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Historical Newsletter

January 1999


UN TESORO DE NEBRASKA (A NEBRASKA TREASURE) PROJECT WINS NATIONAL AWARD

Un Tesoro de Nebraska: Discovering Our Mexican Legacy, an oral history and folklife interview project jointly sponsored by the Society and the Nebraska Mexican American Commission, was cited as an outstanding public humanities project and won the 1998 Schwartz prize in the community-initiated re-grant category for the Nebraska Humanities Council. The Schwartz prize is given to two state humanities councils each year at the Federation of State Humanities Councils annual meeting in recognition of their outstanding public programming.

Judges lauded the project for its outreach to Mexican Americans, an important immigrant group; for its multiple partnerships; and for the multiple formats in which the programs were delivered. The exhibit created through the project is now permanently housed at the Mexican American Historical Society Museum in Scottsbluff. A videotape of the Society Brown Bag lecture on the project can be borrowed from the Society or from the Nebraska Humanities Council Speaker's Bureau library. The publication on the project, Nuestros Tesoros (Our Treasures), can be accessed through the Society's website at www.nebraskahistory.org

For more information on the project contact Gwen Meister, Society grants coordinator, at 402-471-6642.

MUSEUM OF NEBR. HISTORY

DANCER ELSA ROZANEK DONATES BALL GOWN

Elsa Rozanek of Fremont recently donated the beautiful gown and accessories pictured to the Nebraska State Historical Society. With her husband Adolph, the duo formed a nationally famous championship ballroom dance team known as the "Dancing Rozaneks." The couple won over fifty trophies during their career, including competitions at the Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray Dance Studios. Elsa and Adolph also appeared on a number of television programs. In 1965 the Rozaneks performed at the World's Fair in New York City as part of the Nebraska Day festivities. Over the years the Rozaneks danced to the music of many fine orchestras, including those led by Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk.

Elsa first wore the gown for a performance at the Nebraska State Fair sometime in the 1950s. The couple appeared at the state fair for twenty years and danced every day of the fair. The gown, one of many in Elsa's collection, was purchased at Magee's in Lincoln.

JOHN FALTER EXHIBIT TO OPEN AT MUSEUM

Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, a new exhibit at the Museum of Nebraska History, will open January 7, 1999. The exhibit will feature over fifty Falter drawings, prints, and paintings that reflect his life-long interest in jazz music. Born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, in 1910, and raised in Falls City, John P. Falter became one of America's most famous illustrators. Best known for his cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, he also produced over three hundred World War II recruiting posters and almost three hundred paintings of western American scenes. Falter was elected to the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1976 and was also a member of the National Academy of Western Art.

drawing of John Mince John Mince. John Falter. Lithograph, 1971. John Mince (John Muenzenberger) played clarinet and saxophone. He worked with Joe Haymes, Ray Noble, Bob Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, and his own bands.

The jazz drawings seen in Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits represent a small, but interesting, portion of Falter's career, and are indicative of his ability to capture the details of people and events as only an illustrator can. Most of the drawings in the exhibit were done during the 1971 Colorado Jazz Party held at the Broadmoor Hotel outside Colorado Springs. Also included are drawings Falter made at another jazz party held in Odessa, Texas, in 1974, as well as several of Falter's oil paintings of jazz giants such as Louis Armstrong. Falter was a musician himself, playing the saxophone and clarinet. In 1926 he played in the house band at the Gehling Theater in Falls City along with another Falls City native, "Pee Wee" Erwin, who is one of the subjects of Falter's drawings. Falter's love of jazz and insight into the music comes through in the feelings expressed in many of the drawings.

Falter best explains what he was trying to capture in the drawings on exhibit: "For many years I have thought about recording visually 'jazz in action.' Several times I have tried and failed. This time I have come close to finding what I am after. The musicians are enthused, one of them saying, 'John you painted me in A flat, my favorite key.' . . . I am attempting to visually record the jazz I was never able to properly play."

Falter's wife, Mary Elizabeth Falter, donated his papers, numerous paintings and drawings, and the objects and furnishings of his studio to the Nebraska State Historical Society after his death in April 1982. The exhibit is scheduled to be on view until the end of 1999. The Museum of Nebraska History is open 9-4:30, Monday-Friday; 9-5, Saturday; 1:30-5, Sunday. Admission is free. Funding for the exhibit has been generously provided by the Butch Berman Music Foundation.

WON'T YOU BE MY V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E?

Ask your sweetheart and your children out on a "date" to the Museum of Nebraska History on Sunday, February 7, 1999, and celebrate Valentine traditions through the ages. Among the many historic party games we'll play, you can "Fish for Hearts" from the Victorian era to find out what your love life will bring in 1999, or match titles to "Dan Cupid's Masterpieces" in a fun game from the 1920s. To learn more about historic traditions of the Valentine holiday, you can make historic-style valentines and gifts for your sweetheart and for your sweet tooth, and taste some early 1900s Valentine's Day party foods. Historic valentines from various periods in Nebraska history will be on display throughout the month of February, and the romantic Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth movie, You Were Never Lovelier, will be shown at 2 P.M. in the auditorium. Call Jessica Stoner, 471-4757, for more information about the "Won't You Be My V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E?" family event on Sunday, February 7, 1999.

FORMER SOCIETY DIRECTOR AESCHBACHER DIES

Dr. William D. Aeschbacher of Cincinnati, Ohio, director of the Society from 1956 to 1963, died October 23. A Kansas native, Aeschbacher grew up in Nebraska and graduated from Hyannis High School in 1935. He received his Ph.D in history from the University of Nebraska in 1948 and taught at Kentucky State College (now Murray State) before coming to the Society. Aeschbacher's dissertation was a history of the cattle industry in the Sand Hills, and he published several articles on that subject in Nebraska History.

During Aeschbacher's directorship the Society began the highway salvage archeology program in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Roads, and implemented the state historical marker program. In 1963 Aeschbacher left the Society to become director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, and he later taught history at the University of Cincinnati. At the time of his death, he was a trustee of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

BUNTAIN APPOINTED AS SOCIETY TRUSTEE

Lucy Madden Buntain of Lincoln has been appointed by Governor E. Benjamin Nelson to a three-year term on the Society Board of Trustees. She represents the First Congressional District, and her term began January 1. Buntain received the Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974, and was on the English department faculty at the university from 1968 to 1985. Since 1989 she has served as director of special projects for the University of Nebraska Foundation. She belongs to, and has been a board member of, numerous civic and cultural organizations in Lincoln.

The Board of Trustees consists of fifteen members, twelve elected by the Society membership and three appointed by the governor of Nebraska.

LIBRARY/ARCHIVES

GENEALOGISTS' CORNER
By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Adoption Records

Adoption records are the court records made at the time of the adoption. Most adoption records before 1930 are open to the public, but availability of these records varies from state to state. Today right-to-privacy laws often make it more difficult to access these records.

There are many sources to search in regard to adoption records. There is a National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) from which you may get a copy of your state's adoption laws at no charge. The address is P.O. Box 1182, Washington D.C. 20013-1182. Phone: 888-251-0075; Fax: 703-385-3206; E-Mail: naic@calib.com and Web:<http://www.calib.com/naic/> (Accessed 12/4/98). A genealogical website you might want to check is Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet. The URL for Adoption at this site is <http://CyndisList.com/adoption.htm> (Accessed 12/4/98). One of the major guidebooks published on this subject is Search: Handbook for Adoptees and Birthparents by Jayne Askin. The third edition of this title published by Oryx Press has just become available.

Adoption records in Nebraska may be located in the county court probate records before 1895. After 1895 they would be on file in a separate journal for adoption records. Although adoption records in Nebraska have been closed by law since 1943, the status of earlier adoption records is unclear. Most county courts probably consider all adoption records closed and would not allow you to see these records. For questions about adoption searches in Nebraska contact Gerardo R. Dominguez, Nebraska Health and Human Services, at P.O. Box 95044, Lincoln, NE 68509-5044, 402-471-9254.

Newspapers published adoptions before and after 1900. A law stated they were to be published in the newspaper for three weeks. We have not researched the laws in depth about when adoptions were no longer published in newspapers, but they have been located as late as the 1920s. Nebraska Genealogists have indexed some of these adoptions in various genealogical publications.

The NSHS has some of these early records, but because of the uncertainty regarding the various laws on adoption records, we would require a court order to release them. Guardianship records are open, but they will not state if an adoption occurred.

There are several support groups in Nebraska for adoptees, birthparents, and adopted parents. Adoption Triad Midwest has been in existence for twenty years. The address is P.O. Box 45273, Omaha, NE 68145.

Although I have not helped directly in locating actual adoption records, I have helped friends with research in available public sources when they have had the name of one or more birthparents. Several sources that I and other staff found useful in locating information about birthparents include newspapers, city directories, high school annuals, local histories (county, town and church), school census records, and cemetery transcriptions.

Cynthia Monroe, Pat Churray, and Steve Wolz from the Library/Archives staff helped in reviewing some or all of the material in this article.

Genealogy Tip of the Month
Genealogical Publishing Company has published a new book titled Genealogy Software Guide by Marthe Arends. It is a guide to genealogy software with "reviews of the major software programs, including commercial and shareware software as well as utilities." This title "concentrates solely on software that is current and is still supported by the author or publisher." It is available from GPC for $24.95.

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Treasured Memories, by Pauline Neale. (Stoltenberg family in Washington County).
Growing Up in Aunt Molly's Omaha and Facing the World Beyond, 1920-1965, by Eleanor H. Murray. (Greusel and Reynolds families in Douglas County).

The Henry Rieke Family History, compiled by Marjorie N. Maguire and Don Neben. (Family in Cass County).

Frontier Nebraska: Boone County Stories of Hardship and Triumph in the 1870s, compiled by Stephen K. Hutchinson.

A History of Anders Nilsson in Sweden and America: Anders Nilsson, 1820-1914, researched and written by Russell R. Nery. (Family in Kearney County).

Evolution of Ella Wheeler Wilcox and other Wheelers, by M. P. Wheeler. (Family in Valley County).

ORDNANCE PLANT BLUEPRINTS ACQUIRED

The archives recently acquired the blueprints for the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant in Grand Island. These blueprints include details of the bomb assembly lines, bomb construction, and plant buildings. Most of the material dates from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, but there are also some material from World War II and the 1980s.

NOMINATIONS SOUGHT FOR NEBRASKA HALL OF FAME

The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission is accepting nominations of prospective inductees. To receive a nomination form and the criteria governing nominations, contact Deb McWilliams at 402-471-4955. The deadline for receipt of nominations is 5 P.M. (CST) on April 15, 1999.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Nebraska and the nation. Individuals must be deceased thirty-five years to be considered.

The commission will meet October 21, 1999, at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln, to hear nomination presentations from the public. Commission members will make their selection in January 2000.

UPCOMING EVENTS

January 21: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Omaha Nation," by Judith Boughter, instructor of history, University of Nebraska at Omaha. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 12th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

January 23: Collectors Saturday Lecture Series, "Photographs," by John Carter. 10 A.M., Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South 32nd St., Omaha. Free and open to the public. To schedule a twenty-minute appointment with speaker ($25), call 402-595-1180. Appointments can be scheduled between l:30 and 4 P.M.


New publication available now:

The Fontenelle and Cabanne Trading Posts:
The History and Archeology of Two Missouri River Sites, 1822-1838.
By Richard E. Jensen.

Histories of the posts, plus descriptions of the artifacts
recovered during archeological excavation of the sites in the early 1970s.
Paperbound, 180 pp., 50 illustrations and maps.
$24.95 plus $4 shipping and handling.

Phone Orders: 1-800-833-6747
Fax Orders: (402) 471-3314
Mail Orders: Museum Store
Nebraska State Historical Society
P.O. Box 82554
Lincoln, NE 68501-2554
Visa, Mastercard, and Discover accepted


In observance of Martin Luther King Day,
all Society facilities will be closed Monday, January 18.
The Library/Archives will also be closed Sunday, January 17.


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