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Nebraska State Historical Society Annual Report
1998 - 1999

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

"The mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society is to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past." This mission statement summarizes the content of a revised Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1999. This strategic plan provides a road map for the Nebraska State Historical Society, assuring all Nebraskans that their historical society is on course and prepared to enter the new millennium.

Fortunately, our road map has many very capable navigators. It has been stated that Nebraska's greatest asset is its people. This statement is certainly true when describing the administration, staff, and volunteers at the Nebraska State Historical Society. I never cease to be amazed at the proficiency and professionalism demonstrated by these people. From the capable leadership of our director, Larry Sommer, to the unique backgrounds and expertise provided to each division by our associate directors, to the work ethic and conscientiousness of our staff, to the boundless enthusiasm of our volunteers, to the selfless dedication of our Board of Trustees-each person makes his or her own unique contribution towards helping the Nebraska State Historical Society fulfill its responsibility for being the state's principal historical organization. And, of course, the strength of the Nebraska State Historical Society comes from its membership. I want to thank everyone who has supported the Society with memberships and contributions of time, talent, and monetary gifts.

I would also like to thank Jac Spahn and the entire Board of Directors of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation for sharing our vision and for working so diligently to obtain necessary funding that Nebraska's legacy might be preserved for future generations. If the Foundation was unable to attract and manage private sector funding, many of our programs would cease to exist, many excellent publications would remain unpublished, and many artifacts and sites important to the history and development of Nebraska would not be obtained for our use and interpretation.

Although it is with sadness that my final term on the Board of Trustees comes to an end, I have a great deal of confidence in the future of the Nebraska State Historical Society. We have the people and the programs in place that will continue to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's history and to preserve our heritage into the next millennium.

Walter M. Duda

From the Director

The information presented in 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 additional information about the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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. Thanks, too, to former Governor Ben Nelson, new Governor Mike Johanns, and members of the Nebraska legislature for the state's continued support.

Throughout the past year the Society experienced stable attendance at its museums and historic sites. Society programs also were well received. For the second year in a row Sunday afternoon programs at Chimney Rock drew capacity crowds, and record numbers of Nebraska students participated in the National History Day: Nebraska program. Thanks to support from the Lux History Endowment fund at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, the Society was able to award travel scholarships to every Nebraska student who participated in the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C. These scholarships will be awarded every year.

During this past year the NSHS Library/Archives completed moving the state public records archives into the K Street Records Center, a joint city-county-state facility housed in a renovated former power plant building in downtown Lincoln.

Throughout the year the Society continued planning for the eventual renovation of the NSHS headquarters and Museum of Nebraska History buildings. Both buildings have obsolete mechanical and electrical systems, and neither meets modern fire, life-safety, and disability access codes. Making sure this necessary work gets funded and completed remains a top Society priority.

Thanks to the efforts of Senator Bob Wickersham of Harrison, the 1999 Nebraska Legislature appropriated $150,000 in state matching funds for the reconstruction of the Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks at Fort Robinson. Within the next two years the Society must raise an equal amount of non-state money so the project can proceed.

Technology continues to change the ways in which we conduct much of our business. For example, Nebraska History magazine is now totally written, edited, and designed electronically. Hard copy does not exist until the magazine comes off the printing press. Similarly, all patron orders for prints from the Society's photograph archives are now produced digitally and can even be sent electronically. Use of the Society's website increases almost every month. And, after less than a year of full operation, the Society's advanced digital imaging lab at the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha is stretching the frontiers of photo analysis as a tool for historical research.

Throughout the year the Society enjoyed significant support from the NSHS Foundation. Funds were granted for a wide variety of projects ranging from acquisitions for Society collections to support for internships and research fellowships for visiting scholars. Designated NSHS Foundation funds also supported several Society publication projects during the year. We appreciate the close working relationship that has developed between the Society and the NSHS Foundation and thank them for their very important and welcome assistance.

I also wish to recognize and thank NSHS Trustees Walt Duda, John Weihing, Bill Pratt, and Burdette Cooley for their service to the Society. Their second terms as trustees are ending, and they are not eligible for reelection or appointment. Their interest, leadership, and good counsel will be missed.

Lawrence Sommer
Director and State Historic Preservation Officer

Nebraska State Historical Society Awards

The Society recognized outstanding achievements in various categories with named awards presented during the 1998 history conference.

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the best article published in the previous year's volume of Nebraska History went to Mary Cochran Grimes of Hamden, Connecticut, for her article, "Books for Nebraska: Roy and Aileen Cochran and the Nebraska Public Library Commission." The article appeared in the Fall 1997 issue of Nebraska History and was selected by a panel of historians from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Accompanying the award is a $400 prize from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history was presented to Dr. Ronald C. Naugle, chair of the history department at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Naugle has been state coordinator of National History Day: Nebraska since 1986, and recently edited and revised a new edition of History of Nebraska, first authored by James C. Olson in 1955.

The citizens and county government of Fillmore County, collectively, received the Nebraska Preservation Award for significant achievement in historic preservation. When faced with the dilemma of preserving the historic 1893-94 county courthouse, voters approved a $1.25 million bond issue for its renovation, and the county board pledged an additional $500,000 from the county inheritance trust fund.

The Robert W. Furnas Award for outstanding contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society went to the Nebraska Press Association, which made a grant to support the Society's newspaper microfilming program. Furnas was an early Nebraska newspaperman, as well as one of the founders of the Society.

The Society presents awards at a special celebration in May to recognize outstanding student projects in the annual National History Day: Nebraska contest. For 1999 the senior division award went to Michael Berg, Jennifer Burianek, and Stephanie Shubert of Lincoln High School for their documentary project titled "Technology and the Nebraska State Capitol." Their teacher is Jim Barstow. The junior division award recognized John Franti and Tom Hranac of Lux Middle School in Lincoln for their junior group exhibit, "Operation QUE and the Behlen Building." Nancy Svoboda is their teacher. 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, received travel scholarships provided by the Lux History Education Endowment administered by the Nebraska State Historical
Society Foundation.

(image) Award recipients at the 1998 Society History Conference. (l. to r. ): Dr. Ronald Naugle (Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award), Dorothy Bunker, representing Fillmore County (Nebraska Preservation Award), and Rod Worrell, representing the Nebraska Press Association (Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award). Not pictured is Mary C. Grimes (James L. Sellers Memorial 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 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


(image) Mary George (l.) and Ruth Hiner received Volunteer Recognition awards from Director Lawrence Sommer for their contributions at the Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center, Chimney Rock National Historic Site.

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) A tour of Lincoln's South Bottoms Historic District was part of the summer 1998 Nebraska Institute. Here the group visits the William H. Tyler house. Courtesy Ron Naugle

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) A Buffalo Bill look-alike contest was a feature of Buffalo Bill Day at the Museum of Nebraska History on November 1.

(image) Legendary bassist Jack Lesberg was the featured guest and performer at a March 5 Museum of Nebraska History event highlighting the exhibit, Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits. Lesberg was the subject of one of Falter's portraits. The event was cohosted by the Berman Music Foundation of Lincoln.

Museum/Historic Sites Division

Historic Sites

The Nebraska State Historical Society's historic sites program provides people with the opportunity to see and experience firsthand where some of our state's most exciting history has taken place. More than 79,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Society's 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."


(image) In May "Friends of the Warbonnet Battlefield" reconstructed a monument northwest of Crawford marking the site of a July 17, 1876, skirmish between the Fifth U.S. Cavalry and Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. The 1935 cairn had been severely damaged due to unknown causes. (l. to r.): Steve Scoggan, NSHS; Paul Hedren, National Park Service; Steve Kemper and Tom Morrison, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Jim Potter, NSHS. Others participating were Tom Buecker, NSHS; Jerome Greene, NPS; and Gail Potter, Museum of the Fur Trade.

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."


(image) The Kennard House now wears its original colors of gray and white.

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."


(image) Linda Hein, supervisor at the Senator George Norris State Historic Site in McCook, was honored as the volunteer of the year for the McCook Lied Main Street Program.

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."


(image) A panel discussion at the Neihardt Spring Conference featured Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday and scholars from the Red Cloud Indian School who received the first Neihardt/Black Elk Scholars Awards. (Seated, l. to r.): John Clifford, Candice Brings Plenty, Momaday, Julie Blacksmith, and Randi Gibbons. (Standing, l. to r.): Charles Trimble, Neihardt Site director, John Carter of NSHS, and Nancy Crump, Neihardt Site assistant director.

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, 1865-1877, 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) The South Platte Community Builders sponsored a tour of the historic Lincoln Highway for Nebraska community development representatives, shown here in Potter.

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, excavations are carried out. 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.


(image) Archeology Division staff excavating an ancient hearth in the Wildcat Hills, Banner County. (l. to r.): John Ludwickson, Melissa Baier, Tamie Sawaged, Jennifer Becic, Rob Bozell, and Gayle Carlson.

(image) Interns from the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma assisted Archeology Division staff during work at an early eighteenth-century village site near Papillion. (l. to r.): Ed Echo-Hawk; Trish Nelson, Gayle Carlson, and Rob Bozell, all of NSHS; J. P. LaVenture,
and Kay Tefertiller.

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 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) Debbie Long, objects conservator at the Ford Center, removes unstable old repairs from the centerpiece of the USS Nebraska silver service.

(image) Gerri Ann Strickler, third-year graduate conservation student, Buffalo State College, making a repair to a Japanese festival doll.

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 is comprised of 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 1998-99 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.

Gifts made to the NSHS Foundation receive the most favorable treatment available under law. Gifts of cash, appreciated securities, personal property, real estate, and/or life insurance can reduce or eliminate income tax, capital gains tax, and inheritance taxes for the donor, and/or provide a guaranteed life income to the donor through a deferred gift arrangement. Those interested in learning more about how a particular giving method might work best for their situation, may contact the staff in complete confidence with no obligation implied.

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

Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation

Financial Report

Financial Report, Nebraska State Historical Society
Fiscal Year 1998-99 Operations
(Based on preliminary year-end information. Excludes fiscal year accruals.)


Revenues                         %     Dollar Amounts

State Appropriations          71.99        $3,754,845
NSHS Foundation Support        1.45            75,747
Earned Income                 17.38           906,852
Federal Grants/Contracts       6.61           344,960
Donations/Grants/Spec. Events  2.57           133,929

Total Revenues                             $5,216,333


Personnel/Administrative      24.81        $1,294,287
Museum/Historic Sites         23.82         1,242,544
Library/Archives              19.16           999,359
Historic Preservation          9.98           520,530
Conservation                   8.93           465,901
Archeology                     7.53           392,551
Research & Publications        5.77           301,161

Total Expenditures                         $5,216,333


Respectfully Submitted

Tony A. Schmitz
Deputy Director for Operations





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