Sunday Closing Laws

Engaging in certain activities on Sunday was once illegal in Nebraska. J. D. Calhoun of the Lincoln Weekly Herald on November 22, 1890, protested the local ban on Sunday baseball. Calhoun wrote in the Herald: “It is said an effort will be made to allow Sunday ball playing in this city next season. For some reasons it ought to be. There is one great objection–the noise made by the spectators when a favorite player brings the home club out of a hole by knocking out a home run. The attendance on divine worship is not likely to be lessened by it. In the eyes of many good people Sunday ball would be a sad and wicked desecration of the day, but we venture to suggest that the chief difference between it and the desecration that we see every Sabbath is that it is done by one or two thousand people in a crowd instead of five hundred groups of two or four. It would give people a chance to be amused on the only day they can get out of doors. It would do them good to get their blood stirred once a week.

“In itself going to a ball game is no worse than walking or driving for recreation, and yet it must be confessed that there is a sort of shrinking from it. So general is the habit of driving on Sunday that our livery men have a regular schedule of advanced prices for that day. Yet nobody is shocked by it. Probably it is because we are accustomed to it. Perhaps if we were accustomed to Sunday ball playing it would be no more shocking than those no less flagrant violations of the day to which we now pay no attention and which seem quite harmless.”

The Omaha Daily News of February 15, 1901, notified its readers that (in Omaha at least) dancing would soon be prohibited on Sunday: “Saturday night public dances and terpsichorean booze parties must close down promptly at midnight. Sunday nights the dance halls must remain dark and suspend operations altogether. This edict went forth from the office of Chief of Police Donahue this morning and will go into effect next Saturday night. . . . Chief Donahue stated this morning that this action was taken because he had not men enough on the police force to regulate them and at the same time attend to their other duties. Sunday night dances are considered worse than Saturday night festivities, and for that reason have been placed under the ban.”

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