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The Nebraska Federal Writers’ Project: Remembering Writers of the 1930s – Broader Horizons

 A Web Exhibit from The Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Lincoln City Libraries.

This project was supported in part by the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered through the Nebraska Library Commission.

Exhibit & Text by Stephen Cloyd. © Lincoln City Libraries, 2007


Photo: Junior Class, Eagle High School, 1923

Junior Class, Eagle High School, 1923. Rudi Umland front row left.

In the photograph (right) of the Junior Class, Eagle High School, 1923, all the students appear to have dressed up for the occasion. Some of the boys are wearing sweaters and ties. Bennie Headley, Rudolph Umland’s favorite and perhaps prettiest cousin, the first girl in town to “bob” her hair in the modern style of the 1920s, stands at the center of the middle row in her best fringed dress. Rudi Umland, sitting cross-legged on the ground with his hat on his knee, front left in the photograph, is the only one among the boys that really looks like a farm boy–but he too has dressed for the occasion, in clean, new, well pressed overalls and high-topped boots.

In September, 1924, Rudolph Umland and Arthur Reiter of the Eagle Blue Ribbon Corn Club won the Blue Ribbon for their Grain Booth Exhibit at the Nebraska State fair. If Rudy (with a “y” now instead of an “i”) was proud to be a hard-working farmer’s boy, his classmates also saw him in another guise. It is not uncommon for the actors in a school play to be type cast. Students seem to feel that it is more educational, and doubtless more amusing for a knowing audience, if an individual is pressed into playing a character with certain similarities to his or her own type. In the April, 1925 Eagle High School senior class play, “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” Rudolph Umland was cast as “Dr. Carver” the educated and worldly friend of the erstwhile idle and wealthy hero of the piece. At graduation that spring, Rudy Umland was Class Valedictorian, having just bested his favorite cousin, Bennie Headley, for the honor.

Photo:Rudolph Umland planting cane, Spring, 1924

Photo:Rudolph Umland planting cane, Spring, 1924


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Contents

Part I
Rudolph Umland
A Family of German Immigrants
A Nebraska Farm Boy
Broader Horizons
From Student to Hobo
Meeting Lowry Wimberly
Lowry C. Wimberly, Between Laughter and Ghosts
Part II
The Federal Writers’ Project
Nebraska Beginnings
Circumventing a Crisis
Writers at Work
Nebraska Lore
Weldon Kees and the Writers’ Project
Loren Eiseley and the Writers’ Project
Publications and Impact
Looking Back at the Federal Writers’ Project in Nebraska
Part III
Documents
Notes and Bibliography
Study Questions
Additional Content Information

 

Contact the Heritage Room:

The Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors
Bennett Martin Public Library
136 South 14th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508-1899

Phone: 402-441-8516

E-mail: heritage@lincolnlibraries.org

Regular hours:

Tuesday – Friday: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Sunday: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Support the Heritage Room:

Join the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association to support the Heritage Room. Donations to the Foundation for Lincoln City Libraries may also be designated for the Heritage Room.

Donate Books or Papers to the Heritage Room:

We would enjoy discussing any possible donations of works by Nebraska authors or author memorabilia with you. We provide a Certificate of Gift for those who cannot visit in person.