On August 14, 1945, word began to spread across the United States that Japan would surrender and end the war. Celebrations broke out in cities and towns around the country as joyous Americans poured into the streets.
The day became known as “V-J Day” or Victory over Japan Day.
In Lincoln, Nebraska, crowds started to gather. Some people congregated in their own neighborhoods, but the largest crowds appeared in the downtown business district along “O” Street. Many local businesses closed so that their employees could join the festivities. Soldiers from the nearby Lincoln Army Air Field also joined the celebrations. The festive crowds were documented by the local newspapers.
“The Lincoln Evening Journal”, August 15, 1945, page 11Amateur photographers captured images of the V-J Day crowds in Lincoln, Nebraska. A collection of such images was recently scanned by the Digital Curation team at History Nebraska. The A. Dale Enlow photograph collection (RG1713.PH) includes negatives and snapshots showing several different gatherings which took place in Lincoln, Nebraska, from the 1940s through the 1980s. Click here to view all of the images from this photograph collection.
During the daylight hours of August 14, 1945, cars jammed the downtown streets as people honked their horns and cheered. Paper confetti rained down on the crowds. The party continued into the night as crowds of pedestrians took over “O” Street. But the celebrations were largely peaceful and safe, although several car accidents did occur on “O” Street. A few other people were injured in falls after climbing on top of vehicles, newsstands and street lamps. While there was no serious damage to local businesses, two cars and one bicycle were reported as stolen. A dozen people were formally arrested for public intoxication.
“The Lincoln Star”, August 15, 1945, page 16 / “The Lincoln Evening Journal”, August 16, 1945, page 2
V-J Day gatherings continued throughout August 14 and August 15,1945. As the crowds finally returned home, they left behind quite the mess downtown. The Lincoln city street cleaners were praised for their hard work that week.
“The Lincoln Star”, August 15, 1945, page 2. / “The Lincoln Evening Journal”, August 15, 1945, page 4