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Nebraska State Historical Society Annual Report
2000 - 2001

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

President's Message

"There is no place like Nebraska." This phrase is often associated with athletics, but it also pertains to the state and its people. As I write this message, our family is en route home from our summer vacation to the West Coast. Often we take our trips to various sites in Nebraska, but this year we ventured outside our state. Although we saw some gorgeous scenery and met some very nice people, none compares to Nebraska's diversified vistas and the hospitality of its people. From the buttes of northwest Nebraska, to the lush Sandhills of the north central part of the state, through the great Platte River valley, and all the way to the Missouri River's edge, Nebraska and its people have been molded and shaped by its environment and its past. The state is truly a treasure--in its past, its present, and its future.

It is the mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past. Because it is our past that forms our collective memory and provides our future's foundation, it is critical that we continue to support the efforts of the highly professional staff and volunteers at the NSHS. Under the talented leadership of Director Lawrence Sommer, the employees and volunteers of the NSHS diligently work to preserve our state's heritage and to present this "collective memory" through creative avenues to a multitude of audiences. Their innovative efforts continue to blaze the way for the crucial task of staying abreast of the latest technologies and best means of preserving our past for future generations. Take time to peruse this report and take stock of all the Society has accomplished in the past year. It is an impressive record.

In addition to the staff and volunteers, it has also been stimulating to work with the extremely dedicated members on the Board of Trustees. These individuals are committed to serving on assigned committees and other duties in an effort to buttress the efforts of the Society's staff. The NSHS Foundation, particularly President Jim Hewitt and Executive Director Jac Spahn, have been extremely helpful and cooperative in all our efforts. They are instrumental in the success of our mutual endeavors.

Under Director Sommer's leadership, the staff, the board, and the NSHS Foundation, have engaged in some serious and challenging discussions about the future of the NSHS. As we approach our Society's 125th anniversary, we are seriously reflecting on what we do, how we fulfill our mission, and how the future might affect our role. These discussions are complex, yet exhilarating. As Society members we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with the staff or any board member.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve on the NSHS's Board of Trustees. It has been an enriching experience and one I would encourage more members to seek. Finally, as president, I thank the board for its support. You have been a driving force and yet ever supportive.

Sarah B. Crook

From the Director

This report highlights the activities and accomplishments of the Nebraska State Historical Society during the past year. As you read it please feel free to call or write if you have questions or need additional information about the Society.

The Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers all devote considerable time and effort making sure the Society fulfills its mission "to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past." I appreciate their efforts on behalf of the Society. A special thanks, too, to Governor Mike Johanns and members of the Nebraska Legislature for the state's continued support.

As in past years the Society enjoyed significant support from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation for a wide variety of projects ranging from acquisitions for Society collections to internships, National History Day travel scholarships, publications, and research fellowships for visiting scholars. The Foundation also played a leadership role in raising private funds for the reconstruction of the 1874 calvary barracks at Fort Robinson. We appreciate the close working relationship that has developed between the Society and the Foundation and thank them for their important assistance. The Foundation was first established in 1942 to assist the Society. It is one of the oldest state historical society foundations in the United States.

I also want to thank NSHS trustees Janyce Falcon Hunt of Blair and Dr. Helen Stauffer of Kearney for their service to the Society. They are leaving the Society board. Their interest, leadership, and good counsel will be missed.

Lawrence J. Sommer
Director and State Historic Preservation Officer

Nebraska State Historical Society Awards

A highlight of the Society's annual meeting is the presentation of awards recognizing significant accomplishments in the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history, and for outstanding contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

For 2000 the Nebraska Preservation Award went to Todd Heistand and Tammy Barrett, owners of NuStyle Development Corporation of Omaha, for their contributions to housing and revitalization efforts in the city of Omaha.

Dr. Francis Moul received the James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the best article published in the 1999 volume of Nebraska History. "The Biggest Partner: The Federal Government and Sioux County, Nebraska" appeared in the Winter 1999 issue. A panel of judges from Peru State College made the selection.

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history went to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island. The award recognized the museum's role in interpreting the history of Grand Island, Hall County, and the pioneer town-builders who created communities across the state.

Gladys Marie Lux of Lincoln received the Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award for her important assistance to the work of the Nebraska State Historical Society. She established an endowment at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation in memory of Mary Hannah Hansen Lux and Clarence Burton Lux that enabled the Society to purchase important items for the Museum of Nebraska History and the Library/Archives collections.

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 2001 the junior division award went to Quinn Johnson, Glen School, rural Sioux County, for his project, "Solomon Butcher: Photographing a Heartbeat in Time." His teacher is Moni Hourt. The senior division award recognized Sahara Cathcart, Colin Cathcart, and Danielle Broady of Johnson-Brock High School for their project, "Evelyn Sharp: Flying Into History." Their teacher is Lori Broady.

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. Quinn Johnson received a second place award in the national contest for his documentary project on Solomon D. Butcher, which used photographs and other resources from the Society's collections.

Administration Division

"The mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society is to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past and make it accessible in ways that enrich present and future generations."

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 Nebraska State Historical 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.


Administration Division

Historical Society Volunteers


Volunteer Opportunities

Library/Archives Division

""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 public.

The Society's library contains approximately 80,000 volumes, and includes books, periodicals, newspapers, state publications, and more than 3,000 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.


Library/Archives Division

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


Museum/Historic Sites Division

Historic Sites

The Nebraska State Historical Society's historic sites make a wide variety of Nebraska's stories, from politics to poetry to our military past, accessible around the state. More than 66,000 people visited the seven historic sites during the past year.


Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Bayard, Nebraska

" 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."


Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Fort Robinson Museum
Crawford, Nebraska

" 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."


Fort Robinson Museum

Thomas P. Kennard House
Lincoln, Nebraska

" 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."


Thomas P. Kennard House Nebraska Statehood Memorial

Neligh Mill State Historic Site
Neligh, Nebraska

" 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."


Neligh Mill State Historic Site

Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site
McCook, Nebraska

" 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."


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."


Willa Cather State Historic Site

John G. Neihardt State Historic Site
Bancroft, Nebraska

" 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."


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 publication of books, archeological reports, and interpretive booklets about the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains. The division provides editorial services to other Society divisions, compiles the "Nebraska Timeline" column provided weekly to Nebraska newspapers through the Nebraska Press Association, and helps organize special programs and conferences. The division also administers the Society's research grant program.


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.

The State Historic Preservation Office is dedicated to sound policy for historic preservation in Nebraska. In 1995 a two-year task force on historic preservation presented findings and recommendations to the Nebraska State Legislature. Toward establishing policy for historic preservation in Nebraska, the State Historic Preservation Office has participated in Legislative Resolution 414, introduced in the 2000 legislative session to study historic preservation needs and incentives to best preserve Nebraska's unique historic places.


State Historic Preservation Office

Archeology Division

" 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.


Archeology Division

Conservation Division

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."

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, training for residents of the region, and the specialized conservation treatment of collection materials.


Conservation Division

Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation

As you can see from the summaries included in its annual report, the Nebraska State Historical Society is continually developing innovative ways to enhance and expand its role in preserving Nebraska history. But it is not enough only to collect and preserve our history, it must also be made easily accessible to the thousands of guests that visit its sites across the state and via the internet annually.

It is only with the help of private support that initiatives to enhance the Society's effectiveness in disseminating Nebraska's remarkable story become reality. Private support makes it possible to go beyond the minimum expectations of collecting, preserving, and sharing the unique aspects of Nebraska heritage.

The Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, incorporated in 1942, provides the private-public partnership that is vital to funding new initiatives to protect, interpret, and share the stories of Nebraska. The Foundation works to secure private gifts to support both the short-term and long-term goals of the Historical Society.

The Foundation receives support for the Historical Society's programs at many levels from many sources. We are pleased to recognize and thank those donors who generously provided support during our 2000-01 fiscal year. We are gratified to have earned the support of so many Nebraskans (public and private organizations and individuals) that share with us a passion for preserving Nebraska history. Their gifts have helped the Historical Society launch new programs, perpetuate successful ones, and provide long-term, dependable support for the organization. Thank you.

Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation

Financial Report

Financial Report, Nebraska State Historical Society
Fiscal Year 2000-2001 Operations
(Based on preliminary year-end information. Excludes fiscal year accruals.)


Revenues                         %     Dollar Amounts

State Appropriations          69.29        $4,212,108
NSHS Foundation Support        1.48            90,089*
Earned Income                 18.54         1,126,715
Federal Grants/Contracts      10.48           636,800
Donations/Grants/Spec. Events   .21            13,107

Total Revenues                             $6,078,819


Museum/Historic Sites         24.22        $1,472,218
Administrative Services       23.41         1,423,387
Library/Archives              17.31         1,052,312
Historic Preservation         12.28           746,292
Archeology                     9.67           587,983
Conservation                   8.13           494,135
Research & Publications        4.98           302,492

Total Expenditures                         $6,078,819

* In addition to the figure above the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation provided direct support in the amount of $55,998.


Respectfully Submitted,

Tony A. Schmitz
Deputy Director for Operations





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