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RG4211.AM:  Ray Harold Mattison, 1903-1980

Reminiscence:  1978

Belgrade, Nance County, and Albion, Boone County, Neb.:  Historian

Size:  1 item


Ray H. Mattison, son of Mildred (Atwater) and William Gibbs Mattison, was born near Belgrade, Nebraska, on September 15, 1903. The Mattisons moved to a farm near Albion in 1910. After graduating from high school and with his mind set against farming, Ray Mattison attended Wayne State College intermittently from 1924 through 1934 (Mattison took various teaching and school administration positions to pay for his schooling), receiving a teaching certificate in 1928 and a BA in education in 1934. Eventually he completed his MA in history and took some additional coursework toward a doctorate.

In 1940 Ray Mattison joined the Bureau of Reclamation as a tour guide at Boulder Dam. This led to several positions in the U.S. National Park Service, where Mattison spent the bulk of his career, first at various U.S. National Park Service sites, and then fifteen years as a historian in the Omaha office. During these years, Mattison published numerous articles that appeared in the historical journals of the Midwest states covered by his Park Service regional office. He left the Park Service in 1965 to serve as Superintendent of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Facing political problems with the governor and the board under which he served, Mattison retired in 1969.

Married in 1940 to Doris Feldman, the Mattisons had one son, who died in a car accident at the age of three, and two adopted daughters. Ray and Doris Mattison retired to Tucson, Arizona, in 1969. Ray Mattison died in Arizona in 1980.


This collection consists of one volume. Titled “As I Saw It: The Recollections and Observations of a Nebraska Maverick, 1903-1978,” this reminiscence was written by Ray H. Mattison after a long life in the public history field. Refusing to romanticize the past, Mattison’s account is brutally honest about family, school, farm life, interpersonal relationships, college life at Wayne State College, struggles during the Depression, employment experiences, and his views on religion and politics. He discusses at length his experiences working for the U.S. National Park Service and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and provides his personal evaluations of many of his supervisors and co-workers. Genealogical information about the Mattison and Atwater families is also included.

Note:  See the photo component [RG4211.PH] for related images. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for published materials by Ray H. Mattison.


Box 1


  1. Reminiscence, “As I Saw It: The Recollections and Observations of a Nebraska Maverick, 1903-1978”



Albion (Neb.) — History

Atwater family

Boone County (Neb.) — History

Depressions — 1929 — Nebraska

Historians — Nebraska

Mattison, Ray Harold, 1903-1980

Mattison family

Public historians — Nebraska


State Historical Society of North Dakota

U.S. National Park Service

Wayne State College (Wayne, Neb.)


AIF/tmm   08-31-2004

Encoded TMM   07-02-2010