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Potomac Books


Solomon D. Butcher, Solomon D. Butcher, 0803214049, 0-8032-1404-9, 978-0-8032-1404-0, 9780803214040, John E. Carter , , Solomon D. Butcher, 0803260385, 0-8032-6038-5, 978-0-8032-6038-2, 9780803260382, John E. Carter With a new afterword by the author

Solomon D. Butcher
Photographing the American Dream
John E. Carter

1985. 142 pp.
$60.00 s
Out of Print
2016. 152 pp.
132 photographs, 1 map
$29.95 t

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.

John E. Carter (1950–2015) was a senior research historian at the Nebraska State Historical Society and is the coauthor, with Richard E. Jensen and R. Eli Paul, of Eyewitness at Wounded Knee (Nebraska, 1991).

"Butcher’s work reveals the stark and self-contained life of these people, and his sense of order and clarity transforms these pictures from mere records into icons of the American spirit. A splendid book."—Choice

"A wonderfully revealing history of the process of homesteading, and a collective portrait of the hardy women and men who broke the plains."—New Yorker

"The high quality of the reproductions from antique glass negatives helps make this a superb portrait of a bygone time."—Publishers Weekly

"The prairie was Butcher’s stage, and his results ranged from the moving to the hilarious."—Village Voice

"The book’s black-and-white reproduction is excellent, and the introduction by Carter . . . is first-rate. A compelling and singular view of American pioneers and pioneering spirit."—American Photographer

"There’s an often evocative, poignant sense of life in these photographs of Nebraskans staring out of the late 19th century into a future they were helping shape with their courage and determination."—People

"Matchless historical documents of the most delightful kind."—Booklist

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