Letter written by Daniel Freeman to Agnes Suiter
Love Letter from Daniel Freeman to Agnes Suiter written December 14, 1864

NPS/Robin Matty

About the Archives

The archival collections relate to the history and interpretive focus of the park. The archives include collections about homesteading families, records about the park, and literature related to products used by homesteaders. The collections consist of approximately 580 linear feet of documents, photographs, maps, and drawings.

Finding Aids

Finding aids are available for most of the collections listed. Finding aids include a brief history of the collection and an inventory of the items it contains. If you would like to do research with one or more of these archival collections, please visit the Researcher Information page for more information.


Archival Collections:

Daniel Freeman Family Papers [Finding Aid 48KB DOC]
This archival collection focuses on the documents of Daniel Freeman. He was one of the first people to file a claim under the Homestead Act of 1862. Legend has it that Daniel Freeman filed his claim ten minutes after midnight at the Land Office in Brownville, NE on January 1, 1863, the first day the Homestead Act went into effect. The site of his claim near Beatrice, Nebraska is now the site of Homestead National Historical Park. These records consist of documents related to the acquisition of land, personal letters, and photographs.

Ken Deardorff Family Papers [Finding Aid 48KB DOC]
This archival collection focuses on the documents of Ken Deardorff. The Homestead Act was repealed in 1976 for all homesteading states, except Alaska. In 1974, a Vietnam veteran and native Californian named Kenneth Deardorff filed a homestead claim on 50 acres of land on the Stony River in southwestern Alaska. Though he had claimed his land in 1974 and fulfilled all requirements of the Homestead Act in 1979, he did not receive his patent until May 1988. Therefore, he is recognized as the very last person to receive a title to land claimed under the provisions of the Homestead Act. These records consist of documents related to the acquisition of land and photographs.

George & Marion Reynolds Family Papers [Finding Aid in Progress]
The Reynolds, Shields, and Covey families all have a rich Nebraska homesteading history. These stories are connected through their relatives George and Marion Reynolds. The records in this archive contain the Spear-Reynolds family correspondence, photographs, financial documents, and genealogy research Dr. Reynolds accumulated and documented. The records are dated from 1857 to 1993.

George was the son of Job and Elizabeth Reynolds, homesteaders in Seward County, NE. George's grandparents, Joseph and Matilda Shields, were early homesteaders in Butler County, NE. Marion (Spear) Reynolds' mother Julia (Covey) Spear was the sister of Henry Covey and Helen Covey. The Covey families were early homesteaders in Sioux County, NE claiming three homesteads: Henry Covey, Helen (Covey) Case and Edwin Case, and their daughter Bessie Case.

Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company Archive [Finding Aid 867 KB DOC]
The Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company was founded in Beatrice, Nebraska in 1878 by Charles B. Dempster. Mr. Dempster began making agricultural equipment for farmers and homesteaders populating the west. Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company is the longest running wind-powered water pump manufacturer in the United States.The Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company archival collection consists of records related to how the company was run, the people working there, and the products they made. Learn more about the Dempster Mill MFG Co.

Agricultural Equipment Literature Archive [Finding Aid 65 KB DOC]
Homesteading brought increased demand for agricultural equipment. Homesteaders needed items that brought efficiency and solved the problems the new and diverse landscapes created. To meet these needs, agricultural companies began to produce new equipment at an astonishing rate. This rapid industrialization of agricultural equipment provided homesteaders the means to be successful, and revolutionized farming across the entire United States. These records are an assembled collection related to the purchasing, advertising, and operation of agricultural equipment similar to what was used by homesteaders.

Product Literature Archive [Finding Aid 54 KB DOC]
Commercial items were being created and sold to enhance the lives of homesteaders. Household items like coffee and vinegar were being advertised alongside livestock and seeds. Items were building produced and sold with homesteaders needs in mind. These records are an assembled collection related to the purchasing, advertising, and operation of household and agricultural products (not machinery). Others offer advice on how to plant, grow, or raise the agricultural products they purchased.

Homestead National Historical Park Administrative & Resource Management Records [Finding Aid 115 KB DOC]
Records related to the cultural, archaeological, and natural resource management functions of the park. The archive also includes information about the park's administration, interpretation, history, and development.

Homestead National Historical Park Special Events Records [Finding Aid 58 KB DOC]
Records related to, sponsored by, or occurred at HOME and/or surrounding the Homestead Act of 1862. The collection contains textual documents, maps, newspaper clippings, photographic material, and audio-visual recordings.

Homestead National Hisotrical Park Photographic Archive [no finding aid]
Photographs related to the functions of the park. Includes photographs of rangers working, construction projects, special events, structures and grounds of the park, and much more.

Friends Group Records [Finding Aid 54 KB DOC]
Records related to the correspondence, financial and activities of the groups, as well as notes from the monthly meetings. The Homestead Historic Association (HHA) was founded in 1961 and was official recognized in 1962 as a friends group for Homestead National Monument of America (now Homestead National Historical Park). Due to decline in membership and interest the HHA was official disbanded in 1973. In 1994, another group of citizens joined to form the Friends of Homestead which was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2001.

Oral History Collections [no finding aid]
Various oral histories have been collected by Homestead National Historical Park over the years. Topics include homesteading, the history of the park, country schools, and working at Dempster Mill Mfg. Co.

Family History Collection [no finding aid]
Records donated to the park from various descendants of homesteading families. Many include descendant genealogies, homesteading stories, and more. These records generally do not include original documents or photographs.

Last updated: February 14, 2021

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8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice , NE 68310


402 223-3514

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