October 29, 2022

Rudolph E. Umland, 1907-1993 [RG1599.AM]


RG1599.AM: Rudolph E. Umland, 1907-1993

Papers: ca.1930-1993
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska: Writer
Size: 3.5 cu.ft.; 7 boxes


Rudolph E. Umland was born December 26, 1907, to Minna and Rudolph Umland in Eagle, Cass County, Nebraska. He received his elementary and secondary education in Eagle, graduating from Eagle High School in 1925. He subsequently attended the University of Nebraska where he was a member of the Sigma Upsilon Fraternity. After graduation in 1929, he lived the vagabond’s life for the next several years traveling about the country by hopping freight trains, hitching rides, or walking. During these years he held a variety of odd jobs and stayed in cheap hotels, flop-houses, city parks or even jails that would sometimes shelter vagrants overnight merely as acts of charity. He returned to the family farm in 1933, but left again in 1935 to take a job with the Federal Writer’s Project where he served as assistant state director and later assistant state supervisor in Nebraska. He married Elsie E. Rockenbach in 1938 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The couple had three children; a daughter, Yvonne, and two sons, Eric and Craig.

With the outbreak of World War II, Umland entered the Coast Guard but was assigned to a post office in New Orleans where one of the central mail censorship bureaus was located. After the war, Umland worked for Social Security and served as managing editor of the Nebraska Guide to the Cornhusker State project. In his later years, Umland authored a variety of short stories, articles and features which have appeared in local, regional and national publications.


The materials in this collection consist of manuscripts (typed or photocopied) of features, short stories, background notes, correspondence, and some genealogical information about the Umland family and other families of Eagle, Nebraska. Present also are several manuscripts of other writers who were researching and publishing in areas of Umland’s special knowledge and interest, notably Loren Eiseley and Lowry Wimberly who Umland knew through his association with the Prairie Schooner.

This material is organized by type: manuscripts, background material for stories, correspondence, family history, and other writers’ manuscripts, and publications featuring Umland’s writings. The correspondence traces Umland’s efforts to publish his writing and offers insights into various aspects of the times in which he was endeavoring to publish.

His own family history and the history of Eagle, Nebraska, are explored in his genealogical research notes and published material. Other historical research was done for stories relating to the great “Nebraska Horse Race” and for short stories whose themes relate to weather, culture, geography, etc. particular to Nebraska and the Midwest. Several of Umland’s short stories are autobiographical accounts of a series of strokes that Umland suffered. The material gleaned from the interviews done for the Federal Writer’s Project appear to be sources for some of his stories about immigrants and misfits. Some of the actual oral histories taken by interviewers are also present in the collection.

Note: Please see photo component [RG1599.PH] for photographs. Additional materials relating to Rudolph Umland are available at The Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors, Lincoln City Libraries.


Series 1 – Manuscripts

Box 1

  1. Genesis of an Imaginative Mind
  2. Genesis of an Imaginative Mind, variant/similar version
  3. Other Writings, pt. 1
  4. Other Writings, pt. 2
  5. Other Writings, pt. 2
  6. Little Brown Bull, A Play in Three Acts, 1950
  7. Short Stories – Untitled collection

Box 2

  1. Secret Thoughts of a Thinking Animal (x2)
  2. Unnatural Man: Journals of Two Strangers Who Walked in My Shoes
  3. Journal of an Earth Person, pt. 1
  4. Journal of an Unnatural Person, pt. 2
  5. Journal of an Unnatural Person, pt. 2

Box 3

  1. Journal of an Unnatural Person, pt. 2
  2. When Horses Laughed
  3. When Horses Laughed
  4. Snip-Snip: Strange Second Life of E. Fedderson
  5. Snip-Snip
  6. Miscellaneous Short Stories
  7. More Miscellaneous Short Stories

Box 4

  1. Selected Writings
  2. Selected Writings
  3. Selected Writings
  4. Selected Writings
  5. Miscellaneous Short Stories (Published)
  6. Miscellaneous Short Stories (Published)
  7. Town Named Eagle
  8. List of published stories and articles

Series 2 – Background notes/material

Box 5

  1. Miscellaneous clippings, notes, letters, manuscripts on character named Rattlesnake Pete for “Great Horse Race” story
  2. Background material for miscellaneous short stories
  3. Material for proposed book collaboration with Lowry Wimberly on the subject of death
  4. Pocket notebooks of background notes for various short stories
  5. WPA Nebraska Writers’ project – manuscripts, outlines
  6. Background for Eagle, Nebraska history
  7. Background for Eagle, Nebraska history

Series 3 – Correspondence

Box 5

  1. Early correspondence, 1930-1970 [inc. 2 autobiographical letters, 1968]

Box 6

  1. Later correspondence, 1971-1993; publishers’ notices
  2. Christianson to Umland letters, 1984-1992
  3. Umland to Christianson letters, 1984-1992 (some photocopies)

Series 4 – Family History

  1. Umland Records: notes; Eric Umland and Laverne Speer’s marriage certificate; Umland biographical data; family tree; funeral memorabilia for John Kettlehut; confirmation records for Anna Stark and Heinrich Umland(?)
  2. Poem of unknown origin; newspaper article on Ross Perot that mentions Umland’s son, Craig; retirement residence information; living will forms; and a 1925 issue of the Cyclone, the Eagle High School yearbook

Series 5 – Other Writers’ Manuscripts

  1. Paper entitled, “First Woman on the Grub Street: Aphra Behn, 1640-1689, by Elsie Umland,” essay written by Elsie’s student
  2. Joseph Davis’ manuscripts; Abstract for “Rolling Home: Open Road As Myth and Symbolism in American Literature, 1890-1940”
    Chapter 1 – Introduction “Closing the Old Frontier – Vagabondia and the American Fin-de-Siecle”
    “Back Door Superman: Jack London and The Road”
    News photo of Umland hopping a freight and letter of April 10, 1975 in which he details his vagabond days
  3. Gale E. Christianson’s Manuscripts; “Newton, the Man-Again”
    “Tom, Dick, Henry and I”
    “A Literary Friendship” (feature for Omaha Morning Herald)
    “Loren Eiseley – Sentinel of the West”
    “Writing Lives Is the Devil”
    “Arrows in the Blue”
    Four handwritten poems (no attribution)
    “Masks of Loren Eiseley”
    Reviews of three of Christianson’s books on Eiseley: Fox at Woods Edge
  4. Biographer and the Widowerer
    Loren Eiseley and the Widower
    Loren Eiseley and Lowry Wimberly: Companions in Alienation
    “Lila Letter”
    “Eiseley and Morris: A Literary Friendship”
    “The Scientist and the Muse”
    “A Conversation With Copericus”
    “Rendezvous in Hell”

Series 6 – Publications Featuring Umland’s Writings

Box 7

Prairie Schooner, Winter 1966/1967, “L.C. Wimberly: A Book and a Memory”
Prairie Schooner, Fall 1967, “Ghost of Lowry Wimberly”
Prairie Schooner, April 1977, “Lowry Wimberly and Others”
Current Digest, March 1939, “Phantom Airship of the 90’s”
Digest and Review, February 1936, “Spring of the Black Blizzards”
Digest and Review, December 1936, “Rise and Fall of Wolben”
Digest and Review, March 1942, “Birth of the Boomers”
Digest and Review, May 1944, “Threshers’ Tale”
Digest Year Book, 1937, “Black Blizzards”
Modern Digest, October 1943, “Demise of the Little Moron”
Magazine Digest, September 1941, “Rise and Fall of Bloomers”
Esquire, September 1943, “Demise of the Little Moron”
Crescent Examiner, 10 issues from postal censorship office


Subject headings:

Christianson, Gale E.
Davis, Joseph Addison, 1946-
Eagle (Nebraska) — History
Eiseley, Loren C., 1907-1977
Federal Writers’ Project
Great Depression
Manuscripts, literary
Nebraska Writers’ Project
Umland, Rudolph E., 1907-1993
Wimberly, Lowry Charles, 1890-1959
Work Progress Administration
Writers — Nebraska


Revised TMM 05-17-2007

Accession number: 1993.0339

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