10 February 2013

Shoemaker Legacy Indicated by Nebraska History Article

A scholarly article recognizing naturalist Frank H. Shoemaker has recently been issued and indicates his distinctive contributions to the natural history of Nebraska, from near 1900, into the 1930s.

Wonderfully illustrated by photographs, and including especially evocative comments from his journals, it conveys an undeniable legacy of indicated interest, opportunities to learn, photographic expression and skillful writing.

Especially appreciated at the start of the article, was an indication that my initial efforts to recognize Shoemaker and his collective works were appreciated. Especially prominent back then was a series of three articles prepared for Nebraskaland magazine in the mid-1980s.

Missing in the article was any indication as to how it was recognized as a historic treasure. Individual efforts and a primary contribution from a local conservation group were instrumental in the recognition of Shoemaker's legacy, and providing a focus towards ensuring its long-term conservation by the University.

The presentation for the article is quite nice. A visual perspective is denoted upon the cover, and the initial imagery for the text, denoting the Pine Ridge, Banner County, where there were white-throated swifts, is quite dramatic.

On the contents page of this Spring 2013 issue of the magazine, there is also an thumbnail photograph for which no details are given. It is not known if it applies to Mr. Shoemaker, but an association is certainly conveyed on the page.

Despite any quibbles, the imagery of this well-done article are quite evocative, and serve to convey the verbiage.

Authors of the article titled "Frank H. Shoemaker, Self-made Naturalist and Photograph," were Mary Ellen Ducey, Elaine Nowick and Rebecca Bernthal, associated with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It was issued in Nebraska History Magazine, volume 94(1): 2-19.

Shoemaker's words and photographs certainly deserve the further attention given by this article, and a newly-created website that has have several manuscripts written by Shoemaker, presented in their original context. Some photographs are included, with more to be shown, according to information given there.

You'll enjoy the article if you have any interest in birds, historic photographs, history of Nebraska, and especially the distinct perspective of the man who created such a legacy, but died with just a few measly dollars, basically as a pauper, the article indicates.

There is also the distinctive opportunity for people to visit the Frank Shoemaker Marsh, a publicly-owned saline wetland tract north of Lincoln on 27th Street. Birds can be appreciated, or perhaps some rare tiger beetles or a vivid bloom of a prairie plant.

Any recognition of Frank H. Shoemaker contributes further to the profound realization of his supreme legacy, which will only become more important as natural places and landscapes continue to change within Nebraska. It is already obvious that some special places captured in his photos, have already been destroyed by development.