repatriated. The direction and Board of the NSHS changed, and by the mid-1990s, Welsch was on excellent terms with the Society, and numbered its scholars among his close friends.

Welsch was always a fascinated student of Native American life. He was particularly close to the Omaha and the Pawnee. He was adopted into the Omaha tribe in 1967, and was given the name 'Tenuga Gahi,' which means Bull Buffalo Chief. When, in 1987, the Minnesota Historical Society republished Nebraska scholar Melvin Gilmore's 1929 collection of Great Plains Native American legends, Prairie Smoke, Welsch provided the introduction. In 2007, Roger and Linda Welsch deeded their land on the Loup river near Dannebrog to the Pawnee. They retain a life tenancy. Roger Welsch is an honorary member of the Pawnee Nation and has long served as their representative on the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.

Welsch has published over 40 books and numerous scholarly articles. He has hosted a number of television programs, Barn Again (2002) being a recent and especially popular example.


Places Lived

Dannebrog, NE
Lincoln, NE
Boulder, CO
Bloomington, IN

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Journalism
  • Nonfiction


Folklore; Humor; Nebraska Subjects; Omaha Tribe; Pawnee Tribe


Bachelor of Arts Degree, 1958, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Master of Arts Degree, 1960, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Additional study:
1962, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
1963-1965, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
1971, British Oenological Institute


Professor of English and Anthropology

Places Worked

Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE
Dana College, Blair, NE
University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
CBS's "Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt"
Natural History magazine


Outstanding Young Faculty Award, NWU, 1967
Distinguished Teaching Award, UNL, 1971
Welsch was named Distinguished Nebraskan of the Year by the Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C., Sept. 14, 1992
Nebraska Literary Heritage Association’s Literary Heritage Award, 2017
Nebraska 150 Books honor for It's Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See It From Here, 2017
“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 47 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans


Columnist with Sucessful Farming Magazine
Nebraska artist Linda Welsch, spouse
Jim McKee, long time friend
Kay Young
Lynne Ireland
Jim Potter


This is a representative, not a complete listing, see paper files in the HR

A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore. 1966. revised, 1984. (Compiled by Roger Welsch)
Sod Walls: The Story of the Nebraska Sod House. 1968, revised, 1991.
Love Notes From a Native Son: To Nebraska -- The Great American Desert 1972. (Film Strip)
Broken Hoops and Plains People. 1976. (Contributor to)
Tall Tale Postcards: a Pictorial History. 1976.
The Summer It Rained: Water and Plains Pioneer Humor. 1978.
Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies. 1980.
Big Time: American Tall-Tale Postcards 1981. (Contributor to)
Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse: Tales of Old-Time Horse Trading. 1981.
Omaha Tribal Myths and Trickster Tales. 1981.
Catfish at the Pump: Humor and the Frontier. 1982.
Of Trees and Dreams: The Fiction, Fact and Folklore of Tree-Planting on the Northern Plains. 1982.
Inside Lincoln: (The Things They Never Tell You!) 1984.
Inside Lincoln: New and Improved. 1984.
How Cold Is It. 1996.
Nebraska: Highways to Heritage. 1985. (Audio Cassette)
The Prairie: From Pistol to Plow 1985. (Audio Cassette)
Beautiful Dannebrog... 1986. (edited and intro by Welsch)
Folk Tales and Folk Songs. 1986. (LCL video production)
You Know You're a Husker (with Paul Fell). 1986.
Cather's Kitchens: Foodways in Literature and Life. 1987. (with Linda Welsch, introduction by Susan Rosowski). 1987.
The Liar's Corner: A Garland of Humor Columns from the Pages of Nebraska Farmer. Fall 1985 - Fall, 1988. 1988.
You Know You're a Nebraskan (with Paul Fell). 1989.
It's Not the End of the Earth, but You Can See It From Here: Tales of the Great Plains. 1990.
The Return of the Sacred Pole. 1990. (NETV video production)
Nebraska #2: A Special Highway. 1990.
Touching the Fire. 1992.
Uncle Smoke Stories. 1994. (Young Adult)
Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them. (working Title -- Expected publication date: 1996). 1995.
Diggin' in and Piggin' Out: The Truth About Food and Men. 1997.
Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles. 1997.
You Know You're an Old Tractor Nut... 1998. (with Paul Fell).
Love, Sex, and Tractors. 2000.
Postcards From Nebraska. 2000.
Old Tractors Never Die. 2001.
Everything I Know About Women. 2002.
Outhouses. 2003.
My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad and the Husker. 2006.
Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity. 2006.
Embracing Fry Bread. 2013.
The Reluctant Pilgrim: A Skeptic's Journey into Native Mysteries. 2015.
Why I'm an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales. (Foreword by Dick Cavett), 2016.

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Roger L. Welsch

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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)