The Gilded Age Plains City

The Great Sheedy Murder Trial and the Booster Ethos of Lincoln, Nebraska

Explore the City

Spatial Narratives

Interpretation and Narrative

Gilded Age Plains City: The Great Sheedy Murder Trial and the Booster Ethos of Lincoln, Nebraska explores the development of towns and cities on the Great Plains through the lens of a murder case in the 1890s that evolved into a fascinating story that drew the attention of nearly everyone in town and people from across the region and country.

We have three goals. Tell a good story about a fascinating episode in Great Plains urban history in a new way. Explore the various factors and developments that explain why the story became a cause celebre and thus make the story a window into a past society and culture. And, finally, explore through digital presentation new and innovative ways to do local and regional history and explain historical events.

We welcome readers at any level of interest to travel through the site. We invite the interested visitor to explore and hopefully figure out a wonderful whodunit story that was never solved.

In the course of the following story, we hope such a reader will come away with a better understanding about life in a small city of the eastern plains — Lincoln, Nebraska — in the late nineteenth century.

More deeply interested history fans and scholars will find a rich and deeply documented research base that explores the story at nearly the microhistorical level of lived experience in a specific time and place.

Interlinking text with images, photographs, maps, and documents, we hope to present the spatial and material world that reflected the economy, society, politics, and culture in which all the key actors and players in this drama lived and worked. We hope this will help the reader imagine what it was like to live and work in such a city — always an imaginative goal in history.

At a deeper level, this site also seeks to explore the theoretical nature of historical explanation. Though most historical narratives rely on a linear understanding of cause and effect that runs through them, historians are certainly aware that any series of related events on one level of reality is affected by a range of other developments in other areas of activity. The connections made possible by non-linear presentation facilitate this kind of "structural" or "non-linear" thinking.

Whatever level of interest, we welcome readers to enjoy and learn from the site.

University of Nebraska Lincoln

Directed by Timothy R. Mahoney, Plains Humanities Alliance, in collaboration with the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.
Funded by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the Nebraska Humanities Council, and the Plains Humanities Alliance.
© 2007–2008, University of Nebraska–Lincoln