Brown Bag History Series

Bring your lunch and learn! These seasonally recurring events bring highly-qualified speakers to the library to share about varied topics of cultural, historical, or scientific interest. These free programs are presented by the University of Nebraska at Kearney's History Department and History Nebraska at the Kearney Public Library.

Brown Bag Lunch Option 1

The Kearney War: Cowboys, Settlers, and Community Conflict in 1870s Central Nebraska

  • ellisWednesday, November 14, 2018
  • Noon–1:00 p.m.
  • Niobrara Room at Kearney Public Library

Beginning in the early 1870s and stretching into the 1880s, Central Nebraska witnessed a series of deadly conflicts between recent settlers to the state and visiting cattle herders. The people of Kearney Junction exchanged gunfire with cowboys on the streets. Cattlemen in Custer County murdered and burned to death two homesteaders in 1878. In 1882, a pair of cowboys and suspected horse thieves shot and killed Sheriff Jack Woods and two citizens in a Minden eatery. While scholars have written volumes on cattle conflicts such as the Johnson County War in Wyoming, the Texas Range Wars, and Billy the Kid’s exploits in New Mexico, historians have produced little scholarship beyond local histories on the settler versus cowboy conflicts in Nebraska. This presentation will explore the conflicts produced by the collision of the farming and cattle frontiers in Central Nebraska and highlight how Nebraskans dealt with what they called “The Cowboy Menace.”

Dr. Mark Ellis is a history professor and interim Graduate Dean at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His research focuses on the legal history of the American frontier. He has written numerous articles on frontier law & order and is the author of Law and Order in Buffalo Bill's Country: Legal Culture and Community on the Great Plains, 1867-1910.

Kearney's Pioneer Neighborhood

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • Noon–1:00 p.m.
  • South Platte Room at Kearney Public Library

Dr. Elaine Nelson (UNO)

  • Elaine NelsonWednesday, April 11, 2019
  • Noon–1:00 p.m.
  • Kearney Public Library

Dr. Nelson is a U.S. historian specializing in the North American West. Her scholarship takes into consideration the complicated relationships that formed between the people and places in the Intermountain West and Great Plains. Nelson’s first full-length monograph is a revised manuscript of her dissertation, “Dreams and Dust in the Black Hills: Indigenous People, Promised Lands, and National Identity in America, 1868-1968” and under contract with the University of Oklahoma Press. This study considers how the role of the tourism industry exploited Indigenous cultures, land, and gender to showcase a myth that celebrated western expansion and national identity.

In July 2017 Nelson became the Executive Director of the Western History Association after it moved to the History Department. At UNO the organization will continue to thrive in its mission as the "congenial home for the study and teaching of all aspects of North American Wests, frontiers, homelands and borderlands."Nelson has presented her work at numerous academic conferences and is involved with various professional organizations. Her work has been recognized and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Philosophical Society Phillips Fund Grant, Western Association of Women Historians Founders’ Dissertation Award, Charles Redd Center, Center for Great Plains Studies, and the Nebraska State Historical Society. She also resident fellowships at the Newberry Library, Huntington Library, Cody Institute for Western American Studies, and American Heritage Center.