From its first publication in 1937, Everett Dick's The Sod House Frontier 1854-1890: A Social History of the Northern Plains from the Creation of Kansas and Nebraska to the Admission of the Dakotas has been considered a classic account of the European settlement of the Great Plains. It was recognized both as a work of careful and detailed scholarship and as a lively portrait. Dorothy Canfield Fisher commented that while a work of reference, "any of its chapters is as absorbing as fiction (The Lincoln Journal, 10-3-1937)." Dick studied with John D. Hicks at the University of Nebraska, and Hicks got Dick into the Ph.D. program in History at the University of Wisconsin under his own dissertation advisor Frederic Paxson. Those contacts put Dick in the second generation of "Prairie Historians," a school that found new significance in the Great Plains frontier. Dick himself had been born in a Kansas sod house.
Dick was a fixture as Professor of History at the Seventh-Day Adventists' Union College in Lincoln. He joined the faculty there in 1930. The college's administration building is named for him. Dick continued to write about the social history of European settlement. His 1975 Conquering the Great American Desert was published by the Nebraska State Historical Society. His focus was always more on social history and what we now call environmental history, than on politics.
Dick was a Marine veteran of WWI. In the 1933 he founded the Seventh-Day Adventist Medical Cadet Corps at Union College, to give his co-religionists the opportunity to serve without bearing arms. The Corps became a world-wide Adventist organization.
See also Merrill Mattes
Brothers Frank and Alfred Rinehart moved to Colorado sometime in the 1870s and found employment in a photography studio there. In 1881 they formed a partnership with the great western photographer William Henry Jackson. Frank was fascinated by Native Americans and is said to have learned much from Jackson. In 1885, Frank Rinehart married Anna Ransom Johnson, Jackson's receptionist. The couple then moved to Omaha, where, in 1886, Frank Rinehart opened a photography studio in the Brandeis building in Omaha. He operated the Omaha studio until his death in 1928.
In 1898, Frank Rinehart was the official photographer for the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, and the concurrent Indian Congress, held in Omaha from June to November 1898. The Indian Congress (August through November 1, 1898) was a fascinating affair, a kind of final re-union and last dance for Native Americans that had lived in the traditional ways and fought in the wars against the United States. It was managed by a Captain of the 8th Infantry, acting under the ultimate authority of the Secretary of the Interior, and even Geronimo, officially imprisoned at Ft. Sill, was allowed to attend. Frank Rinehart and his assistant Adoph Muhr photographed over 500 individuals of the various tribes. The quality of their work has impressed generations of critics. It seems generally agreed that Rinehart managed to leave behind the by then somewhat stilted conventions of ethnographic portraiture, and any remaining temptation to portray Native Americans as savages, and capture with sympathy the dignity and individual personalities of his subjects. The sales of the Indian Congress photographs made Frank Rinehart wealthy and famous, and gave him the money to make a grand tour of Indian Reservations, where he made an additional 1,200 portraits. His assistant Muhr later became an assistant for Edward S. Curtis.
The Museum of Nebraska Art has a small Rinehart collection and a more extensive online biographical sketch of Rinehart.
The Nebraska State Historical Society has Rinehart items, an online biographical sketch, and a collection of photographs from the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition.
The Boston Public Library has an extensive collection of images which are available online.
Nebraska writer and poet Ted Kooser served two terms as Poet Laureate Of The United States, 2004-2006. His book Delights and Shadows won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Much has been written about him, both locally and nationally. There is a short biographical overview on the Heritage Room web page Ted Kooser: Nebraska Poet, and there is now a thorough scholarly biography in Mary K Stillwell's 2013 The Life & Poetry of Ted Kooser.
Kooser came to Lincoln in 1963 to study with the distinguished poet Karl Shapiro. Though Kooser later referred to his year in graduate school as a disaster, he made lasting friendships with Shapiro and with Wilbur Gaffney, both outsiders in the English department. At the end of that year Kooser had won a major award for his poetry--the Vreeland Award, but had lost his graduate fellowship. He took a job at Bankers Life Nebraska, where he made a career as a businessman and executive.
Kooser remained close to creative people he met at the University and in the community. Glenna Luschei of Solo Press, who played an important role in Kooser's career by publishing A Local Habitation & a Name (1974) with an introduction by Karl Shapiro, had been an assistant to Karl Shapiro at Prairie Schooner. Kooser rebuilt or renewed local and regional literary communities, undertaking the publication of a variety of little magazines over the years, an effort that lent a characteristic liveliness and humor to the local literary community. Those magazines included The Salt Creek Reader, The New Salt Creek Reader, The Blue Hotel, and The Oak Branch Gazette. His locally flavored Windflower Press brought out the first longer work by Bill Kloefkorn, and went on to develop an international following. Kooser collaborated with other Nebraska and Great Plains poets and writers. Well known collaborators included Jim Harrision, and again, Bill Kloefkorn. Kooser designed and illustrated books for other poets.
In the 1980s Kooser served on the Lincoln Library Board and he helped organize and in 1982 was founding president of The Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, formed to preserve and support the Heritage Room and its collection of Nebraska authors.
The Heritage Room is fortunate to have chapbooks, local small magazines published by Kooser, limited hand printed editions by Kooser and examples of Kooser's artwork. For many years, Kooser was famous for sending out poetic Valentines to local women (not so much a romantic as an artistic undertaking) and the former Director of Lincoln City Libraries, Carol Connor was a recipient, so though these were later collected in a book, we have the original cards in our Kooser file. Kooser's project as U.S. Poet Laureate was a weekly poetry newspaper column and we have a complete collection of his columns. Kooser painting and poster on Heritage Room entrance wall.
Kooser has been a frequent Ames Reader in the Heritage Room and recordings are available.
UNL Archives and Special Collections holds a Ted Kooser Collection.
Kooser has a website http://www.tedkooser.net/.
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