Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance (Guide to Microfilm) [RG2623.AM]


RG2623.AM: Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance

Records: 1887-1901
Nebraska: Agrarian organization
Size: 7 rolls of microfilm


The Farmers’ Alliance was one of several agrarian protest organizations which were prominent during the last half of the 19th Century in the United States. The Alliance was a complex and colorful movement which was characterized by its wide geographical appeal, ranging from the Far West to the Middle West and Southern portions of the nation. This broad base of support encompassed people of different ethnic, political, economic and social backgrounds. Some of the leaders of the Alliance movement, including Ignatius Donnelly, Jerry Simpson, Mary Ellen Lease, and Tom Watson, were known for their frank and somewhat uninhibited methods of expressing dissatisfaction with life in the late 19th Century America. The complexity of the movement is confounded because the Alliance enjoyed only a relatively short period of existence before being swallowed up by the Populist Party. Members of the Alliance disagreed on the advisability of becoming politically active at an early date in the life of the organization, and it is far from easy to separate these two movements.

The issues behind the Alliance movement were diverse and included national and local contemporary problems of concern, such as a desire for currency inflation, the denunciation of the middlemen, the opposition toward industrial companies which the Alliance considered monopolistic; and many topics of local significance, including the demand for lower interest rates, the advocacy if prohibition, railroad regulation, and other matters pertaining to the growth and development of rural economic and social life.

The complexity of the Alliance movement is also well illustrated by the fact that two distinct national alliance organizations developed; the National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union, and the National Farmers’ Alliance. The latter group, commonly called the Northern Alliance, was largely the work of Milton George, editor of the Western Rural, who was responsible for creating the first effective alliance near Chicago. The Northern Alliance, which fathered the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance, grew out of a convention of delegates from the Alliance and other agrarian protest groups which met in Chicago in late 1880. This convention established a loosely-structured organizational framework providing for local and state chapters under a national alliance. Very little was said about memberships, dues, salaries of officials, and the authority the national body would exercise; but gradually these policies and procedures were established in some detail.

The first state alliance met on January 5-6, 1881, in Lincoln. The letters and records of the Alliance provide information on the membership and activities of the movement. The new organization elected officers, executive and finance committees, and adopted a number of resolutions, including one denouncing the monopolistic power of the railroads. The Nebraska Alliance consisted of one delegate from each subordinate or local alliance and another delegate for each additional twenty-five members. Membership dues were twenty-five cents per member for the first quarter and ten cents per member for each additional quarter. Annual meetings of the state alliance were held on the first Monday in September. Later the annual meetings were changed to January, and then to December.

One of the first alliances was established in Nebraska on June 21, 1880, in York County at the Granger School House. Other early subordinate alliances were at Filley, Gage County, and Alda, Hall County, and they spread rapidly thereafter until there were twenty-four county alliances represented at the state convention in early 1881. The local units were composed of at least seven people, five of whom constituted a quorum, meeting once a month or oftener, usually in the evenings, in homes, school houses, and other public meeting places. The meetings were in many ways an occasion of a neighborhood gathering with lectures and discussions for the members, and social activities for the children. The work of the Alliance was supposed to be social, educational, financial and political, in that order, but as indicated earlier, the members often disagreed as to which of the above interests was the more important.

Application for Alliance membership could be made to any member who would then refer the request to a committee of three who would report on the eligibility of the prospective member. Upon receipt of the report, either favorable or unfavorable, the members would vote on whether to accept the applicant, with a two-thirds vote sufficient for membership.


The Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance Records were given to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1926 by Mrs. Luna E. Kellie, who for many years served as Secretary of the state organization. The papers are important for they reveal information about the structure and membership of one of the earliest state alliances and because the correspondence relates to the development and activities of the Alliance movement on local, state and national levels. The list of correspondents located at the conclusion of the pamphlet, while mainly Nebraskans, does contain many names of persons who participated actively in the Alliance movement in other states.

The papers are divided into four series, the first of which is composed of correspondence consisting of two rolls of microfilm. The letters relate to organization procedures of the Alliance and a discussion of various contemporary issues of interest to alliance members. Gradually the context of the papers changes from organizational affairs to a discussion of political developments, particularly on the merit of fusion.

The second series consists of Quarterly Reports containing membership information and a listing for 1892, and Nebraska Alliance mailing lists.

Twenty-two bound volumes on five rolls of microfilm constitute the third series. These records pertain to the organizational and business affairs of the Alliance movement in Nebraska from 1887 to 1897. Organizational information includes the name, number and membership of alliances; while business affairs record the dues, fees, salaries and other similar entries. The volumes are described in more detail in the roll and editorial notes for each roll of microfilm.

The concluding series, which was not microfilmed, contains some printed matter and a large number of loose receipts and vouchers.

The processing work and actual microfilming of the papers was conducted on the basis of simplicity of arrangement and minimum use of editorial comments and microfilm targets. All of the correspondence, including dated but incomplete letters, is in chronological order. Letters on which only the month and/or year are indicated were inserted at the end of the particular month or year to which they pertain. Dates which were supplied by the project staff are enclosed by brackets. A number of undated documents and undated fragments of letters are at the conclusion of the dated material.

The microfilming of the documents was made to coincide as much as possible with the manner in which a person would view the original papers. There is only one page of a letter on a frame. In the microfilming of the bound volumes, however, two pages are on each frame. There are a total of 6,224 frames on the seven rolls of microfilm. Every exposure, including targets noting the appropriate years, was given a number by an automatic numbering device located in the lower right had corner of each frame.

This microfilm meets standards established by the National Historical Publications Commission, General Services Administration and was produced with its assistance in 1966. The microfilm is available through Interlibrary Loan.


Roll 1

Most of this roll is composed of business letters written to Mrs. Luna E. Kellie, Secretary of the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance, from various alliance members. Many of the letters request information about membership, dues, and filing the Quarterly Report. George Lynn, William A. McKeighan, James M. Thompson, H. B. McGaw, W. F. Wright, I. N. Leonard, Walter F. Dale, and John H. Powers are correspondents who appear frequently on this roll. The letters relate to political opposition and to current political and economic issues. Included is mention of the farmers’ position on money, interest rates, prohibition, and life during the early 1890s. Alliance officials reveal their concern for obtaining faithful dues-paying members. They also discuss cooperative shipping firms and stores as a solution to some farm problems.

Roll 2
1895-1901 and undated

Much of the correspondence on this roll relates to the efforts of Alliance officers to revitalize dormant local chapters throughout Nebraska. In 1895 there are numerous requests for financial aid, distribution of garden seeds to needy farmers, and assistance in recruiting new members to the Alliance. John H. Powers, Walter F. Dale, Alonzo Wardell, W. F. Wright, S. D. Cooley, L. P. Cummins, Helen M. Goff, and Asa Taylor write to Mrs. Luna E. Kellie expressing concern for the wane of interest among the farmers in the Alliance and financial problems caused by decreasing membership. Proposals to change the organization’s name are mentioned; substituting Farmers Cooperative Union for Farmers’ Alliance. The correspondence of 1896 rings vigorous debate as to the merit of fusion politics and during the next five years there is a division in the Alliance over the fusion issue. Letters circulate among influential members; some seek unity and back to “middle of the road Populism.”

Roll 3

This roll pertains mainly to miscellaneous reports of the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance. The Quarterly Reports included on this roll were filed by local alliances and contain the number of members in the local alliance. Where no previous report has been made, the number of charter members is indicated. The number of men and women initiated or admitted during a quarter is listed. In addition a record is kept on persons who are delinquent in their dues and those persons reinstated after payment. Quarterly Reports also give an account of members lost by death, dismissal, withdrawal, and suspension for nonpayment of dues. As shown by the reports, male membership dues were 25 cents per member for the first quarter and 10 cents per member for each additional quarter.

Included on this roll are the treasurer’s report for 1892, the state secretary’s report for 1892 and 1893, and the Alliance platform for 1890. The bulk of the remainder of the roll consists of the following three bound volumes: Organizational Record of Local Alliances, 1889-93; Membership Journal, Adams-York Counties, 1889; and Membership Journal, Boone-York Counties, 1890-92. For additional information on the contents of these and other volumes, see the editorial note preceding the microfilming of each book.

Roll 4

This roll consist of the following seven bound volumes: Membership Journal, Adams-York Counties, 1890-92; Membership Journal, Adams-Johnson Counties, 1890-97; Membership Journal, Jefferson-York Counties, 1891-96; Daybook, January-February 1890; Daybook, March-July 1890; Daybook, July-October 1890; Daybook, October 1890-March 1891. The membership journals contain organizational information such as the name, number, and membership of local alliances. Occasionally the names of county alliance officials are recorded. Accounts which are included in the receipts and expenditures of the daybooks are salaries of alliance officials, dues to the national alliance, purchase of office supplies, and alliance travel expenses.

Roll 5

This roll consists of the following five bound volumes: Daybook, March 1891-July 1892; Daybook, July 1892-November 1896; Account Book, January 1887-April 1891; Ledger, 1887-91; and Ledger, 1889-95. The daybooks consist of receipts and expenditures of local alliances. The volume covering the period from 1892 to 1896 is revealing in that it contains only a limited number of entries. Entries in the secretary’s account book are for travel expenses, salaries of Nebraska Alliance officials, and routine business purchases. Both of the ledgers are indexed and contain records of initiation expenses, membership dues, and entries for Brown, Cass, Hall and Wayne County Alliances.

Roll 6

This roll is composed of one bound volume of fees and dues accounts with local alliances numbered from 218 to 2339, not all inclusive. There is no index to the book and the subordinate alliances are not all in numerical order. In addition to the account entries there is occasional mention that an alliance has surrendered its charter, or that the group has been reorganized or recently reinstated with the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance.

Roll 7

This roll consists of the following bound volumes: Ledger, 1890-95; Ledger, 1890; Ledger, 1890-92; Ledger, 1892-96; Cash Journal, 1890-92; and Cash Journal, 1892-94. Ledgers contain entries for dues, make occasional references to when chargers were surrendered, and include accounts for Jay Burrows, John H. Powers, James M. Thompson, Mrs. Luna E. Kellie; and several Nebraska Alliance accounts such as for Organizing, Relief Fund, and Executive Committee. The cash journals include the treasurer’s report, salaries of Nebraska Alliance lecturers and other officials, and additional related entries.


The following list of correspondents was compiled from the dated letters in the Nebraska Farmers’ Alliance Records. A question mark placed behind some names indicates the uncertainty of their spelling.

Ailes, Frank
Albert, Mary E.
Allen, B. F.
Allen, William Vincent
Anderson, A. A.
Anderson, Charles
Anderson, John B.
Anderson, Rhoda
Ankeny, C. A.
Arena Publishing Co.
Arnold, Ed
Arnold, George A.
Ash, George A.
Ashbaugh, David A.
Ashley, William H.
Baker, A. E.
Baker, Willard
Ball, Percival
Ball, S. W.
Barbee, J. S.
Barber, W. C.
Bare, John
Barnes, W. S.
Barr, L. C.
Barry, Frank W.
Bates, W. A., Jr.
Beach, Carrie C.
Beach, E. L.
Beall, F. P.
Bearrs(?), Ernest
Beck, Jacob
Becker, (Mrs.) George W.
Bedford, H. J.
Beebe, W. S.
Bellzir(?), L. A.
Benington, W. H.
Berglind, E. L.
Bernet, C. F.
Bernett, C. O.
Biggs, W. H.
Bischel, A. C.
Bischel, George
Black, J. F.
Blackmer(?), N. H.
Blease, R. M.
Blount, W. K.
Bohannon(?), A. H.
Boone, (Mrs.) S. C.
Bootle, S. S.
Borders, C. A.
Bowers, J. A.
Bowers, J. W.
Bowers, L. E.
Brackney, F. R.
Bradbury, W. A.
Brainard, C. L.
Brandt, W. F.
Braugh, F. A.
Breen, Walter
Bricker, William P.
Brooks, W. P.
Brown, B. F.
Buck, (Mrs.) I. M.
Buckman, Elsie
Bulkley, W. E.
Burger, W. J.
Burkhardt, D. B.
Burrows, Jay
Bushaur, James
Buzzell, J. E.
Caldwell, George H.
Caldwell, H. Cass
Calkin, R. P.
Cameron, James
Campbell, D.
Canaday, Joseph C.
Carry, J. J.
Carothers, R. S.
Christensen, Stephen
Christiansen, Christian L.
Clargston, T. A.
Clark, C. M.
Clugston, T. A.
Cole, Peter
Cole, W. S.
Conrad(?), W. E.
Conroy, George
Cooley, S. D.
Cooper, E. H.
Cowen, E. T.
Cowles, Schuyler C.
Cravath, O.
Crawford, C. S.
Cullen, Maurice
Cummins, L. P.
Curry, F. H.
Dale, Walter F.
díAllemand, A.
Darlington, D. W.
Dart, W. S.
Davis, James L.
Deaks, W. L.
Deaver, D. Clem
Dehm(?), G. W.
DeLact, C. J.
DeLeut, Peter
DeTour, Lee A.
Dill, (Mrs.) Lydia
Dill, M. C.
Dimmick, James M.
Dodson, F. E.
Dolan, Thomas
Donahoe, (Mrs.) G. A.
Donahue, Matt B.
Donahue, Thomas A.
Donovan, John F.
Dorris, S. M.
Downey, J. H.
Drake, George
Drake, (Mrs.) George
Dudley, Jason D.
Duncan, D. P.
Duncan, W. O.
Dunlavey, James
Dusenberry, Inez L.
Dysart, William
Dyson, John
Eager, F. D.
Eagle, H. R. & Co.
Eastwood, M. L.
Edgerton, J. A.
Edington, James G.
Edmisten, J. H.
Edwards, John
Elder, James
Ellesen, William
Ellison, A. H.
Entrekin, A. L.
Ernst, E. Z.
Eskilden, Claus
Fairchild, S. C.
Felber, John J.
Felton, G. A.]Ferry, D. M. & Co.
Fetherstone, Robert
Foresman, R. E.
Fowler, C. A.
Fowler, C. W.
Fowler, Sadie E.
Fox, Burton C.
Frandsen, C. J.
Frear, John M.
Garrison, George P.
Gemprecht, Charles
George, J. A.
Gibson, George Howard
Gilbert, A. S.
Gilbert, W. C.
Gipson, Thomas
Glandon, A. H.
Goff, Helen M.
Goss, E. A.
Goss, J. W.
Grady, Patrick
Grandstaff, Joseph L.
Grandstaff, Minta (Mrs. J. L.)
Greene, W. L.
Gregory, James H. & Son
Gregory, Mae
Griffith, A. T.
Gunness(?), R. C.
Haarup, J. S.
Hadley, Albert
Hall, Ella
Hall, W. S.
Hallenbeck, J. H.
Hanley, John C.
Hansen, Charles
Hardin, R. C.
Harding, William
Harper, Edwin
Harrison, F. H.
Hartline, John
Harvie, James
Hayes, John W.
Haynes, S. M.
Heapy, J. W.
Heathway, Carrie
Helmlick, William
Henning, John
Hichings, C. E.
Holcomb, H. N.
Holcomb, Silas A.
Hope, C. W.
Hosterman, S.
Hostetter, A. B.
Houchin, Francis
Howard, A. J.
Howard, C. F.
Howe, E. D.
Hubbard, Eva
Hunziker, Sam
Hyatt, J. S.
Jacobs, Wesley
James, J. W.
Jenne, Oscar
Jensen(?), H.
Johnson, A. F.
Johnson(?), D. B.
Jones, O. M.
Jones, Samuel E.
Jones, William A.
Judd, C. P.
Kaye, William H.
Kellie, (Mrs.) Luna E.
Keiser, John
Kerns, Charles
Kimberling, J. F.
Kintsel, John
Kirk, J. A.
Klassy, Thomas
Kluick, (Mrs.) Julia M.
Knen, Charles B.
Koch, J. B.
Krogh, Theodore
Kurtz, C. F.
Konkright(?), (Mrs.) O. H.
Laird, J. N.
Laird, J. R.
Larkin, Lillie
Larson, Ollie
Lawrence, H. & Co.
Layton, William
Lederer, J. F.
Leigh, James
Lemar, C. M.
Leonard, I. N.
Leonard, William L.
LePeck, G. J.
Loderman, E.
Long, C. W.
Long, J. Weller
Lotta, E. J.
Loucks, H. L.
Lucas, W. W.
Ludden, Luther P.
Lynn, George
Lynn, Lloyd
McCall, D.
McCoy, S. E.
McFarland, J. W.
McGaw, H. B.
McGuire, E. T.
McGuire, William T.
McIntyre, W. D.
McKeighan, Edith
McKeighan, William A.
McNeal, Lea
McReynolds, L.
McRoberts(?), J. S.
Maiber, John S.
Malley, Alta
Malone(?), J. G.
Mann, Ida C.
Maple, Sena
Markle, (Mrs.) A. H.
Martin, J. W.
Martin, John F.
Mathieson, David R.
Mathieson, Laura R.
Mattley, H. H.
May, L. L.
Melendy, (Mrs.), J. H.
Merrick, E. C.
Michener(?), N. S.
Miller, Charles
Miller, H. H.
Miller, (Mrs.) J. Walter
Miller & Paine Co.
Miller(?), R. L.
Minor, (Mrs.), J. L.
Minshull, John
Mitler, (Mrs.) J. H.
Modie, A. C.
Moldrup, Morris
Montgomery, L.
Montz, Martin
Morgan, J. F.
Morgan, W. S.
Morris, B. P.
Moss, W. G.
Moulton, S. J.
Mowers, John E.
Murphy, Henry
Murphy, John D.
Murray, James E.
Nagel, George W.
Naylor, Maude
Nehf, Leonard
Nehrileck, William
Nelson, Paul
Newton(?), E. F.
Nielsen, Niels
Nielsen, Ole
Norelius(?), A. W.
Norton, Francis A.
Obert, Mary E.
OíBrien, J. F.
Ogilvie, David
Osborne(?), B.
Otts, M. L.
Page, C. Clinton
Palmer, Oswald
Parker, J. A.
Parker, John
Pennington, A. L.
Peters, Charles W.
Peters, George S.
Phillips, Francis
Phillips, S. D.
Pierson, Adam
Pomeroy, Eltwen
Pomeroy, Mark M.
Porter, W. F.
Post, August
Powell, R. B.
Powers, John H.
Purcell, M. J.
Ragan, John M.
Randall, George
Randall, (Mrs.) Lizzie
Rath(?), J. C.
Raynolds, L. D.
Reid, J. W.
Reynolds, M. F.
Rigby, L. W.
Riley, Austin
Robertson, C. F.
Robertson, John A.
Robuck, J. F.
Rodgers, M.
Rominger, H. C.
Roth, Frank
Ruppert(?), H. M.
Ryan, M. J.
Sanders, J. W.
Sanford, J. M.
Sargent, (Mrs.) Ellen I.
Sawyer, Henry M.
Sayles, H. P.
Schaeffer, C. W.
Schilling, Robert
Seedenburg, C. B.
Severy, M. H.
Shade, Ellen
Shane, C. S.
Shaver, W. W.
Shepard, H. P.
Shires, M.
Shively, O. H. P.
Shufelt, A.
Smith, M. H.
Smith, S. S.
Snedecker, Samuel
Snigart, J. G. M.
Snyder, J. M.
Soderman, E.
Southworth, R. A.
Spink, (Mrs.) Julia A.
Stanchfield, H. J.
Stebbins, John
Stebbins, Lucian
Stevens, G. A.
Stewart, Charles
Stewart, H. G.
Stewart, Henry
Stoner, C. D.
Story, J. D.
Stratton, W. A.
Stuck(?), C. F.
Sullivan, J. W.
Taylor, Asa
Taylor, Franklin
Teachman, J. H.
Thomas, H. C.
Thompson, Albert
Thompson, James M.
Thompson, Jasper N.
Thompson, Mary A.
Thompson, (Mrs.) T. K.
Thornton, S. Edwin
Thorp, William P.
Tibbits, E. A.
Tiemann, Henry G.
Todd, (Mrs.) Marion
Tompkins, Alva C.
Towers, J. W.
Trachman, J. H.
Tracy, W. A.
Travis, B.
Trough, E. B.
Turner, James G.
Twist, Salem
Vance, George
Vanderven, G. A.
Vincent, C.
Vogan, J. W.
Waler(?), E. E.
Wallace, Francis A.
Wallace, Robert J.
Walters(?), J. J.
Wardall, Alonzo
Wasmund, H. F.
Weatherhogg, F.
Weaver, Thomas
Webster, G. L.
Weesner, O. C.
Weiss, Otto A.
Welch, Frank P.
Wells, Mollie (Mrs. L. A.)
Welsh, Robert
Welt, (Mrs.) Morton
Welter, Carl
Wermer, G. H.
Wheadon, Tom
Whitcomb, L. C.
White, Albert A.
White, Rosa
Whiteman, Ella F.
Whitman, H.
Whitmore, A. L.
Whitmore, H.
Whittier, Albert
Whittier, J. J.
Wilbur, A. C.
Wilke, F. O.
Wilkinson, I. F.
Williams, Charles B.
Williams, Mills
Willis, Lee
Wills, J. N.
Willson, D. W.
Wilson, Riley
Wingert(?), J. S.
Wirsig, F. A.
Wisdom, J. S.
Wisner, J. C.
Wittwer, Albert
Woods, George
Woods, J. M.
Wright, J. D.
Wright, W. F.
Young, L. W.
Youngers, Peter, Jr. & Co.
Zink, James W.
Zink, John J.

Revised 12-11-2008 TMM

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