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Historical Newsletter

November 1998


The results of the 1998 election for the Society's Board of Trustees were announced at the History Conference and Annual Meeting in Valentine on October 3. Janyce Falcon Hunt of Blair was reelected to a three-year term from the First Congressional District. James Denney of Omaha was elected to a three-year term representing the Second Congressional District. In the Third Congressional District, Helen Stauffer of Kearney was elected to a three-year term. The fifteen-member Board of Trustees includes twelve trustees elected by the Society membership, and three trustees appointed by the governor.


Several individuals and organizations were recognized for contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history during the annual history conference. Mary Cochran Grimes of New Haven, Connecticut, received the James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the best article published in the 1997 volume of the Society's quarterly, Nebraska History. Her article, "Books for Nebraska: Roy and Aileen Cochran and the Nebraska Public Library Commission," was selected by a panel of judges from the Department of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history went to Dr. Ronald C. Naugle, chair of the history department at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Dr. Naugle since 1986 has been state coordinator for National History Day: Nebraska. He recently edited and revised History of Nebraska, authored by James C. Olson in 1955. He was the principal historian and script consultant for two public television documentaries on American Indian boarding schools.

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

The Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award for significant contributions to the Nebraska State Historical Society went to the Nebraska Press Association, which made a $12,000 grant to the Society to support newspaper microfilming. Because many of the Society's founders, including Robert W. Furnas, were Nebraska newspapermen, and because the member newspapers of the Press Association have long supported the Society's newspaper preservation program, the award is particularly appropriate.


Twelve new trustees were elected to three-year terms during the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation annual Board of Trustees meeting September 26. The new Trustees include David Buchanan, Jon Camp, Charles Godwin, John Jacobson, Diane Oldfather, Robert Ripley, and John White, all of Lincoln; Sandra Dougherty, Omaha; Douglas Jensen, Norfolk; Ken Krohn, Neligh; Jane Otto, Ceresco; and Jim Wolf, Albion.

Reelected to the 114-member Board of Trustees were Ruth Amen, Charles Burmeister, Robert Crosby, Susan Evnen, Martha Greer, Steven Guenzel, Dr. Frederick Luebke, Dr. Martin Massengale, Mike Seacrest, all of Lincoln; Marian Andersen, Edson Bridges II, Marge Durham, Diane Hamsa, David Neely Sr., Ronald Parks, Gretchen Velde, and John Webster, all of Omaha; Jody Asmussen, Neligh; Kieth Buss, Gothenburg; Sarah Fairbanks, Hastings; David Ley, Wayne; Lu Marcotte, Nebraska City; Dr. William Marsh, Grand Island; Ross Rasmussen, Hooper; Wag Wagner, Culbertson; and Allison Petersen, Walton.

Reelected to two-year terms on the Foundation's twenty-member Board of Directors were Jack Campbell, Dr. Frederick Luebke, James Nissen, all of Lincoln; Thomas Creigh Jr., Hastings; John Massey, Scottsbluff; George Moyer Jr., Madison; and Joanne Shephard, Valentine.

James F. Nissen, Lincoln, executive vice-president of Norwest Bank Nebraska, was reelected president of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation Board of Directors and Trustees. Other Board officers elected include James W. Hewitt, Lincoln, executive vice president; Dr. John Davis, Omaha, vice-president; Allison D. Petersen, Walton, secretary; Robert D. Northrop, Lincoln, treasurer.

Nissen reported the Foundation transferred nearly $200,000 to the Nebraska State Historical Society during the past fiscal year. The nonprofit Foundation manages invested funds and donations of cash and property in support of the Society and other state historical organizations. The Foundation's assets grew slightly over eight percent in 1996-97.

The public, nonprofit Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation was incorporated in 1942 for the purposes of soliciting, managing, and distributing contributions to aid in the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history, particularly for its affiliated organization, the Nebraska State Historical Society.



The National Film Preservation Foundation has awarded the Society's Library/Archives Division a grant for the restoration and preservation of a rare Nebraska film from the "Silent Era" of American cinema.

The forty-five-minute film, Kearney and Its People in Motion Pictures, was produced by Universal Pictures Corporation in 1926. It contains unique images of Kearney, its people, businesses, and activities, and was one of five films made by Universal in as many Nebraska towns during 1926 and 1927. The other towns captured in this series were Grand Island, Hastings, Fremont, and Norfolk. These films were not intended as commercial undertakings, but had a more lasting purpose: to provide an historical moving image record of each town to be viewed and enjoyed in future decades. The films were virtually forgotten soon after their initial production. Remarkably, three of the five films (of Grand Island, Kearney, and Hastings) still exist.

Congress recently created the National Film Preservation Foundation as a nonprofit organization charged with working to save America's film heritage. The grant awarded to the Society will pay for much of the painstaking work needed to reprint this priceless motion picture on modern film stock. As this award shows, the Society's film collections are worthy of national attention. For information on the Kearney film, other moving images in the Society's collections, or the Society's film preservation efforts, contact Paul Eisloeffel, curator of manuscripts and audio-visual collections, at 402-471-4750.

(image) A still from the Kearney film shows participants in a coyote hunt held between Elm Creek and Overton.


Beatrice will host an all-day session of the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) on Thursday, November 5. The Beatrice gathering is the last of nine meetings to be held in Nebraska during 1997-98. The meetings are being funded by a two-year grant of $13,542 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The Beatrice meeting will feature a brief overview of the SHRAB's historical records strategic plan titled Insuring Nebraska's Documentary Heritage. The rest of the morning will consist of a grant-writing seminar. The afternoon will be devoted to a slide/lecture presentation on paper preservation.

The Beatrice Public Library, 100 N. 16th St., is the site for this meeting. For more information about the meeting or to obtain copies of Insuring Nebraska's Documentary Heritage, contact Andrea Faling at 402-471-4785.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

Nebraska Birth and Death Records

The column this month will include brief information on birth and death records that may be located in Nebraska. Genealogists and historians researching in this state may find unofficial records compiled by individuals or counties that are not consistent for the entire state.

Birth and death records for Nebraska were not consistently kept prior to 1904 at either the state or county level. The Historical Society does not have official records of births and deaths on file, with the exception of an Omaha Birth Registry, 1869-1907; an Omaha Death Registry, 1873-1915; and a few vital records for early eastern Nebraska, which can be found in The Nebraska and Midwest Genealogical Record.

Some earlier birth and death records for Lincoln and Omaha have been filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. According to a letter received by the Historical Society in 1980, these earlier records include: City of Lincoln, two volumes of deaths, 1890-1910 and 1889-1913; one volume of births, 1889-1913; and one volume containing deaths, October 1, 1889, to December 1, 1913, and births from April 23, 1875, to September 29, 1921; City of Omaha death certificates, 1855-1901, 1890, 1873-74, 1891-1903, and birth certificates, 1890-1914. For these records and available statewide records of births and deaths after 1904, contact the bureau at 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln NE 68509-5007 to obtain prices and procedures.

The bureau often refers inquiries before 1904 to our reference staff because the Society has other sources that might be checked for information regarding births and deaths. These include census records, newspapers, church records, and probate records. Our Nebraska local history collection includes various volumes that individuals and organizations have compiled pertaining to births and deaths. They include (but are not limited to) cemetery transcriptions, compiled baptisms and funerals from church records and funeral homes, and published material from fraternal organizations.

The 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1885 census records include mortality schedules that list individuals who died during the year previous to June 1 of the census year. The information contained in these schedules may include age, sex, race (usually the term "colored" was used), whether slave or free; whether married or widowed; place of birth; occupation; month of death; cause of death; number of days ill; whether father and mother were foreign born; place of death; cause of death; and name of attending physician.

The Omaha City Directories for 1892, 1893, and 1894 include a list of names of those who died during the previous year. The G.A. R. Burial Cards are an alphabetical list of Grand Army of the Republic members buried in Nebraska. If you have an ancestor who was a Union veteran during the Civil War, he might have been a member of the G.A.R. These cards provide the military unit in which the veteran served, date of death, place of burial, and often the place and date of birth. These cards are on microfilm in the Library/Archives Reference Room. Sources such as these that provide the death date and burial information can provide clues on where to search for a newspaper obituary. If you have suggestions for future articles in this column, please contact me at this address.

New Acquisitions of Interest to Genealogists

Abstractions of Deaths and Miscellaneous Items, 1916-1927: Krestanske Listy (Christian Journal), Czechoslovak Weekly, translated by Karleen C. Sheppard and compiled and indexed by Margie Sobotka. (Czech American Genealogy in Colfax County).

Colorado Resource Handbook, by the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies.

Indian Blood II: Looking for Your Native American Ancestor, the Hunt Continues, by Richard Pangburn.

The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book: A Comprehensive List of Local, State, and Federal Agencies and Institutions and Ethnic and Genealogical Organizations, by Juliana S. Smith.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

The following are high priority titles we wish to purchase for the Library. The title and author are given, along with the approximate price (including postage if known). Members are encouraged to donate funds toward the purchase. Please direct monetary donations to me with a note on your check specifying "L/A Wish List" to alert our accounting staff.

Ho for California! Women's Overland Diaries from the Huntington Library, edited and annotated by Sandra L. Myres, 1980. $17.63.

The Jesuit Mission to the Lakota Sioux: A Study of Pastoral Ministry, 1886-1945, by Ross Enochs, Ph.D., 1996. $12.95.

The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, by Patricia Nelson Limerick, 1987. $16.20.

The Moccasin Speaks: Living as Captives of the Dog Soldier Warriors, by Arlene F. Jauken, 1998. $24.95.

Native America in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, edited by Mary B. Davis, 1996. $27.95.



Teachers, plan to attend the Nebraska History Day workshop on Saturday, November 7, 1998, to get a

You'll meet with county and State Historical Society staff to learn more about Nebraska history resources available to you. Bring your topic ideas for this year's theme and explore a few research avenues with NSHS Library and Archives staff. You'll meet with professionals in the fields of publications, media presentations, performance, and exhibits to learn professional tips and get advice on how to best craft your topic. You'll discuss various topics with experienced History Day teachers. Choose either the morning (8:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.) or the afternoon (12:00 noon to 4:45 P.M.) sessions. Both will be held at the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln. This workshop is free of charge, and lunch will be provided. Space is limited to twenty-four teachers, so call today 1-800-833-6747 or 471-4757 in Lincoln for more information or visit the Nebraska State Historical Society website to download a registration form, www.nebraskahistory.org. Registration is due on Wednesday, November 4, 1998.


The Museum Collections Department recently acquired a collection of assorted blacksmith tools, including a vise and anvil, used by Edward Givens at his shop in Lincoln. In addition to the tools, some of which are stamped "E Givens," the Society also received a small number of photographs. The objects were donated to the Society by the estate of Sam Fisher of Shickley, Nebraska. Mr. Fisher was the great-grandson of Edward Givens.

Givens, a native of Pennsylvania, moved to Illinois in 1852 shortly after his marriage to Sarah Hartz. While residing in Illinois, Givens attended the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Freeport. In 1862 he joined the Ninety-third Illinois Infantry and served three years during the Civil War. In 1869 Givens moved to Firth, Nebraska, and later to Lincoln, where he eventually constructed a blacksmith shop at the northwest corner of 14th and O streets. He worked in this shop until his retirement at the age of seventy. At the time of his death in 1928, Givens, age ninety-nine, was known as Lincoln's oldest Civil War veteran.

(image) The Edward Givens Blacksmith Shop in Lincoln, with Givens standing at right. NSHS Collections


NebData is information from the files of the Nebraska State Historical Society. This information is in PDF format and can be viewed, printed, and searched by PC and Macintosh computers using Adobe Acrobat Reader. The CD contains over 18,000 pages and the Acrobat Reader program. Acrobat Reader is distributed free by Adobe, creator of Acrobat Reader. Using the search feature of Acrobat Reader, information can be rapidly located in NebData.

The NebData CD-ROM is available for $15 plus $3 shipping from the Nebraska State Historical Society, Education/Statewide Services, Box 82554, Lincoln NE 68501-2554. Payment with the order is required.

NebData Contents:

Index to Nebraska History: The state's primary journal devoted to Nebraska's history and culture. The index is searchable and covers issues from 1918 to 1998, Vol. 79, as well as earlier Society publications.

Historical Markers: Erected since 1961, markers denote significant events, places, and people in Nebraska's history.

"History Minutes": Sixty-second history lessons that originally aired on radio stations across Nebraska.

"Notable Nebraskans:" Brief 250- to 800-word descriptions about Nebraskans who have made significant contributions in many areas.

"Nebraska Timeline:" Text on a variety of subjects of general interest relating to Nebraska history, from the weekly newspaper column that appears statewide.

Educational Leaflets: Seven- to eight-page leaflets covering topics of Nebraska history at a middle-grade reading level. Topics range from sod homes to American Indian folklore and state symbols.

Nebraska Folklore Pamphlets and Nebraska Folklore: A series of pamphlets and two booklets created in the 1930s and 1940s by the Federal Writers' Project in Nebraska, a program of the Work Projects Administration.


November 12: Lincoln Westerners, "World War II Comes to Nebraska," by Gary Repair, University of Nebraska-Omaha. Meet at Ramada Plaza Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 402-488-5698, for reservations (required).

November 19: Brown Bag Lecture, "Lincoln Suburban Documentation Project," by Mark Elliot, Lincoln, and Frank Martin, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

November 21: Collectors Saturday Lecture Series, "Firearms," by Jim Potter and Debbie Long. 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.

December 3: Lincoln Westerners, "Cather's Christmases," by Ann Billesbach, head of reference services, NSHS. Meet at Ramada Plaza Inn, 9th and P streets, Lincoln, 6:30 P.M. Call Margaret Allington, 402-488-5698, for reservations (required).

December 17: Brown Bag Lecture, "Cather's Christmases," by Ann Billesbach, head of references services, NSHS. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.


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In observance of Veterans' Day, administrative and museum offices, the Library/Archives Division, the Museum of Nebraska History, and the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha will be closed Wednesday, November 11.

In observance of Thanksgiving, all administrative offices, the Library/Archives, the Museum, and the Ford Center will be closed Thursday, November 26, through Sunday, November 29. The Museum of Nebraska History will be closed Thursday; open Friday-Sunday regular hours.

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Last updated 10 November 1998

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