Elmer Ellsworth Blackman [RG2948.AM]


RG2948.AM:  E. E. (Elmer Ellsworth) Blackman, 1863-1942

Papers:  1880-1938

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Archeologist; businessman

Size:  2.5 cu.ft.; 5 boxes


Born in 1863 at Davenport, Iowa, Elmer Ellsworth Blackman attended the Davenport Academy of Sciences and later became a teacher. He came to Nebraska in 1892 where he taught in Raymond and then became principal of the school in Roca. During his first year in Nebraska, Blackman attended a lecture on the state’s history and archeology given by Rev. William Murphy of Ulysses, Nebraska. The lecture reinforced his interested in the history and archaeology of Nebraska, and led him to conduct an informal archeological “reconnaissance” of the area around Roca.

Blackman contributed several articles based on his research to area newspapers and other periodicals including J. Sterling Morton’s, Conservative. Their mutual interest in history and archeology developed into a friendship between Blackman and Morton. In 1899 Blackman decided to give up teaching and devote himself full-time to research and writing. In 1901, with the help of J. Sterling Morton, Blackman became the first archeologist at the Nebraska State Historical Society. Under his leadership, interest in archeology grew in Nebraska as, correspondingly, did the number of artifacts that the Society received. In 1902, Blackman took charge of building the Museum collections and installing rudimentary exhibits. Blackman also did research on the Native American tribes of Nebraska, becoming recognized as an authority in the field.

E. E. Blackman married Margaret E. Woods on August 19, 1903 in Tekamah, Nebraska. They lived in Roca for several years before moving to Lincoln. They had two children, a daughter and a son. In 1911 Blackman left the Nebraska State Historical Society to try his luck in the business world. His invention of a waterproof paint, called Hydrozo, led to its manufacturing by the Iowa Paint Company in Waterloo, Iowa. In 1912 Blackman set up his own company, Hydrozo Waterproofing Company, in Kansas City, Missouri where they continued to produce Hydrozo until 1917. The company shut down in 1917, and Blackman returned to the Nebraska State Historical Society as Curator of the Museum. In 1922, while still holding his position as museum curator, he set up the Hydrozo Company in Lincoln and began manufacturing Hydrozo again. He continued his work with the Historical Society until his retirement in 1934.

Note: Hydrozo Company continued production in Lincoln until 1994 when they consolidated with Thoro System Products of Bristol, Pennsylvania. “Hydrozo” is still produced today by BASF: The Chemical Company.

In addition to his archeological work and curatorial duties at the museum, Blackman worked on several research projects including a project to locate the Lewis and Clark campsites in Nebraska and establish their legal descriptions. Another topic of personal interest to Blackman was that of Coronadoís expedition. His interest in the location of Coronado’s “Quivira” resulted in his co-founding of the Quivira Historical Society in Alma, Kansas in 1901.

Blackman continued his research until his death on September 13, 1942.


This collection consists of manuscript material arranged in three series: (1) Professional and academic; (2) Business; and (3) Personal.

The materials in series one relate to Blackman’s professional work as an archeologist and museum curator at the Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS) as well as his work for the Quivira Historical Society. The papers in this series include correspondence, reports, manuscripts, and newspaper clippings. They cover such subjects as NSHS Museum acquisitions and exhibits, archeological excavations in Nebraska, the Pawnee in Nebraska, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Quivira Historical Society. Note: Box 2 contains a list of materials transferred to the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Archeology Division. These manuscripts and reports contained detailed archeological site location information. Interested researchers must contact the Archeology Division for permission to view these materials.

Series two relates to Blackman’s business dealings, most notably his activities in the paint and waterproofing business. Blackman invented and merchandized a waterproof paint called Hydrozo. His product was sold by the Iowa Paint Company initially (1911-1912), but was eventually produced by Blackman’s own firms known as the Hydrozo Waterproofing Company while located in Kansas City, Missouri (1912-1917) and as the Hydrozo Company in Lincoln, Nebraska (1922-1924). The series contains correspondence, bills and receipts, patent information, and misc. trade literature.

Series three consists of personal materials relating to E. E. Blackman and the Blackman family. Included in this series are daily diaries, correspondence, biographical information, reminiscences by E. E. Blackman, and Blackman Family genealogical information.


Series 1 – Professional and academic

Box 1


    1. Correspondence, 1898-1933, n.d.

    1. Correspondence, 1902-1908 (letterpress book)

    1. Museum report, 1908

    1. Museum report, 1917

    1. Museum reports, 1918-1920

    1. Museum reports, 1921-1923

    1. Museum report, 1925

    1. Museum report, 1926 (State Fair exhibit)

    1. Museum reports, 1927-1929

    1. Museum reports, 1930-1932

    1. Museum reports, misc. drafts and fragments

    1. Museum reports, misc. drafts and fragments

    1. “Archeology of Fort Atkinson – 1819-1827,” 1938, Feb. 12

    1. “The Art of Chipping Flint, as Practiced by the Aborigines”

    1. “The Atlantis type of chipped flint”

    1. Biographical sketch of “Omaha Charley” Bristol, 1920

Box 2


    1. “Evidences of Man in the Western Hemisphere, 60,000 years ago”

    1. “Imitation Sod House”

    1. “Indian Domestic Life”

    1. “Indian Stories by Nemaha the story teller”

    1. Indians of Nebraska (History Sources)

    1. “The Iowa Indians”

    1. “The Last Hunt of the Pawnee”

    1. “The Legend of Arbor Lodge” (poem)

    1. “The Lewis-Clark Expedition of 1804”

    1. “Map of Council Bluffs area”

    1. “Map of Land Cessions to the Indians in Nebraska”

    1. “Missionary work among Nebraska Indians”

    1. Nebraska animals (untitled)

    1. Nebraska History (slide lecture)

    1. “Newton stories,” (Indians in Burt County), 1904, Mar. 1

    1. “Pawnee Pottery”

    1. “Petroglyphs,” (on UNL boulder)

    1. “Quivera: The History and Legends of an Ancient American Kingdom”

    1. Quivira Historical Society

    1. “Remains and Relics of Old Indian Townsites in this Section of Nebraska,” 1906, June 5

    1. “Removal of Pawnees to Oklahoma in 1874”

    1. “The Rhune Stone Supplement”

    1. “Spotted Tail”

    1. “Taylor’s account,” (of horse thieves)

    1. Translations of Native American names

    1. Manuscripts and research notes, fragments

    1. List of materials transferred to the NSHS Archeology Division

Box 3


    1. Index to newspaper clippings

    1. Newspaper clippings, 1-31

    1. Newspaper clippings, 32-45

    1. Newspaper clippings, 46-74

    1. Newspaper clippings, 75-101

    1. Newspaper clippings, 102-146

    1. Newspaper clippings, Spanish Caravan of 1720

    1. Newspaper clippings, misc.

Series 2 – Business

Box 4


    1. Correspondence, 1909-1911

    1. Correspondence, 1912

    1. Correspondence, 1913-1914

    1. Correspondence, 1915

    1. Correspondence, 1916-1923, July

    1. Correspondence, 1923, Aug.-Dec.

    1. Correspondence, 1924, n.d.

Box 5


    1. Patent documents

    1. Bills and receipts, misc.

    1. “Waterproofing Cement Blocks,” by E. E. Blackman

    1. Concrete and cement, reference materials

    1. Furnace and stove trade literature

    1. Trade literature, misc.

    1. Inventions and patents, misc.

Series 3 – Personal

    1. Daily diaries, 1880, 1881, 1884

    1. Correspondence, 1901, 1910-1926

    1. Correspondence, 1927-1929, n.d.

    1. Reminiscences by E. E. Blackman, 1934

    1. Biographical information

    1. Blackman family genealogy


Subject headings:

Archaeology — Nebraska

Blackman, E. E. (Elmer Ellsworth), 1863-1942

Blackman Family

Hydrozo Company

Hydrozo Waterproofing Company

Indians of North America — Nebraska — Antiquities

Nebraska — Antiquities

Nebraska State Historical Society

Quivira Historical Society

Quivira (Legendary place)


03-13-1973   JEP/ht

07-13-2006   TMM

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