Friday, June 24, 2011

Homestead Records Digitization Project Update

Homestead National Monument of America is excited to announce that the homestead land entry case files digitization project has completed the imaging process for the records from the Omaha land office.  There are nearly two million homestead records currently housed in the National Archives.  Until now the only way to view these files was to request copies from the National Archives or physically go to Washington D.C. and perform your research.  The digitization project will allow public access to these records online.

The Monument and its partners began the painstaking process of digitizing the records of the Lincoln/Nebraska City land office in the summer of 2009.  The Lincoln/Nebraska City land office had 12,295 homestead files.  All of these files resulted in approximately 300,000 images of homestead paperwork that can be accessed by anyone curious about the lives of homesteaders.  The success of that project was encouraging and the partnership moved forward to the Omaha land office.  The Omaha land office had 6,350 homestead files which produced approximately 93,000 images.   The information in these documents will be an invaluable resource to scholars and genealogists attempting to research this complex period in American history. 
The project has moved forward.  The digitization of the Alliance, Nebraska land office records has already begun.  The Alliance land office has 4,222 homestead files which will produce approximately 76,000 images.  Each image is a document contained within the homesteaders file.  Documents range from the initial application to the final patented certificate.  These documents are all unique in that no homesteader’s story was the same.  Through these records we will be able to observe things like social and economic trends along with cultural and ethnic migration patterns.  This data will provide many answers, but, and maybe more importantly, it will lead to new questions.
If you are interested in accessing these records you can visit Homestead National Monument of America’s Heritage Center where access to the database is free to the public at designated research terminals.  Monument staff is on hand to assist those who have any questions. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Homestead Welcomes New Citizens

While it is debatable if Betsy Ross stitched the first American flag it is true that The Flag represents the ideal of America and her citizens. Former President Clinton says it best in the 1997 Flag Day Proclamation: "Our nation's flag has always flown in the vanguard of the American journey, reminding us of our proud past and beckoning us into a future full of promise. Its bold colors reflect the courage and exuberance of the American people, and its simple but inspired design symbolizes both the unity and diversity that define our nation."

Homestead National Monument of America paid homage to the sentiment reflected in Governor Clinton’s words when hosting a Naturalization Ceremony June 14; presiding U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf delivered the oath of allegiance and the keynote address, his remarks reflected the feelings of the 1997 proclamation. 

Regulatory Intelligence Data. (1998, June). History of Flag Day. Retrieved from eLibrary.

Rickers, B. [The Daily Globe, Worthington, Minn.] (2011, June 14 ). Flag Day is today.  McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved from eLibrary.

The legend and truth of Betsy Ross. (2002, June 14). Contemporary Women's Issues Database, 22. Retrieved from eLibrary. 

The National Flag Day Foundation. Retrieved from

Friday, June 10, 2011

Homestead Celebrates 75th Anniversary during Homestead Days

Homestead National Monument of America celebrates its 75th Anniversary during Homestead Days, June 17 – 19, 2011.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the act that created the monument in 1936.  This year’s theme is Homestead Days 1936. Exciting and unique performances that will take you back to the 1930’s are scheduled for the stage at the Education Center.
 On Friday, June 17 at 1 p.m., see clothes from the 1930’s as Sue McClain from Yesterday’s Lady in Beatrice, NE presents a 1930’s Fashion Show.  At 2 p.m., Beatrice native and San Francisco State University professor, Dr. Robert Cherny will present a special program, the “Homestead Act and American Politics”. Dr. Cherny will repeat his program at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.
 On Saturday, June 18 at 12 p.m., the Homestead Harmonizers kick off the monument’s stage performances with their award winning vintage style of close 4-part harmony.  At 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., the Nebraska Czech Band, a 12 piece ensemble from Omaha, NE, will perform. This band is fashioned after the traditional Czech Style brass bands that feature clarinets along with the standard brass and percussion instruments, a style known as dechovka. David Landis will portray Nebraska Senator George Norris on both Saturday and Sunday, June 19 at 2 p.m.  His first person portrayal of Senator
 Norris, one of the U.S. Senate’s most powerful and influential senators, will focus on his efforts to create Homestead National Monument of America.
 Rounding out the monument’s performers on Saturday and Sunday are Nebraska Humanities Council artist David Seay, David Fowler and Carolyn Johnsen. David Seay will present ‘The “Tradition” in Traditional Folk Music’ at 3 p.m. on Saturday and again at 3 p.m. and 12 p.m. on Sunday.  His program examines the folk tradition and how it resulted in the passing of music from one generation to next.  David Fowler and Carolyn Johnsen will present ‘The History and Romance of the Fiddle:  A Prairie Perspective’ at 4 p.m. on Sunday.  Fowler and accompanist Johnsen will present various historical and romantic perspectives on the fiddle and its upscale cousin the violin. This event is partially funded by grants from the Nebraska Humanities Council and Nebraska Arts Council.
 Performance times:

 Friday, June 17
 1 p.m. 1930’s Fashion Show presented by Yesterday’s Lady
 2 p.m. Homestead Act and American Politics by Dr. Robert
            Cherny, San Francisco State University
 Saturday, June 18
 12 p.m.     Homestead Harmonizers
 1 p.m. & 4 p.m. Nebraska Czech Brass Band
 2 p.m.  Senator George Norris and the Founding of Homestead National
             Monument by David Landis
 3 p.m.  The Tradition in Traditional Folk Music by David Seay
 Sunday, June 19
 12 p.m.  The Tradition in Traditional Folk Music by David Seay
 1 p.m.   Homestead Act and American Politics by Dr. Robert Cherny, San
             Francisco State University
 2 p.m.  Senator George Norris and the Founding of Homestead National
             Monument by David Landis
 3 p.m.  The Tradition in Traditional Folk Music by David Seay
 4 p.m.  The History and Romance of the Fiddle:  A Prairie Perspective
             by David Fowler and Carolyn Johnsen
 "We are extremely excited about the variety of presentations.  We have several musical acts and presentations relating to items in the 1930’s when Homestead National Monument of America was founded,” said Mark Engler, Superintendent of Homestead National Monument of America.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Homestead Centennial Year
In the coming months Homestead National Monument of America is actively preparing for a very special occasion.  The 150th anniversary of the signing of the Homestead Act of 1862 by Abraham Lincoln will be commemorated throughout the year of 2012!  In our efforts to generate ideas for various events, we began to look back to see how the 100th anniversary was commemorated.  I would like to share with you one of those pieces of history that was of particular interest.  The 100th anniversary commemoration efforts actually began on January 5, 1962 in Washington D.C. when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed 1962 to be the “Homestead Centennial Year”.  Understanding the importance of the Homestead Act with relation to the development of the United States, President Kennedy issued this proclamation of remembrance.   

Proclamation 3444 - Homestead Centennial Year
January 5, 1962

By the President of the United States of America
Whereas May 20, 1962, marks the centennial of the enactment of the Homestead Act (12 Stat. 392), approved by President Lincoln, inducing settlement and cultivation of the undeveloped public lands and the establishment of homes thereon; and

Whereas the granting of patents to more than 270 million acres of public domain lands has promoted the economic, social, and political development of this country through the establishment of farms, ranches, and communities and has provided the foundation for our highly productive agricultural economy; and
Whereas the Homestead Act and supplemental acts of Congress, which are unique and distinctively American, stand as a tribute to the wisdom of those responsible for their enactment, in providing for the settlement of the public lands and thereby contributing to our free enterprise system by offering landless and laboring people an opportunity to acquire lands to provide for the needs of their families; and
Whereas the Homestead Act and supplemental acts provide for the further recognition of those who have served in the armed forces of the United States; and
Whereas specific Federal administration of the lands of the public domain began one hundred and fifty years ago with the establishment on April 25, 1812, of the General Land Office, now the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of the Interior, and the development of the West has been coextensive with, and based substantially upon, the acquisition, use, and disposal of these lands; and
Whereas the Nation's public lands have contributed to the development and maintenance of the land-grant colleges and universities and the transcontinental and other railroads; and constitute the resource from which our national forest and park systems have been created; and
Whereas the approximately 477 million acres of public domain, under the administration of the Department of the Interior, constitute a vital and necessary national land reserve, a trust dedicated to the greatest use and benefit of the public; and
Whereas the Congress, by a joint resolution approved September 22, 1961 (75 Stat. 571), has requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the calendar year 1962 as the centennial of the enactment of the Homestead Act:
Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the year 1962 as Homestead Centennial Year.
I call upon the Governors of the States, mayors of cities, and other public officials, as well as other persons, organizations, and groups, particularly in the States most directly affected by the Homestead Act, to observe such centennial by appropriate celebrations and ceremonies.
I request the Department of the Interior to plan and participate in appropriate commemorative activities recognizing the centennial of the enactment of the Homestead Act and the sesquicentennial of the establishment of the General Land Office; and I also request the Department of the Interior and other Federal agencies to cooperate fully with State and local governments during 1962 in commemorating these events.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this fifth, day of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-sixth.