Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Frederick Adrian


The national progressive movement which reached its peak during the years from 1906 to 1914 left its impact upon many American cities. Omaha, geographically a transitional point in America, naturally was caught up in the movement. The purpose of this thesis, then, is to show how the largest city in Nebraska mirrored its sister cities across the nation; moreover, this paper attempts to examine the reactions of Omaha's three major newspapers as they were swept up in the tide of reform. Each paper judged the reforms from its own vantage point and while they all held different political viewpoints there were more similarities than differences. They were all progressive. To Omaha these several years preceding the outbreak of World War I were pivotal ones for adopting many progressive reforms. Before 1906 there was a great amount of public pressure for public ownership of the water works. A few years later two more reforms -- were ushered on the scene. At the same time a fourth reform movement slowly came for regulation of the gas corporation, and it swelled after 1913 into agitation for municipal ownership of the gas plant. Of those so-called reform movements, two were fully realized by 1913, while others had to wait until after World War 1. Although these events were certainly representative, they were not the only measures taken at this time which were in keeping with the progressive movement of this period. Omahans assumed public ownership of the ice plant and started a movement to reduce rates of both the telephone and electric service, which eventually lead to public ownership of the electric power company.


A Thesis Presented to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of History University of Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. Copyright William F. Schmidt June, 1963

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