Nebraska itself, almost the dead center of America might be considered ‘the heart’ of the United States, but it may surprise you to learn of its wild roots.
For the serious collector, there are a wealth of avenues to explore when researching this American heartland. Consider Rev. C.B. Boynton and T.B. Mason’s work A Journey Through Kansas with Sketches of Nebraska, published in 1855 (we have to remind ourselves, if the title seems a little tangential to our topic, that Nebraska was only admitted into the Union in 1867, and previous to this was described as ‘the wild Nebraska Territories'). What is intriguing about this hardback, first edition in brown cloth that can be found available (published by Cincinnati: Moore) is that it alludes to the very earliest of beginnings of the state, its character, flora and geology.
Similarly, the English emigre John Bratt’s story Trails of Yesterday might interest the student of Nebraska’s past as a natural continuation of that story. Although published in 1921 (The University Publishing Co, Lincoln) it features the author's experiences as a rancher and ‘bullwhacker’ supplying the army outposts in the late 1860s and 1870s. This is at a time after Nebraska has been recognized, but still not fully ‘opened up’ as they say. It is regarded as a minor classic of the growth of central plains ranching and lifestyle preceding the growth of industrial railways of the U.S. This volume can be found as a first edition, in a very attractive blue cloth-bound hardback with gilt illustrated cover of wagons rolling along a prairie.
Perhaps the king of any collection on Nebraska, however, is the weighty tome The Official State Atlas of Nebraska (1885, Everts & Kirk, Philadelphia) whichcompiled a series of the earliest of geographical survey maps for the new centralizing government authority, and a true marvel of precision cartography. A volume of this would be exceedingly rare to find, and precious if all of its maps were undamaged and in one piece.
Boynton, Rev. Charles.B.; Mason, T.B. A Journey Through Kansas. Moore, Wilstach, Keys and Company, Cincinnati (1855). With Sketches of Nebraska: Describing the Country, Climate, Soil, Mineral, Manufacturing, and Other Resources; Fold out map of Kansas-Nebraska
Parker, Nathan H. The Kansas and Nebraska Handbook for 1857-8. John P. Jewett, Boston (1857). With a New and Accurate Map; Large color folding map of the Kansas and Nebraska territories with parts of adjacent territories in black and white; Map is produced by Colton for the publisher and is dated 1857.
Redpath, James; Hinton, Richard J. Hand-Book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountain Gold Region. J. H. Colton, New York (1859). Accompanied by Reliable Maps and a Preliminary Treatise on the Pre-Emption Laws of the United States; Includes three maps on two folding sheets; Folding hand-colored engraved dual map of Nebraska and Kansas by Colton.
Hayden, Ferdinand V. Final Report of the United States Geological Survey of Nebraska and Portions of the Adjacent Territories, made under the Direction of the General Land Office.. Government Printing Office, Washington (1872). With paleontological reports by F. B. Meek, Orestes H. St. John, and S. H. Scudder; , 8 in-text figures, 11 lithographic plates of fossils;
La Flesche, Susette; Harsha, William Justin. Ploughed Under. Fords, Howard, and Hulbert, New York (1881). The Story of an Indian Chief. With an Introduction by Inshta Theamba.
None listed. The Official State Atlas of Nebraska: Compiles from Government Surveys, County Records and Personal Investigations. Everts and Kirk, Philadelphia (1885). 15 leaves lithographed, 199 leaves of lithographed maps with original hand coloring.
DeMilt, A. P. Story of an Old Town. Douglas Printing, Omaha (1902). With reminiscences of early Nebraska and biographies of pioneers. a narrative of truth describing the birth of Nebraska, and its progress, of its oldest towns, and its first settlers.
Bratt, John. Trails of Yesterday. University Publishing, Lincoln (1921). With frontispiece; Illustrated with drawings and photos.
Morris, Wright. The Inhabitants. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York (1946). 52 full-page black and white photographs.
Blish, Helen H. A Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux. University of Nebraska Press, Nebraska (1967). Drawings by Amos Bad Heart Bull; Introduction by Mari Sandoz; 32 color plates and 383 in black and white.