Solomon Butcher exhibit at The Frank House through October

Sod School Custer County
This sod school 60 miles west of Merna in Custer County was taken by Solomon Butcher in 1889.

KEARNEY – An exhibit featuring the work of noted author and photographer Solomon D. Butcher will run June 16 through October at The Frank House on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.

Solomon Butcher
Solomon Butcher

“Through the Lens: Solomon Butcher’s Nebraska” will be displayed on the second floor of the museum.

More than 60 images – postcards and prints – as well as an original Butcher glass plate negative make up the exhibit.

Butcher spent the majority of his life in central Nebraska recording pioneer life in the region. He died in 1927. His images of sod houses, or “soddys,” are found in publications across the world and familiar to millions.

“What we are trying to do with this exhibit is explore how Butcher’s photography shapes the American imagination in regards to the Homestead Era and early development of the Great Plains,” said William Stoutamire, coordinator of The Frank House.

First-edition prints of Butcher’s two books, “Pioneer History of Custer County and Short Sketches of Early Days in Nebraska” and “Sod Houses or The Development of The Great American Plains: A Pictorial History of The Men And Means That Have Conquered This Wonderful Country,” will be displayed.

A 1907 glass plate camera, similar to what Butcher used when he operated his studio on Central Avenue in Kearney, is among exhibit highlights. The camera is on loan from Stuhr Museum.

The collection also includes contributions from Buffalo County Historical Society, Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney Visitors Bureau and Nebraska State Historical Society, and the Frank House’s own collection.

Butcher wasn’t just a photographer of homesteaders and homestead life. From his studio in Kearney, which operated in the early 1900s, he also captured the growth and development of Kearney, capturing cityscapes and images of historic structures such as The Frank House, Buffalo County Courthouse and hydroelectric plant.

He also documented modernization of the Plains, arrival of agricultural industry and transportation.

“We want to showcase his famous homestead images, of course, but we are really featuring these later, less well-known photographs, which uniquely capture Kearney as it appeared around the turn of the century,” Stoutamire said.


Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,

Source: William Stoutamire, Director Frank House, 308.865.8284,

Burlington Engine No. 120
Burlington engine No. 120, the first train into Broken Bow, was photographed by Solomon Butcher in 1886.
Sigonmey Meat Market
Solomon Butcher’s photo of the Sigonmey Meat Market in Custer County was taken in 1886.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *