English, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1933


Published in the University of Nebraska Studies in Language, Literature, and Criticism series, number 13. Lincoln, Nebraska, 1933.


The signs, omens, and portents in the following collection have been reported by inhabitants of Nebraska and most of them are beliefs or sayings commonly known in the central western region. Although the list must be far from complete, it is probably representative of the bulk of current superstitions of Nebraskans. Informants have been persons from practically every part of the state, so that the beliefs presented are not limited to any particular region. No attempt has been made to indicate from what community the different signs were reported, since a sign which may be common in the Sand Hills may be equally well known in the southeastern corner of the state. Since mountain barriers do not separate the inhabitants of Nebraska into distinctive groups, and travel and communication are not difficult, lore of any kind cannot remain long isolated in the present day.

For the material in the following study the writer is indebted to many informants, but especially to Dr. Louise Pound from whose collection of Nebraska folklore many of the beliefs were obtained. Much of the material was gathered by students in Miss Pound's classes at the University of Nebraska, particularly those in American literature, and the interest and generosity of these contributors is gratefully acknowledged.

The signs have been given verbatim et literatim as far as possible. They are recorded as originally reported unless slight changes seemed necessary for the sake of clearness.