1901 Kearney Street Fair

The Nebraska History Museum currently has an exhibit featuring the work of Solomon Butcher, open until June 1, 2020. Visit the museum and see some of Butcher’s most famous photos in Take Our Picture: Sod House Portraits by Solomon Butcher!

Kearney Street Fair, 1901 [RG2608.PH0-002495]

Nebraska photographer Solomon Butcher captured this image of a street fair in Kearney, Nebraska in 1901. Men, women, and children line the street enjoying the carnival’s booths, games, a carousel, and a Farris wheel.

History Nebraska holds nearly 4,000 of Solomon Butcher’s original glass plate negatives. Most famous for his iconic images of sod houses in Custer County, Butcher also photographed many scenes in Kearney where he and his son Lynn set up a studio in 1902.

As part of a grant from the Library of Congress, History Nebraska created high-resolution scans of the entire Butcher negative collection. Those images are available online on the Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters website. The high-resolution scans allow us to examine details in the photograph not always visible to the naked eye. Here are a few examples taken from this 1901 photograph.

Kearney Street Fair, edited [RG2608.PH0-002495]

Photo Booth

1. Photo Booth. Have your picture taken for $.04 or group photos for $.25. Finished in 3 minutes.


2. Children wait in line to ride the carousel. 


3. A woman rides a wooden carousel horse. 

No Spitting

4. Fine for Spitting on Sidewalk sign. 

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About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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