Background Sources for Nebraska

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This entry was originally written by Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FUGA, FASG and Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Nebraska Family History Research series.
History of Nebraska
Nebraska Vital Records
Census Records for Nebraska
Background Sources for Nebraska
Nebraska Maps
Nebraska Land Records
Nebraska Probate Records
Nebraska Court Records
Nebraska Tax Records
Nebraska Cemetery Records
Nebraska Church Records
Nebraska Military Records
Nebraska Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Nebraska Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Nebraska Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Nebraska
Nebraska County Resources
Map of Nebraska


The best printed sources for the territorial period are the following:

  • Territorial Papers of the United States Senate—Nebraska, 1853–1867. Record Group 46, Reel 16. This publication is available in many historical societies and university libraries.
  • White, John B., comp. Published Sources on Territorial Nebraska. Vol. 23, Nebraska State Historical Society Publications. Lincoln, Nebr.: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1956. This may be purchased from the society for $3.
  • U.S. Department of State. State Department Territorial Papers, Nebraska, December 31, 1854–March 27, 1867. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1955. This publication is available on NARA microfilm M228.

Published sources for Nebraska are the following:

  • Berry, Myrtle D. “Local Nebraska History—A Bibliography,” Nebraska History 26 (April-June 1945): 104-15.
  • Compendium of Historical Reminiscence and Biography of Western Nebraska Containing...Biographical Sketches of Hundreds of Prominent Old Settlers. Chicago: Alden Publishing, 1909 and 1912 (1912 contains the entire state). A classic work that includes some early pioneers, it is especially valuable since many of them contributed to the information directly.
  • History of the State of Nebraska. 2 vols. Reprinted with index by Raymond E. Dale. Lincoln, Nebr.: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1962. Originally published by A. T. Andreas in 1882 in Chicago. Reprinted with index in 1975 (often referred to as “Andreas”) and available online at www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/hon_cnty.html.
  • Luebke, Frederick C. Ethnicity on the Great Plains. Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1980. Provides background on the ethnic groups who immigrated to Nebraska between 1865 and 1890.
  • Mattes, Merrill J. The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Main Line via Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie. Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1987. An in-depth study of the border towns, trail routes, river crossings, Indian encounters, stage stations, military posts, and North Platte Valley landmarks along the Great Platte River Road to Oregon and California.
  • Nebraska State Genealogical Society. Nebraska: A Guide to Genealogical Research. Lincoln, Nebr.: the society, 1984.
  • Olson, James C., and Ronald C. Naugle. History of Nebraska. 3d ed. Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. Originally created to mark the territorial centennial of Nebraska and revised for the statehood centennial, it is standard text for college students and general reader on Nebraska history.
  • Perkey, Elton A. Perkey’s Nebraska Place Names. Rev. ed. Lincoln, Nebr.: J&L Co., 1995. Brief sketches of place-names organized by county showing location, founding, and naming of each place.

Many counties have published county histories and have donated copies to the Nebraska State Historical Society. See www.nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/services/refrence/la_pubs/sources4.htm.

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