James Clifton Olson [RG1047.AM]


RG1047.AM:  James Clifton Olson, 1917-2005

Papers:  ca. 1936-1965

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Historian, educator

Size:  12.5 cu.ft.; 24 boxes


James Clifton Olson, son of Arthur Edwin and Abbie Anderson Olson, was born in Bradgate, Iowa, on January 23, 1917.  He received his A.B. Degree from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1938, and both his M.A. (1939) and his Ph.D. (1942) from the University of Nebraska.  His doctoral dissertation on J. Sterling Morton became the first of many books he published.

On June 6, 1941 he married Vera Blanche Farrington.  Their marriage was blessed with two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah Margaret.

During World War II he served as an expert consultant to the Department of War on the history of the U.S. Army in the war.  In addition to these duties, Dr. Olson was instructor of history at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in the summers of 1940 and 1942 and became Superintendent of the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1946.  He held this post until 1956, during which time he was a lecturer at Omaha University (1947-1950), part-time lecturer at the University of Nebraska (1946-1954) and part-time associate professor of history at the University (1954-1956).  In 1956 he accepted the position of chairman of the department of history at El Colegia de Mexico, Mexico City in 1962.  The same year he was named the Bennett S. and Dorothy Martin Professor of History and chairman of the department.  Dr. Olson became the director of graduate program development and associate dean of the graduate college in 1965 and was promoted to Vice-Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research in early 1968.  Beginning in the fall semester of the 1968-1969 school year, he held the position of Chancellor of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Dr. Olson was active in numerous professional and service organizations.  He belonged to the Agricultural History Society and served as its vice-president 1961-1962, was a member of the council of the American Association for State and local History from 1948-1956, regional vice-president, 1956-1962 and president, 1962-1964, and was chairman of that organization’s research and publications committee.  He served as president of the University of Nebraska Chapter of the American Association of University Professors in 1964, served on the board of directors of the Nebraska State Historical Society (1956-1968), and was a member of the Council for Basic Education.  Dr. Olson was a member of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association and served as its secretary-treasurer (1953-1956), a member of the board of editors, (1960-1963), and served on its executive committee from 1963-1966.  He held the post of president of the Nebraska History and Social Studies Teachers Association from 1957-1958 and was president of the Nebraska Writers Guild from 1951-1953.

In addition to his biography of J. Sterling Morton, Dr. Olson is the author of History of Nebraska, 1955, Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, 1965, and was a contributing editor to the Army Air Force in World War II, 1951, 1955.  With his wife, Vera F. Olson, he published Nebraska is My Home, 1956, and This is Nebraska, 1960.


This collection consists of manuscript material and index files arranged in two Subgroups.  Subgroup 1: Writings; and Subgroup 2: Correspondence and Subject Files.  These materials related to James Olson’s time with the Nebraska State Historical Society as well as the University of Nebraska. 

The materials in Subgroup 1 are further divided into series which relate to the publication of Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, J.  Sterling Morton, the History of Nebraska and to various other writings, including articles, book reviews and speeches.  Included are correspondence, research notes, and drafts of the manuscripts.  Subgroup 2 consists of correspondence and subject files, much of it relating to his affiliations with various professional organizations.

Note:  See the photo component [RG1047.PH] for related images.  Official records from Dr. Olson’s time as Superintendent of the Nebraska State Historical Society are now part of RG14.  The UNL Archives holds additional James Olson papers relating to his time at the University.  See the Library catalog and the Nebraska History index for various published materials by James Olson.


Subgroup 1: Writings

Series 1 – Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem, 1965

Box 1 (Index cards) Red Cloud notes, 1800-1864

Box 2 (Index cards) Red Cloud notes, 1868-1875

Box 3 (Index cards) Red Cloud notes, 1876-1884

Box 4 (Index cards) Red Cloud notes, 1885-1910, n.d.

Box 5


    1. Newspaper photocopies

    1. News articles, typed

    1. News articles, typed

    1. Archives notes

    1. Relative treaties

    1. Pamphlets relative to the Sioux

    1. Publisher’s observations and notes

    1. Correspondence, 1957-1964, pt. 1

    1. Correspondence, 1957-1964, pt. 2

    1. Descriptions of photos and copies of documents

    1. Rough draft and notes, Ch. 1 & 2

    1. 1st major draft, title page-Ch. 6

    1. 1st major draft, Ch. 7-12

    1. 1st major draft, Ch. 13-18

    1. 1st major draft, Ch. 19-bibliography

    1. Originals of retyped pages and inserts

    1. Revised Draft, title page-Ch. 3

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 4-6

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 7-9

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 10-12

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 13-16

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 17-19

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 20-22

    1. Revised Draft, Ch. 23-bibliography

Box 6


    1. Revised Draft, Index

    1. Galley Proof

    1. Page Proof

Box 7 (Index cards) Red Cloud bibliography notes

Subgroup 1: Writings

Series 2 – History of Nebraska, 1955

Box 8 (Index cards) History of Nebraska, bibliography notes

Box 9 (Index cards) History of Nebraska, bibliography notes

Box 10 (Index cards) Notes, 1500-1857

Box 11 (Index cards) Notes, 1857-1950s, misc.

Box 6 (cont.)


    1. Notes, misc.

    1. Notes, misc.

    1. Manuscript, preface-Ch. 3

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 4-6

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 7-9

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 10-12

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 13-14

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 15-17

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 18-20

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 21-23

    1. Manuscript, Ch. 24-25, also correspondence, comments and list of illustrations

Subgroup 1: Writings

Series 3 – J. Sterling Morton, 1942

    1. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 1-8

    1. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 9-16

    1. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 17-23

    1. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 24-bibliography

Subgroup 1: Writings

Series 4 – Articles, Book Reviews, Speeches, etc.

    1. Notes on Richardson County

    1. Review, Pioneer Preacher, by Opal Berryman

    1. A Golden Jubilee — A Sesquicentennial of History

    1. The Platte Valley and Dodge County – Highway and Homesite

    1. The Library of the Nebraska State Historical Society

    1. Let’s teach more local history

    1. A Program for the County Historical Society

    1. Preserving our heritage

    1. Addison Erwin Sheldon

Box 12


    1. Arbor Day after seventy-five years

    1. The Historical museum as the historian’s source of supply

    1. Review, Land of the Dakotahs, by Bruce Nelson

    1. There’s no State like Nebraska

    1. Nebraska.  Article for Encyclopedia Americana

    1. Review, The Territories and the United States, by E.S. Pomeroy

    1. State and local history in the schools

    1. Review, Corn Country, by Homer Croy

    1. The Humanities in Early Nebraska

    1. 1866–a year on the trail

    1. Review, The Missouri Valley, by Rufus Terral

    1. The interview as a source of Indian history

    1. The school paper as seen from the morgue

    1. Review, Heaven’s Tableland, by Vance Johnson

    1. Review, Here Rolled the Covered Wagons, by Albert & Jane Salisbury

    1. Edited, Diary of Thomas Alfred Creigh

    1. Review, Persimmon Hill, by William Kennerly as told to Elizabeth Russell

    1. The first Nebraskans.  KFOR, Lincoln

    1. The people build a monument.  KFOR, Lincoln

    1. Your University Speaks.  Nebraska Network, Feb. 13, 1949

    1. Review, Forty-Niners, by Archer B. Hulbert

    1. Fort Atkinson (1819-1827).  Written for the National Park Service

    1. Nebraska and the spirit of Arbor Day.  College, Apr. 19, 1949

    1. Review, The 49’ers by Wells & Peterson

    1. Review, A Cycle of the West by John G. Neihardt

    1. Nebraska — The Cornhusker State

    1. Review, Gold Rush Album, by J.H.  Jackson

    1. Sidney — Black Hills Trail

    1. Review, The Black Hills, By Robert Casey

    1. General John O’Neill

    1. Review, Wells Fargo: Advancing the American Frontier, by Edward Hungerford

    1. Review, Farming and Democracy, by A.W. Griswold

    1. Nebraska in the first half of the 20th century, 1950

    1. Arbor Lodge:  Monument to a Great Idea

    1. Why we behave like Nebraskans

    1. Review, This Reckless Breed of Men, by R.G. Clelland

    1. The Organization of Old Cheyenne County

    1. The Literary tradition in pioneer Nebraska

    1. Historical Quiz

    1. The historical society–custodian of a great national asset

    1. Early pioneer settlements in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska

    1. James Lee Sellers

    1. Review, The History of Platte County, Nebraska, by Margaret Curry

    1. Remarks at Buffalo Bill memorial dedication, North Platte, May 4, 1951

    1. Nebraska and the nation

    1. Alexander Culbertson

    1. Lincoln; notes for J.E. Lawrence

    1. Along Nebraska’s pioneer trails.  Extension service, E.C. 5-165

    1. Review, A Journal of the McKinley Years, by Charles G. Dawes

    1. Review, Frontier Justice, by Wayne Gard

    1. Nebraska’s Territorial Centennial (guest editorial), Lincoln Star, Oct. 6, 1951

    1. Memorial to Mark Morton

    1. Omaha a century ago

    1. The museum’s responsibility to the student and researcher

    1. Peter A. Sarpy

    1. Teaching guide for University of Nebraska filmstrip, History of Nebraska

    1. Statement on L.B. 20, Public Health and Miscellaneous Subjects Committee, Jan. 20, 1953 (on William Jennings Bryan statue)

    1. The Sower (prepared 1952 for the 1951 Annual report of the Bureau Of Vital Statistics, State Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebr.) 1p.

    1. Nebraska in 1871

    1. Nebraska City a century and more ago

    1. Omaha — A 100 Year Look Back

    1. Nebraska State Historical Library and Museum

    1. “Notes on a Visit to Historic Spots in Frontier County, Nebraska.”

    1. Award of Merit to Minden’s Pioneer Village

    1. Nebraska’s One Hundredth Birthday

    1. Are We Really Spreading the American Heritage?

    1. Review, The Nebraska Question 1852-1854, by James C. Malen

    1. Review, Knickerbocker Birthday, by R.W.G. Vail

    1. Dedicatory ceremonies, Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, July, 16, 1955

    1. Review, Army Air Forces in World War II by Wesley Craven and James Lea Cate, ed.

    1. Colloquium held in connection with the re-dedication of the building of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin, Oct. 7, 1955

    1. Descendants of Platte Valley Pioneers: an address prepared for use of Gov. Anderson at Grand Island, March 9, 1956

    1. Two of the Problems of the Plains

    1. “Historical Reasons Why North Platte, Nebraska should be selected as the Site of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum.”

    1. “Cambridge and Southwestern Nebraska”

    1. “A New Approach to American History”

    1. “Fort Sidney Days”

    1. Ned C. Abbott

    1. “The early settlement of Phelps and Gosper counties.”

    1. “Nebraska State Historical Society in 1953.”

    1. “The New Building”

    1. “Founding the Capital City”

    1. “Clio in the Field”

    1. “Historians and the Teaching of History, 1957″

    1. Review, “Politics and Diplomacy from Lincoln to McKinley,” by

    1. “Omaha–The Beginnings”

    1. Political History of Nebraska

    1. “Forward Nebraska”

    1. Review, “Big Dan,” by

    1. Introduction of Dr. Howard R. Driggs

    1. “Historical Societies in American Historiography”

    1. “History of Army Air Force in the Pacific”

    1. Review, Pioneer Railroad: The Story of the Chicago and Northwestern System

    1. Notes for address on “Pioneer Women of Nebraska.”

    1. Nebraska in 1776

    1. Book reviews, 1960 and undated

    1. Book reviews, 1961-1965

    1. The “Lasting Peace” of Fort Laramie, 1866

    1. Speeches and papers read, 1964-1965

Box 13


    1. Pizer-Olson interview, KODY, North Platte, Apr. 5, 1951

    1. Diary of James Mason. Ohio to California. 1850 (edited)

    1. Nebraska bibliography lists and resources

    1. Nebraska notes

Subgroup 2: Correspondence and Subject Files

Box 14 Air Force history bibliography, Pre-WWI to WWI

Box 15 Air Force history bibliography, WWI cont. to between Wars

Box 16 Air Force history bibliography, Books

Box 17 Air Force history bibliography, Periodicals

Box 18 Billington bibliography

Box 19 Billington bibliography

Box 20 Miscellaneous bibliography

Box 21


    1. Air War College, Maxwell AFB

    1. American Association for State and Local History, pre-1957 & undated

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1957, Jan.-May

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1957, June-Dec.

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1958

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1959, Jan.-May

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1959, June-Dec.

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1960, Jan.-July

    1. American Association for State and Local History, 1960, Aug.-1961

    1. American Historical Association, 1958-1965

    1. American Historical Association, Service Center

    1. American Historical Review

    1. Biographical information, James C. Olson

    1. Candlelight Club, 1956-1964

    1. Certification, 1956-1957, n.d.

    1. Certification, misc.

    1. Certification, misc.

    1. Certification, newspaper clippings

    1. Club, The, 1956-1964

    1. Coe College, 1956-1957

    1. Coe College, undated

    1. Commencements, high school, 1957-1965

    1. Correspondence, 1945-1950

    1. Correspondence, 1951-1965

    1. Correspondence, congratulatory, 1956

Box 22


    1. Council for Basic Education, 1953-1959

    1. Du Pont, Educators Conference, 1961, pt. 1

    1. Du Pont, Educators Conference, 1961, pt. 2

    1. Encyclopedia Americana, 1950-1959

    1. Encyclopedia, American Oxford and Britannica

    1. Encyclopedia, Collier’s, 1948-1952

    1. Encyclopedia, Collier’s, 1953-1954

    1. Fort Atkinson Foundation, 1960-1963

    1. Great Plains Conference on Education

    1. Great Plains Historical Association

    1. Hall County Museum

    1. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1951-1959

    1. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1960-1962

    1. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1965

    1. Homestead Centennial, 1960-1963

    1. Land Grant Centennial, 1957-1962

    1. Land Grant Centennial, undated

    1. Lexington Group, 1956-1959

    1. Lexington Group, 1960-1965

    1. Lincoln Centennial, 1957-1958

    1. Lincoln Centennial, 1959

    1. Lincoln Centennial, undated

    1. Lincoln Lore, 1936-1938

    1. Maximilian Project, 1964

    1. Mexico, 1961-1964, undated

Box 23


    1. Miles, Nelson A., 1958

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1952

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1953-1954

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1964-1965

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Committee on the Future of the Association, 1963-1964

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Detroit meeting, 1960-1961

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Executive Committee, 1963-1965

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Local Arrangements Committee, 1954-1956

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Local Arrangements Committee, 1957

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Manuscript Award, 1956

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Omaha meeting, 1963

    1. Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1957-1964

    1. National Cowboy Hall of Fame, 1955-1964

    1. National Security Forum, 1956-1958

    1. Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement, 1957-1963

    1. Nebraska Land Study, 1949-1951

    1. Nebraska Statistics

    1. North Dakota, 75th Anniversary Faculty Conference, 1958

    1. Park College, Missouri, 1956-1959

    1. Penn State Conference, 1955-1956

    1. Penn State Conference, 1957

    1. Pony Express Centennial

    1. Professors for Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey, 1964

    1. River Falls, Wisconsin, 1963

    1. Rockefeller Foundation, 1964

    1. Round Table, The, 1957-1965

    1. Santa Fe Conference on Western History, 1961

    1. Social Science Research Council

    1. Speaking engagements, 1962-1965

Box 24


    1. St. Paul’s Methodist Church Centennial, 1957

    1. Taylor, James, 1962

    1. Television, 1958-1965

    1. Texas Council for the Social Studies, 1957

    1. Texas Western, 1962-1964

    1. University of Nebraska Press, 1956-1965

    1. Western Heritage Center, 1962-1964

    1. Western History Association, 1963-1964

    1. Western History Association, 1965

    1. Western History Association, 1966, Jan.-June

    1. Western History Association, 1966, July-1968

    1. Westerners, 1962

    1. Who’s Who in America, 1963


Subject headings:

Abbott, Ned Culbertson, 1874-1960

American Association for State and Local History

American Historical Association

Arbor Day

Cambridge (Nebraska) — History

Cheyenne County (Nebraska) — History

Cook, James Henry, 1857-1942

Creigh, Thomas Alfred, 1840-1909

Culbertson, Alexander, 1809-1879

Dodge County (Nebraska) — History

Fort Atkinson (Nebraska)

Gosper County (Nebraska) — History

Hall County (Nebraska) — History

History — Study and teaching

Lincoln (Nebraska) — Centennial

Mason, James Murray, 1798-1871

Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925

Minden (Nebraska) — History

Mississippi Valley Historical Association

Morton, Julius Sterling, 1832-1902

Nebraska — Culture

Nebraska City (Nebraska) — History

Nebraska State Historical Society

North Platte (Nebraska) — History

Olson, James Clifton, 1917-2005

Omaha (Nebraska) — History

O’Neill, John, 1834-1878

Phelps County (Nebraska) — History

Platte County (Nebraska) — History

Platte Valley — History

Red Cloud, 1822-1909

Richardson County (Nebraska) — History

Sarpy, Peter Abadie, 1804-1865

Sellers, James Lee, 1891-1966

Sheldon, Addison Erwin, 1861-1943

Sidney – Black Hills Trail

St. Paul’s Methodist Church (Lincoln, Nebraska)

Taylor, James

Teachers — Certification

Western History Association


DJR/DHB/cr           03-18-1969

KFK                      07-22-1996

kfk/dco                  10-23-2003

TMM                     01-27-2017


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