George A. Joslyn of Omaha

George Joslyn. From Arthur C. Wakeley’s Omaha, the Gate City, and Douglas County, Nebraska (Chicago, 1917).

The name of George A. Joslyn (1846-1916) is connected with two of Omaha’s most notable structures: his opulent residence, often referred to as “The Castle,” and the Joslyn Art Museum, constructed and endowed by Sarah Joslyn in memory of her husband. Sometimes disdained for his ruthless business practices, but admired for his philanthropy, Joslyn gained national prominence by creating a virtual monopoly in the auxiliary printing business. His Western Newspaper Union (WNU) supplied standardized, preprinted news to more than twelve thousand newspapers throughout the United States.

Joslyn’s career peaked as the auxiliary printing business reached its zenith. At the time of his death in 1916, he was considered to be the wealthiest man in Nebraska. At its height his WNU had thirty-one plants in twenty-five states. At the same time, however, new technologies such as the Linotype machine began replacing the need for preprinted news, or at least eliminating many of the small newspapers that relied on it. The WNU entered a long decline and ran its last order in 1952. Joslyn’s business career also included the proprietorship of two residential hotels in Omaha, the St. Charles and the Metropolitan, and ownership of a patent medicine business, the Cook Remedy Company.

Lynhurst, home of George and Sarah Joslyn, was completed in 1903. Today it is known as Joslyn Castle and is on the National Register of Historic Places. NSHS D009:321-001

For more information on Joslyn’s various business activities, see Dennis N. Mihelich’s “George Joslyn: Western America’s First Media Mogul” (Nebraska History, Spring 2001), available on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. Read an excerpt from Jo L. Wetherilt Behrens’s “‘Painting the Town’: How Merchants Marketed the Visual Arts to Nineteenth-Century Omahans”(Nebraska History, Spring 2011), which reveals the contributions of George and Sarah Joslyn to the art heritage of Omaha.

— Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications

 

Joslyn Art Museum (RG2341-281), depicted in “‘Painting the Town’: How Merchants Marketed the Visual Arts to Nineteenth-Century Omahans,” Nebraska History (Spring 2011).

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address – March 4, 2011

The 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address – March 4, 2011

Marker Monday: Mari Sandoz

Marker Monday: Mari Sandoz

How ‘Equality Before the Law’ became our state motto

How ‘Equality Before the Law’ became our state motto

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast.

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.