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Collection Number RG0762.AM
Collection Name RG0762 Turner, Martha Margaret, 1868-1946
Identifier Personal papers
Size and Materials 4.0 cu.ft.; 8 boxes
Title Martha M. Turner papers
Date or Date Span 1882-1956
Dates of Accumulation 1951-1960
Year Range from 1882
Year Range to 1956
Admin/Biographical History Martha M. Turner was born September 6, 1868 in West Liberty, Ohio. She was the daughter of M. K. Turner and Eliza Craig. Her siblings were Craig, Ralph, Frances, Gladys, Rene, Lida Johnson, Anna Rowe, and Hattie Walker. The family came to Nebraska in 1870, settling in Columbus. Her father founded the Columbus Journal newspaper and served as editor until his death. Martha worked at the paper on weekends and during breaks from school. After graduating from high school in 1887, she worked full time at the paper, taking time out to attend classes at the Art Institute and School of Illustration in Chicago and at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska. Upon the death of her father in 1906, she spent two years as editor of the Columbus Journal before selling the paper and moving to Lincoln. She then spent ten years with the State Journal newspaper, working as art and church editor, society editor, and as a reporter on assignment.

In 1913 Martha filed a homestead claim for half a section of land in Washington County, Colorado, and lived in a sod house on the land for seven months of the year until her claim was proved. Later, she inherited and purchased additional, previously family-owned lands in Platte County and a house lot in Lincoln. She joined the Nebraska State Historical Society in about 1920, providing sketches of historical sites and illustrations for society publications including "Nebraska History of Addison E. Sheldon." The society hired her to head the newspaper department and she later founded the photograph department as well.

In her job and free time she answered queries about Nebraska history and conducted research used in writing numerous articles on various Nebraska history subjects for publication in area newspapers and for syndication. She wrote the chapter on early artists in the book Nebraska Art and Artists published in 1932 and wrote a history of Columbus, Nebraska, Our Own History, published in 1940. She sponsored an essay contest for area school children to write about Nebraska pioneer settlers in 1933 with the results released in 1934. She never married and late in life she lived with her sister Frances, her widowed sister Lida, and her nephew Ralph Johnson. She retired from the Society in May 1946 and died in June of the same year.
Level of description Fonds/Coll
Scope & Content This collection relates to the professional interests and personal life of Martha Turner. The collection is arranged as follows:

Subgroup 1: Professional Papers
Series 1: Pioneer Essay Contest, 1933-1934
Series 2: Nebraska Research, c.1904-c.1942
Series 3: Nebraska History, Specific Localities, 1929-1945
Series 4: General History Research, 1919-1937
Series 5: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1898-1945

Subgroup 2: Personal Papers
Series 1: Financial Records, 1914-1946
Series 2: Land Owned & Real Estate Records, 1913-1946
Series 3: Personal Items, 1876-1956

The Professional Papers of Subgroup 1 form the bulk of the collection. Included are materials such as Nebraska school children's essays and stories of pioneer days; newspaper clippings on Columbus, Platte County and general Nebraska history; handwritten and typed research notes, source extracts, drafts and manuscripts about Nebraska history compiled and written by Turner; research correspondence to and from Turner; work correspondence, writings, and finding aids from her time at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Subgroup 2 consists of Turner's financial records, personal papers, and personal correspondence of Turner; correspondence regarding farming and ranching on Turner's land holdings in Nebraska and Colorado; and family correspondence and memorabilia.

When initially surveyed, most of the collection consisted of loose papers. Miss Turner had organized some of the material by subject heading with numerous fasteners attaching related correspondence, research notes and correspondence. In many places, however, the items were loose and seemed unorganized. In addition there were a few items mixed in that postdated Turner's death in June 1946, so presumably these were added by family members who also may have reordered the files to their liking.

The approximately 71 entries for the Pioneer Essay Contest were left in the order in which Turner arranged them. The essays became her property at the end of the contest and it appears she intended to eventually publish them. Many of the essays are annotated and are accompanied by related correspondence. The history research files were organized around Turner's writings, though it was often unclear whether correspondence and research was conducted for work or for personal interest. The material is primarily from the 1930s and 1940s, with research notes, newspaper clippings and source extracts making up about half of the bulk of the collection. Of particular interest are single letters from Mari Sandoz, Earl G. Maxwell, and Luther North.

Note: Photographs have been transferred to the photo component (RG0762.PH).
Creator Turner, Martha Margaret, 1868-1946
Finding Aids Martha Margaret Turner finding aid
Subjects Indians of North America
Frontier & pioneer life
People Turner, Martha Margaret, 1868-1946
Search Terms Lincoln (Neb.) -- History
Nebraska -- History
Nebraska State Historical Society
Platte County (Neb.) -- History