English, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1935


Published as University of Nebraska Studies in Language, Literature, and Criticism, Number 15. (Editorial committee: Louise Pound, Clarence Allen Forbes, and Joseph Alexis). Lincoln , Nebraska, 1935.


Folk cures form a conspicuous part of Nebraska lore. Nebraska pioneers from many states and many countries brought with them certain remedies which they believed particularly efficacious, and which became a tradition in families or communities throughout the state. The cures in the following collection have come directly from the residents of the state and are not limited to any specific locality. They have been recorded as nearly as possible just as the informants gave them. Some alterations have been made in diction and sentence structure to clarify ambiguity. The collection is doubtless incomplete, but it lists, I believe, most of the folk cures now prevalent, or used at one time, in Nebraska. Only a few suggestions have been made concerning the origins of the remedies. In these instances the informant knew the immediate source of the cure which he reported. Obviously in a state where the population is as mixed as in Nebraska, any attempt to trace all folk cures to accurate sources would be futile.

The remarks prefacing each section reveal that some of the diseases for which there are folk cures lend themselves more readily to strange remedies than others. I do not know the explanation for their greater popularity. Nor do I know how widely the cures listed in the following pages are believed in and made use of at the present time. Many have been reported to me as currently employed here and there over the state with faith in their efficacy. Some are cited by their contributors as traditional cures of doubtful value. Others are kept alive in the mouths of persons who repeat them with unmistakable jocularity or skepticism.

The cures are classified in general under specific ailments. A departure from this plan was made in only the last three sections, one of which is concerned with dung as a widely used pioneer cure for many ailments: another with general preventives and cure-alls, and the third with cures for the diseases of animals.