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Nebraska Author Roger Welsch

NebraskaAuthorRoger Welsch, Nebraska Folklorist - photo from CBS News profile of him as contribtorA list of works by Nebraska author and humorist
Roger L. Welsch

Roger Welsch was born on November 6, 1936, in Lincoln, NE to Chris Welsch and Bertha A. Welsch. His family were members of the extensive local community of Germans from Russia (Volga Germans). He attended Lincoln High School, then the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts (1958) and a Master of Arts (1960) in German. While teaching Folklore and English part-time at Dana College in Blair from 1960-1965, Welsch continued his education, specializing in folklore studies, first at the University of Colorado (1962) and then at the Folklore Institute at Indiana University (1963-1965).

Welsch taught Folklore, English and German at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln from 1964 to 1973, earning NWU’s Creative Young Faculty Award in 1967. From 1973 to 1988, he taught Folklore and English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he ultimately held dual professorships in both the departments of English and Anthropology.

In 1972, frustrated by interactions with representatives of the Lancaster County Weed Control Authority over their insistence that he remove plants (that he considered to be useful and that they considered to be useless) from his yard, Welsch ran a successful campaign for a position on the Lancaster County Weed Control Authority on a pro-weed ticket. With slogans such as “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em”, he garnered unexpected media attention and won the election. This media coverage eventually brought him to the attention of CBS television’s roving journalist Charles Kuralt, famed for his human interest pieces from across the country (Kuralt and crew traveled around the U.S. in a large camper, submitting heartwarming stories from small towns). Kuralt featured Welsch in a piece on the CBS news and they struck up a friendship. A short time later, Kuralt asked Welsch to be a regular correspondent on his CBS Sunday Morning weekly news show, submitting “Postcards From Nebraska” – something Welsch did for 13 years starting in 1988. Welsch put out a book in 2001 that highlighted some of those popular television essays.

Welsch played an important role in promoting Great Plains folk traditions by coordinating Nebraska’s featured participation in the Smithsonian Institution’s 1975 Festival of American Folklife, serving on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Folk Arts Program, and successfully nominating Nebraskan Albert Fahlbusch, a Volga German who makes and plays hammered dulcimers, for an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 1984. Welsch has contributed to a number of Nebraska promotional booklets (see credits below), including audio travelogues for travelers wanting to tour the state.

After leaving UN-L in 1988, Welsch and his family, including his second wife, Linda, pulled up stakes in Lincoln to move to the small tree free he’d owned outside of Dannebrog, Nebraska since the mid-1970s. Welsch continued to write regular newspaper articles and essays, and has put out books (over 40 to date), covering a wide variety of topics, but always with a folksy small-town vibe. His essay collections have focused on Outhouses, Tall Tales, Dogs, Native American Culture, Nebraska history, and much more. He had a regular syndicated weekly column, “Rodger and Out” from 1987 to 1996. He hosted a video interview program on NET called “Roger Welsch &…”, in which he interviewed significant fellow Nebraskans, especially those in the literary field. He has also hosted other TV programs and specials, the latest of which was “Barn Again” in 2002.

Two particular interests of Welsch’s are worth noting.

Welsch has always had a strong interest in Native American culture and history, particularly for those tribes located in Nebraska, including the Omaha and Pawnee. After chronicling the musical history of the Omaha Tribe, he was adopted into the Wind Clan of the Omaha tribe in 1967, and was given the name ‘Tenuga Gahi,’ which means Bull Buffalo Chief. In the mid-1980s, he stood on the side of the Native tribes in a conflict with the Nebraska State Historical Society over the issue of repatriation of Native remains and artifacts. In what became a heated and bitter conflict, Welsch and the Native tribes ultimately prevailed and their ancestral belongings were returned to them. In 2007, a decade after Roger and Linda Welsch moved to their farm on the Loup river near Dannebrog, the couple, retaining life-tenancy, deeded the farm to the Pawnee. Roger Welsch is also an honorary member of the Pawnee Nation and has long served as their representative on the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.

Over the years, Welsch has developed a fascination and love for restoring old tractors, particularly Allis-Chalmers models. He has detailed his experiences with tractor restoration in a series of non-fiction books starting in the early 1990s, one of which featured this description in his author blurb: “Roger Welsch is a writer, folklorist, teacher, television commentator (on CBS’s “Sunday Morning”), and farmer whose addiction to old tractors has transformed his Dannebrog, Nebraska homestead from a pleasant riverside tree farm with a few old tractors to a nicely stocked tractor farm with some shade trees” (1997).

Welsch was the 2005 winner of the Henry Fonda Award, from the State of Nebraska Travel and Tourism Division.

Two of the jacket blurbs from Welsch’s books sum up how many people see him: (1) “Roger Welsch is a popular folklorist, humorist, and essayist who has written dozens of books and hundreds of articles about history, culture, and folklore. Welsch was a regular guest who presented his “Postcard from Nebraska” on the CBS Sunday Morning Show with Charles Kuralt, who called Welsch…’America’s premier storyteller.’ ‘From his lips, small-town life takes on the dignity of history,’”, and (2) “Roger Welsch can best be described as a cross between Erma Bombeck and Dr. Ruth, except male and living in Nebraska with a large collection of old farm tractors. Before turning his talents to canine psychology, Roger was best known as “the fat guy in overalls” on CBS’ Sunday Morning, where he offered up essays on rural and small-town life on the plains, and as an author of fiction and folk humor books. To many he is the guy who has a love affair with old Allis Chalmers tractors, as an advocate for Native American interests, and as the most prominent citizen of Dannebrog, Nebraska, (population 352). In addition to being a prolific author and a genuine television celebrity, Roger writes for dozens of publications, from Successful Farming to Reader’s Digest. Roger likes to think he is not actually writing about Dannebrog, or even Nebraska, but about rural and small-town life all across the nation.”

Roger Welsch died on September 30, 2022, in Dannebrog, NE, of kidney failure. He had remained active on Facebook in the weeks leading up to his death, including a final Facebook post three days before he passed, in which he let his family and friends know he was going into hospice care, thanking everyone for their love and support, and exhorting all his readers to live their best lives: I wish you all well and hope you enjoy at least half as many wonderful adventures as I have these past 85 years. You have been blessed with one life. Live it well.”

[Photo from the CBS News profile page associated with his 13-year stint sharing “Postcards From Nebraska” on CBS “Sunday Morning”.]

Additional information about Roger Welsch can be found at the following Web sites:

Non-Fiction and Essay Collections

The titles listed below are those attributed only to Roger Welsch, or those collaborations in which he made a significant contribution, beyond merely an introduction or foreword.

A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore
(398.097 Wel or 398.097 Wel 1984)

Folklore tells us something about almost every aspect of the life of the people. This rich and entertaining collection of Nebraska pioneer folklore, taken largely from the Nebraska Folklore Pamphlets issued by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s, is intended first and foremost for the general reader, for the people whose heritage it is. Songs of trail and prairie and of the Farmers’ Alliance, white man’s yarns and Indian tales, pioneer Nebraska folk customs, sayings, proverbs, beliefs, children’s games, cooking, and cures–these “wondrously entertaining kaleidoscopic reflections of the people and environment that were inspirations of the classic literature of Mari Sandoz and Willa Cather–to name two–could be a model for Americana collectors in other states to emulate. . . . A treasury indeed.” — King Features Syndicate “Parade of Books.”

Updated edition also released in 1984 — description applies to this 1984 edition.

Sod Walls: The Story of the Nebraska Sod House
(917.82 qW46s (1968) or 917.82 Wel 1991)

The sod house was to the Plains what the log house was to the eastern woodlands. Although the sod-house era, 1860-1900, was much briefer than that of the log cabin, the soddy did develop into a widespread architectural tradition. It began as an expedient to meet the severe conditions of the barren prairie but sod construction eventually proved to be, as Roger L. Welsch discovered in the research that resulted in Sod Walls, an efficient building technique. Indeed, its development made possible the eventual settlement of the vast Nebraska grasslands, long known as the American Desert.

In Sod Walls, Welsch, Assistant Professor of Folklore and German at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln (at the time of this book’s publication), describes in precise detail how the pioneer built his sod house, what life in it was like, the food he ate, the songs he sang, the toys he made for his children, the instruments he played at frontier square dances — in short, sod-house life. The scholar will find in these pages the most complete compilation to date of materials about the sod house and its folklore; the lover of Americana will find the story of pioneer life as it can be told only through its real joys and agonies, as they can be described only by those pioneers who lived them.

Also includes a chapter on the earlier area Native American homes and building structures of the area (many incorporating sod and grasses). 208 indexed pages with step by step chapters on ‘soddy’ construction all the way from selecting a site to constructing out buildings and living in the sod house. and sod house construction variations. It even has a chapter of sod house folk songs. Illustrated through out with drawings and diagrams plus dozens of historic period photographs.

Updated edition also released in 1991.

Broken Hoops and Plains People: A Catalog of Ethnic Resources in the Humanities: Nebraska and Surrounding Areas
edited by Galen Buller
(Heritage 305.8 Bul)

Broken Hoops and Plains People, a guide to Nebraska, concerns common people and the Great Plains. The title comes from Black Elk’s vision of the 19th century destruction of Sioux culture: “each [person] seemed to have his own little vision that he followed and his own rules…The nation’s hoop was broken like a ring of smoke that spreas and scatters…The hole tree seemed dying all its birds were gone.” The argument of this book is that, in the colliding of cultures in the plains, many hoops were fractured – those of the Indian cultures, of the Mexican and Southwestern peoples, and of the European immigrant groups who came after 1860. The book celebrates such rebuilders of nations and people’s identities who are part of Nebraska tradition and concern as Crazy Horse, Malcolm X, Charles Stewart Parnell, F.L. Grundvig, and the men and women of the various Mexican and Chicano movements. The various essays and the introduction argue that the vision of these people as well as that of thousands of less well known community builders, artists, workers and musicians, constitute the humane past of our various ethnic groups; these visions may also constitute our hope for a future in a period of overcentralization, short fossil fuels, and loss of identity.

Welsch is one of a dozen contributors to this collection of essays.

Tall Tale Postcards: A Pictorial History
(769.566 qWel)

The photographic postcard, at its height of popularity from 1905 to 1915, was an extension of many of the traditions of the nineteenth century, including that most prominent of narrative and humorous traditions, the tall tale. Indeed, it was precisely in this area that the picture postcard developed a tradition of its own, translating the concept of the oral tall tale into a new form — the photographic tall tale, and nowhere were the skills of the photographer harder tested or better applied.

In Tall Tale Postcards: A Pictorial History, the full range of subjects, techniques, and skills of the genre are examined, with the postcards themselves graphically telling the story in the best way possible. The hundreds of postcards reproduced here, selected from a collection of over 2,000 items, illustrate the best and the worst, the earliest and the latest, the rarest and most common of the tradition.

The Summer it Rained: Water and Plains Pioneer Humor
(978 Wel)

Essay (published in small booklet form) by Welsch on behalf of the Nebraska Water Resources Center. Welsch explores the importance of water to early residents of the Great Plains, and examines references to that valuable commodity in the literature and tall tales created by Plains authors.

Big Time: American Tall Tale Postcards
edited by Hal Morgan
(Heritage 769.566 Mor)

This book features a collection of both color and B&W reproductions of historic “Tall Tale” postcards. Selections from Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies, by Roger L. Welsch, are included to accompany some of the illustrations.

Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse: Tales of Old Time Horse Trading
(398.2 Wel)

Mister, You Got Yourself a Horse is a fascinating collection of old-time horse-trading tales that will be appeal to those interested in folklore, horses, and the American past. The stories radiate the gusto of a growing country and the humor, personality, and adventures of that now legendary roaming fixture, the horse trader. At the same time, these stories document an inportant American institution.

Roger L. Welsch as selected, from the files of the Works Progress Administration, the best and most representative narratives of old-time horse traders as transcribed by Federal Writers Project fieldworkers in Nebraska. The discovery of these files constitutes an adventure in itself — stories recorded in the 1930s and 1940s were lost or ignored for decades in the forest of government archives. Welsch presents the stories just as they were told and supplies background information on the narrators and their craft.

The stories cover the span of horse trading, the span of human and equine trickery, orneriness, debility — and generosity. They show how a class of men filled a national need, made a living, had a little fun, and acquired the gift of fab. They are entertaining — but also an important record.

Omaha Tribal Myths and Tricksters Tales
(Heritage SOS 970.3 OmaYw)

Story-telling — of myths, legends, fables — is found in all cultures. Without story-telling, many cultures and much wisdom would be lost to us today. The Omaha Indians have a rich cultural heritage which has been passed on through story-telling, and this book gathers together over seventy trival stories collected from remote and diverse sources.

These tales are about Trickster in his many guises — Rabbit, Ictinike, Coyote — a strange mixture of hero and villain, helper and rogue, one who is brilliant and stupid. The tales are also about “Adventurers and Culture Heroes,” “The Animal World,” “Animal and Man,” “Creation and Origin,” and “Other Tales.” These stories, which were are the heart of Omaha life, reveal an infectious sense of humor and a strong feeling for powerful rhetoric.

Roger Welsch, drawing upon his own extensive experience among the Omahas and from nineteenth and twentieth century ethnologists, offers annotations at the end of the individual tales. His new, more readable, and more accurate translation gives fruitful access to this proud culture. As Welsch says in the introduction, “My hope is that the tales will provide easier, more cogent access to the background and historical materials that can help us understand modern tales and help non-Indians appreciate the fact that the Omaha had a rich culture well before white soldiers and missionaries brought “civilization”  to them.

Catfish at the Pump: Humor and the Frontier
(398.2 Wel)

Were our forefathers liars? “You bet they were,” says Roger Welsch, “and damned fine ones at that.” The proof is in Catfish at the Pump , a collection of the kind of humor that softened the hardships of pioneering on the Great Plains. From yellowed newspapers, magazines, and forgotten Nebraska Federal Writers’ Project files, the well-known folklorist and humorist Roger Welsch has produced a book to be treasured. Here are jokes, anecdotes, legends, tall tales, and lugubriously funny poems about the things that preoccupied the pioneer plainsman: weather extremes; soil quality; food and whiskey; an arkload of animals, including grasshoppers, bed bugs, hoop snakes, the ubiquitous mule, and some mighty big fish; and even sickness and the poverty that would inspire black laughter again in the Great Depression.

Catfish at the Pump proves abundantly that the art of story telling was practiced diligently by our plains ancestors. Roger Welsch, who brought out Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies in 1972 (reprinted by the University of Nebraska Press in 1980), now issues this “book about lies and liars,” knowing full well that “underlying the pioneer sense of humor is a profound respect for truth.”

Of Trees and Dreams: The Fiction, Fact and Folklore of Tree-Planting on the Northern Plains
(582.16 Wel)

Essay (published in small booklet form) by Welsch on behalf of the Nebraska Forest Service. Welsch explores the difficulties early Nebraskans faced in trying to plants trees and keep them going. Welsch illustrates his points with examples from the literature and tall tales created by Great Plains authors.

Inside Lincoln [The Things They Never Tell You]
(917.822 Wel)

Quirky, off-beat travel guide to Nebraska’s capitol city, focusing less on the standard things you might find in a travel guide, and more on the “insider’s tips” from somebody who actually lives there. This bare bones publication went through a couple of editions (with corrections in subsequent editions), before being reprinted as a “New and Improved” version  in less than a year!

Inside Lincoln: New and Improved

[See above.]

Beautiful Dannebrog (1856-1939): Historic Romance, Adventure and Memory of Pioneer Days
edited by P.M. Hannibal
(978.243 Han)

Edited and with a lengthy introduction by Roger L. Welsch. The author, Peter M. Hannibal (1849-1939) was from one of the first families to settle in and found Dannebrog, Nebraska. In addition to having previously served as Mayor of that small community, he had written several short works extolling the virtues of, and exploring the history of, that Nebraska community. The book Beautiful Dannebrog was unfinished at the time of Hannibal’s death in 1939, but writer/folklorist Welsch managed to acquire a copy of the original manuscript in time to edit it for publication in 1986, as Dannebrog celebrated its centennial. Included at the back of the book is a map of Dannebrog as it was in 1939.

You Know You’re a Husker
with Paul Fell, illustrator
(741.5 Wel)

Collection of humorous single-panel cartoons by Paul Fell, with text by Roger Welsch, summarizing what it means to be a fan of the University of Nebraska “Huskers” sports teams.

Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies
(398 Wel)

By themselves the Great Plains are an exaggeration in geography — freezing cold, blisteringly hot, dust dry, wallowing in mud, windy, still, infinitely flat to the eye, ceaselessly hilly on foot, a immense desert, a fertile garden, a place where the plain truth often sounds like the most transparent lie and where the most incredible lie is always somehow truthful.

Shingling the Fog is a collection of Plains lies and tall tales, the first book to collect this folklore from the Plains. It gathers material from a variety of sources — from early published tales, from literature, from people throughout the area who sent Mr. Welsch their recollections, and from old-fashioned street-corner, barnyard, and Grange Hall story swapping sessions. These stories deal in their own comic, exaggerated way with every aspect of life on the Plains. The greatest number concern the weather and the land; others describe gigantic heroes, strange animals, and the hard life of the settler. They offer a rare view of the pioneer’s personality through his sense of humor; behind his enormous falsehoods, perhaps magnified by them, stand the real hardships and bounties of the Plains. As Mr. Welsch says of the tall tales in his Introduction, “They are the most prominent survival of pioneer folklore into the present; the old-timer who has forgotten the songs and longer stories will still recall of few of his favorite lies.”

Cather’s Kitchens: Foodways in Literature and Life
(813 CatYw)

“I have never found any intellectual excitement any more intense than I used to feel when I spent a morning with one of those old women at her baking or butter-making,” Willa Cather once declared. Cather’s “tastes were educated at pioneer tables as much as at her desk,” writes the folklorist Roger L. Welsch. With Linda K. Welsch, he explores the ways in which Cather used foodways as a literary device in her prairie novels. The result is Cather’s Kitchens, a book redolent of Antonia’s kolaches, of doughnuts and hickory nut cake, mile-high lemon pie, dark brown breads, roasting meats, and homemade wine.

The Welsches show the importance of food as a motif in My Antonia, O Pioneers!, One of Ours, and “Neighbour Rosicky.” In these works and in others, prairie kitchens and cellars are favorite settings and characters are deliberately drawn in terms of their attitudes toward food and cooking. Drawing references from Cather’s prairie novels, the Welsches matched them with recipes collected from her family’s recipe files, from other period cookbooks, and from old-time ethnic cooks still living in the Bohemian tradition. Cather’s Kitchens comes as close as possible to the precise recipes Cather had in mind and memory as she wrote. Although she became a “literary star who hobnobbed with the Menuhins and was the toast of Europe and all that,” Willa Cather was, the Welsches maintain, “a peasant at heart, a Nebraskan, a plainswoman — and a cook. Better yet, an eater. Perhaps as much a gourmand as a gourmet.”

The Liar’s Corner: A Garland of Humor Columns From the Pages of Nebraska Farmer, 1985-1988
(817 Wel)

In 1985, the magazine Nebraska Farmer revived an ongoing humor column — The Liar’s Corner — that dated back, in one form or another to the 1920s. The column, written by Roger Welsch, with input from readers, shared tall tales and baldfaced lies, all predicated upon the staples of living in Nebraska — weather, farming, family, nature, etc. This book collects the columns that appeared in that Nebraska Farmer feature from its start in 1985 through the Summer of 1988.

You Know You’re a Nebraskan
with Paul Fell, illustrator
(741.5 Wel)

Collection of humorous single-panel cartoons by Paul Fell, with text by Roger Welsch, summarizing what it means to be a life-long resident of the state of Nebraska.

It’s Not the End of the Earth But You Can See It From Here: Tales of the Great Plains
(398.2 Wel)

So many people simply fly over the Great Plains; Roger Welsch left his position as a professor and folklorist to settle down in the unpredictable and timeless heart of America’s rural landscape for a real education. With It’s Not the End of the Earth But You Can See It From Here, Welsch shares in depth the perspectives he has found in the great spaces of our great heartland.

Welsch writes about pickup trucks, country marriages, swimming holes, lazy days fishing on the river, good old boys and tavern life. His is a world that is disappearing in this country. With these tales, he passes along a folk literature that belongs ultimately to the people and places it describes . This engaging collection of tales from the heartland will make you long for simpler times.

Nebraska #2: A Special Highway
(Heritage 917.82 Wel)

Nebraska author, folklorist, and cultural historian Roger Welsch takes readers/listeners on a tour of the sights and sounds available to anyone traveling along Nebraska Highway 2, which Welsch’s friend, TV journalist Charles Kuralt described as follows: “From the first time I ever drove along it, I’ve been in love with Highway 2. It’s not that there’s a special something to see along Nebraska’s Highway 2. There’s a special nothing to see. From Grand Island to Alliance, Highway 2 takes you through the Nebraska Sandhills, the largest area of sand dunes in the western hemisphere. Writers inevitably use a metaphor of the sea to describe the hundreds of thousands of acres of grass — and hundreds of thousands of acres of sky. Like the sea, the emptiness of the sandhills gives the traveler a strange sense of comfort, there’s a feeling that as long as these two things are in order, the earth and the sky, all the rest can be forgotten until tomorrow. Highway 2 is not just another highway that goes somewhere; Highway 2 is somewhere.”

On back cover is stated “Route this tape covers”. Book produced to be used with an audio cassette. Lincoln City Libraries does not own the audio cassette.

Touching the Fire: Buffalo Dancers, the Sky Bundle and Other Tales
(Welsch (1992) and Heritage Welsch (1997))

The Turtle Creek band of the fictional Nehawka Indians wages a battle for the return of their sacred Sky Bundle, a medicine pouch containing artifacts. It reposes under glass in an eastern museum at the beginning of Touching the Fire. Seven interlinked stories, beginning with a court battle in the year 2001 and going far back in time to the origin of the Bundle and the first Nehawka village on the Great Plains, reveal the richness and depth of Indian cultural heritage. Touching the Fire is multilayered — sad, humorous, and always informative.

Liar’s Corner: The Saga Continues: Another Two and a Half Years of Laughter From the Nebraska Farmers Liar’s Corner, Fall 1988-Winter 1991
(817 Wel)

In 1985, the magazine Nebraska Farmer revived an ongoing humor column — The Liar’s Corner — that dated back, in one form or another to the 1920s. The column, written by Roger Welsch, with input from readers, shared tall tales and baldfaced lies, all predicated upon the staples of living in Nebraska — weather, farming, family, nature, etc. This book collects the columns that appeared in that Nebraska Farmer feature from the Fall of 1988 through the Winter of 1991.

Uncle Smoke Stories: Four Fires in the Big Belly Lodge of the Nehawka

As a bright harvest moon rises over the plains, the buffalo-hide flap of Big Belly Lodge rattles, and an elderly man appears in the doorway. “If there is still room for me at the fire,” he says, peering into the smoky interior, “I have news of Coyote.”

The man is led quickly to the place of honor, for he is Uncle Smoke, a great storyteller. Each year, eagerly awaited, he visits the lodge with tales of Coyote, the wily trickster-hero.

His tales are funny, surprising, and rich with meaning. “The Tale of Coyote the Hunter,” “Coyote and the Great Council,” “Coyote and His Shadow” and “The Story of Coyote’s Courtship” bring deep satisfaction to all who hear them, for they speak of the traditional ways, and keep the unwritten history of the tribe alive.

Author Roger Welsch, an adopted Omaha tribesman, has created a truly remarkable work of fiction with Uncle Smoke Stories. Centered around the life of the Nehawka, an imaginary plains tribe, it is deft, engrossing, and bright with Native American wisdom. Young Adult.

Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them: How to Keep Your Tractors Happy and Your Family Running
(631.372 Wel)

Roger Welsch at his best! You’ve seen him on CBS’s “Sunday Morning” and you’ve read his essays in Successful Farming and other popular magazines. Now you can enjoy Welsch’s fun-filled essays in this witty collection of stories that poke fun at his favorite past-time. Filled with light-hearted tips for saving your marriage from ruin while cleaning your tractor parts in the dishwasher, and other clever restoration techniques. Down-home humor every tractor enthusiast can relate to!

In Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them, author, television personality, and tractor nut Roger Welsch offers a wealth of tips, techniques, and laughs as he explores his sometimes rocky, but always entertaining, love affair with his growing family of Allis WC tractors. Amongst the tales of rusty iron and busted knuckles, you will discover: how to collect tractors without being thrown out by your spouse, why the best way to solve unfixable problems begins with a trip to the local tavern, and why you should never, ever eat peanuts in the shop.

Also released in the omnibus volume The Tractor Trilogy.

How Cold Is It?
with Paul Fell, illustrator
(741.5 Wel)

Collection of humorous single-panel cartoons by Paul Fell, with text by Roger Welsch, exploring the issue of cold winters in Nebraska — some in realistic terms, and others in the context of “tall tales”.

Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles: Norwegian Torque Wrench Techniques and Other Fine Points of Tractor Restoration
(631.372 Wel)

In this rollicking follow-up to Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them, Roger Welsch revisits his favorite pasttime, tinking with beat-up old tractors. This volume follows the rescue of a scrap yard refugee Allis-Chalmers WC tractor, nicknamed Woodpecker, a journey that pulls Welsch deep into a bottomless morass of broken bolts, smashed fingers, and frozen pistons.

The Woodpecker’s revivial is chronicled from the day salvage yard owner Jim Stromp presented Welsch with its rusted carcass to the fateful moment when the roar of its unmuffled exhaust first rattled the trees, woke the dogs, and scared the monkeys at Welsch’s farm. Along the way, you’ll meet local tractor experts who keep Welsch on the right track (“You don’t pound on old tractors. You beat on old tractors”), learn precision techniques such as goo removal, sledge maul surgery, and fender wrestling, and get some good advice from fellow tractor nuts (“Don’t buy a sawmill”). A hilarious tale that will keep you up all night laughing, Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever turned (or broken) a bolt.

Also released in the omnibus volume The Tractor Trilogy.

Diggin’ In and Piggin’ Out: The Truth About Food and Men
(Heritage 641 Wel)

Writing with his characteristic hometown wit and wisdom, Roger Welsch delves into the world where flannel and fishing meet gourmet cooking. The result is a genuinely funny book that teems with tips, such as how to make Gin & Tonic BBQ Ribs (hint: drink while you cook), and offers anecdotes about a man’s ideal restaurant (a place where you can eat canned food over the sink) and Roger’s search for the perfect meal. Peppered with recipes throughout, Diggin’ In and Piggin’ Out includes info about manly food of every kind — mostly prepared in huge firepits, car-sized barbecue grills, and custom-built smokehouses. It is the perfect laugh-out-loud treat for men and women ready to get in touch with their inner gourmand.

You Know You’re an Old Tractor Nut
with Paul Fell, illustrator

We would welcome you to the wild and wacky world of antique tractors…but if you’ve come this far, it’s probably to late. How can you know if it’s too late to save yourself from the disease of old iron and rust? Well, that’s what this book is for. This is a guide to your mental condition…or that of someone you know or love.

Love, Sex and Tractors
(631.372 Wel)

Humorist, tractor guy, and aspiring sex therapist Welsch is back with an all-new collection of essays guaranteed to help the discriminating male reader recognize and straddle the fine line between a happy significant other and several sheds of well-oiled machinery.

In this follow-up to Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them and Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles, Roger Welsch delves into the most mysterious (and often entertaining) aspect of life as a tractor nut — the fine art of maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse and family. In addition to shop techniques, the mystical aspect of tractor-buying road trips, and how to solve tricky tractor troubles with a case of Old Milwaukee, Love, Sex, and Tractors reveals the covert training women receive (Women’s School), offers shop techniques useful when your daughter starts dating, unveils the erotic power of combining Victoria’s Secret underwear with mashed potatoes, describes how to motivate your kids with sewer snakes, and recites the proper use of Rog’s personal secret to survival, the Male Generic Apology.

Also released in the omnibus volume The Tractor Trilogy.

Postcards From Nebraska: The Stories Behind the Series as Seen on CBS’ “Sunday Morning”
(917.82 Wel)

Roger Welsch looks back and reflects on some of the most popular entries in his “Postcards From Nebraska” regular featurette on the CBS “Sunday Morning” show, originally with Charles Kuralt. In his introduction, Welsch describes the origin of the show, and then the rest of this book is a sharing of some of the viewers’ favorite entries in that series of televised essays from the heartland.

Old Tractors Never Die: Roger’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Ancient Iron
(631.372 Wel)

In Old Tractors Never Die, the ever-popular Roger Welsch, author, regular contributor to Successful Farming and Ageless Iron and correspondent for CBS TV’s “Sunday Morning” show, shares his humor and unique outlook on one of his favorite subjects: farm tractors. This collection of humorous essays and photos explores the never-ending process of turning trash into treasure. All of these essays appeared previously in either Successful Farming or Ageless Iron.

Here’s just a sampling of “Roger’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Ageless Iron”:

  • Why you should name your tractors
  • Why you should collect just one model and make of tractor
  • Why, early in your collecting, you should buy a tractor you don’t want.

If you’ve ever found yourself among the ruins of rust; if you’ve ever neglected your family to spend time trying to reassemble a basket of worn out parts into a machine that can actually leave the garage under its own power, then you can learn a thing or two from this old tractor nut.

Everything I Know About Women I Learned From My Tractor
(817 Wel)

Best-selling author and humorist Roger Welsch comes through again as he delivers his outrageous anecdotes from the farm fields of Nebraska. Jam-packed with Rog’s creative techniques for picking up babes, buying suitable gifts for anniversaries, first dates and more! Roger digs deep into his own down-home experiences to deliver his comic and witty take on love, sex, romance, and marriage as he guides more innocent generations down the same road to success that he enjoys in his own relationships. This humorous guide examines everything from evading capture and the old catch-and-release tactic, to the dreaded blind date. This “ultimate contribution to mankind” reveals the coveted trade secrets Roger Welsch holds dear and deserves prominent placement on the bookshelf of every self-respecting male.

(690.38 Wel)

Outhouses presents Roger Welsch’s philosophy of life as seen from the confines of the lowly privy, that noble but misunderstood foundation of the cabin and the family farm. Stoically withstanding the elements, this often neglected fixture of rural America administers to our most basic of human needs, asking nothing in return by an occasional whitewash. Roger examines biffies, from the American Midwest to the ice fields of Greenland, finding within these simple structures an allegory for the act of life itself. In Outhouses, Roger Welsch secures his position as one of America’s fundamental humorists, the Will Rogers of defecation, the emir of merde, the sultan of scat, the…well, you get the idea. No trip to the loo should be considered successful without reading at least one chapter from this book.

A Life With Dogs
(636.7 Wel)

Dogs. They shred our living room furniture, expel a host of fluids on our carpets, and require their human hosts to cater to their every need, yet we love these critters more than we love life itself. Why do these mobile digestive tracts have such control over us simple human beings? They can make grown men coo baby talk in public and they can make strong women weep like little schoolgirls. They seldom perform any practical function in our modern, mechanized society, yet people are willing to spend more on vet bills than they would spend on college tuition for their own kids.

In A Life With Dogs, dog aficionado Roger Welsch examines the relationship between dogs and the people they con into catering to their every whim. Ultimate, Roger Welsch concludes that there is no answer as to why we shower so much affection on our dogs. We just love the goofy little buggers, and that is all we need to know. Roger’s love of dogs is apparent in every page of this book, making A Life With Dogs a warm and entertaining read for the dog lover in you.

From Tinkering to Torquing: A Beginner’s Guide to Tractors and Tools
(631.372 Wel)

Antique tractor collecting and restoration has never been more popular–and all the newcomers need to be warned, according to old tractor guru Roger Welsch. Otherwise, they’ll end up alone with three mortgages and two ex-wives — but they will have a barn with a sparkling restored tractor. Here, in a tone comfortably lodged between wise and wisecracking, the man Charles Kuralt called “America’s premier storyteller” recounts falling in love with bringing old tractors back to life — and, along the way, manages to impart some sound advice, including the basics: What is old? What is a tractor? And what is it with old tractors, anyway? He also covers the finer points of restoration and repair, from the tools of the trade to tractor parts to the restorer’s use of common household objects in a pinch.

Weed ’em and Reap: A Weed Eater Reader
(641.563 Wel)

There are lots of books out there about how to accurately and skillfully identify and cook wild foods, but not very many about first-rate, industrial-grade weed eating. And not many that are guaranteed to make the reader laugh — until now. This book is for those who admire the notion of being out on a camping trip and amazing everyone else around the campfire by serving up a salad, stew, vegetable, tea, or dessert that comes as a total surprise — and is made out of something found within yelling distance of the tents. It will teach readers more about morels, cattails, and smut (the fungus kind), than they ever thought possible. There’s also information on making wine, jams and jellies, and even gathering and enjoying acorns the Native American way. The author is not a botanist or a chef, but rather an accomplished and widely acclaimed eater and writer. This walking billboard for gustatory endeavors is full of entertaining stories about identifying, preparing, and eating weeds. Readers will be left with a new eagerness to know more about plants, a desire for cooking them, and a new enthusiasm for wandering around their yard.

My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad and the Husker: With Original Sketches of Nebraska Scenic Sites
(917.82 Wel)

Writer Roger Welsch is a fierce fan of Nebraska — not just the football team, or the state’s famous beef, or its endless sky, or its ferocious and ferociously unpredictable weather, but the whole thing. His license plate says “CAPT NEB” and he means it.

Welsch loves Nebraska as the heart of America’s Great Plains. His perception of the state is not always conventional — occasionally it’s even abrasive — but he’s thought a lot about this place some call “Fly-Over Country” or “The Middle of Nowhere” or even “The End of the Earth.” And what he has to say about it makes interesting reading for natives and outsiders alike, for those who love the place and those who would rather travel through hell that make another drive across Nebraska’s endless miles.

After writing three dozen books about his other passions — everything from old tractors to dogs, edible wild plants, outhouses and sod houses — Welsch finally turns his attention to his first and real passion: his beloved home state.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity
(630 Wel)

At a time when so much manliness is played out on computer keyboards and TV or videogame remote controls, it takes a certain degree of grit and guts and plain pigheadedness to pull up stakes and move to the country. For those brave souls, the backward-looking gentleman farmers of our fast-forward-looking age, Roger Welsch has a few choice words. To homestead in the Old West, the saying went, all you needed was forty acres and a mule. For the 21st century, Welsch contends that instead of a beast of burden one only needs the stubbornness of being a fool.

In several hilarious essays, Welsch presents a guy’s guide to leaving modern miracles behind and embracing productive Ludditism. Made famous by his laconic pieces on CBS Sunday Morning (while wearing his signature overalls), Welsch takes on new subjects, and even elaborates the principles of feng shui for the farmhouse, barn, and farmyard. He draws on a lifetime’s worth of experience to counsel prospective migrants to rural America on what precisely not to do. Learn from the mistakes of a master, and laugh harder than you thought possible while doing it. Roger Welsch is in fine fettle in Forty Acres and a Fool, a light-hearted look at rural upstarts that puts the delights of country living-and the occasional advantages of urban life-into rare perspective.

Golden Years My Ass: Adventures in Geriatric Indignity
(817 Wel)

Roger Welsch’s humorous take on his ha-ha-ha-ha Golden Years, a subject in which he now considers himself an expert. Portions of this book have been shared with friends facing medical problems and have each and every one found the humor encouraging and heartening. Anyone who is thinking about getting older will profit from a reading of this book…and of course anyone who is pretty much giving up might find something here that would change his mind. You can get old and complain, or get old and laugh; the choice is yours, and this volume gives you that choice. Are Pacemakers, radiation treatments, and proctologic exams really suitable topics for humor? In these pages, Rog asks “Why not?”

Embracing Fry Bread: Confessions of a Wannabe
(Biography Welsch)

When he was out playing Indian, enacting Hollywood-inspired scenarios, it never occurred to the child Roger Welsch that the little girl sitting next to him in school was Indian. A lifetime of learning later, Welsch’s enthusiasm is undimmed, if somewhat more enlightened. In Embracing Fry Bread Welsch tells the story of his lifelong relationship with Native American culture, which, beginning in earnest with the study of linguistic practices of the Omaha tribe during a college anthropology course, resulted in his becoming an adopted member and kin of both the Omaha and the Pawnee tribes.

With requisite humility and a healthy dose of humor, Welsch describes his long pilgrimage through Native life, from lessons in the vagaries of “Indian time” and the difficulties of reservation life, to the joy of being allowed to participate in special ceremonies and developing a deep and lasting love of fry bread. Navigating another culture is a complicated task, and Welsch shares his mistakes and successes with engaging candor. Through his serendipitous wanderings, he finds that the more he learns about Native culture the more he learns about himself — and about a way of life whose allure offers true insight into indigenous America.

The Reluctant Pilgrim: A Skeptic’s Journey Into Native Mysteries
(Biography Welsch)

Forty years ago, while paging through a book sent as an unexpected gift from a friend, Roger Welsch came across a curious reference to stones that were round, “like the sun and moon.” According to Tatonka-ohitka, Brave Buffalo (Sioux), these stones were sacred. “I make my request of the stones and they are my intercessors,” Brave Buffalo explained. Moments later, another friend appeared at Welsch’s door bearing yet another unusual gift: a perfectly round white stone found on top of a mesa in Colorado. So began Welsch’s lesson from stones, gifts that always presented themselves unexpectedly: during a walk, set aside in an antique store, and in the mail from complete strangers.

The Reluctant Pilgrim shares a skeptic’s spiritual journey from his Lutheran upbringing to the Native sensibilities of his adoptive families in both the Omaha and Pawnee tribes. Beginning with those round stones, increasing encounters during his life prompted Welsch to confront a new way of learning and teaching as he was drawn inexorably into another world. Confronting mainstream contemporary culture’s tendency to dismiss the magical, mystical, and unexplained, Welsch shares his personal experiences and celebrates the fact that even in our scientific world, “Something Is Going On,” just beyond our ken.

Why I’m an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales
(398.2 Wel)

One day Roger Welsch ventured to ask his father a delicate personal question: “Why am I an only child?” His father’s answer is one of many examples of the delightful and laughter-inducing ribald tales Welsch has compiled from a lifetime of listening to and sharing the folklore of the Plains. More narrative than simple jokes, and the product of multiple re-tellings, these coarse tales were even delivered by such prudish sources as Welsch’s stern and fearsome German great-aunts. Speaking of cucumbers and sausages in a toast to a newly married couple, the prim and proper women of Welsch’s memory voice the obscene and unspeakable in stories fit for general company. Why I’m an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales is Welsch’s celebration of the gentle and evocative bits of humor reflecting the personality of the people of the Plains. Foreword by Dick Cavett.

Audiovisual Materials (audio and video recordings)

Sweet Nebraska Land
(Heritage Recording 781.7 Ame)

Native Nebraskan Roger Welsch, a professor of German and folklore at Nebraska Wesleyan University, is the author of A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore, containing materials collected by the WPA in Nebraska during the Great Depression. From those he selected many of the songs on this recording. Reflecting Nebraska’s history and heritage, he has grouped the songs under five headings: The Crossers, The Settlers, Immigrants, War, and Hard Times.

Mr. Welsch accompanies himself on the 12–string guitar, banjo, and autoharp, while being assisted by Terry Schmitt on vocals and 6–string guitar. The recording was produced by KFMQ, Lincoln, Nebraska, “as a tribute to the Nebraska Centennial Celebration.”

Liner notes provide detailed historical background for each song as well as the lyrics.

Love Notes From a Native Son: To Nebraska – The Great American Desert
(Heritage Filmstrip 978.2 Wel)

Written and narrated by Roger Welsch; photography by James Denney. 2 Filmstrips, audiocassette and script.

Nebraska Humor Month: Roger Welsch
(uncataloged videotape recording)

Roger Welsch was one of several Nebraska authors who participated in a series of author talks during Nebraska Humor Month in 1984. His program was recorded onto VHS tape, an uncataloged copy of which is archived in the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at the Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln, NE.

Nebraska: Highways to Heritage [I-80 From West to East and From East to West]
(Heritage Audio 917.82 Wel (1985) and Heritage Audio 917.82 Wel 1988 (1988))

Tape A is to be used when driving west to east across Nebraska; Tape B — east to west. 2 Audiocassettes, 1 booklet, 1 color map.

Omaha Indian Music: Historical Recordings from the Fletcher/La Flesche Collection
edited by Dorothy Sara Lee and Maria La Vigna
(Heritage Recording 781.7 AmeI)

Selections from the Fletcher/La Flesche collection of wax-cylinder recordings made between 1895 and 1905, and rerecorded in 1984. Roger Welsch wrote the liner notes for this.

The Prairie: Pistol to Plow
(Heritage Audio 781.7 AmeW)

Audiocassette + booklet.

Folk Tales and Folk Songs
(Heritage Video 810.9 Fro10)

Part of the Literature of the frontier series. Lincoln City Libraries video program. Sponsored by the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association in cooperation with the Lincoln City Library Foundation. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Return of the Sacred Pole

The sacred pole of the Omaha tribe, perhaps its most important religious symbol, is returned to the tribe following over 100 years as a museum artifact at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University. NETV video production — viewable at this link. on the site, or at this link on YouTube. Roger Welsch, honorary member of the Omaha tribe, serves as narrator for this 1-hour documentary.

Articles in such periodicals as:


Natural History

Reader’s Digest

Successful Farming

posted to the web March 2019 sdc / last updated May 2023 sdc