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Nebraska State Historical Society Annual Report
1997 - 1998

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

Stephen Spender once wrote, "History is the ship carrying living memories to the future." If indeed that is the case, then perhaps the initials for the Nebraska State Historical Society may also be considered to stand for Nebraska State Historical Ship. That being the case, as this year's Captain of the Ship, I am pleased to report that our vessel is indeed "ship-shape." We have relatively few "barnacles on our hull," our "decks are cleared," and our engines are running at "full steam ahead." In fact, I am pleased to report that the past year has been one of mostly "smooth sailing." We encountered a little rough water when in 1997 we lost some of our state funding. Fortunately, however, with the support of the governor and the legislature, those funds have mostly been restored and should do much to assist us in our travels during the next fiscal year. This year, therefore, has been devoted mostly to finding new "ports of call." Through the able leadership of our past president, Charles Trimble, we have not only settled our differences with the Pawnee Tribe but have now established close and warm relations with the various tribes throughout the area. Additionally, what appeared early on to be a storm at the Ford Conservation Center has now blown away, and the center is operating quite efficiently. There is no question that by the time we sail into the twenty-first century, the Ford Conservation Center will be one of the premier facilities of its type in the nation.

No ship can operate, however, without a dedicated, efficient crew. In that regard, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to, not only the Board of Trustees who devote so much time and effort to the Society, but to the very able and competent professional staff under the direction of Larry Sommer. Additionally, as a "tugboat" to help the Nebraska History Ship through difficult waters, is the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, which continues to provide able support for the Society, and to each foundation officer and trustee and their director, Jac Spahn, I extend my sincere thanks.

To those of you who are members of the Society, I thank you for your support, and for those of you who have not yet become members, I urge you to consider doing so. Likewise, I remind you that should you wish to give a gift of lasting effect, please consider the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

As we sail into the twenty-first century, I am confident that the History Ship is prepared to meet any adventure it may confront and will easily sail through to a welcome port of call.

Norman Krivosha


From the Director

Annual reports offer a forum for discussing and reflecting upon an organization's periodic progress toward fulfilling its mission. As you read this annual report I am sure you will agree that the Nebraska State Historical Society completed another year of significant accomplishment and strong leadership in helping to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past. This report highlights the activities and accomplishments of the past year. As you read it please feel free to call or write if you have questions or need any additional information about the Society.

During the 1997­98 fiscal year the Society spent considerable time and effort preparing plans and program statements for renovation of Society facilities, both in Lincoln and across the state. This work is part of the preparation necessary for submission of a major capital request to the 1999 Nebraska State Legislature. In excess of $10 million worth of renovation and upgrading are needed at the fifty-year-old NSHS headquarters building and the thirty-year-old Museum of Nebraska History. Both buildings have obsolete mechanical and electrical systems, and neither meets modern fire, health, safety, and disability access codes. Getting this work funded and completed is a top Society priority.

The Society's Ford Conservation Center in Omaha completed its first full year of operation with a growing backlog of work and an expanding client base, along with a growing national reputation and significant record of accomplishment in providing conservation treatment, training, and technical assistance to museums, libraries, and related historical institutions throughout Nebraska and the Midwest. Late in the fiscal year the Ford Center received funding for the installation and start-up of an advanced imaging laboratory that will be in full operation by the fall of 1998.

A new website went on line in March 1998, thereby creating another way for people anywhere to learn about and access the resources at the Society. Visit the NSHS website at The Society continues to move rapidly into the technology age with the purchase and installation of advanced computer network systems, imaging technology, and digital information transmission. Every year the Society conducts more and more of its business via fax, e-mail, and other electronic means.

Throughout the year the Society experienced good attendance at its museums and sites. During the winter an innovative Sunday afternoon program series at Chimney Rock drew standing-room-only crowds. A record number of students from across Nebraska participated in the National History Day program this past spring.

The Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers all devote considerable time and effort making sure the Society fulfills its mission and accomplishes its goals. I sincerely appreciate their efforts on behalf of the Society and thank them for being such vital members of the NSHS team. A special note of appreciation is due to Governor Ben Nelson and the members of the Nebraska Legislature for their continued support.

I also wish to give special recognition and thanks to NSHS Trustees Maurine Roller of Alliance, James Wengert of Omaha, and Norman Krivosha of Lincoln for their service to the Society. Their second terms as trustees are ending, and they are not eligible for reelection. Their interest, leadership, and good counsel will be missed.

Lawrence J. Sommer

Director and State Historic Preservation Officer

Nebraska State Historical Society Awards

The Society recognizes noteworthy achievements in the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history with named awards presented during the annual History Conference.

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the article judged best in the 1996 volume of Nebraska History was presented to Dr. Julie Greene of the Department of History, University of Colorado at Boulder. Her article, "The Making of Labor's Democracy: William Jennings Bryan, The American Federation of Labor, and Progressive Era Politics," appeared in the fall/winter theme issue on William Jennings Bryan. The Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation provides a $400 prize that accompanies the Sellers Award.

The Nebraska Preservation Award for significant achievement in the preservation of Nebraska's historic places went to Panhandle Landmarks, Inc. The award, accepted by founder and first president Nancy Haney, recognized the organiza-tion's commitment to and success in preserving significant historic and cultural resources in eleven counties in the Nebraska Panhandle.

The Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award recognizes noteworthy contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society. Lucretia Green of Scottsbluff accepted the award on behalf of the Green Family, longtime donors to Society collections. Donations include manuscripts, photographs, and museum objects relating to A. L. Green's tenure as Oto Indian agent, 1869 to 1873, and to Thomas L. Green's research on western Nebraska history and archeology.

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history was presented to Ray and Marianne Simmons of Fremont. They were cited for their long-term involvement with the outstanding programs of the Dodge County Historical Society, and for their contributions to the preservation of historic sites in Fremont and Dodge counties.

The Society's Award for Achievement in Nebraska History is announced at the State History Day contest and presented at the History Day celebration at the Capitol. The 1998 award was divided into junior and senior divisions and went to two group media projects. Junior division winners were Shawn Fricke, Amy Fricke, Kristina Lux, and Amelia Lux of District No. 2, Glen Public Schools, rural Sioux County. Senior winners were Laura Myers, Laurie Keogh, and Mackenzie Taylor of Stuart High School.

(image) Society award recipients, as well as incoming and outgoing trustees, were recognized at the 1997 history conference. (Left to right): Charles Trimble, James McKee, Ray and Marianne Simmons (Sheldon Award), Lucretia Green (Furnas Award); Nick Powers and Nancy Haney (Preservation Award), Michael Schuyler, and Julie Greene (Sellers Award).

Administration Division

" 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 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.


(image) Director Lawrence Sommer (left) and State Senator Pam Brown of Omaha present a History Day: Nebraska award to Molly Reagan (right), a tenth grader at Omaha's Duchesne Academy.

Administration Division

Historical Society Volunteers


(image) Volunteers Kay Williams (standing) Leah Rae Schneider, and Pat McLaughlin (right) processing collection material in the archeology laboratory.

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 researching 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 several thousand sound recordings. The Society is also the official repository of 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.


(image) Steve Wolz, curator of public records, shelves the first box of records in the storage center at the former K Street Power Plant in Lincoln.

(image) A still from a 1918 film documenting Delco lighting plants sold by William Lowman of Silver Creek, Nebraska. This Duncan, Nebraska, barbershop was lighted by a Delco plant. The forty-minute film was donated to the Library/Archives by Lowman's great-grandson, Craig Lowman of Omaha.

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


(image) Tom and Judy Lutzi of Lincoln loaned their unique, Nebraska-built Fascination automobile for the Plains Power: Nebraska-made Vehicles exhibit.

Museum/Historic Sites Division

Historic Sites

Seven historic sites are administered by the Society. Two of the seven are operated under contract by local foundations. These historic places are brought to life through the careful preservation and interpretation of the premier artifacts relating to each site, particularly their historic structures. During 1997­98 the historic sites served more than 85,400 visitors, offering them first-hand experience with the physical remnants of past life and the places where Nebraska history was made.


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."


(images) Cultural traditions, such as those preserved by pinata-maker Oscar Ramirez of Morrill and dressmaker Sally Briones Dittmar of Scottsbluff, were documented by the Mexican American Traditions in Nebraska project.

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."


(image) Historic site supervisors held a planning meeting at Fort Robinson in March. (Left to right): John Lindahl (Kennard House); Don "Harve" Ofe (Neligh Mill); Tom Buecker (Fort Robinson); Linda Hein (Norris house); and Loren Pospisil (Chimney Rock).

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."


(image) Dorothy Munson (left) is one of many volunteers that help operate Society museum stores in Lincoln, and at branch museums around the state.

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 the publication of books and historical documents about the history of Nebraska and the Great Plains. The division also provides research and editorial assistance to other Society divisions and the public. The division helps edit Central Plains Archaeology, a joint publication of the Society and the Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists. The state historical markers program, the monthly Historical Newsletter, and the "Nebraska Timeline" newspaper column are other activities carried out by the division.


(image) The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865­1877, containing articles previously appearing in Nebraska History, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1998.

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.


(image) Highlights of the 1997 NSHS History Conference included field studies in Pawnee City and South Omaha (above).

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."


(image) Ruth Nielsen of Omaha and Larry Zeckser of Bellevue volunteered for the dig at the Aldrich archeological site, an early African American farmstead in Nemaha County.

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
of objects, paper and archive materials, and textiles."

The Conservation Division, located at the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, 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.


(image) Diane Russell-Harbison (on ladder), Debbie Long (center), and Mary Jo Miller of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center evaluate the conservation needs of textile panels in the governor's office at the state capitol building.

(image) Museum studies students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln examine collection materials in a Ford Conservation Center laboratory.

Conservation Division

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 articles of incorporation and bylaws describe its missions as: (1) to financially assist the Historical Society, (2) to aid in the general preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history, and (3) to preserve historical sites and structures.

Those goals remain the same today, and the success of each of those goals is dependent upon private support.

The Foundation, with the assistance of the Board of Trustees, secures gifts of cash and property from individuals and organizations to support the activities of the Nebraska State Historical Society. The Foundation's Board of Trustees comprises individuals from across the state and beyond who value and support Nebraska's unique heritage and wish to help the Historical Society fulfill its mission "to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past."

The Foundation receives support for the Historical Society's activities in many sizes from many sources. All gifts are deeply appreciated and we are pleased to recognize those donors who generously provided annual support during the 1997­98 fiscal year.

In addition, lifetime recognition is bestowed on individuals and organizations categorized as "Stewards" and "Guardians." Their support, through contributions and/or bequests, represents exceptional gift leadership. Gifts of this size can provide dependable, long-term funding for ongoing programs. Individuals who have notified the Foundation of future gifts at these levels, to be provided through their estates, are also included.

A gift of cash, appreciated securities, personal property, real estate, and/or life insurance can establish a named endowment or memorial; reduce or eliminate income tax, capital gains, and inheritance taxes; and/or provide a guaranteed life income through a deferred gift arrangement. All inquiries are confidential, and no obligation is implied. For information on how to arrange an outright or deferred gift, please contact:

Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
408 Lincoln Center Bldg.
215 South Centennial Mall
Lincoln, NE 68508-1813
Telephone: 402-435-3535 Fax: 402-435-3986

Financial Report

Financial Report, Nebraska State Historical Society
Fiscal Year 1997-98 Operations
(Based on preliminary year-end information. Excludes fiscal year accruals.)


Revenues                         %     Dollar Amounts

State Appropriations          73.47        $3,381,224
NSHS Foundation Support        3.89           179,268
Earned Income                 14.09           648,554
Federal Grants/Contracts       8.07           371,541
Donations/Grants/Spec. Events   .48            21,970

Total Revenues                             $4,602,557


Personnel/Administrative      25.23        $1,161,463
Museum/Historic Sites         24.97         1,149,429
Library/Archives              16.96           780,496
Historic Preservation         10.28           473,135
Conservation                   7.99           367,799
Archeology                     7.64           351,458
Research & Publications        6.93           318,777

Total Expenditures                         $4,602,557


Respectfully Submitted

Tony A. Schmitz

Deputy Director for Operations




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