Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Tate

Second Advisor

Dr. William C. Pratt


The Farmers Alliance was one of the most important agricultural organizations in late nineteenth century America. This thesis traces the history of the Alliance movement in Saunders County, Nebraska, where it was one of the strongest in the state between 1889 and 1892. In addition, it examines the emergence of third party Populist politics, as they relate to this farm organization. Saunders County, located in eastern Nebraska, developed a strong Alliance movement culture, that included cooperative ventures, an educational program and social activities. Several producer and consumer cooperative ventures were started by members after they joined the organization. In some cases, these cooperatives lasted well into the contemporary era. The Alliance encouraged women’s participation in a way that was unlike other agricultural organizations before it. Alliance-sponsored Oyster dinners, picnics, and parades enhanced social interaction among farmers who lived in sparsely populated areas of the county. Political education, which was promoted through the dispersal of reform literature, debates, and discussion, proved central to politicizing Alliance members. The County Alliance also collaborated with the Knights of Labor in Wahoo to pursue common political and social objectives. The organization’s movement culture created an Alliance experience, which altered the political consciousness of its members. As a result, Saunders County became a leading center of Populist activity in Nebraska throughout the 1890s. Coinciding with this development, however, was the decline of the Alliance itself, as many of its members left the organization for the new political movement.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2002, John A. Sautter

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