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Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters

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Photo, Andy Howland, south, Solomon Butcher, 1886, Prairie Settlement

These two collections illuminate life on the Great Plains from 1862 to 1912. The nearly 3,500 glass plate negatives depict everyday life in central Nebraska, with images of businesses, farms, people, churches, and fairs in four counties. Approximately 318 letters describe the sojourn of the Uriah Oblinger family through Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, and Missouri as they traveled to establish a homestead. Letters discuss such topics as land, work, neighbors, crops, religious meetings, grasshoppers, financial troubles, and Nebraska's Easter Blizzard of 1873.

A 1,000-word essay describes the letter collection and the lives of the principal correspondents. Biographical notes are available for more than 120 of the people who corresponded with the Oblingers or who were mentioned in the letters.