Wilson Tout [RG5117.AM]


RG5117.AM: Wilson Tout, 1876-1951

Papers:  1897-1995, mostly 1897-1951
York, York County; and North Platte, Lincoln County, Nebraska:  Educator; editor-publisher; bird enthusiast
Size:  0.75 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Allen Wilson Tout was born at Sutton, Nebraska on May 18, 1876, the son of Joseph A. and Lettie (Celestia) Ann Gray Tout.  He was the eldest of six children:  Clinton Berry (“CB”), Fred, George, Mildred, Abe, and Marsh.  The family moved to York while Wilson was still a baby, and he received his education in the York public schools and at York College.  He began a teaching career in rural schools in York County, and at Utica, Clay Center and Dunbar.  During summer breaks he attended the University of Nebraska. 

As a young boy Tout had collected large numbers of birds’ eggs from the prairie near his home, but as he grew older he began to realize how much damage his collecting had caused to the bird population.  He resolved to teach his young students about birds and wildlife in the classroom.  He hoped that this would satisfy their natural curiosity and that understanding would prevent them from destroying nests and killing the adults.

In 1894, Tout answered an advertisement placed by Isadore S. Trostler, who was trying to establish an ornithologists’ organization in Nebraska, but the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Association was not formed until May 1899.  Two months later it joined with the Nebraska Ornithological Club, and in December of 1899, the name Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union was chosen for the combined group.  Tout was a charter member and lifetime supporter of the organization.  Among the other charter members was his future wife, Eva Nell Harrison (born April 16, 1878), a teacher from York, Nebraska.  The courtship had begun in high school in York.  Nell shared Wilson’s belief that education would provide the best protection for birds, and also taught nature studies in the classroom.  They married on July 30, 1903.

In June 1907, the Touts moved to North Platte, Nebraska, where Wilson had accepted a job as principal of the high school.  By this time they had a son, Harrison, who was born in July 1905, and Nell was pregnant with their second child, Rebecca, born in October 1907.  The following year Wilson was promoted to Superintendent, a position he held for the next twelve years.  He also taught courses in the normal school for the teachers in training. 

Tout resigned from the Superintendent’s post when he purchased the Lincoln County Tribune newspaper on July 1, 1920.  The entire Tout family helped in the production of the paper, and Wilson served as editor-publisher for twenty-nine years until he retired at the age of 74.

The family interest in birds continued.  Wilson and Nell helped establish the North Platte Bird Club in 1934, which eventually was renamed the Tout Bird Club.  In 1935, Nell applied for and received a bird-banding permit from the U.S. biological Service.  In 1947, Wilson organized his notes and published Lincoln County Birds.

Both Wilson and Nell were active in the North Platte community and the Methodist Church.  Nell died of a long illness on June 25, 1942.  Wilson died of a heart attack on June 18, 1951.  Both are buried in the North Platte Cemetery.


This collection relates to the family, work, and bird watching interests of Wilson Tout.  The collection is arranged in seven series:  1) Writings of Wilson Tout; 2) Correspondence, 1948-1984; 3) Wilson Tout Biographical Materials; 4) The Tout Bird Club of North Platte, Nebraska; 5) Nell Harrison Tout; 6) Rebecca Tout Patton; and 7) Miscellaneous.

Series 1 contains writings by Wilson Tout.  Of particular interest is his Journal/Scrapbook. Part one includes notes on observations of small animals, pictures of the animals (mostly cut from magazines, though some photographs are pasted-in), and stories about interactions between animals and people.  The second part of the Journal/Scrapbook includes entries under a variety of headings, such as “Bird Notes,” “Books Read,” “Mammal Notes,” “Barometer,” “New Clothes,” etc.  Entries are mostly from the years 1950-1951, but not exclusively.  A short diary of a trip to Denver (including postcard illustrations) is also notable, as are copies of two early, handwritten bird watching notebooks, York County Birds.  The York County Birds volumes are available only as photocopies; the originals are now at the York County Historical Society.

Series 2, Correspondence consists of only a small number of letters, 1948-1984, to and from Wilson Tout, and to his daughter Rebecca.  The Biographical materials of Series 3 include articles about Wilson Tout, a contract for his newspaper column, obituaries, and the register book from his funeral.  Series 4 is comprised of items relating to the Tout Bird Club.  The club’s continuation of Tout’s Lincoln County bird volume, produced in 1973, is included, as are 40th anniversary items.

Series 5 contains Nell Harrison Tout obituaries, funeral register, and DAR certificate.  Series 6 includes articles by and about Rebecca Tout Patton, and a small birthday record book.  Series 7 consists of Miscellaneous items.  The family history notes provide further biographical information and are useful for identification of family photographs, stored with the Photograph collections.

Note:  See the photo component [RG5117.PH] for related photos.  See the library for a copy of Wilson Tout’s Lincoln County Birds [598.2 T736l].


Series 1 - Writings by Wilson Tout
Box 1

  1. Journal/Scrapbook [part 1] includes photos
  2. Journal/Scrapbook [part 2] includes photos
  3. Lincoln County Birds, 1947
  4. "My First School"
  5. On Normal Training in North Platte [speech]
  6. "Our Trip to Denver," includes postcards
  7. "Volume One:  York County Birds," 1897
  8. "Volume Two:  York County Birds," 1898
  9. Miscellaneous

Series 2 - Correspondence, 1948-1984

  1. Correspondence, 1948-1984 [includes one photo]

Series 3 - Wilson Tout biographical materials

  1. Biographies
  2. Contract with the Lincoln County Tribune, 1951
  3. Obituaries
  4. Funeral Register, 1951 [includes cards]

Series 4 - The Tout Bird Club of North Platte, Nebraska

  1. Members, 1994-1995
    40th Anniversary materials, 1974

Box 2

  1. "Birds of Lincoln County, Nebraska," Centennial edition, 1973

Series 5 - Nell Harrison Tout

  1. Obituaries
  2. Funeral Register, 1942 [includes cards]
  3. Oversize, Daughters of the American Revolution certificate (see OB007)

Series 6 - Rebecca Tout Patton

  1. Rebecca Tout Patton materials:  Birth date book; articles

Series 7 - Miscellaneous

  1. Family history notes
  2. Miscellaneous


Subject headings:

Animals -- Nebraska
Bird watching -- Nebraska -- Lincoln County
Bird watching -- Nebraska -- York County
Birds -- Societies, etc.
Denver (Colorado) -- Description and travel
Schools -- Nebraska -- North Platte
Tout, Allen Wilson, 1876-1951
Tout, Eva Nell (Harrison), 1878-1942
Tout, Rebecca (Patton)
Tout family
Wildlife -- Nebraska


KFK        01-22-1999

Become a History Nebraska Member Today

Learn More