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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Social Networking 1890

Social Networking 1890

Monday, April 11, 2011

“Social Networking 1890: Nebraska Opera Houses in their Heyday”

Red Cloud, Nebraska, April 19, 2011 — The exhibit, “Social Networking 1890: Nebraska Opera Houses in their Heyday,” will be featured during the 2011 Willa Cather Spring Conference themed “Willa Cather and Her Popular Culture” to be held in Red Cloud, Nebraska, April 29-30. This year's conference explores and celebrates a theme that has not been often considered by Cather's readers: her relationship to the popular culture of her day. From her enjoyment of popular music, movies, and books, to her writings about actresses and opera stars, Cather regularly engaged with the trendy, the famous, and the celebrated.

The following excerpt is from a letter Willa Cather wrote in the Diamond Jubilee edition of the Omaha World-Herald on October 27, 1929. It was later re-published in the Red Cloud Chief: "When I go about among little Nebraska towns, the thing I miss most is the Opera House. A traveling stock company settled down at the local hotel and thrilled and entertained us for a week."

“Social Networking 1890” features over 150 enlarged images associated with 60 Opera Houses from around the state. Also featured is Opera House-related memorabilia such as commemorative souvenirs, glass objects and advertising, and other items that remind us how central Opera Houses were to the lives of Nebraskans prior to the coming of moving pictures around World War I. Of the over 515 Opera Houses that once existed in the state, a minority are still standing and only a few are in active operation.

Featured in the exhibit will be images and memorabilia from the Opera House in Hastings. Images from the following communities are featured as well:

Ansley, Arapahoe, Aurora, Axtell, Bartley, Beatrice, Bertrand, Bladen, Blue Hill, Bloomfield, Clarkson, Clay Center, Columbus, Crete, Dorchester, Fairmont, Falls City, Franklin, Fremont, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Guide Rock, Harvard, Hay Springs, Holdrege, Kearney, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lodgepole, Louisville, Maywood, McCook, Milligan, Minden, North Platte, Omaha, Oshkosh, Pawnee City, Pender, Pilger, Red Cloud, Rising City, Sargent, Scottbluff, Scribner, Snyder, St. Paul, Stromsburg, Superior, Wahoo, Wayne, Valpariso, Verdigre, and York

The exhibit, organized by Jay Yost, a Red Cloud native living in New York, who is President Emeritus of the Willa Cather Foundation, will be on display at the historic 1885 Red Cloud Opera House through May 3rd, and also August 15th—September 10th. A gallery talk and reception will be on Friday afternoon, April 29, at 4:45 p.m. and is open to the public. For more information about this exhibit or the 56th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, visit or phone toll-free 1-866-731-7304.