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
  2. News articles, typed
  3. News articles, typed
  4. Archives notes
  5. Relative treaties
  6. Pamphlets relative to the Sioux
  7. Publisher’s observations and notes
  8. Correspondence, 1957-1964, pt. 1
  9. Correspondence, 1957-1964, pt. 2
  10. Descriptions of photos and copies of documents
  11. Rough draft and notes, Ch. 1 & 2
  12. 1st major draft, title page-Ch. 6
  13. 1st major draft, Ch. 7-12
  14. 1st major draft, Ch. 13-18
  15. 1st major draft, Ch. 19-bibliography
  16. Originals of retyped pages and inserts
  17. Revised Draft, title page-Ch. 3
  18. Revised Draft, Ch. 4-6
  19. Revised Draft, Ch. 7-9
  20. Revised Draft, Ch. 10-12
  21. Revised Draft, Ch. 13-16
  22. Revised Draft, Ch. 17-19
  23. Revised Draft, Ch. 20-22
  24. Revised Draft, Ch. 23-bibliography

Box 6

  1. Revised Draft, Index
  2. Galley Proof
  3. 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.
  2. Notes, misc.
  3. Manuscript, preface-Ch. 3
  4. Manuscript, Ch. 4-6
  5. Manuscript, Ch. 7-9
  6. Manuscript, Ch. 10-12
  7. Manuscript, Ch. 13-14
  8. Manuscript, Ch. 15-17
  9. Manuscript, Ch. 18-20
  10. Manuscript, Ch. 21-23
  11. 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
  2. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 9-16
  3. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 17-23
  4. Typed Manuscript, Ch. 24-bibliography

Subgroup 1: Writings
Series 4 - Articles, Book Reviews, Speeches, etc.

  1. Notes on Richardson County
  2. Review, Pioneer Preacher, by Opal Berryman
  3. A Golden Jubilee -- A Sesquicentennial of History
  4. The Platte Valley and Dodge County - Highway and Homesite
  5. The Library of the Nebraska State Historical Society
  6. Let’s teach more local history
  7. A Program for the County Historical Society
  8. Preserving our heritage
  9. Addison Erwin Sheldon

Box 12

  1. Arbor Day after seventy-five years
  2. The Historical museum as the historian’s source of supply
  3. Review, Land of the Dakotahs, by Bruce Nelson
  4. There’s no State like Nebraska
  5. Nebraska.  Article for Encyclopedia Americana
  6. Review, The Territories and the United States, by E.S. Pomeroy
  7. State and local history in the schools
  8. Review, Corn Country, by Homer Croy
  9. The Humanities in Early Nebraska
  10. 1866--a year on the trail
  11. Review, The Missouri Valley, by Rufus Terral
  12. The interview as a source of Indian history
  13. The school paper as seen from the morgue
  14. Review, Heaven’s Tableland, by Vance Johnson
  15. Review, Here Rolled the Covered Wagons, by Albert & Jane Salisbury
  16. Edited, Diary of Thomas Alfred Creigh
  17. Review, Persimmon Hill, by William Kennerly as told to Elizabeth Russell
  18. The first Nebraskans.  KFOR, Lincoln
  19. The people build a monument.  KFOR, Lincoln
  20. Your University Speaks.  Nebraska Network, Feb. 13, 1949
  21. Review, Forty-Niners, by Archer B. Hulbert
  22. Fort Atkinson (1819-1827).  Written for the National Park Service
  23. Nebraska and the spirit of Arbor Day.  College, Apr. 19, 1949
  24. Review, The 49'ers by Wells & Peterson
  25. Review, A Cycle of the West by John G. Neihardt
  26. Nebraska -- The Cornhusker State
  27. Review, Gold Rush Album, by J.H.  Jackson
  28. Sidney -- Black Hills Trail
  29. Review, The Black Hills, By Robert Casey
  30. General John O’Neill
  31. Review, Wells Fargo: Advancing the American Frontier, by Edward Hungerford
  32. Review, Farming and Democracy, by A.W. Griswold
  33. Nebraska in the first half of the 20th century, 1950
  34. Arbor Lodge:  Monument to a Great Idea
  35. Why we behave like Nebraskans
  36. Review, This Reckless Breed of Men, by R.G. Clelland
  37. The Organization of Old Cheyenne County
  38. The Literary tradition in pioneer Nebraska
  39. Historical Quiz
  40. The historical society--custodian of a great national asset
  41. Early pioneer settlements in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska
  42. James Lee Sellers
  43. Review, The History of Platte County, Nebraska, by Margaret Curry
  44. Remarks at Buffalo Bill memorial dedication, North Platte, May 4, 1951
  45. Nebraska and the nation
  46. Alexander Culbertson
  47. Lincoln; notes for J.E. Lawrence
  48. Along Nebraska’s pioneer trails.  Extension service, E.C. 5-165
  49. Review, A Journal of the McKinley Years, by Charles G. Dawes
  50. Review, Frontier Justice, by Wayne Gard
  51. Nebraska’s Territorial Centennial (guest editorial), Lincoln Star, Oct. 6, 1951
  52. Memorial to Mark Morton
  53. Omaha a century ago
  54. The museum’s responsibility to the student and researcher
  55. Peter A. Sarpy
  56. Teaching guide for University of Nebraska filmstrip, History of Nebraska
  57. Statement on L.B. 20, Public Health and Miscellaneous Subjects Committee, Jan. 20, 1953 (on William Jennings Bryan statue)
  58. The Sower (prepared 1952 for the 1951 Annual report of the Bureau Of Vital Statistics, State Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebr.) 1p.
  59. Nebraska in 1871
  60. Nebraska City a century and more ago
  61. Omaha -- A 100 Year Look Back
  62. Nebraska State Historical Library and Museum
  63. “Notes on a Visit to Historic Spots in Frontier County, Nebraska.”
  64. Award of Merit to Minden’s Pioneer Village
  65. Nebraska’s One Hundredth Birthday
  66. Are We Really Spreading the American Heritage?
  67. Review, The Nebraska Question 1852-1854, by James C. Malen
  68. Review, Knickerbocker Birthday, by R.W.G. Vail
  69. Dedicatory ceremonies, Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, July, 16, 1955
  70. Review, Army Air Forces in World War II by Wesley Craven and James Lea Cate, ed.
  71. Colloquium held in connection with the re-dedication of the building of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison Wisconsin, Oct. 7, 1955
  72. Descendants of Platte Valley Pioneers: an address prepared for use of Gov. Anderson at Grand Island, March 9, 1956
  73. Two of the Problems of the Plains
  74. “Historical Reasons Why North Platte, Nebraska should be selected as the Site of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum.”
  75. “Cambridge and Southwestern Nebraska”
  76. “A New Approach to American History”
  77. “Fort Sidney Days”
  78. Ned C. Abbott
  79. “The early settlement of Phelps and Gosper counties.”
  80. “Nebraska State Historical Society in 1953.”
  81. “The New Building”
  82. “Founding the Capital City”
  83. “Clio in the Field”
  84. “Historians and the Teaching of History, 1957"
  85. Review, “Politics and Diplomacy from Lincoln to McKinley,” by
  86. “Omaha--The Beginnings”
  87. Political History of Nebraska
  88. “Forward Nebraska”
  89. Review, “Big Dan,” by
  90. Introduction of Dr. Howard R. Driggs
  91. “Historical Societies in American Historiography”
  92. “History of Army Air Force in the Pacific”
  93. Review, Pioneer Railroad: The Story of the Chicago and Northwestern System
  94. Notes for address on “Pioneer Women of Nebraska.”
  95. Nebraska in 1776
  96. Book reviews, 1960 and undated
  97. Book reviews, 1961-1965
  98. The “Lasting Peace” of Fort Laramie, 1866
  99. Speeches and papers read, 1964-1965

Box 13

  1. Pizer-Olson interview, KODY, North Platte, Apr. 5, 1951
  2. Diary of James Mason. Ohio to California. 1850 (edited)
  3. Nebraska bibliography lists and resources
  4. 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
  2. American Association for State and Local History, pre-1957 & undated
  3. American Association for State and Local History, 1957, Jan.-May
  4. American Association for State and Local History, 1957, June-Dec.
  5. American Association for State and Local History, 1958
  6. American Association for State and Local History, 1959, Jan.-May
  7. American Association for State and Local History, 1959, June-Dec.
  8. American Association for State and Local History, 1960, Jan.-July
  9. American Association for State and Local History, 1960, Aug.-1961
  10. American Historical Association, 1958-1965
  11. American Historical Association, Service Center
  12. American Historical Review
  13. Biographical information, James C. Olson
  14. Candlelight Club, 1956-1964
  15. Certification, 1956-1957, n.d.
  16. Certification, misc.
  17. Certification, misc.
  18. Certification, newspaper clippings
  19. Club, The, 1956-1964
  20. Coe College, 1956-1957
  21. Coe College, undated
  22. Commencements, high school, 1957-1965
  23. Correspondence, 1945-1950
  24. Correspondence, 1951-1965
  25. Correspondence, congratulatory, 1956

Box 22

  1. Council for Basic Education, 1953-1959
  2. Du Pont, Educators Conference, 1961, pt. 1
  3. Du Pont, Educators Conference, 1961, pt. 2
  4. Encyclopedia Americana, 1950-1959
  5. Encyclopedia, American Oxford and Britannica
  6. Encyclopedia, Collier’s, 1948-1952
  7. Encyclopedia, Collier’s, 1953-1954
  8. Fort Atkinson Foundation, 1960-1963
  9. Great Plains Conference on Education
  10. Great Plains Historical Association
  11. Hall County Museum
  12. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1951-1959
  13. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1960-1962
  14. Hall of Fame for Great Americans, 1965
  15. Homestead Centennial, 1960-1963
  16. Land Grant Centennial, 1957-1962
  17. Land Grant Centennial, undated
  18. Lexington Group, 1956-1959
  19. Lexington Group, 1960-1965
  20. Lincoln Centennial, 1957-1958
  21. Lincoln Centennial, 1959
  22. Lincoln Centennial, undated
  23. Lincoln Lore, 1936-1938
  24. Maximilian Project, 1964
  25. Mexico, 1961-1964, undated

Box 23

  1. Miles, Nelson A., 1958
  2. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1952
  3. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1953-1954
  4. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1964-1965
  5. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Committee on the Future of the Association, 1963-1964
  6. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Detroit meeting, 1960-1961
  7. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Executive Committee, 1963-1965
  8. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Local Arrangements Committee, 1954-1956
  9. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Local Arrangements Committee, 1957
  10. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Manuscript Award, 1956
  11. Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Omaha meeting, 1963
  12. Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1957-1964
  13. National Cowboy Hall of Fame, 1955-1964
  14. National Security Forum, 1956-1958
  15. Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement, 1957-1963
  16. Nebraska Land Study, 1949-1951
  17. Nebraska Statistics
  18. North Dakota, 75th Anniversary Faculty Conference, 1958
  19. Park College, Missouri, 1956-1959
  20. Penn State Conference, 1955-1956
  21. Penn State Conference, 1957
  22. Pony Express Centennial
  23. Professors for Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey, 1964
  24. River Falls, Wisconsin, 1963
  25. Rockefeller Foundation, 1964
  26. Round Table, The, 1957-1965
  27. Santa Fe Conference on Western History, 1961
  28. Social Science Research Council
  29. Speaking engagements, 1962-1965

Box 24

  1. St. Paul’s Methodist Church Centennial, 1957
  2. Taylor, James, 1962
  3. Television, 1958-1965
  4. Texas Council for the Social Studies, 1957
  5. Texas Western, 1962-1964
  6. University of Nebraska Press, 1956-1965
  7. Western Heritage Center, 1962-1964
  8. Western History Association, 1963-1964
  9. Western History Association, 1965
  10. Western History Association, 1966, Jan.-June
  11. Western History Association, 1966, July-1968
  12. Westerners, 1962
  13. 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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