Jackson, William H., Artist and Photographer

Artist and photographer William H. Jackson (1843-1942) was an outstanding figure of the American West and popularized many of its images. His autobiography, Time Exposure, written when he was in his mid-nineties with the aid of his extensive diaries, was first published in 1940. His experiences included an early trip across Nebraska Territory as a bullwhacker in 1866.

Jackson begins the narrative of his bullwhacking days with his arrival at Nebraska City from St. Joseph on June 26, 1866, with a small group of friends and their subsequent reception at the company store, where they were outfitted. “We received according to our needs, some more, some less; but every new teamster started away from Nebraska City with a pair of blankets, a white rubber coat, shoes, stockings, pants, shirts, and an old-fashioned carpetbag–plus a Colt .44 revolver with a supply of cartridges. Our store bills averaged about $40 and were charged against our still unearned pay.”

Jackson described his fellow drivers as a “curious, mixed crew” and noted that many had never seen an ox-drawn wagon before. “During the first few days out of Nebraska City we made, as I have already stated, only one drive a day. And it was an utterly exhausting drive. Hours were needed for the operation of fitting three hundred oxen to the twenty-five wagons and many hours more were needed to cover the few miles to the next camp.”

Jackson commented upon Nebraska landmarks: “On July 11, after exactly two weeks on the road, we reached Fort Kearny, about halfway between Nebraska City and Julesburg, Colorado, our next great landmark. We came 197 miles, at an average speed of fourteen miles a day.” At Courthouse Rock he had the “first opportunity in more than a week, to do some sketching. I completed two pictures of the rock. The following day, August 1 [1866], I was able to bring out my drawing book again, and this time the subject was the aptly named Chimney Rock.”

From 1867 to 1869 Jackson was a photographer in Omaha. He was the official photographer of the Hayden Geological Survey, which took him to Wyoming’s Yellowstone region, and used this opportunity to take thousands of striking photographs of the American West. In his later years Jackson interpreted his earlier sketches and photographs in watercolors.

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   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.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

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.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

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.