Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Harl A. Dalstrom


Nebraska City vied with Omaha for leadership in early Nebraska, but by the first decade of the twentieth century was struggling to hold its own. Unlike earlier periods in its history, scant attention has been devoted to turn-of-the-century Nebraska City. To effectively document the decade 1900-1910, one must deal with a variety of historical, economic, and social issues. Perhaps the most important point to consider is the shift in population from 7,380 in 1900, to only 5,488 in 1910. After weathering the Depression of the 1890s, this small town underwent drastic economic changes during the first decade of the twentieth century. There was a significant amount of labor unrest, and some major industries closed their doors, resulting in several hundred lost jobs. These events apparently made for a decade of declining population and economic uncertainty. The decade also brought changes in local agricultural production which may have had some bearing upon Nebraska City's livelihood. Nevertheless, Nebraska City avoided a total economic collapse. The town retained its vital rail connections, and continued its role as a regional trade center. A great diversity in occupations, the introduction of new businesses, the expansion of some existing industries, and a variety of community improvement and public works projects established a foundation for renewed population growth from 1910 to 1920. Throughout the decade, Nebraska City's social fabric remained largely intact. Like many communities during this era, Nebraska City was caught up in a variety of social concerns such as prohibition and the suffrage question. Institutions such as churches, schools, clubs, lodges, athletic associations, and local government continued to thrive despite economic uncertainty. The city would never achieve its long-cherished dreams of great economic and political power; but the people persevered, and enabled Nebraska City to remain a prominent community.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska at Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts. Copyright 1995, Thomas L. Boeche

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