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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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New Photos Join the Jack and Irma Cather Collection

New Photos Join the Jack and Irma Cather Collection

Willa Cather, c. 1888
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Throughout the year, we’ve continued to receive periodic additions to the John E. (Jack) and Irma Cather Family collection. While cataloging these items, a number of lovely photographs came to light, including a John A. Bulkley portrait of teenaged Willa Cather, circa 1888.

Bulkley, a Civil War veteran from Illinois, operated a photography studio in Red Cloud for only a short time beginning in early summer 1888. The portrait is notable for its richness of detail, from the love knot brooch to Cather’s windowpane check dress, but it’s her intent gaze that makes this image unforgettable.

An unknown photographer captured a very different type of image with this snapshot of Red Cloud’s high school football team, above, circa 1909. Printed on an uncirculated postcard, a handwritten note on the back of the card identifies Jack Cather, Willa Cather’s youngest brother, at center.

We would love to identify the other young men pictured here or add images like this to our collection of early Red Cloud photographs. If you have items of interest, please contact archivist Tracy Tucker at