For millions of Americans, Solomon D. Butcher s photographs epitomize the sod-house frontier. His images from western Nebraska constitute the most extensive photographic record of the generation that settled the Great Plains. Their faces are imprinted on our minds: jaunty bachelors and earnest husbands (Civil War veterans of both armies), spinster sodbusters, determined mothers, cowhands, farmhands, and former slaves all in search of land of their own. This first book devoted to Butcher and his photos presents a unique visual chronicle of that epoch, firmly establishing Butcher's place in frontier photography.
In a substantial introduction, John E. Carter traces the variegated career of this Virginia-born photographer who was himself an immigrant to the Nebraska plains. Combining critical analysis with biography, Carter situates Butcher in western history as well as in the history of photography and assesses his achievements in both. Exploring the nature of Butcher s works and their scope, content, and significance, Carter offers a perspective for evaluating the historical evidence found in his work and new insights into the evolution of Butcher s style and subject matter.
In this new paperback edition, more than 125 photographs are superbly reproduced in duotone from high-resolution scans of glass negatives. This edition also includes a new afterword by Carter, tracing the fascinating history of the photographs themselves after Butcher sold them to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1912. Everyone interested in the plains pioneers or historical American photography will prize this splendid book."
Solomon D. Butcher
University of Nebraska Press
Photographing the American Dream