Official Nebraska Government Website Nebraska State Historical Society

News Release
Monday, August 24, 2009

SUBJECT: Sneak preview of Ken Burns film segment and awards presentation
highlight Nebraska State Historical Society annual meeting September 18 in Lincoln.

Nebraskans who have helped create a better future for the past will be honored with awards on September 18 at the 131st annual meeting of the Nebraska State Historical Society. A special highlight of the noon event at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln will be a sneak preview of portions of Ken Burns' new film, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." Diaries and photographs of Lincolnites Ed and Margaret Gehrke, part of the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society, are featured in the fourth episode of the six-part series, which will premiere nationally on PBS on September 27.

Award winners include:

Allison Petersen

Allison Petersen of Walton,
who will receive the Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award in recognition of her long-term support of the Nebraska State Historical Society. A former member of the NSHS Board of Trustees, Petersen was a groundbreaker as the first female president of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. She continues to volunteer extensively with the Foundation, assisting with operations and financial management in addition to serving on the Foundation Executive Board. She is also an active volunteer in many other community organizations. The Furnas award highlights outstanding contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Suzanne Ratzlaff

Heartland Community School educator Suzanne Ratzlaff of Hampton is the recipient of the 2009 James C. Olson Memorial Award. An enthusiastic proponent of history and an educator who makes history come alive in her classroom, Suzanne Ratzlaff designs projects that unite her class and create a sense of community. In the 2002-03 school year her fourth graders wrote a book, Memories of Farmer's Valley, about the Farmer's Valley Cemetery near Stockham. Nearly 300 copies in two printings were sold. Her students' fascination with Burchard native and comedy film star Harold Lloyd led to a project that has been featured in the Hollywood publication "Variety" and the National Educational Association's NEA Today. The Olson award honors teachers who engage, inspire, and guide students discovering Nebraska's fascinating past.

Walter and Linda Duda

The A.T. Hill Award for outstanding efforts in Nebraska archeology goes to Duda Farms, LLC, Omaha. Family members Walt, Clare, and James Duda and Lorraine Roberts will be recognized for the preservation of the Cabanne Trading post site, located near present day Dodge Park in north Omaha. Established in 1822, the post fostered important relationships between the U.S. and Native American tribes and provided vital supplies to the garrison at Ft. Atkinson. The Cabanne archeological site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is a featured component along the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway. The Duda family is also custodian of the Parker archeological site, a National Register-eligible prehistoric site in northeastern Douglas County.

The Nebraska Department of Roads Transportation Enhancement Program will receive the Nebraska Preservation Award. Now in its fifteenth year, the program has funded historic preservation, byways, and trails projects. It is the largest single grant funding source for historic preservation in the state, accounting for nearly $24 million in more than 100 historic preservation and historic or scenic byways projects. The largest project has been $3.85 million dollars for rehabilitation of the historic Meridian Highway Bridge spanning the Missouri River at Yankton, S.D., soon to be converted into a pedestrian bridge.

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award is given each year for the best article published in the previous year's volume of Nebraska History. Todd Guenther of Lander, Wyoming, won for his article, The Empire Builders: an African American Odyssey in Nebraska and Wyoming which appeared in the winter 2008 issue. Guenther, a fifth-generation Nebraskan born in Wayne, is an instructor of anthropology and history at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, and ranches south of Lander.

Guenthers's article focuses on African American families who settled in Custer County, Nebraska, in the 1880's, and who in 1908 founded the settlement of Empire, Wyoming, just across the state line from Nebraska. Faculty from the University of Nebraska-Omaha history department served as judges. Guenther will receive $1,000 from a fund created by Catherine Sellers Angle and John Angle.

Sara Crook

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history will be given to Dr. Sara Crook of Peru. In addition to teaching the history of Nebraska at Peru State College, her passion for sharing state history has led her to co-direct five sessions of "Trails and Tales Tour and Institute." This intensive history and literature project for in-service teachers takes them to the places where history happened. She has also directed Peru State College's district competition for National History Day: Nebraska for 24 years. Crook has served two terms on the NSHS Board of Trustees and was elected twice as the Board's president.

Honorees will be guests at the awards luncheon, which is open to the public. Advance registration ($25) is required; deadline is September 1. For more information call 402-471-4746 or email

For general information:

Lynne M. Ireland
Deputy Director
Nebraska State Historical Society
PO Box 82554
Lincoln, NE 68501
402.471.4758 (v)
402-471.3100 (f)

Your Nebraska source for the histories we share.


NSHS Home  |  Search  |  Index  |  Top
Last updated 15 June 2009

For questions or comments on the website itself, email
Nebraska State Historical Society - P.O. Box 82554, 1500 R Street, Lincoln, NE 68501
Nebraska State Government Homepage
 |  Website Policies  |  © 2009 All Rights Reserved