publications

Christmas in 1905

Although the most popular toys for the current holiday season are electronic, more than a century ago the toys in Santa’s pack were likely to be mechanical. The Lincoln Evening News on December 23, 1905, said: “One of the surprises of the Christmas season is the increase in the number of mechanical toys and the ingenious methods that have been utilized to make them attractive to the youngsters. A favorite toy for years and advancing in popularity is the miniature engine pulling a train of metal cars. A track is furnished, and it can be so arranged that the train is able to travel around and around until the locomotive has exhausted its wound up power.”

The 1905 Christmas shopper seemed to have plenty of money to spend: “Indicative of the great prosperity which prevails is the statement of the merchants that more valuable gifts have been purchased than [in] any previous season. While cheap toys are sold in large quantities yet those very expensive are bought. The child of the twentieth century fares much better than the child of twenty years ago. The twentieth century youngster gets more toys and better ones than the eager urchin of more than a decade ago.”

The News noted popular gifts for adults in 1905: “Cigar dealers say that presents of boxes of smokes of the better grade are increasing, the sales this season being the most satisfactory of any. Women are buying more cigars than formerly and they are of a good grade. Of course they do not smoke themselves-they purchase them for men friends, sweethearts, husbands, fathers and even uncles and cousins . . . .

“‘People seem to turn more to jewelry this year than common,’ said one [salesman]. ‘The demand for this class of goods has been beyond expectation. Manufacturers are making such reliable grades of plated gold articles that the pure gold does not have the same show as formerly. A plated locket, cross, pair of cuff buttons or scarf pin wears a long time if the plate is good and heavy, and looks quite as attractive as the gold itself.’ “One of the features of the Christmas shopping season is the number of farmers who come to town to buy gifts in the big stores. Outside of any of the stores may be seen farmers and their wives with the vehicles filled with purchases large and small, ready to drive home with the load which makes children and others glad.”

The only damper on the holiday spirit of 1905: “In every [store] department there are seen standing about several well dressed men apparently taking a genuine interest in the movements of the hordes of shoppers. They are seen there at all hours of the day and an observer with time on his hands will soon tumble to the fact that they are ‘spotters.’

“‘Lincoln people must be very honest,’ said one of the watchers. ‘I have been on duty the two previous seasons and have never caught a person pilfering but once.'” 

 

This Christmas greeting from 1907-17 depicted the Cedar River in Nebraska during winter. A drawing of two girls is inset into the photograph.  RG3542-142-3

This Christmas greeting from 1907-17 depicted the Cedar River in Nebraska during winter. A drawing of two girls is inset into the photograph. RG3542-142-3

 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
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.

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.
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.