Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 11, 1999)
By Josh Krauter
James McKee realized he wanted to be a histo
rian when he was 10 years old.
He's one of the few who made his childhood
dream a reality. McKee has published six books of
Nebraska history and photography, written a col
umn for the Lincoln Journal Star and taught history
at Southeast Community College. And he owes it
all to the Cub Scouts.
As a Scout in 1950, the young McKee had to
trace his family’s genealogy. He delved into his
grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ pasts and
nas since been obsessed with the history of
Nebraska, particularly Lancaster County, since
His interest must run in the family. McKee's
ancestors founded the Havelock neighborhood,
which McKee has documented in one of his earliest
books. “Havelock: A Photo History and Walking
“My parents were bom in a foreign country:
Havelock.’’ he jokes.
McKee says his combination of writing and
photography is what makes history survive.
“I very, very’ much believe photography makes
history more interesting and accessible.’’
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LINCOLN NATIVE James McKee has written several historical books documenting Lincoln communities and the state of Nebraska. McKee, a UNL
alumnus, said he became interested in history as a boy after he discovered his great-grandfather was the first settler in what is now the
Since the early 1960s, McKee has been docu
menting the history of the region, but he’s hard
pressed to pick out what he likes best.
“Literally everything in Lincoln interests me:
the people, the heirs who are still here, the build
People and buildings are what McKee says usu
ally initiate his projects, and he proceeds from
there. However, as the population of Lincoln con
tinues to grow, he says, old buildings and friendly
people may soon become history.
“Lincoln is very good at tearing down old
buildings and making parking lots out of them,” he
As a historian and resident, McKee laments
Lincoln’s growth and sees a loss of the city’s small
“It’s a sad commentary, and it distresses me,” he
says. “It changes the sociological makeup of the
city. It's no longer a little town where everybody
This small-town, nostalgic attitude is prevalent
even in how McKee writes.
“I write with a fountain pen. I’m just beginning
to learn how to use a computer.”
A sewesterlong look at
Nebraska literary culture and
the people who create it.
Ironically, what McKee loves about Lincoln is
also what may be causing it to grow: the education
He says UNL, Nebraska Wesleyan University
and Southeast Community College, where he has
taught for 25 years, have contributed much to a city
he says is educated and well-read. He also says the
educational opportunities and lack of an industrial
complex here have kept the city better than it would
have been with the same growth.
Despite his concerns, he still is active in the
community. He still teaches and writes a column for
the Lincoln Journal Star. Column subjects alternate
between Nebraska and other states, and a collec
tion of 107 of his columns, “Remember When,”
was published last year.
McKee’s next project is one of his most expan
sive. He is writing and photographing a history of
the county seats of Nebraska, and he plans to visit
every single one. Already well over half done, he
says the project can be a chore at times.
“Some of the (counties) are pretty boring,” he
says. “The old counties are interesting, but with
some of the newer counties, there’s Little you can
take hold of and make stories about.”
McKee has no immediate plans to document
regions other than Nebraska, but he says he would
someday like to study neighboring states that share
Nebraska’s Midwestern heritage.
“Kansas is tied to our rich history, and Colorado
is a liin place to go on vacation,” he says.
For now, McKee will continue to focus on the
state he loves best, the one he was bom and raised in
and the one he has seen dramatically change.
“I was bom in a house at 216 S. Old Corner,” he
says. “We were right in the middle of the country.
It’s phenomenal how it’s changed. Cornfields have
turned into hospitals and malls.”
And children have turned into historians, dedi
cated to the memory of the places that shaped them.
the Roots deliver hip-hop classic
By Patrick Miner
Over the past two decades, artists includ
ing the Sugar Hill Gang, Run-DMC, K.RS
One and A Tribe Called Quest created a wide
fan base for hip-hop.
Unfortunately, none of these uAs received
the artistic credit they deserved especially
around Grammy time.
When Lauryn Hill won this year's
Grammy award for best album, she received
the credit hip-hop has warranted for 20 years.
“1 think rap elevating to that level is a
good thing,” Rahzel, a member ofThe Roots,
said in a phone interview. “There is a possibil
ity that hip-hop can be one of the strongest
musical forces we know of. I commend
Lauryn. and that inspires me."
Now that hip-hop can be viewed as a cre
ative and legitimate genre. The Roots, a
Philadelphia-based rap group, have taken the
opportunity to show what hip-hop can do.
Two weeks ago, The Roots released one of
the most creative hip-hop records in the last
five years with its fourth album, “Things Fall
Apart.” The Roots recorded an astonishing
145 tracks for the record with the 18 greatest
hits making the final cut, including a poem by
Please see ROOTS on 13
IN THE WAKE OF their recent success with the acclaimed album “Things Fall Apart,”
The Roots discussed their album with the Daily Nebraskan.
themes in work
By Bret Schulte
I’m the triangle - that’s right I'm the triangle.
Poet Albert Goldbarth is also the author of nine
collections of poetry, winner of the National Book
Critics Circle Award and a recipient of the elite
He is also the guest speaker today at the Georgian
Room of the Nebraska Union.
“He is one of the most original voices in modem
poetry,” said Grace Bauer, assistant professor of
English. “He doesn’t sound like anyone else; it’s
because of his wild style.”
She is referring to Goldbarth’s frequent allusions
to science fiction, human discomfort, natural settings
and romantic foibles.
His latest collection, “Troubled Lovers in
History” (available at bookstores around Lincoln),
plods through these topics with a deliberate levity
Please see GOLDBARTH on 13
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