A Serial Set for one state

Read the title of this post again.

Nebraska Public Documents.

Say it out loud.

Nebraska Public Documents.

Okay, even The Legal Genealogist will admit that it sounds … well … to be polite … a little .. um … dull.

Nebraska Public DocumentsGuess what?

It’s not.

Not even a little bit.1

Instead, it’s a terrific resource for anybody who has even the tiniest reason to do even a little bit of research in Nebraska.

Now, in case you haven’t figured it out, yes, I’m headed west today — en route to the Annual Spring Conference of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society that takes place tomorrow and Saturday in Columbus. With a wide range of speakers and activities — all I can say is, it’s going to be a lot of fun and you’re going to regret it if you’re not there.

And, of course, in getting ready to speak in Nebraska, I took the opportunity to look at some Nebraska resources and — well — wow… take a look at Nebraska Public Documents.

This is a website that:

… provides free public access to digitized historic annual reports of state agencies in Nebraska for the use of students, scholars, and the general public. Through this digitization project, we provide keyword searching options never before available. Eventually, the intent of the project is to provide access to state government agency reports from 1891 through 1956, with metadata enhancements as funds become available. Earlier reports will be provided as they are located and digitized. This site is made possible through the funding and support of the Nebraska Library Commission, the Nebraska State Historical Society, the Nebraska State Records Board, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.2

Now if that’s not exactly floating your boat, think about it this way. In essence, it’s a one-state version of the U.S. Serial Set, a federal publication that “contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The documents include all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set.”3

And if that’s still not grabbing you, try this: these are all those little obscure official reports that can explain so much about how our ancestors lived, what was impacting them, even who they were and what they were doing.

Sound better?

Check it out.

Check out, for example, the impact of influenza on hospitals and homes in Nebraska in 1918-19, the height of the Spanish flu epidemic. It’s covered in the reports of the heads of institutions like the Soldiers and Sailors Home and even the prison system.

Check out the impact of railroads on Nebraska’s development in the reports of the State Railway Commission.

What did it mean for a building to be condemned as a fire hazard? That’s in the reports of the Fire Commissioners.

And there’s so much more.

Government agency reports, at both the federal and state level, can greatly enrich our family histories.

Seriously.

Check it out.


SOURCES

  1. Well, maybe a little bit, depending on which public documents you pick. But that’s your fault, not the fault of the site.
  2. Nebraska Public Documents, University of Nebraska at Lincoln (http://nebpubdocs.unl.edu/> : accessed 25 Apr 2018).
  3. U.S. Serial Set,” “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875,” Library of Congress, American Memory (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html : accessed 29 Apr 2018).
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