NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG3425.AM: H.J. Amen & Co. (Lincoln, Neb.)
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.: Mercantile company
Size: 4 volumes and 6 letters on 2 reels of microfilm
Between 1872 and 1914, thousands of Germans from Russia entered the United States. Significant numbers of this ethnic group settled in the western part of the country. Lincoln, Nebraska and the surrounding area became a central terminal point for the arriving immigrants.
In 1888 Henry J. Amen, Sr. came to the United States from the village of Frank in the Volga region of Russia. On March 17, 1902 he established Amen & Co. at 201 “F” Street in Lincoln. Although the original building burned down in 1918, the store continued to operate from a school next door until a new building was constructed. Operating from this location, H.J. Amen engaged in a variety of commercial endeavors, primarily in the German-Russian community. In addition to the grocery and market, the firm served as a steamship ticket and insurance agency, and as an informal bank, providing mortgage, loan and deposit services. Though all of the Amen children worked in the store at some time, R.D. and G.H. (Duffy) remained with the business until its final closing in 1970. R.D. worked 51 years in the store, and G.H. served for 50 years. H.J. Amen, at 93 years of age, was still working an 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. day when the store had its 68th anniversary shortly before it closed.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of two series: 1) Ledgers, which contain material relating to the Amen business, and 2) Correspondence, which illustrates the lasting impact of the firm’s activities in the field of steamship ticket sales.
The record of steamship tickets sold to German Russians wishing to bring friends and relatives to the United States from Europe constitutes one of the most extensive and important sections of this material. In all cases Mr. Amen recorded the names of the ticket purchaser, the individual(s) for whom tickets were purchased, the name of the steamship line, fee and mode of payment (credit or cash, in dollars or rubles), and the travel itinerary. In several instances a more complete record was made by the inclusion of the names and ages of each member of the immigrant families.
Other portions of the ledgers include records of insurance policies sold, loans and mortgages negotiated, and personal accounts carried by the firm. The materials provide useful information about life in Lincoln’s German Russian neighborhoods, as well as on the conduct of a unique kind of entrepreneurial enterprise. These two factors combine in this collection to provide an illuminating view of the business and private life of a major ethnic block in the West.
The ledgers and correspondence were loaned for microfilming on July 24, 1974. The original ledgers were donated later. The original ledgers are restricted for preservation; researchers must use the microfilm copies.
Note: RG3986, the Amen Family Collection, contains photographs and miscellaneous other papers relating to the H.J. Amen Family.
Series 1 – Ledgers, 1904-1948
Original ledgers, volumes 1-4 [Restricted for preservation]
Series 2 – Correspondence, 1938-1940
Emigration and immigration
Germans from Russia
H.J. Amen & Co. (Lincoln, Neb.)
Immigrants — Nebraska — Lincoln
Lancaster County (Neb.) — Businesses
Lincoln (Neb.) — Businesses
Merchants — Nebraska
Revised 10-01-2007 TMM