The following books are related to the history of North Omaha. Each listing includes a description of who they are by; how long they are and when they were published; how they are related; and a link to purchase with each listing. All proceeds from the sale of these books support the ongoing maintenance of NorthOmahaHistory.com.
Books Related to North Omaha History
Do you have suggestions for books to add? Share them in the. comments below.
North Omaha History Volume One
(274 pgs, 2016)—This book is a powerful intro this predominantly African American community. The book includes the histories of racism; community leaders; and an African American newspaper, as well as a section on 1960s rioting. Red lining in North Omaha is exposed, along with backgrounds on several historic neighborhoods. The appendices include more than 20 tours around North Omaha and a comprehensive index.
North Omaha History Volume Two
(282 pgs, 2016)—Sharing the history of education in North Omaha, Fletcher Sasse then pays homage to his love of nature borne in North Omaha. It details each cemetery in the community, as well as the complete history of lead poisoning in North Omaha. It revisits the civil rights movement, as well as other events such as the 1913 Easter Sunday tornado, mob terrorism, and more. The ending of the book includes a few important tours of the community, as well as a massive timeline of North Omaha history and a comprehensive index.
North Omaha History Volume Three
(292 pgs, 2016)—Revealing more of the lost, hidden, neglected and denied history of this predominantly African American neighborhood. He shares biographies of historical crime bosses and an old woman who smoked stogies; details the role of transportation, and dives deep into the architecture in North Omaha. It shares a timeline of important people in the community’s history, including political, social, social, athletic, educational, economic, criminal and other figures. The book finishes with a bibliography and comprehensive index.
Visions of Freedom on the Great Plains: An Illustrated History of African Americans in Nebraska
By Bertha Calloway and Alonzo Nelson Smith (192 pages; 1998)—This book is the main book related to African American history in North Omaha, across Nebraska and throughout the Great Plains. It was written by the founder of the Great Plains Black History Museum.
Order Visions of Freedom on the Great Plains here »
The Negroes of Nebraska
By Work Projects Administration (51 pages; 1940)—Written by federally-funded researchers within the North Omaha community, this short booklet summarizes nearly 90 years of history in a few short pages. Drawing from historical accounts, newspaper reports and oral histories, this booklet includes important reference information not in print elsewhere.
Order The Negroes of Nebraska here »
Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989
By Amy Helene Forss (272 pages; 2014)—Offering an important and comprehensive biography of an icon, this book is a thorough account of newspaper editor, businesswoman and community leader Midred Brown’s life and career. Constantly active throughout her life, Brown steadily guided Omaha towards racial integration by fighting racism with direct action and education. Her legacy includes the Omaha Star, Nebraska’s first newspaper founded by a woman and perhaps the longest-running newspaper in the nation founded by an African American woman. It also includes the fruit of a lifetime of advocacy and action for Civil Rights still benefiting Omaha.
Order Black Print with a White Carnation here »
Ahead of Their Time: The Story of the Omaha DePorres Club
By Matt Holland (250 pages; 2014)—This book offers the penultimate history of one of Omaha’s most effective campaigns against racism and white supremacy. Written by the son of a founding member, the DePorres Club preceded the national Civil Rights movement by almost a decade. This book tells the story in powerful ways, with artifacts and personal stories spread throughout. This is the most thorough account of activism in Omaha so far.
Order Ahead of Their Time here »
Black And Catholic In Omaha: A Case Of Double Jeopardy: The First Fifty Years Of St. Benedict The Moor Parish
By Jack D. Angus (168 pages; 2004)—Written by an uncommon white member of a historic African American parish, Jack D. Angus accounts for much of the history of North Omaha’s St. Benedict Church. Stories of discrimination, struggles in the Civil Rights movement and highlights of the preservance among Omaha’s Black Catholics are inspirational and enlightening in the face of continued struggles to stay open.
Order Black and Catholic in Omaha here »
Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball At the ’68 Racial Divide
By Steve Marantz (264 pages; 2011)—In the face of ongoing white supremacy and racial hatred throughout their city, African American and white students at Central struggled to get to the state basketball tournament and win. This story contextualizes their struggles and tells the story of how they were caught in the middle of racism and segregation during a time of rioting and white angst against North Omaha.
Order Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central here »
Free Radical: Ernest Chambers, Black Power, and the Politics of Race
By Tekla Agbala Ali Johnson (320 pages; 2016)—The iconic intellectual statesman Ernie Chambers has spent his entire lifetime battling white supremacy in North Omaha, throughout the city of Omaha and across the entire state of Nebraska. At the same time, he’s challenged national and international audiences to recognize their own discrimination against African Americans and poor people. This book highlights Chambers’ lifelong advocacy and action, positioning his philosophy in relationship to global thinkers striving against oppression, racism and classism. An essential North Omaha story that reaches further and deeper than anything published before it.
A Thousand Honey Creeks Later: My Life In Music From Basie To Motown
By Preston Love, Sr. (296 pages; 1997)—Its not hyperbole to say that Preston Love, Sr. lived and loved North Omaha culture more than anyone before him. Throughout a lifelong career as a musician, he observed, wrote about and promoted the community’s powerful music, arts and cultural scene like nobody before or since. Strongly emphasizing North Omaha’s broad African American roots, Love easily commands readers to envision, feel and desire the history he scribes while revealing his own essential role in the community. Read my review »
Order A Thousand Honey Creeks Later here »
Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story
By Michael Richardson (356 pages; 2018)—Documenting unparalleled injustice in North Omaha, journalist Michael Richardson tells the harrowing true story of two African American community leaders imprisoned for life because of a government conspiracy against them. Highlighting archival evidence and 50 years of investigative reporting, Richardson tells the stories of Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa in ways nobody else has. This book has no parallel in the print today.
The Education of a WASP
By Lois M. Stalvey (346 pages; 1970 and 1989)—Struggling to appreciate her new city after moving to west Omaha with her family, white housewife Lois Stalvey started getting active with North Omaha’s African American community in the 1960s. Telling a story that will open the eyes of white people everywhere, it highlights how middle class white people can feel the sting of race hatred from other white people, even while expressing their own sense of white supremacy in Black communities. It also details a sense of failure among white integrationists at a time when they felt empowered.
Order The Education of a WASP here »
Drawing North Omaha
By Adam Fletcher Sasse (47 pages; 2018)—This is a collection of cartoon-like drawings of historical buildings in North Omaha by a local historian. Each drawing is accompanied by a vignette featuring the building’s history.
Order Drawing North Omaha here »
In Their Own Image: Artifacts from the Great Plains Black Heritage Museum
By Great Plains Black Heritage Museum (160 pages; )—Long held back from the public, these images and artifacts from the museum focus on pioneers and homesteaders, work and labor, businesses, churches, education, clubs and organizations, visual and performing arts, music, civil rights, athletics, politics, and military service.
Order In Their Own Image here »
The Black Experience: Through The Lens Of Rudy Smith
by Great Plains Black History Museum (pages; 2020)—This book was the final project of longtime photographer Rudy Smith. An African American from the neighborhood, he was often assigned to cover notable events and famous people from North Omaha, and made a point of capturing the communities smaller moments.
Order The Black Experience here »
24th and Glory: An Intersection of Civil Rights and Omaha’s Greatest Generation of Athletes
By Dirk Chatelain (184 pages; 2019)—Focusing on the 1950s and 1960s, this book emphasizes the ways that sports has enlightened white people and empowered African Americans in North Omaha. Calling out many specific stories, people and places throughout the community, Chatelain shares a lot of great pictures emphasizing the tales he tells throughout the book. In the end, he guides readers to a conclusion that African American athletes should be measured in the city’s history for all times.
Our Story: Recollections of Omaha’s Early Jewish Community 1895-1925
Edited by edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Patricia O’Connor-Seger (1981)
A publication of the Omaha Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, this book is a collection of powerful, authentic stories about the people, places and events that built Omaha’s early Jewish community, much of which was located in North Omaha. There’s no book in the Omaha history cannon quite like this one, as the personal stories in it offer a rich, layered perspective on the community. It has helped me identify businesses, synagogues, shuls and more that made North Omaha’s Jewish community a singular phenomenon in the city’s history.
Other Omaha History Books
These books are about Omaha history in general and might not mention North specifically. These are not listed in any specific order. Do you have suggestions for books to add? Share them in the. comments below.
- Omaha’s Trans-Mississippi Exposition by Jess Peterson (130 pages; 2003) Order here »
- Railroads of Omaha and Council Bluffs by William Kratzville (128 pages; 2002) Order here »
- University of Nebraska at Omaha by Oliver B. Pollak and Les Valentine (128 pages; 2007) Order here »
- Historic Photos of Omaha by Jeffrey Spencer (205 pages; 2007) Order here »
- Remembering Omaha by Jeffrey Spencer (134 pages; 2010) Order here »
- Omaha’s Easter Tornado of 1913 by Travis Sing (128 pages; 2003) Order here »
- Omaha’s Historic Houses of Worship by Eileen Wirth (128 pages; 2014) Order here »
- Jewish Life in Omaha and Lincoln: A Photographic History by Oliver B. Pollak (130 pages; 2001) Order here »
- Welcome to Omaha (Postcard History Series) by Oliver Pollak (128 pages; 2018) Order here »
- Lost Omaha by Janet R. Daly Bednarek (128 pages; 2018) Order here »
- Wicked Omaha by Ryan Roenfeld (96 pages; 2017) Order here »
- Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha by David L. Bristow Order here »
- Upstream Metropolis: An Urban Biography of Omaha and Council Bluffs by Lawrence H. Larsen, Harl A. Dalstrom, Kay Calame Dalstrom, and Barbara J. Cottrell Larson (496 pages; 2007) Order here »
- Gate City: A History of Omaha by Larson and Larson (356 pages; 1997) Order here »
- The Underworld Sewer: A Prostitute Reflects on Life in the Trade, 1871-1909 by Josie Washburn (372 pages; 1997) Order here »
- O&CB Streetcars of Omaha & Council Bluffs by Richard Orr (217 pages; 1996) Order here »
- The Changing Image of the City: Planning for Downtown Omaha, 1945-1973 by Janet R. Daly-Bednarek (304 pages; 1992) Order here »
- The Trans-Mississippi and International Expositions of 1898–1899: Art, Anthropology, and Popular Culture at the Fin de Siècle by Wendy Jean Katz (498 pages; 2018) Order here »
- River City Empire: Tom Dennison’s Omaha by Orville D. Menard (370 pages; 2013) Order here »