Plains Gateway: An Online Inventory of Plains Digital Resources

General Resources

Colorado's Historic Newspapers Collection

Colorado Digitization Program
Cutting edge digitization project of contemporary newspapers. Searchable and printable. Especially valuable are the newspapers from Denver City with contextual material relevant to Great Plains history.

Digital Gallery

New York Public Library
A large collection of digital images of manuscripts and photos with over three hundred items on various subjects from the Great Plains.

The Ethnography of Lewis and Clark

Peabody Museum
Harvard, MA
The Peabody Museum has identified some sixty objects that may be linked to the Lewis and Clark expedition. These pieces are both rare and extremely important, as few other ethnographic materials from the expedition have survived. They provide valuable evidence of the material culture of many Native American tribal groups. They also provide a tremendously valuable lens from which to investigate the history of early ethnographic collecting, display, and museum building in the United States. They are exhibited online at this site.

History of the American West, 1860-1920

American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.
Hundreds of photos from the American Memory collection at the Library of Congress relate to the history of the Plains region.

Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains

Montana State University Librairies
The digital collection was created in consultation with Native Americans, educators, librarians, and historians. The overall organization of the database is by tribe, including: Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Salish (Flathead), Kutenai, Chippewa-Cree, Gros Ventres (Atsina), and Assiniboine. The collection consists primarily of images, but includes some text to give context. Most of the images are photographs, but there are also ledger drawings, serigraphs, paintings and other media.

The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1803-1806

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities
Lincoln, NE
On-line version of the widely acclaimed edited version of Lewis and Clark Journals by Gary E. Moulton, published by the University of Nebraska Press. The content of the digital site is much broader than the Journals themselves, with presentations of audio, video, text, and images. By adding new materials, the site offers valuable Native American perspectives to readers. Links to other Lewis and Clark resources are ones of interest to the educated public, Native Americans, scholars, and Lewis and Clark enthusiasts.

The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920, American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress

Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F. A. Pazandak Photograph Collections
Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND
A rich collection of photos of residents' lives and farming on the north Great Plains around the turn of the twentieth century.

The Photography Collection at the Denver Public Library

Denver, CO
One of the finest on line photograph collection available. Though most material is from Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West, there is much material on the Great Plains.

Population and Environment in the U.S. Great Plains

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
The Great Plains Population and Environment project is a multi-disciplinary effort to study the long-term history of relationships between the human population and the environment in roughly 475 counties located in twelve Great Plains states.

North Dakota

Digital Horizons

Digital Horizons is an online treasure house of thousands of images, documents, video, and oral histories depicting life on the Northern Plains from the late 1800s to today, with an emphasis on North Dakota and Minnesota. Contributing partners include Concordia College Archives, Dakota Mosaic , Fargo Public Library, NDSU Institute for Regional Studies & University Archives, Prairie Public Broadcasting, State Historical Society of North Dakota, and the William E. Shemorry Collection.

US News

Gallery of Rural America showing dwindling population in North Dakota.

South Dakota

An Index to Deadwood Historical Newspapers

Deadwood Public Library
A searchable database of Deadwood newspapers in the late nineteenth century. Search results provide transcript of some full short articles but most provide a short synopsis of article that is not provided online.

Northern State University Archives

Aberdeen, SD

This site includes:
Anne Roesch Larson Collection: This was donated by the Roesch family, whose parents came to the United States from Russia in 1898 and settled in Roscoe, South Dakota. The collection includes many letters from family back in Russia, as well as German books, photographs and miscellaneous artifacts. Spanning about 80 years, the collection offers insight into what it was like for people coming to America, as well as the conditions in Russia at the time.

The South Dakota National Guard Collection: Compiled by Dr. Robert Webb, this large collection contains items relating to the South Dakota National Guard. It includes a very large photograph collection, a collection of oral histories, miscellaneous papers, books, newspapers, and magazines. Also included are items of interest such as military propaganda from World War II, scrapbooks, and letters.

George Nikolas Collection: This contains papers, publications, photographs and maps relating to the history of the railroad in South Dakota. Donated by George Nikolas, who worked for the railroad for most of his life, the collection covers a wide range of topics and a long span of time.


Nebraska Memories

Nebraska Library Commission
Lincoln, NE
Nebraska Memories, a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them freely available to researchers of all ages via the Internet, uses CONTENTdm software to house digital collections created by Nebraska libraries, either alone or in partnership with other Nebraska cultural heritage institutions such as museums and historical societies.  The database currently contains approximately 3,500+ digitized items and continues to grow each month. Eleven Nebraska institutions are currently participating in the project. The content helps to document the rich history of Nebraska and its residents. At this time searchers can find material from the 1890s to the 1970s.

Nebraska Portal

Center for Digital Research in the Humanities University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE

This site includes:
The Birds of Nebraska is an archive of history for birdlife in the state, with access to a great variety of newspaper articles and other sources from 1854 to 1923.

Digging In: The Historic Trails of Nebraska is a web site for archaeological and historical research on Nebraska's immigrant trails.

Homestead Records: Homestead National Monument of America, located in Beatrice, Nebraska, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) contracted with the National Archives & Records Administration to microfilm the Broken Bow Land Office records (1890-1908).

Nebraska Newspapers, a collaborative site developed by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the Nebraska State Historical Society. It presents many resources relating to the State's papers such as searchable full-text of selected newspapers published in the state before 1923 and information about historically significant newspapers.

Nebraska Public Documents: This project provides free public access to digitized historic annual reports of state agencies in Nebraska for the use of students, scholars, and the general public.

The Willa Cather Archive is an ambitious endeavor to create a rich, useful, and widely-accessible site for the study of Willa Cather's life and writings.

Nebraska Western Trails

Nebraska Library Commission
Lincoln, NE
Find a wide range of artifacts, books, documents, maps, postcards, original paintings, and photographs on a variety of topics relating to trails in Nebraska. Collected into a searchable database from the holdings of museums and libraries across Nebraska (Nebraska Western Trails Partner Sites), these images illustrate Nebraska's rich trails of all types--pioneer wagon trails, railroads, highways, nature trails, and modern recreational trails.

Omaha Public Library Digital Collections

Omaha, NE

This site includes:
Early Omaha : Gateway to the West: Collection of books, original materials, maps and images relating to the history of Omaha, documenting the process of Omaha transforming from a town into a city by being a "gateway" to the west. As a participant in the Western Trails Digitization Project, Omaha Public Library digitized more than 750 photos, postcards, stereoviews, slides and maps.

Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition of 1898 consists primarily of the Frank Rinehart official photographs of the exposition. The library owns about 3,000 of these rare original images, as well as other narrative and descriptive materials about the Exposition's events, exhibits, Midway attractions, and Indian Congress.

Early Nebraska: This site currently has United States, Nebraska, county and regional maps and atlases.  For Omaha maps, please see Early Omaha: Gateway to the West.

Civil War Veterans Museum at the G.A.R. Memorial Hall

Nebraska City, NE

Index of the Trans-Mississippi and Greater Columbian Expositions of 1898-1899

Independent historian David Wells has also extensively excerpted Mrs. John Wakefield’s scrapbook (1895-98) of the Fair (Omaha Public Library microfilm).

Westward Through Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Lincoln, NE.
This is a small project that involved digitization of five texts on the westward movement through Nebraska along the Oregon Trail and the Union Pacific rail lines. None of these titles had previously been digitized, and all are of some historical interest. The texts, with the exception of the work by Mildred Krouch (UNL MA 1937), were selected to present a traditional 19th-century view of the push westward. As the years pass, many of the old landmarks along the Oregon Trail are being obliterated. Krouch's thesis is a measure of the changes wrought in the last seventy years. The project is part of the Colorado Digitization Program's four-state "Western Trails Project."


A Collection of Digitized Kansas Maps

Wichita State University Libraries
Wichita, KS
Numerous maps from before 1854 and 1854 through 1900.

a href="">The History Gateway at Kansas

Lawrence, KS
Lots of links to on line resources about history in Kansas.

Kansas Memory

Kansas Historical Society
Topeka, KS
The value of the site is in its rich content--letters, diaries, photographs, government records from the State Archives, maps, museum artifacts, and historic structures in Kansas. New content is added continually.

Kite aerial photography

Get a bird's-eye view of several places in Kansas.

Old West Kansas, The Kansas Collection

Lawrence, KS
A miscellaneous collection of resources including a digitized library of over fifty books and articles on early Kansas.

Territorial Kansas On Line

Lawrence, KS
A virtual repository for Kansas territorial history sponsored by the University of Kansas and the Kansas historical Society.The site includes a large searchable collection of documents, newspapers, books, and letters that provide a comprehensive data base for researchers interested in the either the period, the region, or a specific topic.

Western Trails Project

Kansas Historical Society
Topeka, KS
The Historical Society digitized photographs, printed materials, maps, and broadsides that document several facets of transportation across Kansas  from four collections: 1. Alexander Gardner stereograph collection showing the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division’s progress across Kansas, 2. Railroad land sales promotion and emigrant pamphlets for the three major railroads that traversed Kansas, 3. Early automobile travel guides, and 4. Photographs from the L. W. Halbe collection documenting the change from horses to horsepower in the small agricultural community of Dorrance, Kansas.

Western Trails at Wichita State University

Wichita, KS
Five Kansas institutions have made historic materials in their care available related to the historic western migration of the U.S. population, whether on foot, by horse-drawn conveyance, rail, or highway. Kansas partners in the project include the Boot Hill Museum and Kansas Heritage Center in Dodge City, the Kansas State Historical Society, the Special Collections Department at Wichita State University, and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.

Wichita Photo Archives

Wichita, KS
Organized by decade and topics, an excellent collection of images of a Great Plains city. There are over 200 photos from the 1860s through 1900s.


McCasland Digital Collection of Early Oklahoma and Indian Territory Maps

Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK
Starting with the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the area comprising what more than a century later would become the state of Oklahoma, was mapped extensively.  Between 1803 and 1925 more than 1,000 political, expedition, geographical, meteorological, and topographical maps of the Oklahoma region were produced and included in the American State Papers and the Serial Set. The Oklahoma State University Library is fortunate to own the most complete paper collection of the Serial Set in Oklahoma, comprising some 8,600 volumes for the period 1803-1925.

Oklahoma Crossroads: Documents and Images

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries
Collections include documents, photographs, newspapers, reports, pamphlets, posters, maps, and an author database. The emphasis of these collections is on materials that vividly reflect Oklahoma's rich history, spanning more than 100 years and ranging in date from the late 1800s to present.

Oklahoma State University Library Digital Publishing Center

Stillwater, OK
Several collections, including the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the Chronicles of Oklahoma, and American Indian Law.

Western History Collections

The University of Oklahoma Libraries
Norman, OK
The Western History Collections are a world renowned collection of materials relating to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West and Native American cultures.

Recommend a Site

To recommend a site for inclusion in this inventory, please email the URL with a short description to Wendy Katz.

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