Spotlight on our 2013 Nebraska Book Award winners: Light on the Prairie

Nebraska Book Award winner: Youth Nonfiction

Light on the Prairie: Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska’s Pioneer Days

By Nancy Plain

“Nancy Plain’s Light on the Prairie . . . places Butcher’s work in its historical and sociological context, and provides a well-chosen sampling of his photographs.”—Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic

Once President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted 160 acres of free land to anyone with the grit to farm it for five years, the rush to the Great Plains was on. Solomon D. Butcher was there to document it, amassing more than three thousand photographs and compiling the most complete record of the sod house era ever made.

Alongside sixty-two of Butcher’s iconic photographs, Light on the Prairie conveys the irrepressible spirit of a man whose passion would give us a firsthand look at the men and women who settled the Great Plains. Like his subjects, Butcher was a pioneer, even though he held a camera more often than a plow.

Light on the Prarie has also won the 2013 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction, 2013 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Juvenile Nonfiction, and an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (pictured below).

Read an excerpt

For a complete list of the 2013 Nebraska Book Award winners, click here. An awards presentation ceremony will highlight the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books on Oct. 26 at the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Museum of Nebraska History in downtown Lincoln, Neb.

NancyPlainNancy Plain
is the author of nine children’s books, including With One Sky Above Us: The Story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians, winner of the 2010 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction, and Sagebrush and Paintbrush: The Story of Charlie Russell, the Cowboy Artist, winner of the 2008 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction. Her books have also won the Carter G. Woodson Honor award and First Place in Children’s Nonfiction from the National Federation of Press Women.



AASLH award photo_Plain

Photographer: Stacy Jones Photography. The AASLH representatives in the photo are Lynne Ireland, AASLH Chair, and Terry Davis, AASLH President and CEO.


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