The Nebraska State Historical Society offers a .pdf of Ann Wilhite's "Cities and Colleges in the Promised Land: Territorial Nebraska, 1854-1867," published in the Nebraska History journal in 1986. Wilhite provides an interesting review of the founding of early colleges in the state with the social and economic context supporting the various initiatives. Her appendix includes an alphabetical list of all the private institutions with brief sketch that includes dates, founders, and any denominational ties. Her end notes also include an extensive list of useful references.
The paper also includes several historical images, including this photograph of Nebraska University, Fontanelle that operated from 1856-1872.