Contents: President's Message | From the Director | Awards | Administration | Volunteers | Library/Archives | Museum/Historic Sites | Museum of Nebraska History | Chimney Rock | Fort Robinson | Thomas P. Kennard House | Neligh Mill | Senator George W. Norris | Willa Cather | John G. Neihardt | Research & Publication | State Historic Preservation Office | Archeology | Conservation | NSHS Foundation | Financial Report
Many people dart through Nebraska via the "Great Platte River Road." Millions of people, from the earliest wagon train travelers to today's swift Interstate 80 voyagers, have literally passed through Nebraska on their way to somewhere else. As one noted Nebraska journalist said, to fully appreciate Nebraska's history and beauty you must "get lost on the highways and byways of Nebraska." Those, both past and present, who fail to see the treasures of Nebraska as they scurry through are to be pitied. It is that lack of vision into Nebraska's rich past and promising future that the Nebraska State Historical Society is diligently working to alleviate.
Bess Streeter Aldrich, noted Nebraska author, often wrote of her love for life in Nebraska, using real life scenes
and people for the basis of her quasi-fictional characters, plots, and settings. From the introduction of A Lantern in Her Hand, as Aldrich sets the scene for the fictional Cedartown, she expresses appreciation for Nebraska's beauty, both superficially and buried deep in people and places. "Cedartown is neither effete nor distinctive nor is it even particularly pleasing to passing tourists. It is beautiful only in the eyes of those who live here and in the memories of the Nebraska-born whose dwelling in far places has given them moments of home-sickness for the low rolling fields of sinuously waving corn and the elusive fragrant odor of alfalfa."
The Nebraska State Historical Society is working to expand the number who can perceive this beauty from its past history and the future that is brimming with promise. The NSHS is working diligently to share this not only with Nebraskans, but with others beyond its borders. One specific goal of the Society's Board of Trustees has been the outreach endeavor of NSHS membership. Membership benefits both the giver and the receiver and allows Nebraska's history to have an even greater audience.
The Society's board has benefitted inordinately by its association with the Society's staff. These individuals, both individually and collectively, have served as inspirations for the board and other Nebraska enthusiasts. Under the exceptional leadership of Director Lawrence Sommer, the Society staff is able to build on Nebraska's past with a vision for the future. What a wonderfully talented group of people!
The board has also had the great pleasure of serving with the NSHS Foundation, particularly Executive Director Jac Spahn. We look forward to our continued mutually supportive relationship.
Those serving on the current Board of Trustees are ardent promoters of Nebraska history. I am honored to work with these individuals as we seek to further the NSHS's mission. We invite you, the members, to become more involved with your Society. It is working hard to share your state's illustrious past as the foundation for the twenty-first century.
Sara B. Crook
From the Director
Annual reports provide a forum for reviewing an organization's progress toward fulfilling its mission. This report highlights the activities and accomplishments of the Nebraska State Historical Society during the past year. As you read it, I am sure you will agree that the Society is continuing to make significant progress toward fulfilling its mission to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past.
During the 1999-2000 fiscal year the Society again experienced stable attendance at the Museum of Nebraska History in Lincoln and at its historic sites across the state. Society program activities continued to attract widespread attention and draw growing numbers of participants. As noted in this report, significant new artifacts, books, manuscripts, photographs, and other items were added to Society collections. New publications were released. Historic properties and archeological sites across the state were inventoried and recognized. The Society's conservation center in Omaha continued to expand its client base and national reputation in providing conservation treatment, training, and technical assistance to museums, libraries, and related historical institutions throughout Nebraska, the Midwest and, indeed, the entire United States. The Society's digital imaging lab at the Ford Center is pushing the frontiers of what this technology can do in the field of photo analysis as a tool for historical research. Throughout the year an ever-increasing number of people accessed Society services and resources electronically via the NSHS website at www.nebraskahistory.org. This is a trend that will continue.
The 2000 Nebraska Legislature appropriated funds for architectural design work related to the renovation of the NSHS headquarters building and for leasing of space in the new Lincoln Children's Museum building. Within a year or so we hope to begin actual renovation of the Society's fifty-year-old headquarters building. As part of this planned work, the Archeology and Historic Preservation divisions will relocate to the new Children's Museum building across the street from the Museum of Nebraska History.
My sincere thanks to the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers for their time and effort making sure the Society accomplishes its goals. A special thanks to Governor Mike Johanns and members of the Nebraska Legislature for the state's continued support.
Again this past year the Society enjoyed significant support from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. NSHS Foundation funds supported everything from publications to acquisitions for Society collections to internships, National History Day travel scholarships, and research fellowships for visiting scholars. We thank the NSHS Foundation for its important and welcome assistance.
I also wish to thank NSHS Trustees Jane Graff of Seward and Martha Ellen Webb of Omaha for their service to the Society. Their second terms as trustees are ending, and they are not eligible for reelection or appointment. Their interest and good counsel will be missed.
As we begin the new millennium, the Nebraska State Historical Society stands ready to serve the people of Nebraska for many generations to come.
Lawrence J. Sommer
Director and State Historic Preservation Officer
Nebraska State Historical Society Awards
The Society presented awards recognizing significant achievement in various categories at its 1999 annual meeting and history conference in Lincoln.
The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history was presented to Bertha W. Calloway, founder and longtime director of the Great Plains Black Museum in Omaha, who was also recognized for her years of service to the NAACP.
Patrick Kennedy, a teacher at Benson High School in Omaha, received the A. T. Hill Memorial Award for significant contributions to Nebraska archeology. Kennedy researched a community of African Americans living in rural Nemaha County and in Brownville in the late nineteenth century. His findings led to an archeological excavation of a farmstead believed to be the residence of black laborers who worked for Nemaha County farmer Benton Aldrich in the 1880s.
The James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the best article published in the previous year's volume of Nebraska History went to Joseph G. Agonito, professor of American history at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York. Agonito's article, "Young Man Afraid of His Horses: The Reservation Years," appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of Nebraska History.
Several individuals and organizations shared the Nebraska Preservation Award for their contributions to the Lincoln African American Documentation Project. They included Kathryn E. Colwell; the Mt. Zion Baptist Church; the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church; the Newman United Methodist Church; Christ Temple Mission; and Lebanon Lodge No. 3, F. & A.M., Prince Hall affiliation.
The Robert W. Furnas Award for outstanding contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society was presented to the Lozier Foundation of Omaha for its financial support and business counseling in the establishment of the digital imaging laboratory at the Society's Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha.
The Society also presents awards at a special celebration in May to recognize outstanding student projects in the annual National History Day: Nebraska contest. For 2000 the senior division award went to Michelle Guittar, Sara Guittar, Pam Moeller, and Sana Khan of the Lincoln High School Science Focus Program for their documentary project titled "Standing Bear." Their teacher is Jim Barstow. The junior division award recognized Lane Skavdahl and Andrew Ellicott of Harrison Elementary School for their documentary project "Homesteading Sweet Nebraskaland." Their teacher is Donna Skavdahl.
In addition to these two awards, state winners in the various History Day categories who went on to compete in the national History Day contest in Maryland received travel scholarships provided by the Lux History Education Endowment administered by the NSHS Foundation.
" The mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society is to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past."
The director, as chief executive officer of the Society, implements board policy, administers the budget, and represents the institution to the public and to a variety of funding sources. The director and administrative staff work to provide the personnel and financial resources the Society needs to fulfill its mission. In addition to administration, the Society operates with six major divisions: Museum/Historic Sites, Historic Preservation, Library/Archives, Research and Publications, Archeology, and Conservation. Each division is managed by an associate director, who reports to the Society director.
- Received a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History for the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project, a folklore and oral history project cosponsored by the Society and the Nebraska Mexican American Commission.
- Received a $15,000 grant from the Nebraska Green Space Stewardship Program, a $1,000 donation from the Lincoln Garden Club, and additional support from the Ronald D. Yost estate to install an historic landscape at the Thomas P. Kennard House/Nebraska Statehood Memorial in Lincoln.
- Cosponsored the Community Cultural Development Partnership Grants, a program to award small planning grants to towns and neighborhoods proposing projects that increase their sense of community and build upon their cultural assets. The program is cosponsored by the Nebraska Arts and Nebraska Humanities Councils, the Society, the UNL School at the Center Project, the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, the UNL Humanities Center, the Urban Community Improvement Program at the UNL College of Architecture, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
- Received a $29,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Save America's Treasures Preservation Planning Fund to support the costs of an historic structures report for the Willa Cather House in Red Cloud.
- Participated in the task force planning sessions for the proposed Great Plains Regional Humanities Center at UNL. UNL is competing for funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help establish the center, which will cover the states of Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
- Received $1,500 from the National Endowment for the Arts Traditional Arts Technical Assistance Grant Fund in support of a May 2000 regional meeting of folklorists from the Heartland/Great Plains region (Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.)
Historical Society Volunteers
- Contributed a total of 8,799 hours to the Society.
- Greeted 19,211 visitors at Heritage Village, Nebraska State Fair, and provided 352 hours of volunteer service.
- Scheduled 13,227 visitors to the Museum of Nebraska History.
- Generated more than $35,621 in net sales at museum stores across the state.
- Continued bimonthly volunteer programming and newsletter.
- Assisted with archeology collections and excavations.
- Helped school groups and the public in the History Adventure Center, featuring four stations exploring travel in Nebraska's history.
- Assisted with summer workshops for kids at the Museum of Nebraska History.
- Enjoyed a volunteer appreciation at the Warner Memorial Chamber at the State Capitol.
" The mission of the Library/Archives Division is to safeguard the documentary heritage of Nebraska for the use of all."
The Library/Archives Division is charged with the collection, management, and preservation of a wide spectrum of published and unpublished documentary materials and provides access to them for the researching public.
The Society's library contains approximately eighty thousand volumes, and includes books, periodicals, newspapers, state publications, and more than three thousand maps and atlases. In its manuscript collections are the papers of families and individuals and the records of Nebraska businesses, organizations, religious groups, and private educational institutions. The archival collections also include some 250,000 photographs, 6.5 million feet of moving images on film and videotape, and state, county, and local government records of permanent value as mandated by legislative acts of 1905 and 1969. Together, these documents provide vital testimony to the history and culture of Nebraska.
- Helped to host the annual fall joint meeting of the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) and the Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists (SRMA), which brought nearly three hundred archivists to Lincoln in October.
- Completed "Prairie Settlement: A Story of Determination," the Library of Congress Ameritech Award Project. This project, which offers a view of homesteading on the Great Plains, will make more than three thousand Solomon D. Butcher glass plate negatives and letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family available over the Internet.
- In partnership with the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Humanities Council, with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, hosted a meeting of cultural institutions and representatives of eight Native American tribes in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas to determine tribal history and cultural preservation needs.
- Participated in the National Forum on Archival Continuing Education (NFACE). Contacts made there will be invited to participate in a national forum relating to tribal preservation needs, modeled on the conference hosted earlier.
- Served 7,743 patrons in the Reference Room and responded to 4,217 mail requests.
- Produced 220 reels of Nebraska newspapers as part of The Nebraska Newspaper Project, a cooperative project with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Curated the film series "The Wahoo Kid in Hollywood: Darryl F. Zanuck Presents."
- Participated in the Willa Cather International Seminar 2000 and in the planning for the Cather Archives website.
- Added the papers of State Senator Jerome Warner, the Wyuka Cemetery (Lincoln) interment records, a stereoview of the Ninth Cavalry at Fort Robinson, amateur film footage of students at the Raymond School from the mid-1930s, patent records relating to Nebraska inventions, reminiscences of a Nebraska Orphan Train rider, and papers of Omaha television broadcast pioneer Len Zajcek.
- Cataloged 745 new titles into the library collections. The in-house online catalog, ATHENA, now has nearly nineteen thousand titles.
- Received a grant from the Nebraska State Records Board to place databases and other finding aids, including ATHENA, on our website.
- Replaced seven microfilm readers in the reference room.
- Completed a survey of home movie holdings, one of the best such collections in the country. The survey results will determine priorities for description and restoration work on these unique films.
- Initiated an NSHS Foundation-funded project to process the papers of former Omaha mayor, civil engineer, and Missouri River expert Roy N. Towl. The Towl collection, which documents work done on the Missouri River and Missouri Valley drainage system through much of the twentieth century, has generated significant interest since the Missouri was added to the list of the country's most endangered rivers.
- Inventoried the papers of former Governor Ben Nelson. This collection is now available for research.
- Received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to fund two orientation sessions for county officials responsible for maintaining government records.
- With other Society divisions, planned and served as faculty for the second annual Nebraska Institute for teachers.
- Provided tours to more than twenty school and college groups.
- Supervised Nebraska Correctional Industries in the production of 204 microfilm reels of current newspaper titles.
- Curated Road Trip: Life on Vacation with the Gehrkes of Lincoln, an exhibit featured in the headquarters rotunda.
Museum/Historic Sites Division
" The mission of the Museum/Historic Sites Division is to educate people about Nebraska's past through historic artifacts and historic places."
The division gathers, preserves, researches, and interprets artifacts and sites representing Nebraska's rich and diverse human experience, and provides the broadest possible public access to these resources. The museum is Nebraska's official and preeminent artifact repository. Its collections serve as the basis for exhibitions, programs, publications, and educational outreach. Through a variety of media, the division gives people firsthand experience with the physical remnants of past life and the places where Nebraska history was made.
The division administers the Museum of Nebraska History in Lincoln and oversees seven historic sites statewide. The education and statewide services, exhibition, museum collections, and historic sites departments form partnerships with individuals and organizations around the state and across the country to enrich people's lives by increasing their understanding and enjoyment of Nebraska's past.
Museum of Nebraska History
- Welcomed 133,274 visitors at facilities statewide.
- Accessioned 161 collections of artifacts into the museum, from which 657 items were cataloged. An additional 352 items received prior to July 1, 1999, were cataloged, bringing the total number cataloged to 1,009.
- Significant accessions included: forty pieces of a Tiffany silver service set owned by railroad contractor Lewis Carmichael, donated through a bequest by Elizabeth Schutt; military papers pertaining to Capt. Carter P. Johnson, donated by Harris and Iris Snyder in memory of Justin E. Porter; Gen. John J. Pershing's white mess jacket, donated by Frank H. Dupuis; an iron lung used by polio victims, donated by Bryan/LGH Medical Center East; documentary items from the wedding and honeymoon of Raymond and Annette Kubie, donated by Curtis J. S. Olson; an oil well drill bit used in southwestern Nebraska, donated by Vincent Brown; Fort Robinson Ninth U.S. Cavalry documents purchased in memory of Mary Hanna Hansen Lux and Clarence Burton Lux by the Gladys Marie Lux Museum Acquisition Endowment at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.
- Added 4,443 objects to the computerized inventory database of the museum collections, bringing the total to 164,545.
- Assisted more than 150 researchers in the museum collections department.
- Loaned museum collections artifacts to other institutions, including the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa; and the Friends of Whitehall in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Loaned the Grace Snyder Flower Basket Petit Point quilt for the International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas, as part of its exhibit celebrating The Twentieth Century's 100 Best American Quilts, where it was viewed by more than sixty thousand people in a three-day period.
- Organized four workshops held across the state on Nebraska prehistory and archeological collections in cooperation with the NSHS Archeology Division, with seventy-five participants.
- Presented, with the assistance of the Historic Sites Department, twelve county namesake portraits to Deuel, Dixon, Gosper, Holt, Keith, Keya Paha, Lancaster, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Platte, Wheeler, and York counties.
- Cosponsored (with Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln Public Schools, and the Cooper Foundation) and coordinated the second annual Nebraska Institute for teachers. Introduced thirteen teachers of third through twelfth grades to Nebraska history resources and new perspectives and methods for infusing Nebraska history and culture into their classrooms.
- Developed a new, self-directed educational program, "Nebraska Time Travelers," for school groups visiting in the busy months of March through August. Program features question and activity cards for kindergarten through twelfth grade, challenging students to investigate objects and history.
- Partnered with Brownell Elementary School in Lincoln to create the Museum of Nebraska History's first student-curated exhibit. Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View was created by forty-three Brownell fifth-graders and their two teachers. The exhibit featured a group exhibit and interactive computer exploring Lincoln's diversity and an individual object from each student. Partial funding for this exhibit was provided by the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation.
- Published, with assistance from a special advisory council, a new issue of Nebraska Trailblazer, "African-American Homesteaders and Soldiers in Nebraska," featuring photographs, quotes, and personal stories.
- Developed and installed a musical audio component for the jazz art exhibit, Drawing on the Beat, which enabled visitors to listen to performances by musicians depicted in the exhibit.
- Worked with School at the Center students from Albion to put museum information online in a "virtual tour" format.
- Participated in National History Day: Nebraska as judges for district and state contests, and for the Society's special award. Organized and sponsored the third annual Nebraska History Day Celebration at the state capitol, where scholarships to underwrite travel to the national contest were presented to state winners, courtesy of the Lux History Education Endowment of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.
- Greeted 19,211 visitors at Heritage Village during the State Fair.
- Videotaped the monthly Brown Bag lecture series at the museum for broadcast on local cable television, and to serve as a resource for programs at local meetings across the state; cooperated with the Preservation Association of Lincoln to broadcast its monthly lectures, presented at the museum. Department staff participated as members of the camera crew for these productions.
- Responded to requests for information from schools and individuals through the distribution of 84 educational packets, 162 individual educational leaflets, and 86 other mail requests.
- Provided Czech educational trunk to Educational Service Units in Fremont, Neligh, North Platte, Sidney, and the Lincoln Public Schools. The Czech trunk was also provided to nonpublic schools in Creighton, Lincoln, and Clarkson.
- Hosted 13,227 people on museum tours. Scheduled tours via a new database application written by museum staff.
- Printed 130,000 copies of Nebraska Trailblazer for free distribution to fourth- graders across Nebraska. Another 33,240 copies were purchased for use in schools.
- Assisted twenty-two children, seven to twelve years of age, in producing a "Missing Piece Theater" play combining history primary source materials and drama. One hundred family members and friends attended these summer workshop performances.
- Provided design and layout for all regular Society publications and special publications, including additions to the Society's website (currently with more than 640 pages of text and one thousand image files, plus ten documents in PDF); Happy as a Big Sunflower: Adventures in the West, 1876-1880 (UNP: 2000), by Rolf Johnson, edited by Richard E. Jensen; Explore Nebraska Archeology, No. 5, "High Plains Archeology"; Central Plains Archeology, Volume 7, Number 1, Waconda Lake; Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks brochure; and the KFOR Lucky Day calendar, distributed to more than 100,000 households in the Lincoln area.
- Continued script development and artifact selection for Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1940, the third phase of the museum's permanent galleries.
- Designed and built component based on the Goehner Brothers General Store in Seward and began gallery preparation.
- Fabricated and installed Lincoln: A Kid's Eye View; and Holidays Past, MNH, including more than 350 ornaments for the volunteer Christmas Tree and hundreds of wedding and jazz ornaments (cut and decorated by hand).
- Researched, wrote, designed, fabricated, and installed A New Deal for Nebraska Artists, MNH, third floor; and An Early Lincoln Blacksmith, MNH, second floor.
- Closed the following exhibits: Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, MNH, first floor; Pioneer Gallery, MNH, second floor; and Dearly Beloved: Gifts and Gowns from Nebraska Weddings, MNH, third floor.
- Designed and printed a postcard featuring Grace Snyder's Flower Basket Petit Point quilt.
- Designed and printed new outdoor signage advertising MNH exhibits and the museum store.
- Presented workshops on exhibit design and custom mounting techniques to University of Nebraska Museum Studies graduate students and the Nebraska Museums Association annual meeting.
Museum/Historic Sites Division
The Nebraska State Historical Society's historic sites program provides people with the opportunity to see and experience firsthand where some of our state's most exciting history has taken place. More than 79,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Society's seven historic sites during the past year.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
" The mission of the Chimney Rock National Historic Site is to interpret the historical significance of Chimney Rock, the most famous landmark on the Oregon-California Trail, as it relates to the westward overland migration and its influences on Nebraska history."
- Hosted several educational events including a holiday program for Bayard elementary students and six presentations during the annual Sunday Afternoon at the Rock speakers series, which netted an attendance of 174.
- Exhibited quilts from the Museum of Nebraska History during February.
- Renovated the gift shop area and installed new bookcases.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Fort Robinson Museum
" The mission of the Fort Robinson Museum is to preserve and interpret the historic resources associated with Fort Robinson for the benefit of the public and to add to those resources through research."
- Hosted the Third Fort Robinson History Conference on the theme "Indians, Soldiers, and Bureaucrats: A New Look at Old Foes," a sellout.
- Welcomed a reunion of K-9 Corps veterans, many of whom were stationed at Fort Robinson during World War II.
- Added new displays, including a panel of military documents pertaining to noted soldier Carter P. Johnson.
- Conducted extensive research on preparation for the reconstruction of the 1874 Cavalry Barracks.
Fort Robinson Museum
Thomas P. Kennard House
" The mission of the Thomas P. Kennard House, Nebraska Statehood Memorial, is to preserve the home of Nebraska's first secretary of state, and interpret domestic and political life in the era when Nebraska became a state."
- Received an endowment created by Ronald Yost for continued restoration and maintenance of the house. Funds from this endowment were used to replace the carpet in the public areas.
- Garnered a Green Space Stewardship grant for the planning and installation of an historic landscape.
- Greeted 245 children at the "Pastimes and Playthings" Victorian toys festival in May and eight hundred visitors during "Victorian Holidays Past" in December.
Thomas P. Kennard House Nebraska Statehood Memorial
Neligh Mill State Historic Site
" The mission of the Neligh Mill State Historic Site is to preserve the state's only nineteenth-century flour mill with original equipment in order to interpret the importance of the milling industry to the history of Nebraska."
- Repainted the mill building, repaired third-floor dormers, installed a new rolled roof on the mill office, and repaired the elevator and warehouse.
- Appeared as a feature in the national publication Old Mill News.
- Coordinated the Society's involvement with the restoration work on the Neligh Mill Bridge.
Neligh Mill State Historic Site
Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site
" The mission of the Senator George Norris State Historic Site is to relate the story of a nationally-significant Nebraska politician through preservation and interpretation of his home and its furnishings."
- Welcomed more than eight hundred people to a pre-World War II quilt display. The Norris site also hosted a post-World War II quilt show and a display on spinning, weaving, and needlework.
- Participated in the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, McCook Main Street project, and the Bison Reunion 2000.
- Hosted a reception for the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site
Willa Cather State Historic Site
Red Cloud, Nebraska
" The mission of the Willa Cather State Historic Site is to preserve and interpret sites significant in the life and work of one of Nebraska's greatest authors and to make Cather-related materials available to researchers."
- Hosted an open house at Cather's childhood home for a Victorian Christmas and brought in nearly two hundred school children from seven different schools for "Pastimes and Playthings."
- Featured Dick Cavett at the Cather Spring Conference.
- Welcomed Steve Ryan as site supervisor, replacing longtime head Pat Phillips.
Willa Cather State Historic Site
John G. Neihardt State Historic Site
" The mission of the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site is to interpret the legacy of Nebraska's poet laureate through exhibits and the preservation of the historic study in which he worked."
- Welcomed Nancy Gillis as site supervisor for the Neihardt Historic Site.
- Held the annual Spring Conference on the theme "Neihardt's River: The Missouri as Metaphor."
- Greeted 250 people at the August Neihardt Day, which focused on "Humor on the Plains."
- Hosted monthly "Sunday Afternoon at the Museum" programs.
- Held the second Neihardt/Black Elk Young Writer's Workshop in June, a continuation of the inaugural workshop that received the Jane Geske Award for Literary Excellence from the Nebraska Center for the Book.
- Relandscaped the Sacred Hoop Garden with new sidewalks, plantings, and interpretive signage.
- Published the first issue of The Neihardt Journal.
John G. Neihardt State Historic Site
Research & Publication Division
" The mission of the Research and Publications Division is to promote research leading to a better understanding of the history and culture of Nebraska and its people, and to disseminate the results."
The Research and Publications Division publishes the Society's quarterly, Nebraska History, and conducts research leading to the publication of books, archeological reports, and historical documents about the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains. The division provides editorial services to other Society divisions, coordinates the state historical marker program, and compiles the "Nebraska Timeline" column provided weekly to Nebraska newspapers through the Nebraska Press Association.
- Coedited Spans in Time: A History of Nebraska Bridges, published in association with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Nebraska Department of Roads.
- Coordinated production of six new state historical markers.
- Awarded three grants to support research in Society collections by outside scholars, who are required to submit the results for possible publication by the Society. Funding is provided by the Gladys Marie Lux Education Endowment and the Tom and Marilyn Allan Fund, both administered by the NSHS Foundation.
- Published "The Place of Time," a special issue of Nebraska History, edited by David Murphy.
- Coordinated the Third Fort Robinson History Conference, "Indians, Soldiers, and Bureaucrats: A New Look at Old Foes," in cooperation with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Society's Fort Robinson Museum. The conference was funded, in part, by the NSHS Foundation and by Ron Parks.
- Completed Happy As a Big Sunflower: Adventures in the West, 1876-1880, by
Rolf Johnson, edited by Richard E. Jensen, for publication by the University of
Nebraska Press. Permission to publish the Johnson diaries was granted by the Phelps County Historical Society.
- Provided editorial review and illustrations for Nebraska Territory Postal History by Charles E. Winter, published by the Western Cover Society and funded, in part, by the NSHS Foundation.
Research and Publications Division
State Historic Preservation Office
" The mission of the State Historic Preservation Office is to promote the preservation and enhancement of the cultural resources of the state of Nebraska."
The Society administers Nebraska's historic preservation program under the National Historic Preservation Act. The program includes the Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey, archeological surveys, the National Register of Historic Places for Nebraska, review of federal undertakings, and assistance to developers of historic rehabilitation projects qualifying for federal tax incentives. The Nebraska State Historic Preservation Board serves in an advisory capacity to the state historic preservation program, including the review and recommendation of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service issues certification to participate in federally sponsored programs of historic preservation and supports the preservation program with grant funding for office operations, local government preservation programs, and survey projects.
- Cosponsored the Nebraska Lied Main Street Program in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Roads, Nebraska Rural Development Commission, Nebraska Community Foundation, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture. The twelve participating communities are Fremont, Alliance, Ogallala, Gothenburg, Minden, McCook, Bassett, Scottsbluff, Beatrice, Central City, Wayne, and Bellevue. An additional twelve communities are enrolled as associate communities.
- Participated in a series of meetings with Nebraska Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) councils statewide, including the annual state coordinators meeting. RC&Ds are regional organizations affiliated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture with interest in rural development and conservation.
- Participated in the formation of "Preserve Northeast Nebraska," a regional historic preservation advocacy group. Organizational meetings were sponsored, in part, by the Mountains/Plains Regional Office of the National Trust for Historic
- Released Spans in Time: A History of Nebraska Bridges, a book coedited by the Society's Research and Publications Division, designed by the Society's exhibits department, and copublished by the Nebraska Department of Roads.
- Sponsored an interim study resolution of the Nebraska State Legislature to investigate a wide range of economic incentives needed to preserve historic places in the state.
- Sponsored sessions of the 1999 "Nebraska Institute: Teaching Nebraska History and Culture through Social Studies and the Humanities," a cooperative venture of the Society, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Lincoln Public Schools. These sessions were offered to practicing educators about teaching with historic places in their community.
- Processed the listing of thirteen properties to the National Register of Historic Places in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, rural Adams County, Cedar Rapids, Cambridge, Beatrice, Grand Island, McCook, and rural Sioux County. These join 841 other Nebraska properties that have been listed in the National Register.
- Released a web page of all Nebraska properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The county-by-county list, including photographs and descriptions, is available on the Society's website (www.nebraskahistory.org).
- Completed an evaluation of World War II airfields in Nebraska in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics. A second phase will include historic aviation properties associated with other airports statewide.
- Participated in interagency programs and planning including the Nebraska Department of Roads Transportation Enhancement Program, Nebraska Energy Office "Rebuild Otoe County," and the Technical Assistance Review Process (TARP), composed of six state and federal agencies that assist and coordinate housing programs.
- Completed Nebraska Historic Buildings Surveys in Wayne and Cuming counties. More than 390 properties were identified in Wayne County, including neighborhoods of well-preserved historic residential architecture in Wayne. The Cuming County survey identified 327 properties, including a number of rural ethnic churches and farmsteads.
- Began preparation for a Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey in Madison and Pierce counties. Organizational support to "Preserve Northeast Nebraska" will be programmed as part of the county survey projects in the region.
- Completed a contextual study of historic school buildings in Nebraska, including
a preliminary survey of the status of vacant or surplus schools conducted in cooperation with local school districts and superintendents. A report will be issued to promote alternative uses for old schools.\
- Initiated a 6,000-acre archeological survey of the Lower Platte and Pumpkin Creek drainages in Cheyenne, Deuel, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Morrill, Kimball, and Banner counties.
- In cooperation with the Society's Archeology Division, completed archeological investigations and National Register evaluation of five sites in Cass, Sioux, Box Butte, Cherry, and Banner counties. Two sites, the Ashland site complex in Cass County and the Wind Springs Ranch Historic and Archeological District in Sioux County, are pending nomination to the National Register of Historic Places as a result of this project.
- Initiated archeological investigations of the Lower Elkhorn and Platte River drainage in western Douglas and Sarpy counties, conducted in cooperation with the Society's Archeology Division.
- Cosponsored publication of the booklet "High Plains Archeology," one of the series of Explore Nebraska Archeology publications produced by the Society's Archeology Division.
- Commented on 1,478 federal undertakings for potential effects on historic and culturally significant properties, including the Lincoln Beltway study, Lincoln Antelope Valley study, Columbus north bypass, and Omaha Tenth Street viaduct replacement.
- Conducted training sessions for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development's environmental law programs in North Platte and Columbus.
- Participated in Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) documentation of the Omaha Stockyards, former Strategic Air Command Headquarters building, and the Project Looking Glass site at Offutt Air Force Base. HABS/HAER documentation is forwarded to the Library of Congress for permanent storage and national access.
- Sponsored a grant from the Save America's Treasures Planning Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and J. Paul Getty Trust to underwrite a historic structures report and historic preservation management plan for the Willa Cather childhood home in Red Cloud. Matching funds and technical support are being provided by the Society's Museum/Historic Sites Division, the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center Digital Imaging Lab, the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation.
- Announced the certification of Red Cloud as the state's third Certified Local Government (CLG). The CLG program provides funding and other support to local preservation efforts. Red Cloud was subsequently funded to develop downtown preservation guidelines.
- Funded Certified Local Government (CLG) historic preservation programs in Lincoln and Omaha. In Omaha, CLG funds were used to develop a website for the city's Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, now online at www.ci.omaha.ne.us/landmarks, and a Geographic Information System (GIS) for historic properties.
- Conducted or participated in nearly fifty public information and education outreach meetings statewide. Audiences included local and regional development groups, downtown business associations, Main Street organizations, planning organizations, and local governments.
- Assisted production crews in the filming of "Restore America" series and "If Walls Could Talk," produced for the cable network, Home & Garden Television.
- Participated with Field Club Homeowners League members in Omaha to research and evaluate their neighborhood as a National Register district. The project was initiated by the neighborhood association, which is conducting the local research.
- Processed applications totaling $7.775 million for historic preservation tax incentives projects in Imperial, Wood River, Grand Island, Columbus, Hastings, Omaha, and Lincoln. This year also saw the completion of projects ranging from an $18,000 storefront rehabilitation in Columbus to a $20 million warehouse renovation that provided almost two hundred new market-rate housing units in Omaha's historic Rail and Commerce District.
State Historic Preservation Office
" The mission of the Archeology Division is to preserve, enhance, explore, and interpret Nebraska's archeological resources for the benefit of the public and the advancement of science."
The division's primary responsibility is operation of the Nebraska Highway Archeology Program. Division staff evaluate all proposed highway and federal-aid county road improvements in the state for potential impact to significant archeological and historic sites. If such sites cannot be avoided, staff carries out excavation programs. The Archeology Division conducts similar work for other agencies, such as the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The archeological collection includes three thousand boxes of artifacts managed and curated by division staff. The division is the primary repository for reports and archival material involving Nebraska archeological investigations. Staff members are actively engaged in Great Plains archeological research and publishing.
- Evaluated 193 Nebraska Department of Roads projects for potential impact to National Register of Historic Places-eligible sites. More than thirty new archeological sites were discovered.
- Excavated several Native American flint procurement sites in Furnas County for the Nebraska Department of Roads. The sites are located along Beaver Creek,
a Republican River tributary.
- Published an installment of the series Explore Nebraska Archeology. This year's topic was High Plains archeology. The publication is a joint effort of the Archeology Division and the Historic Preservation Office.
- Recorded more than 350 previously unknown archeological sites identified
by archeologists from the Society and other agencies. Sites include both Euroamerican and Native American properties.
- Presented papers at the Plains Anthropological Society meeting and the Society for American Archeology meeting.
- Published articles in Plains Anthropologist, American Antiquity, and Current Research in the Pleistocene.
- Continued work on development of a GIS (Geographic Information System) program for Nebraska cultural resources. A progress overview of the project was presented to the Nebraska Department of Roads and the Federal Highway Administration.
- Presented lectures to twelve public or school groups.
- Presented field service workshops on Nebraska archeology to groups in Seward, Ord, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, and Champion in cooperation with the museum's education and statewide services department.
- Participated in twelve investigations at the State Patrol crime lab.
- Consulted with the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Oto-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota regarding repatriation of human remains and funerary objects.
- Taught the University of Nebraska archeological field school. This year's class ran for eight weeks and involved nineteen students. Fieldwork was conducted at Fort Robinson and in Furnas County.
- Conducted National Register of Historic Places archeological investigations in Furnas, Lancaster, Dawes, Sioux, Douglas, Sarpy, and Banner counties.
- Participated in a Native American summit in Omaha to discuss various cultural preservation issues.
- Continued laboratory analysis of the Eagle Ridge site collection. Eagle Ridge is an early eighteenth century Native American (Oto?) village discovered in a Sarpy County housing development.
- Processed thirteen loans for outside researchers from University of Colorado, Wichita State University, University of California, Kansas State University, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and a private consultant in Canada.
- Conducted more than one hundred site file/literature searches for outside researchers.
- Edited the journal Central Plains Archeology.
- Conducted a 3,000-acre sample survey of the lower Platte/Elkhorn valley in western Douglas and Sarpy counties. More than 100 new archeological sites were discovered. This project is a joint Archeology Division/Historic Preservation Office undertaking.
- Directed eleven volunteers who contributed more than 450 hours conducting fieldwork, data entry, and laboratory processing of artifacts.
- Prepared two National Register of Historic Places nominations. One is for the Ashland site complex in Cass and Saunders counties, and the Wind Springs Historic and Archeological District in Sioux County.
" The mission of the Conservation Division is to conserve the historical, cultural, and educational collections
of the state of Nebraska and surrounding areas through preservation activities and conservation treatment
of objects, paper and archive materials, and textiles."
The Conservation Division provides conservation and preservation services for the cultural, historical, and educational collections of Nebraska and the region. Services include consultation, assessment of collection condition, assessment of conservation needs, educational opportunities and training for residents of the region, and the specialized conservation treatment of collection materials.
- Completed conservation assessments for the Strategic Air Command Museum, Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History, Fillmore County Historical Society, The Sturdevant McKee Foundation (Atkinson), and the Museum of Nebraska History (Lincoln). Assessments are currently in progress for Boys Town, the Driehaus Collection (Chicago), the Fairbury City Museum, the Santa Fe Trail Center (Kansas), and the Library/Archives Division and Archeology Division of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Several of these assessments were funded through the IMLS CAP program and administered by Heritage Preservation, a national preservation organization.
- Treated and housed twenty-three steel and copper alloy engraved printing plates of Karl Bodmer western images from the collections of the Joslyn Art Museum.
- Treated an eight-by-ten-foot, carved and gilded painting frame for a permanent gallery reinstallation at the Joslyn Art Museum.
- Completed conservation treatments of a number of objects including a McClellan saddle, a Ming Dynasty vase, two of Willa Cather's personal copies of her own books, a number of Mari Sandoz's maps, and a number of objects for the reinstallation of the permanent galleries at the Joslyn Art Museum.
- Continued work on a number of new conservation projects including a pair of John F. Kennedy's sunglasses, a Willard clock, an early Native American beaded bridle, a beaded dress, and a beaded jacket.
- Accepted more than 130 new projects for conservation treatment.
- Taught a three-credit, graduate-level course in preventive conservation for the Museum Studies Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
- Taught a two-week course on the conservation of ceramics, glass, and archeological materials for sixteen students from Argentina and Brazil. The course was held in the Antorchas Foundation laboratories in Buenos Aires.
- Produced a Conserv-O-Gram on the cleaning of silver and copper alloy objects. It was written by Deborah Long and published by the National Park Service.
- Delivered more than twenty workshops, special tours, and lectures for the public and NSHS staff covering a variety of topics related to conservation including caring for silver objects and the preservation and conservation of collections.
- Supervised a postgraduate intern, Gerri Strickler, in completing a one-year internship awarded by the Getty Grant Program. The internship focuses on the treatment of three-dimensional objects at the Ford Center and provides an opportunity to gain experience in the practice of the latest techniques in object treatment.
- Instructed graduate Museum Studies student Karin Roberts in a three- credit, independent study entitled "Archaeological Conservation Issues and Concerns."
- Guest-curated a tour to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for twenty-nine members of the JAMA group of the Joslyn Art Museum.
- Held a reception for NSHS trustees, donors, and Friends of the Ford Center that was sponsored by Richard and Janyce Falcon Hunt.
- Hosted more than one thousand people, who visited the Ford Center, toured the Ford exhibit, the conservation and digital imaging laboratories, and attended special functions.
- Hosted forty-five events in Paxson Hall during the year.
- Completed scanning the Solomon P. Butcher pioneer photograph collection and the Uriah Oblinger family letters for the Library of Congress/Ameritech "American Memory" grant project.
- Received funding from the Kiewit Foundation to purchase new digital camera equipment allowing digital imaging of fragile, oversized, and/or three-dimensional objects and onsite imaging.
- Processed more than three hundred print orders for NSHS researchers and patrons.
- Created 3,700 digital files of objects from NSHS collections, including pieces from the Library/Archives, Archeology, Museum, and Historic Preservation divisions.
- Carried out twenty-two digital imaging projects for other state agencies, regional institutions, and individual clients.
- Hosted a workshop on scanning given by the Northeast Document Conservation Center that included presentations and tours by DIL and Library/Archives staff.
- Consulted with institutions nationwide about digital imaging, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
- Conducted digital imaging workshops for staff from the Utah State Historical Society and the National Museum of the American Indian.
Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
The Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation was incorporated in 1942 as a public, nonprofit, 501(c)3 charitable organization. The Foundation is dedicated to assisting the Historical Society by securing private funding necessary to meet its goals, its objectives, and its mission.
A strong, private-public partnership is vital to the Nebraska State Historical Society accomplishing its mission. The Society has developed projects that would enhance and expand its role preserving Nebraska history and its effectiveness in disseminating the remarkable story of Nebraska. The Historical Society does not receive funding at a level to implement those plans. It is private support that makes it possible to go beyond the minimum expectations of capturing, preserving, and sharing the unique aspects of Nebraska's heritage. Private gifts assure that Nebraska's history will be collected, preserved, and accessible well into the future.
The Foundation receives support for the Historical Society's activities in many sizes from many sources. We are pleased to recognize and thank those donors who generously provided support during our 1999-2000 fiscal year.
Stewards and Guardians are very special partners with the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. Their support, through contributions and/or bequests, represents exceptional gift leadership. Their gifts provide dependable, long-term funding for ongoing programs at the Historical Society. Individuals who have planned gifts that will benefit Nebraska history in the future are also recognized.
Gifts of cash, appreciated securities, personal property, real estate, and/or life insurance can reduce or eliminate income tax, capital gains, and inheritance taxes. Your gifts may also provide a guaranteed life income for you through a deferred gift arrangement. If you would like to discover how, in strict confidence and without obligation, your gift can generate benefits for you and protect the rich history of our state please contact the Foundation.
Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
408 Lincoln Center Bldg.
215 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, NE 68508-1813
Telephone: 402-435-3535 Fax: 402-435-3986
Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
Financial Report, Nebraska State Historical Society
Fiscal Year 1999-2000 Operations
(Based on preliminary year-end information. Excludes fiscal year accruals.)
Revenues % Dollar Amounts State Appropriations 68.04 $3,658,149 NSHS Foundation Support 2.71 145,801* Earned Income 18.42 990,313 Federal Grants/Contracts 8.00 430,134 Donations/Grants/Spec. Events 2.83 151,993 Total Revenues $5,376,390 Expenditures Personnel/Administrative 26.06 $1,400,727 Museum/Historic Sites 24.84 1,335,226 Library/Archives 17.29 929,725 Historic Preservation 10.85 583,352 Conservation 8.79 472,769 Archeology 7.55 406,008 Research & Publications 4.62 248,583 Total Expenditures $5,376,390
* In addition to the figure above the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation provided direct support in the amount of $38,890.
Tony A. Schmitz
Deputy Director for Operations