History of Nebraska

History of Nebraska

History of Nebraska

History of Nebraska


History of Nebraska was originally created to mark the territorial centennial of Nebraska and then revised to coincide with the statehood centennial. This one-volume history quickly became the standard text for the college student and reference for the general reader, unmatched for generations as the only comprehensive history of the state. This fourth edition, revised and updated, preserves the spirit and intelligence of the original. Incorporating the results of years of scholarship and research, this edition gives fuller attention to such topics as the Native American experience in Nebraska and the accomplishments and circumstances of the state's women and minorities. It also provides a historical analysis of the state's dramatic changes in the past two decades.


In accepting the challenge to revise the work that James C. Olson published in two editions in 1955 and 1967, in conjunction with Nebraska’s territorial and statehood centennials, respectively, I was not certain in the mid-1990s that I could produce a third edition that met the needs of both students and state leaders grappling with many of the same issues of the past yet also many new challenges of the present and future.

Now, seventeen years since the third edition was published in 1997 and nine years since Olson’s death in 2005, the challenge of restructuring and reframing the history of Nebraska in ways to help readers better understand issues and events is no less complex. New issues that are certain to affect the state’s future could seem even more daunting than those I faced at the time I was preparing the third edition. To navigate the vast resources of the information age in which we live, I asked for a coauthor and enlisted for that role John Montag, a fellow historian, colleague, and librarian.

As in the past Nebraska’s history continues to attract many scholars, and this edition, like previous ones, seeks to incorporate current scholarship that illuminates the people, events, and issues important to understanding the state’s present and past. It also continues the task introduced in the third edition of broadening its diversity of topics and issues. I hope the successful collaboration between John and me will become evident to readers.

We owe a debt of gratitude to many colleagues, friends, and scholars who assisted us in the preparation of this edition. We appreciate the assistance of James Hewitt, who used the third edition in his Nebraska history classes and, early on, suggested ideas for restructuring the fourth edition. We were also fortunate to have two good friends who were fascinated by this project and who offered to read the manuscript as it was . . .

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