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Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream

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For millions of Americans, Solomon D. Butcher’s photographs epitomize the sod-house frontier. His late-nineteenth-century images from western Nebraska constitute the most extensive photographic record in existence of the generation that settled the Great Plains. The faces are unforgettable: jaunty bachelors and earnest husbands, Civil War veterans of both armies, spinster For millions of Americans, Solomon D. Butcher’s photographs epitomize the sod-house frontier. His late-nineteenth-century images from western Nebraska constitute the most extensive photographic record in existence of the generation that settled the Great Plains. The faces are unforgettable: jaunty bachelors and earnest husbands, Civil War veterans of both armies, spinster sodbusters and determined mothers, cowhands, farmhands, and former slaves—all in search of land of their own. Originally published in 1985, this first book devoted to Butcher and his photographs presents a unique visual chronicle of Great Plains settlement and established Butcher’s place in frontier photography. Everyone interested in the plains pioneers or historical American photography will prize this splendid book.


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For millions of Americans, Solomon D. Butcher’s photographs epitomize the sod-house frontier. His late-nineteenth-century images from western Nebraska constitute the most extensive photographic record in existence of the generation that settled the Great Plains. The faces are unforgettable: jaunty bachelors and earnest husbands, Civil War veterans of both armies, spinster For millions of Americans, Solomon D. Butcher’s photographs epitomize the sod-house frontier. His late-nineteenth-century images from western Nebraska constitute the most extensive photographic record in existence of the generation that settled the Great Plains. The faces are unforgettable: jaunty bachelors and earnest husbands, Civil War veterans of both armies, spinster sodbusters and determined mothers, cowhands, farmhands, and former slaves—all in search of land of their own. Originally published in 1985, this first book devoted to Butcher and his photographs presents a unique visual chronicle of Great Plains settlement and established Butcher’s place in frontier photography. Everyone interested in the plains pioneers or historical American photography will prize this splendid book.

37 review for Solomon D. Butcher: Photographing the American Dream

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I loved this book! I only wish there was more. I wanted to know more about the people in the pictures I would look at them and wonder about their lives. I loved seeing the faces of many people who founded life in Nebraska. Also the photographer got me, he altered some pictures and often I would fall for the alteration then look closer and realise it was altered! :D Hilarious, especially the story about the white turkey.... Loved when author said "Many people helped me with this work-so many that I loved this book! I only wish there was more. I wanted to know more about the people in the pictures I would look at them and wonder about their lives. I loved seeing the faces of many people who founded life in Nebraska. Also the photographer got me, he altered some pictures and often I would fall for the alteration then look closer and realise it was altered! :D Hilarious, especially the story about the white turkey.... Loved when author said "Many people helped me with this work-so many that I begin to fear that there is not one idea original to me in the entire book"(vii).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Butcher was a sort of benign charlatan, convinced that taking photographs as part of a history of Custer County was his ticket to wealth. It wasn't. His photos, 3000 in all, were of interest in his time and after as historical documentary. The fact that he wasn't an artist gives them a quirky, singular quality that might have been lost had he knew better what he was doing. Butcher was a sort of benign charlatan, convinced that taking photographs as part of a history of Custer County was his ticket to wealth. It wasn't. His photos, 3000 in all, were of interest in his time and after as historical documentary. The fact that he wasn't an artist gives them a quirky, singular quality that might have been lost had he knew better what he was doing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The book gives a sense of the time and place.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tanja

    Another book I picked up in connection with the Nebraska Reading Challenge, but also would have been interested in on my own. The photographs in this book show early settlers, mostly in front of their homes, from first dugout over sod house to wood framing home, mostly from the late 1880s to the early 1900s. Once again I was amazed what hardships the early settlers endured. I’m grateful for people like Solomon D. Butcher who left us a stunning visual account of early life in the Midwest.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susie

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wade Alberts

  8. 4 out of 5

    Twyla Hadley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Husemoller

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Frye

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lillian N.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Rodgers

  15. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda VanderBroek

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sunshine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frederic

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  23. 4 out of 5

    Damara

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelley Tackett

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erin Carr

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carol Richey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  31. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  32. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  33. 5 out of 5

    Ardith

  34. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  35. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ellen

  36. 4 out of 5

    Markmehrer

  37. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wiseman

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