T. A. Carlson's Real Photo Postcards: Promoting the American Dream in Nebraska

H. Jason Combs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the early 1900s thousands of postcards were exchanged daily in the United States. Photographers producing postcards oft en captured signs of progress to promote and sell place. One of those photographers was T. A. Carlson. Carlson's studio was located in Holdrege, Nebraska, yet he worked in several counties in south- central Nebraska in the 1890s and early 1900s, including Dawson, Frontier, Gosper, Harlan, Kearney, and Phelps. Carlson's images reveal his mastery of contemporary photographic techniques and his keen awareness of proper angles, depth, and lighting necessary to capture detailed images. As a photographer and later a real estate agent, Carlson possessed a clear understanding of promoting and selling place. Not only aiming to sell individual buildings or businesses, Carlson's work also defi nes community and conveys prosperity. Elements such as local businesses, churches, farmsteads, neighborhoods, parks, and schools point to community pride in place. Carlson's work boldly declares that central Nebraska communities were thriving and here to stay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-27
Number of pages23
JournalGreat Plains Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • community
  • migration
  • place
  • postcards
  • promotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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