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Historical Newsletter

May 1999


SOCIETY ESTABLISHES RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM

The Society Board of Trustees at its March 26 meeting approved a grant program to support original research and writing relating to the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains. A $1,000 grant will be awarded annually for a project to be completed within one year. The grant recipient will be expected to produce a manuscript for possible publication by the Society in Nebraska History or another venue. Preference will be given to applicants proposing to pursue previously neglected topics or new approaches or interpretations of previously treated topics. The Society invites applicants from a variety of backgrounds including academic and public historians, graduate students, and independent researchers. Applications for the 1999 grant program must be postmarked by June 1, 1999.

Additional information and specific application guidelines may be viewed on the Society's website, or may be requested by contacting James E. Potter, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, NE 68501, 402-471-4747.

NEBRASKA TRADITIONS PROJECT TO IDENTIFY, PRESERVE STATE CULTURAL TRADITIONS

Nebraska Traditions is a collaborative, grant-funded project that was developed by the Historical Society to gather information on cultural traditions; find out how Nebraskans think the ethnic, occupational, and other traditions practiced in our state ought to be preserved; and identify who should be involved in preserving them. Through the spring, summer, and fall of 1999 the Society, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the Nebraska Humanities Council are working together to contact representatives from Nebraska's diverse range of ethnic and other traditional groups and communities for information on their cultural traditions. These traditions include such diverse things as traditional crafts (examples: saddlemaking, Native American beadwork, quilting), music, dance, verbal traditions (such as stories, jokes, and sayings), games, home health remedies, rituals and celebrations, and traditional foods. They are knowledge and skills passed down from person to person and generation to generation in families, occupational groups, and ethnic and other traditional communities.

With the help of these organizations, and individuals within these groups or communities who have special knowledge of traditional art forms or other skills, the three agencies aim to identify preservation priorities and create collaborative action projects to support the cultural preservation needs of Nebraska's traditional communities, groups, and organizations.

The project is funded by a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Folk and Traditional Arts Infrastructure Initiative and by matching funds provided by the three cosponsoring agencies.

Anyone who would like more information on the project or who would like to suggest a group or individual to be contacted is invited to call John Carter, the project director, at the Society at 402-471-4752. Examples of people who might have this type of knowledge are older members of ethnic communities, or people who practice occupations with rich traditions such as fire fighters, bakers, railroaders, ranchers, and hospital workers.

FORT ROBINSON HISTORY NOW AVAILABLE

Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, by Thomas R. Buecker, curator of the Society's Fort Robinson Museum, has been published. The first of a two-volume history of the fort, the 265-page, hardcover book traces the fort's evolving role from its establishment as guardian of the Red Cloud Indian Agency through the departure of its Ninth U.S. Cavalry "Buffalo Soldier" garrison for Spanish-American War service at century's end. Publication of this volume was made possible by the Ronald K. and Judith M. Stolz Parks Publishing Fund established at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation in memory of Wayne Kemper Parks (1909-95) and Hazel Virginia Hill Parks (1911-91).

Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899 is available at $40 ($36 for NSHS members), plus sales tax and $4 shipping from the Museum Store, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, NE 68501, 1-800-833-6747 or 402-471-3447. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards are accepted.

MNH/HISTORIC SITES

NEBRASKA WEDDING TRADITIONS HIGHLIGHTED IN MUSEUM DISPLAY

Dearly Beloved: Gifts and Gowns from Nebraska Weddings, a new exhibit at the Museum of Nebraska History, opens June 1, 1999. The exhibit features a selection of sixteen wedding dresses dating from the 1850s to the 1950s, drawn from the Society's extensive textile collection. Wedding invitations, accessories, photos, and gifts will also be displayed. A special section on "Living Traditions" highlights some of the wedding customs associated with Nebraska's rich ethnic heritage.

A silk wedding dress made in Denmark in 1883, a flapper-style chiffon gown with train from 1925, and a 1956 tea-length satin dress are just a few of the garments that will be on exhibit. Shoes, gloves, and jewelry from a variety of time periods will also be on view. Some of the featured wedding gifts include an 1887 love seat, a 1905 hand-painted china clock, and a set of china lemonade cups from 1914.

To experience the "rest of the story" behind the wedding dresses, mark your calendar for a free family event on Sunday, June 13, 1999, 1:30-5, at the Museum of Nebraska History. Explore the exhibit with a scavenger hunt, play bridal shower games dating from the 1920s through the 1950s, create wedding crafts from the 1910s, sample a variety of wedding cakes, and enjoy some wedding entertainment to experience Nebraska's living traditions.

The exhibit continues through May 31, 2000. The museum is located at 15th and P streets and is open to the public with free admission. Museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9-4:30; Saturday, 9-5; and Sunday, 1:30-5.

(image) Silk brocade wedding dress worn by Florence Sherman for her 1883 marriage to Owsley Wilson in Illinois. The Wilsons took a claim near Burwell and later moved to Lincoln.

JAZZ CELEBRATION AT MUSEUM

On March 5 the Museum of Nebraska History was the place to be for a swinging evening of entertainment and education. To celebrate the exhibit Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, the Society and the Berman Music Foundation hosted a special open house featuring a performance by legendary bassist Jack Lesberg. During his long and distinguished musical career, Lesberg has played with such jazz giants as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, and Tommy Dorsey. Lesberg also played in the New York Symphony under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. As the subject of one of Falter's jazz portraits, the New York-based Lesberg's visit was especially appropriate.

Visitors enjoyed food and drink while viewing the exhibit and talking with Lesberg, who had many stories to tell of his experiences with the artists Falter portrayed. The highlight of the event was Lesberg's live performance. Dan Demuth, local jazz historian and longtime volunteer at the Society, gave a brief talk about jazz in Nebraska history and highlighted the many jazz greats who have had Nebraska connections.

Butch Berman, whose Berman Music Foundation provided funding for the exhibit and Lesberg's appearance, introduced Lesberg to an audience of nearly two hundred and had many kind words to say about the positive relationship forged between the Society and his Foundation. Lesberg was accompanied on the piano by local artist John Carlini and was joined at times by soprano saxophonist Bill Wimmer and singer Nancy Marshall, both of Lincoln. There was universal agreement among attendees that the performance was something special. Lesberg's artistry on the bass reinforced his reputation as one of the best players around.

At the end of the performance Lesberg was given a signed print of the Falter portrait of himself in appreciation for his coming to Lincoln and providing the entertainment. Butch Berman was also given a signed Falter print as thanks for his Foundation's contributions to the Society that helped make the exhibit and that evening's event possible.

Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits will be on exhibit at the Museum of Nebraska History through 1999. Signed and unsigned prints of Falter's jazz portraits are available for purchase at the Museum Store.

(image) Jack Lesberg at the Museum of Nebraska History viewing portraits of himself done by John Falter.

(image) Brent Carmack presenting Butch Berman with a signed Falter print.

SOCIETY HISTORIC SITES SWITCH TO SUMMER HOURS

The Society's seven historic sites are getting ready for the busy summer tourist season. Summer hours at the sites will go into effect Memorial Day weekend. As always, admission to any of the historic sites is free to Society members. For more information about any Nebraska State Historical Society historic site please call 1-800-833-6747.

Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center,
Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Bayard:
9-6 Monday-Sunday, April 1-September 30
9-5 Monday-Sunday, October 1-March 31

Fort Robinson Museum, Crawford
8-5 Monday-Saturday, and 9-5 Sunday, Memorial Day-Labor Day
8-5 Monday-Saturday, and 1-5 Sunday, May and September
8-5 Monday-Friday, closed weekends, October 1-April 30

John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft:
9-5 Monday-Saturday, and 1:30-5 Sunday, year round

Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh:
8-5 Monday-Saturday, and 1:30-5 Sunday, Memorial Day-September 30.
8-5 Monday-Friday, closed weekends, October 1-Memorial Day

Senator George Norris State Historic Site, McCook:
10-12 and 1-5 Wednesday-Saturday, and 1:30-5 Tuesday and Sunday, year round

Thomas P. Kennard House, Lincoln:
9-12, 1-4:30 Tuesday-Friday, and 1-5 Saturday-Sunday, Memorial Day-Labor Day
9-12, 1-4:30 Tuesday-Friday, closed weekends, September-May

Willa Cather State Historic Site, Red Cloud:
8-5 Monday-Saturday, and 1-5 Sunday, year round

LIBRARY/ARCHIVES

GENEALOGISTS' CORNER
By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Bible Records

Bible records are created to record the vital statistics (marriages, births, and deaths) of family members. The family Bible record is considered a primary source document because it establishes the relationship of family members. An individual who was present when the event happened usually recorded the information. In some cases several entries were recorded at one time after accumulating for months or years.

Family Bibles provide some of the most important records available from the early years of our country. Vital records may not have been kept or were destroyed, leaving Bible records as the only information available. Researchers should be aware that family Bibles might come in all sizes, small or large. The family record may be in the front, just before the New Testament, or in the back. All information recorded in a family Bible should be analyzed. Was the Bible printed after the dates in the record, proving that someone recorded them from memory or from an earlier record that is no longer available? Examine the handwriting for each entry to see if it is the same, which means it was written by the same person. If several entries are written with the same ink, they may have been completed at the same time. If entries appear to have been written one entry at a time (as the event occurred) the rate of accuracy is higher. When discrepancies exist between Bible records and vital records, these evaluations will help the researcher determine which record is more reliable.

Family Bible entries have been used as supporting evidence for legal purposes. Bible records were one source that was used to document the age of an individual for a delayed birth certificate. A large number of these birth certificates were issued in the early 1940s as proof of age for Social Security applicants. Families often used Bible pages, torn from the book, as evidence for government claims such as pensions and land claims. These pages may still be with the original records, or removed to collections of Bible records in the National Archives and Library of Congress. Local and regional historical societies and other agencies may also have acquired Bible records from early families in their area.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet has a link for family Bibles at http://www.cyndislist.com/bibles.htm. Nebraska researchers might be interested in a site on NEGenWeb titled, "Ancestors' Lost and Found," where you can list family memorabilia (such as Bibles) to share or reunite with family members. The URL is http://www.rootsweb.com/~neresour/ancestors/index.html.

The NSHS library/archives has photocopied Bible pages on permanent paper and includes the title page and date of publication. These pages have been cataloged as part of the Family File Collection in the library and may be located by the major family names within the Bible record.

Genealogy Tip of the Month

GEDCOM (Genealogical COMmunication) is a special computer protocol that was developed by genealogists to facilitate transfer of data between different genealogical software and online databases. Any producer of genealogical software products must meet this standard to ensure record compatibility.

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Maria: Bertha Marie Thompson Nelson. . .The Story of Her Life as Remembered and Written by her Daughter, Amelia M. Vandenberg. (Norwegian-American Family in Boone and Greeley counties).

Descendants of Daniel Spence (1802-1875) of Islay, Scotland: Including Depew, Dunham. . .and Other Families, [compiled] by John R. Spence and Donna G. Spence. (Scottish-American Family in Red Willow, Frontier, and Jefferson counties).

Maggie First, by Margaret Donohoe Agnes. (Donohoe and Agnes families in Holt County).

David City Cemetery: Butler County, Nebraska, [compiled by Myron and Clarabelle Kilgore].

Romance From the Old Family Tree:. . .Presenting the Family of Guthrie in History, Story, and Genealogy
(family in Cass County); Romance From the Old Family Tree: A Genealogical Record Concerning the Family of Park (family in Thayer and Pawnee counties), both titles by Charles A. Park and Mai L. Park.

Marriage Records, Dodge County, Nebraska, 19 Sept. 1907 to 19 Apr. 1910, Book 12
, by Clarabelle Mares, published by Eastern Nebraska Genealogical Society.

Marriage Records, Jefferson County, Nebraska, published by Jefferson County Genealogical Society. (Books A-C cover June 11, 1864, through April 7, 1891).

Ancestors and Descendants of Jotham Martin. . . , compiled by Josephine B. Knight. (Family in Webster County).

McMullin Family History, [compiled] by Larry Murphy. (Irish-American family in Washington County).

Fillmore County Obituary Index. . . , by the Fillmore County Genealogical Society, published by the Nebraska State Genealogical Society. (Obituaries from 1920 to 1948).

Potter's Field Burials: Columbus, Nebraska, 1866-1960
, published by the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.

The Family of Linnie Fay Rockwell, by H. Earl Close. (Family in Dakota County).

Genealogy of the Snider-Snyder Family, 1743-1998, compiled by Ila S. Christensen. (Family in Sherman and Buffalo counties).

Romance from the Old Family Tree: Genealogical Record and Historical Story of the Family of Vance, by Lillie M. L. Park. (Family in Pawnee County).

That You May Know, as told by Margaret Mitchell Womer to Leslye Hardman Womer. (Scottish-American Mitchell family in Franklin County).

The library would like to thank Reva V. Randall for the monetary donation to purchase Railroads in the Heartland, which was mentioned in our March Wish List. Donations for the 1999 Supplement to the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index are still at $75 as of April 1. Monetary donations for this title should be directed to my attention with the title clearly indicated.

LIST OF HISTORICAL RESEARCHERS TO BE UPDATED

The Library/Archives Division is revising its list of historical researchers and will be accepting entries for this list through June 15, 1999. This list is provided to patrons when their request for assistance goes beyond the scope of research provided by Library/Archives staff. This list is for researchers in historical subjects only; for genealogical requests that the staff cannot answer, the patron is referred to our list of local and state genealogical organizations. To receive a copy of the entry form for inclusion on the list, write to the Library/Archives Division, Nebraska State Historical Society, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln NE 68501 or e-mail us at lanshs@nebraskahistory.org.

UPCOMING EVENTS

May 4-14: Pastimes and Playthings, festival of old-fashioned toys and games at Thomas P. Kennard House, 1627 H Street, Lincoln. For information call the Kennard House, 402-471-4764.

May 13: Lincoln Corral of Westerners, "Joslyn Castle Gardens," by Carol Ahlgren, architectural historian, NSHS. Meet at Holiday Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 488-5698, for reservations (required).

May 20: Brown Bag Lecture, "Turning Boys into Ballplayers, The Development of Junior Baseball in Nebraska," by Kent Krause, doctoral candidate, History Department, UNL. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

May 20: Omaha Corral of Westerners, "John Neihardt, Poet Laureate of Nebraska and the Plains," by Lori Utecht, John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Meet at Venice Inn, 6920 Pacific St., Omaha, 6 P.M. Call Bob Savage, 391-3252, for information. Reservations required.

June 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: Bees, Bison, and Bluestem, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information and registration form, call Jessica Stoner at the Museum of Nebraska History, 471-4757 or 1-800-833-6747 in Lincoln.

June 13: Dearly Beloved: Gifts and Gown from Nebraska Weddings, free family event, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln, 1:30-5. Event will include exhibit, bridal shower games, crafts, historic wedding cakes, and entertainment. For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 14, 15: Sod House Summer, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 14, 15, 16, 17: Adventures in Architecture, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 16: Little Known Nebraska Natives: Camels and Other Mammals, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages seven through nine). For information and registration, call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "The Pawnee War of 1859," by John Ludwickson, curator of anthropology, Archeology Division, NSHS. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

June 17, 18: History Eyewitness, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 21, 22, 23, 24: Kids and Cameras, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25: Nebraska "Kidstory" News, NSHS summer workshop for kids (ages ten through twelve). For information call Jessica Stoner as above.

In observance of Memorial Day, the NSHS Headquarters Building (Library/Archives) in Lincoln and the Gerald R. Ford Center in Omaha will be closed Saturday, May 29, through Monday, May 31. The Museum of Nebraska History and branch museums will be open regular hours.

April 1999 Issue

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