First Advisor

David Wishart

Date of this Version



A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Geography, Under the Supervision of Professor David J. Wishart. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2022

Copyright © 2022 William Helmer


This thesis is a historical geography of the first 25 years of film exhibition in Nebraska, primarily focusing on Southeastern Nebraska. My research chronicles how the first films were viewed, and the contemporary cultural reaction to film. I introduce my topic by explaining how it fits into geographies of media and the historical geography of Nebraska. In my second chapter I describe how film technology first came to Nebraska in 1895. Here I map the locations of the first film screenings, and provide commentary on the popular reaction to the technology. In my third chapter I examine the first Nebraska movie theaters, which were founded during the Nickelodeon Era of movie theaters (1906-1915). In chapter three I write about the business and culture of moviegoing, before studying and mapping new theaters constructed after 1910. I explore the social impact of The Birth of a Nation (1915) in chapter four, along with mapping the locations where it played in Nebraska. I end my thesis with a brief discussion of the current state of movie theaters in Nebraska.

Advisor: David Wishart