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Historical Newsletter

September / October 2005

Save the Date: October 14, 2005 Friday Night With Fred and the NSHS Annual Members' Meeting Watch your mailbox for futher details!     WEIRD NEBRASKA: STRANGE STORIES AND AMAZING FACTS Opening January 2006 at the Museum of Nebraska History



Ten years ago this September, former President Gerald R. Ford cut the ribbon on a new regional conservation center bearing his name, and inaugurated a new era in conservation services for the Nebraska State Historical Society and the region. In the decade that has followed, public and private funds have underwritten many projects that not only stabilized many irreplaceable historic objects, but improved conditions for historic and artistic collections at a wide range of institutions. Just as important, hundreds of people have received training and information on the care of their family and community collections, helping to ensure that evidence of our past survives to inform our future.

Some of the objects treated by the professional conservation staff at the Ford Center have near celebrity status: the handwritten document, bearing Thomas Jefferson's signature, that outlines the terms of the Louisiana Purchase; the sculpture of The Little Dancer by Edgar Degas; four documents relating to Lewis and Clark's journey; and John F. Kennedy's sunglasses.

Thousands of other artifacts, each one significant in its own way, have passed through the Ford Center's doors. Solomon Butcher's remarkable photographs of the sod house frontier were digitized at the center's Digital Imaging Lab and are now available around the world through the Library of Congress's American Memory website and the NSHS website. Books, documents, Plains Indian beadwork and ledger drawings, coins, quilts, dolls, firearms, fine art sculpture, and works of art on paper have been examined and treated by Ford Center conservators.

Thousands of people have learned more about the appropriate care and handling of objects, from restoring cemetery headstones to framing and hanging works of art, through workshops, classes, and public presentations conducted by the Ford Center staff. To help ensure that the past has a future, the Ford Center has convened groups such as tribal cultural preservation officers to assess current circumstances and chart plans for improved efforts in underserved areas. A special issue of Nebraska Trailblazer, the NSHS newspaper for school-age readers, helps youngsters understand that it's never too soon to make smart choices about items they want to preserve. Ford Center staff will offer workshops at the upcoming Mountain-Plains Museums Association annual meeting, including one on firearms and another on plastic materials in collections. The center answers thousands of public inquiries every year about the care of collections and the preservation of family treasures.

In addition to their work in the museum, library/archives, and archeological collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society, Ford Center staff have completed more than sixty assessments of cultural institutions in the region including the Joslyn Art Museum, the Hastings Museum, the Museum of Nebraska Art, and many smaller museums such as the Sturtevant-McKee House and the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.

The 17,000-foot Gerald R. Ford Center, located adjacent to President Ford's Omaha birthsite, was built and equipped with funds donated by local businessman and community leader James M. Paxson through the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. This successful public-private partnership has filled a significant void by establishing one of only three conservation centers west of the Mississippi River.

We will have more of the past to share with the people of the future because of the continuing efforts of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center. It is this progress that we celebrate in marking the ten-year anniversary of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center.

 Deborah Long (right), objects conservator, and Diane Russell, conservation intern, at work in the Ford Center.



The Society Library/Archives Division book sale will be October 6-8, 2005, in the Beef Pit Building at the Nebraska State Fair Park in Lincoln. Tentative hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all three days. Books will be priced from $.25 and up, with most in the $1 to $15 range. See the Book Sale Flyer, list of books for sale, and map of the fair grounds on the NSHS website. For further information contact Cindy S. Drake, library curator,


The Nebraska State Historical Society is one of nearly thirty repositories in Plains, Mountain, and Western states participating in the "Sound Model" audio digitizing grant project. This project, through the Collaborative Digitization Project (University of Denver), uses federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitize audio materials and provide access to them through the Internet. The NSHS has received $3,600 to digitize the Nebraska Black Oral History Project, which took place in the early 1980s and resulted in more than forty interviews of African Americans throughout Nebraska.

Community picnic, c. 1910, possibly Ericson, Nebraska.
From the John Nelson Collection (RG3542.PH:102-17)


The Society has secured funding from the Nebraska Library Commission to participate in its "Nebraska Memories" project. "Nebraska Memories" is designed to provide a means for Nebraska repositories to digitize, describe, and provide Internet access to photographic and textual materials that illustrate Nebraska's rich heritage. The NSHS received $3,240 to produce digital scans and descriptions of hundreds of original photographic images from the John Nelson collection, which documents small town life in the Ericson, Nebraska, area during the first decades of the twentieth century.


With a $10,000 grant from the Nebraska Library Commission, the Library/Archives Division was able to purchase the microfilm collection (117 reels) of Nebraska Public Documents from the New York Public Library. The microfilm will be used by the University of Nebraska Libraries to digitize the documents and to create a public, freely accessible website linking to the digitized documents. The documents provide a wealth of information about the formation, governance, and activities of state agencies dating back to the 1870s. They have been used to trace the frequency of communicable diseases (Department of Health annual reports), treatment of prisoners (State Penitentiary annual reports), changes in the care of patients in state mental facilities (Department of Public Institutions annual reports), and other topics.

By Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

African Americans of Omaha, Nebraska: Death Register 1873-1940, compiled by Jacquelyn Whitaker, 2004.

A Complete Guide to Heraldry, by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, 1978.

Family History, Henry and Clara (Streuter) March/Masch: Meredosia and Oxville, Illinois (Fall 1866-1904), compiled by Norma (Hobrock) Babcock. (German American families of Marsh, Masch, and Streuter in Adams County.)

Family History of Herman H. and Eliza (Krems) Hobrock, compiled by Norma (Hobrock) Babcock. (German American family in Adams County.)

Hobrock: 1993 Germany Supplement for the Family History of Herman H. and Eliza (Krems) Hobrock, compiled by Norma Hobrock Babcock. (German American family in Adams County.)

Family History, Versaw, Cook, Harr, Burleigh [3 CDs], by Barbara G. Versaw Pogue. (Versaw, Cook, Harr, and Burleigh families in Lancaster, Adams, Brown, Johnson, Otoe, Pawnee, and Red Willow counties.)

The Fancher Family Origins: William Fancy Fanshaw, New Haven Colony 1643, Suffolk County, New York 1652 to 1677 & Fanshaw, the Origin of the Fancher Surname in America, by Paul Buford Fancher and Alison C. Wallner. (Fancher, Fancy, and Fanshawe families in Brown and Lancaster counties.)

The Lockmon/Lockman Family [compiled by Linda Arnold]. (Lockmon and Lockman families in Sheridan County.)

Lord of Avenel Index: The Waymire Familythe Reed Familythe Bairt Familythe Zimmerman Family, by Charles Waymire. (Waymire, Biart, Reed, Zimmerman, Ingersol, Day, Gottsch, and Glesmann families in Otoe, Saline, and Sarpy counties.)

The Martin Family and Challis Family: An Account of the Descendants of Samuel Martin and Eliza Young Martin Who Immigrated to America in the 1840's from Ireland, Settling in the Area Around Milwaukee, Wisconsin then Later to Forrest, Illinois and Subsequently to Lincoln, Nebraska and an Account of the Descendants of John Fulweiler Challis and his Wife Henrietta Lucretia Padgett [edited by Wesley D. Peterson]. (Martin, Challis, Padgett, Lowrey, Evans, Baird, Jenkins, Lindberg, Flatbush, Brown, Fulweiler, and Hartshorn families in Douglas and Lancaster counties.)

Memories: Albert J. & Martha J. Ostergaard, by Albert J and Martha J. Ostergaard. (Ostergaard family in Douglas and Lancaster counties.)

Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, edited by Alice Eichholz, 3rd ed., 2004.

Printed Sources for Oklahoma Genealogical and Historical Research, compiled by Paul Follett, 2004.

Sheffer Pioneer Cemetery: Lives of Those Interred, by Mabel G. Laughlin, 2004. (Cemetery located near Ashland in Saunders County.)

Zabokrtsky Biographies and Obituaries, by Gary Mitchel Zabokrtsky. (Czech American families of Zabokrtsky, Vitosh, Feyerabend, and Shimerda in Gage, Madison, and Saline counties.)

Zabokrtsky Family Tree, by Gary Mitchel Zabokrtsky. (Czech American families in Gage, Madison, and Saline counties.)


Beverley Karrer, project director, Ak-Sar-Ben Memories (Omaha: Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, 2003. Introduction, acknowledgments, b & w photographs, tables, 168 pp., $25 cloth + $5 s & h [Nebraska residents add sales tax], ISBN: 0-9649669-0-5). Order from Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, 302 S. 36 St., Suite 800, Omaha NE 68131.

This photographic history tells the story of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, an Omaha civic and charitable organization formed in 1895 to foster community spirit and public service. It held parades, coronations, and balls, sponsored horse racing and 4-H livestock shows, and provided a major venue for rodeos, entertainment, and sporting events. With revenue generated from such activities, Ak-Sar-Ben provided charitable donations to Omaha community programs, scholarships for teachers, nurses, and agriculture students, and financial support for county fairs, state parks, and hospitals. In 2002 the organization held the final event at its Omaha coliseum, which had been sold, although Ak-Sar-Ben remains vibrant a century after its founding.


The Arphax Publishing Company ( is publishing Family Maps Land Patent Books for the public land grant states. Since this includes Nebraska, we hope to purchase the volumes as they are produced. We are looking for sponsors who would be willing to purchase the volume for their county (or counties) of interest. Contact Cindy S. Drake ( or 402-471-4786 for more information.


The Council on America's Military Past (CAMP) in its Fortieth Annual Military History Conference, May 10-14, 2006, in Chattanooga Tennessee, will emphasize U.S. military activities from the earliest history through the American Revolution, Civil War, the American frontier, Spanish American War (including the war in the Philippines), World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and through the confrontation with Cuba and the Cold War and missile defenses. Special emphasis will be on military activities in the Tennessee-Georgia area, Indian Removal, and the Civil War. The conference will include papers on these topics and visits to area military history sites.

Send topic for a twenty-minute talk (with slides, if desired) to CAMP '06 Conference Papers, P.O. Box 1151, Fort Myer, Virginia 22211-1151, by January 15, 2006. For more information call 703-912-6124 or e-mail


September 11: Sunday at the Museum Series, "My Life in Ruins: A Summer Dig in Jordan," by Dr. Susan Ellis, professor of anthropology and archeology, Wayne State College. 2 p.m., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Free and open to the public; reception following. For information contact the Neihardt Site at 1-888-777-4667 or

September 15: Brown Bag Lecture, "A Nebraska Institution: The Standard Oil Company of Nebraska," by Bob Puschendorf, associate director for the Nebraska State Historical Society and deputy state historic preservation officer. The story of oil giant John D. Rockefeller and the great Standard Oil Company has become one of fame, notoriety, and legend in American history. Less well known is Standard Oil as an independent Nebraska company and its marketing of petroleum products that paralleled the arrival of the automobile in the state. Puschendorf's research on both the history of the Standard Oil Company in Nebraska and the commercial evolution of automobile filling stations has resulted in the nomination of several properties that are now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

October 9: Sunday at the Museum Series, "Pioneering Women and the Search for an American Musical Identity in Early Twentieth Century Nebraska," by Dr. Peggy Holloway, Dana College. 2 p.m., John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft. Free and open to the public; reception following. For information contact the Neihardt Site as above.

October 14: Annual Members' Meeting, 4 p.m., at the Nebraska State Historical Society, 1500 R Street, Lincoln. Other events are at the Mary Riepma Ross Arts Media Center, 313 N. 13th Street, Lincoln.

October 20: Brown Bag Lecture, "American Indian Stereotyping in Literature and the Arts," by Nancy Gillis, executive director, John G. Neihardt State Historic Site. A stereotype is a standardized picture, idea, or attitude that represents an oversimplified, affective, uncritical, and unrealistic judgment. Stereotypical images abound in propaganda, advertising, cartoons, movie plots, and many other places. Adults can usually determine the difference between image and reality. However, children cannot without instruction; therefore these images definitely do not belong in children's literature and educational material, yet that is where most can be found. So how do we dispel the myriad incorrect images of Native Americans? Awareness may be the key. As author Michael Dorris put it, "'I' isn't for Indian; it is often for Ignorance." Combining both "in your face" and very subtle imaging from a variety of materials, Gillis explores their usage and impact. 12 noon, Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln. Free and open to the public.

Indian on horseback logo



Diamonds, pearls, rubies - well, it's not exactly what you are thinking. The NSHS museum stores don't sell gemstones, but we certainly carry other great gems. The NSHS museum stores are having a twentieth anniversary celebration, September 20-25, and want you to get a gem of a deal. The sale will include twenty percent savings on items at each NSHS museum store. Internet and museum store catalog shoppers can place orders by calling the Lincoln museum store at 402-471-3447 during the week of the sale.

Museum stores celebrating the anniversary are located at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln; the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Omaha (402-595-1180); the Fort Robinson Museum, near Crawford (308-665-2919); the Chimney Rock National Historic Site near Bayard (308-586-2581); the Neligh Mill State Historic Site, Neligh (402-887-4303); and the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, McCook (308-345-8484). Shoppers at the Ford Center or one of the historic sites, should call for hours or visit our website at


MUSEUM of NEBRASKA HISTORY, 15th & "P" Streets, 402-471-3447
10:00 - 4:30, Tuesday - Friday
1:00 - 4:00, Saturday and Sunday
Museum Store Catalog online


July / August 2005 Issue

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