Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Box Butte County (Nebr.) Jail Record, 1887-1966

James V. Medler Crime Collection

Finding aid created by
C. A. G., March 1998

Summary Information
Title: Box Butte County (Nebr.) jail record
Creator: Box Butte County (Nebr.)
Inclusive dates: 1887-1966
Extent: 351 pages
The Box Butte County (Nebraska) jail record, kept by the sheriff, is a register of prisoners' names, infractions, dates of residency, disposition, and related financial accounting from 1887 to 1966.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by Larry Myers, 1998. M-3455.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Box Butte County (Nebr.) Jail Record, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The state of Nebraska entered the union in 1867 and its western counties were initially populated largely by acquisition of lands through the Homestead Act of 1862 or through the sale of lands owned by railroad corporations. Box Butte County remains one of the more sparsely populated regions in the country, and the major source of income remains agriculture. The land is relatively arid, and a majority of farms are involved in the production of wheat and cattle. Although crime has never been particularly rampant in the county, Box Butte has experienced its share of juvenile delinquencies and drunken escapades.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The jail record for Box Butte County begins in October 14, 1887 and concludes February 14, 1966. The ledger, maintained by the Sheriff, is divided into two parts: first, an incomplete alphabetical register of defendants, and secondly, a chronological record of prisoner's names, crimes, dates of residency, disposition, and financial accounting. The ledger records a variety of infractions, such as drunk and disorderly behavior, assault, adultery, rape, robbery, theft, forgery, gambling, destroying railroad property, and illegal train-riding. The early, less populated years seem to have been fairly free of crime, with only five partial pages devoted to the entire span from 1887 to 1901. The few crimes that were reported are generally very minor in nature.

During Prohibition, the preponderance of crime related to the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol (e.g. bootlegging, drunkenness, possession of still, and sale of liquor to Indians) With the advent of the automobile, the infractions include moving violations, such as speeding, driving without lights, driving without a license, reckless driving, "joy riding", driving while intoxicated, and auto theft (replacing horse-stealing). At lease two persons, one with Hispanic surname, were jailed for possession of marijuana (1948 and 1950). Given the paucity of data, it is difficult to identify any clear patterns of change in criminal behavior, however, during and after the Second World War, the number of offenders with Native American names appears to increase significantly, perhaps reflecting a trend toward integration into town life.

Subject Terms

    • Box Butte County (Nebr.)--History.
    • Crime--Nebraska.
    • Nebraska--History.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Box Butte County (Nebr.) jail record,  October 17, 1887-February 14, 1966 [series]