Valentines for Officials

“St. Valentine’s day, like Christmas, comes once a year,” said the Omaha Daily Bee on February 15, 1891. “To the children it is a day of merriment. The old folks care naught for the day of caricatures and very bad poetry, and business men and city officials, as a rule, have placed in a handy position to their desks the largest waste basket they can afford.”

The “caricatures and very bad poetry” referred to by the Bee, adorned the comic valentines popular during this era. “The average recipient . . . hurriedly consigns them to the waste basket with a few italicized sulphuric remarks,” and public officials were no exception. “In his rounds of yesterday a few of these valentines, which were more or less mutilated, were rescued by a reporter for THE BEE from waste-baskets, desks and carpets which would have otherwise passed into oblivion and been secreted from the gaze of the general public.”

Omaha mayor Richard Cushing received a “basket full” of such valentines, some with original verse. One example:

Here’s hoping, dear Dick, that good fortune

May attend you the next year to come.

When all the town will acknowledge,

From a bishop way down to a bum,

That your term was a pathway of roses-

Your government naught but perfection:

Then the gang will commence counting noses,

And boodle-for your re-election.

Each Omaha City Council member reportedly received the following:

Eighteen merry little chumps,

Sober once a week;

We may look tired occasionally,

But then we never sleep.

We would not a-boodling go,

Because we then would see

Our records on the big front page


Even the Omaha city boiler inspector did not escape. He was honored with the terse missive:

You have the face of a boiler,

The hair of a fire,

The nose of a mule,

And they say you’re a liar.

The Bee reported that Omaha city clerk Frank Moores “got one from every member of the Douglas county bar. . . . An effort was made to print some of them but they were so tropical in nature that ordinary copper type melted before them.”


Richard C. Cushing, mayor of Omaha in 1891, was the recipient of comic valentines critical of his administration. NSHS RG2141.PH0-8


Cupid flies an airplane in this valentine postcard from the Nebraska State Historical Society collections. NSHS 9424-20

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.

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.

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.