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
This is a time of challenge, and of opportunity, for your Nebraska State Historical Society. As I write this, the governor is preparing to call the Legislature into special session for another round of budget cuts. Your society had already lost 7 percent of its budgeted state funding and 9 percent of its staffing in the past year. Even before the late-summer special session of 2002, the Society was looking at operating in 2002-03 with fewer general fund dollars than were available in 2001-02. More reductions were expected and the outlook for the next biennium was no better.
The State Historical Society is already a lean and efficient state agency. Seventeen years ago the Society had 135 employees. In July 2002 it had 77 full time and 5.8 permanent part-time employees. With 61 percent of the staff it had in 1984, the Society is operating two major programs it did not have then: The Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha and the Chimney Rock Visitor Center near Bayard. In short, if there is a "runaway spending" problem in state government as some critics allege, the Nebraska State Historical Society has not been a participant. The challenge is to continue providing the programs mandated by state law as costs increase and state funding decreases. The support of volunteers, donors, and members will be even more important than ever before.
There are also opportunities. In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, it seems to me there is an increased appreciation for history in general. The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark voyage beginning in 2003 has already brought a new focus on Western history. In 2003 we also mark the 125th anniversary of the Nebraska State Historical Society. The Society is engaged in a two-year "Public Dimension Assessment," a review of all the ways we interact with our audiences, including marketing, public relations, and public programs. The Society and the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation are working together in a combined membership committee to explore new ways to involve Nebraskans in the work of their Historical Society The associate directors and program managers are working with their staffs on new approaches to reach non-members, as well as members, through a variety of outreach efforts and the Society's journal, Nebraska History.
Larry Sommer marked his tenth anniversary as director of the Society in 2002. It has been a decade marked by resolution of many long-standing problems, the initiation of major new programs, and professional staff development that marks Nebraska as a national leader. Much that has been accomplished and much that will enable the Society to continue to move forward in troubled times is owed to James Hewitt, president, Jac Spahn, executive director, and the staff and members of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.
In my own community, I have been impressed recently with the importance of saving a record of the present as well as of he past. The present soon becomes the past, and unless the materials for telling its stories are preserved, the stories are soon lost. When the world shakes and tragedy strikes, it is enormously helpful to know how a town or a state or a nation dealt with crisis in the past. The lessons our heroes and villains can teach us are always relevant to our present and our future. They are not available unless there is something in place to preserve them.
It has been an honor to serve with the members of this board and to be associated with the dedicated and talented professionals in the Society and the Foundation.
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.
As President Blackledge noted in his message, these are challenging times for the state of Nebraska and for the Society. State budget cuts have resulted in significant staff reductions, shortened hours at Society facilities and curtailment of services. In addition, the Society is trying to deal with major deferred maintenance and building renovation needs at both its headquarters building and the Museum of Nebraska History. At both facilities the mechanical, electrical, and life safety systems are obsolete and do not meet code requirements. The recent catastrophic failure of the air-conditioning system at the Museum of Nebraska History underscores the need to proceed with these renovations as soon as state funding is available.
The Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers all work long and hard on the Society's behalf. The NSHS staff is among the very best in the business. My sincere personal thanks to the NSHS trustees and to each and every staff member and volunteer for all their good work on behalf of the Society and all Nebraskans.
Every year the Society receives substantial support from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. First established in 1942, the NSHS Foundation was one of the very first state historical society foundations in the United States. The NSHS Foundation supports a wide variety of special projects and activities ranging from equipment purchases, publications, internships, and National History Day travel scholarships, to acquisitions for Society collections and research fellowships for visiting scholars. The foundation also played a key role in raising matching funds for the reconstruction of the 1874 cavalry barracks at Fort Robinson. This building project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2003. The Society appreciates the important assistance it receives every year from the NSHS Foundation.
During the past year your Society published several new books, opened a major new permanent exhibit, Building the State, at the Museum of Nebraska History, sponsored the fourth Fort Robinson history conference, and was a co-sponsor of a national conference on preserving America's historic roads that was held in Omaha.
I also want to thank NSHS trustees Dr. Sara Brandes Crook of Peru, Jim McKee of Lincoln, and Dr. Dick Loosbrock of Chadron for their service to the Society. They are not eligible for reelection to the Society board. Their interest, leadership, and good counsel will be missed.
To close on a personal note, the last ten years have gone by incredibly fast. It has been a delightful challenge to work with the NSHS Board of Trustees, the NSHS Foundation and our wonderful Society staff in the development of such state-of-the-art facilities as the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center (which includes the Society's advanced digital imaging laboratory), the Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center at Chimney Rock, the K-Street Records Center, and the Lincoln Children's Museum building development that includes space for the NSHS archeology division and the state historic preservation office. Despite the recent state budget cuts I look forward to the continuing challenge of finding more and better ways of serving our patrons and constituents in the twenty-first century. At 125 your society is being responsive and responsible in fulfilling its mission and continuing the programmatic excellence for which it has always been known.
Lawrence J. Sommer
Director and State Historic Preservation Officer
Nebraska State Historical Society Awards
The Nebraska State Historical Society presented several awards recognizing achievements in various categories at its 2001 annual meeting in North Platte, November 3. The Robert W. Furnas Award for significant contributions to the Society went to the Friedlander Foundation of Omaha, which made a generous donation to purchase books for the library at the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center. The Omaha Field Club Homeowners' League received the Nebraska Preservation Award for its efforts to promote and protect their turn-of-the-twentieth-century neighborhood, and for sponsoring its listing as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places.
Mark Smith of Columbia, Missouri, a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received the James L. Sellers Memorial Award for the outstanding article published in the previous year's volume of Nebraska History. His article, "Karl Stefan, WJAG, and the Congressional Campaign of 1934," appeared in the summer 2000 issue. Judges from the history department at Wayne State College chose the winning article. The Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation provides a cash prize and plaque to accompany the award.
The Addison E. Sheldon Award for significant achievements in the preservation of Nebraska history went to Charles E. Trimble of Omaha. Trimble, a former Society president and member of the board of trustees, was recognized for his advocacy of Native American rights and his efforts to bring Native and non-native peoples together to find common ground.
The Society also presents awards at a special celebration in May to recognize outstanding student projects in the annual History Day: Nebraska contest. For 2002 the junior division award went to Amanda Crook and Ashley Lambrecht of the Nebraska City Middle School for their junior group performance, "The First All-Woman Gubernatorial Election: Kay Orr vs. Helen Boosalis." The girls' teacher is Susan Quinn. The Society's senior division award was presented to Megan Berg, representing the science focus program of the Lincoln Public Schools. Megan's senior individual documentary was entitled, "League of Women Voters: Reformers of America." Her teacher is Jim Barstow.
In addition to these award winners, state winners in the various History Day
categories went on to compete in the National History Day contest in Maryland in June. Tabitha Lux of Glen School, District 2, Crawford, Nebraska, received second place in the junior individual documentary category at the National History Day contest for her documentary, "The REA: Revolutionizing Electrical Access." This is the second year that a student from Glen School, taught by Moni Hourt, has won a National History Day award.
"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.
- Completed revision of the NSHS Strategic Plan, approved by the board in January. The plan emphasized expanding accessibility to Society resources in ways people find most useful through technology and on-site public programming, and continued improvement in the preservation of Nebraska's irreplaceable historical resources.
- Received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct a Public Dimension Assessment through which the Society will evaluate the public perception of, and the public's experience and involvement with NSHS. A six- month self-study will include surveys of Society members and users, focus groups in communities across the state, and an examination of all of the Society's public programs. Following completion of the self-study, a two-person team of reviewers with expertise in historical organizations and public programming will visit the Society and interview staff, board members, and community leaders. Their findings, coupled with the self-study, will form the basis of plans to continue to improve the Society's service to the public.
- Began implementation of the Nebraska Information System (NIS), the state-mandated system converting all budgeting, accounting, and human resources activities to a new computer system.
- Acquired funding from the State Task Force for Building Renewal (LB309) for emergency replacement of the air-conditioning system at the Museum of Nebraska History and negotiated connection to the University of Nebraska's chilled water system to reduce future cooling costs.
- Surveyed the physical condition and location of 418 Nebraska highway historical markers with funds from the Nebraska Transportation Enhancement Program. Created a database that will be used in phase two of the project, pending additional funding, to create a prioritized plan to repair or replace damaged markers.
Historical Society Volunteers
- Contributed a total of 7,888 hours to the Society.
- Greeted 13,175 visitors and provided 440 hours of volunteer service at Heritage Village, Nebraska State Fair.
- Scheduled 10,990 visitors to the Museum of Nebraska History
- Generated more than $55,773 in net sales at museum stores across the state.
- Continued bimonthly programs and publication of a newsletter for volunteers.
- Assisted with summer workshops for kids, provided guided museum tours, cataloged collections, and provided research assistance.
- Enjoyed a volunteer appreciation day at Lincoln's Rococo Theatre and a bus trip to historic sites in southeast Nebraska and northeastern Kansas.
""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 350,000 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.
- Received and began work on a grant project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to produce an online guide to the Society's archival holdings and survey collection strengths and weaknesses.
- Purchased the 1930 Nebraska census with the financial support of many individuals and organizations. Additional resources, such as city directories, were also purchased to expedite research in this un-indexed census.
- Participated on the panel of the C-Span Great American Writers program about Willa Cather, broadcast from Red Cloud.
- Served 6,164 visitors in the reference room, answered 3,675 research requests through the mail, and provided 498 microfilm reels to researchers via interlibrary loan.
- Added equipment to the audio-visual lab so moving images and sound recordings can be digitized.
- Cataloged 786 new titles into the library collections. These, and an additional 800 titles already in the library, were added to Athena, the inhouse online catalog. The library has approximately 50,000 titles, with more than 22,000 titles in Athena.
- Completed (or revised) inventories for manuscript collections: the papers of Arthur Carmody, Western history collector and former Society board member; the papers of artist John Falter; the records of the Santee Normal Training School; the papers of the Shaw-Gale-Noxon families, homesteaders in Gage, Seward, and Clay counties; and the records of Omaha Social Settlement, an organization established to help immigrant families adapt to American life.
- Received 2,000 glass plate negatives, about 18901920, from the Bostock Studio, formerly of Palisade, Nebraska, including studio portraits of families with their pets, photographs of local bands and local sports teams, and photographs documenting the construction of grain elevators. Volunteers from the Lincoln Camera Club helped clean the glass plates in preparation for digitization.
- Curated the annual winter film series, this year entitled, Breaking New Ground: The Settlement of the American West in Film, which highlighted themes of the museum's new permanent exhibit.
- Indexed, by volunteers, the 1913 census of Germans from Russia in Lincoln, Lancaster County delayed birth records, and the two-volume Lincoln-Lancaster County Biographical Album.
- Developed a second course in archives management in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's master's program in museum studies.
- Received, with other Nebraska repositories, a grant from the Colorado Digitization Project to produce a digitized version of the Society's Chimney Rock exhibit online.
- Worked on two preservation projects funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF): six reels of film showing activities on the farm of Glen and Leo Kellett in the North Platte Valley during the 1930s and early 1940s, and a 1934 film documenting the "Last Great Gathering of the Sioux Nation" and the concurrent dedication of monuments to Levi Robinson and Crazy Horse at Fort Robinson.
- Created a "Getting to the Source" card to accompany the Building the State exhibit.
- Authored a report on modern methods of record-keeping and microfilming and presented two workshops on these topics.
- Received new collections: transcripts of the Jimmy Creech trial before the Methodist Church, involving the issue of same-sex marriage; Foresting the Sandhills, a 1929 motion picture; additional papers of Senator Roman Hruska; a Randolph Elementary School (Lincoln) anniversary scrapbook containing letters written by famous Nebraskans in response to student queries in 1935; records of the Lincoln Naturalist's Club; the Fort Kearny diary of William Henry Tappan, published in the Winter 2001 issue of Nebraska History; and scrapbooks of Frances Creech, pianist in the all-girl Ruth Colman Orchestra (also known as the Polka Queens and the Sweethearts of Swing).
- Began an Integrated Pest Management program to monitor the headquarters building for insects that cause damage to the collections.
- Continued digitization of materials for American Bounty: The Story of Food, a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
- Participated in a regional State Historical Records Board (SHRAB) meeting with representatives from Iowa and South Dakota.
- Consulted with Doane College and Hastings College about archival program planning and improvements.
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, 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
- Welcomed 112,843 visitors at facilities statewide.
- Researched, designed, constructed, and opened the permanent exhibit Building the State: Nebraska, 18671916, which explores the early years of Nebraska statehood.
- Hosted more than three hundred visitors (despite a major snowstorm) on March 1 at a grand opening for Building the State: Nebraska, 18671916, which featured birthday cakes celebrating Nebraska's 135th birthday, craft projects for children to make and take, costumed interpreters, and a strolling minstrel.
- Accessioned 439 objects from 115 donors into the museum collections. Significant accessions included: a Sharps Model 1874 sporting rifle used to hunt buffalo in Nebraska, donated by Vince Goeres of Lincoln; the United States flag that flew over the Nebraska State Capitol during the memorial ceremony for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, donated by the Secretary of State's office; a Lincoln Highway marker from the North Platte area, donated by Lee Linch of North Platte; a World War II alpine sleeping bag used and donated by Fred Bodie of Lincoln; a signature quilt made by Moree Teetem as a school project about 1915, donated by Suzy Albin of El Cajon, California; a 1930s quilt made by Mattie Skinner King of North Bend, donated by Nancy Evans of Mesa, Arizona; and a family Bible from an early Lincoln African-American family, donated by Ruth Green Folley of Lincoln.
- Assisted fifty-three researchers and visitors to the museum collections department.
- Converted the museum's collection inventory database to Multi Mimsy, a database specifically designed for museums to better manage many aspects of record-keeping including accession records, catalog records, loan records, and digital images.
- Loaned objects from the museum's collections to the Great Plains Art Collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, California, and the Madison County Historical Society in Madison, Nebraska.
- Co-sponsored and coordinated the fourth annual Nebraska Institute for teachers, which introduced nine teachers from across the state to new Nebraska history resources, perspectives, and methods for learning with objects, places, photo- graphs, documents, and oral histories.
- Organized and co-sponsored the sixth annual Nebraska History Day Celebration at the Nebraska State Capitol, featuring professional critiques of entries and a special awards ceremony.
- Held two summer workshops for children 612 years old: "Sod House Discoveries" and "Home Front Families: World War II."
- Coordinated 314 groups (10,990 individuals) visiting the Museum of Nebraska History on guided and self-guided tours.
- Provided special training and hands-on materials for docents giving tours in the new permanent exhibit, Building the State: Nebraska, 18671916.
- Developed self-guided activity sheets for families and school groups visiting Building the State.
- Created, in conjunction with the Library/Archives Division, a "Getting to the Source" card for Building the State.
- Piloted a program for the American Association for State and Local History entitled "Pathways: Discovering Your Connections to History." Fourteen youth from inner- city Lincoln schools participated in the week-long program during which they researched and wrote about three buildings of significance to them: Park Middle School, Everett Elementary School, and the F Street Recreation Center. Results of their research were published in the Lincoln Journal-Star.
- Conducted a study of tours at the Museum of Nebraska History and other museums across the country to gain information to guide the next round of tour develop- ment and training programs for museum docents.
- Organized and videotaped for television the monthly Brown Bag Lecture series held at the Museum of Nebraska History.
- Updated the hands-on children's exhibit, the History Adventure Center, with a new blacksmith station replacing a woodworking station.
- Installed a temporary exhibit, Holidays Past, at the Museum of Nebraska History.
- Installed a temporary exhibit, Typical-Looking Nebraska Farmer Day: Portraits from the 1943 State Fair, at the Headquarters Building.
- Assisted all Society divisions with design and layout of magazines, newsletters, books, catalogs, and brochures, including: Nebraska History, Historical Newsletter, Volunteer Newsletter, Museum Store Catalog, Explore Nebraska Archeology No. 6, Central Plains Archaeology, Fort Robinson and the American Century, 19001948, Water Powered Flour Mills in Nebraska, Courthouse Rock State Historic Site, Lewis and Clark on the Middle Missouri, "The Archeology of an 1887 Adobe Barracks at Fort Robinson," and "A Race Against Time."
- Provided support and oversight for maintenance projects and exhibits at the Society's historic sites including the Cheyenne Outbreak barracks reconstruction at Fort Robinson, a Mona Neihardt exhibit at the Neihardt Historic Site, and a new picket fence at the Thomas P. Kennard House.
Museum/Historic Sites Division
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 67,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to visit the seven historic sites during the past year.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
" 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."
- Hosted the "Sunday Afternoon at the Rock" speakers' series during the winter of 2002. The six programs drew an average of fifty people for each lecture-- standing room only for the auditorium at the visitor center.
- Held a reception in September for the National Convention of the Pony Express Association held in Scottsbluff.
- Welcomed the Pony Express on their annual re-ride in June.
- Welcomed State Senator Adrian Smith and ten members of the crew of the submarine, USS Nebraska, who presented a plaque to the Chimney Rock Visitor Center.
- Worked with Scottsbluff National Monument staff to plan a controlled burn of the prairie surrounding the visitor center.
Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Fort Robinson Museum
" 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."
- Coordinated and co-hosted, with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the fourth Fort Robinson History Conference with the theme, "Indian War Leaders and Leadership."
- Installed a new roof on the 1936 garage.
- Began installing a new roof on the 1887 adobe officer's quarters.
- Provided continual assistance with the reconstruction of the Cheyenne Outbreak Barracks (1874 cavalry barracks).
- Replaced the sidewalk in front of the Fort Robinson Museum (1905 post head- quarters building).
- Published the second of two volumes on the history of Fort Robinson by curator Tom Buecker, Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948.
- Produced additional interpretation for the War Dog Reception and Training Center by installing signs marking significant structures and producing a walking tour brochure.
Fort Robinson Museum
Thomas P. Kennard House
" 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."
- Decorated the house for the holiday season with the annual Victorian Holidays Past exhibit.
- Welcomed 353 people to a Sunday afternoon holiday open house in December.
- Installed a new picket fence on the north and east side of the house reproducing the original historic fence.
- Continued work on the installation and development of a historic landscape.
- Provided support to the education department by sending out sixty educational packets and 123 educational leaflets, coordinating the dissemination of educational trunks to school rooms around the state, and responding to seventy-seven mail and fifteen phone requests for educational materials.
Thomas P. Kennard House Nebraska Statehood Memorial
Neligh Mill State Historic Site
" 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."
- Enjoyed a 9 percent increase in visitation.
- Hosted the first Neligh Mill Jamboree as part of the community's Old Mill Days Fourth of July celebration.
- Ordered and received new windows for the third floor of the mill.
- Scraped, primed, and painted the west side of the boxcar.
- Assisted with the reprinting of Water Powered Flour Mills in Nebraska.
- Replaced the large log south of the mill basement that supports the outer pulleys of the original main driveshaft for the mill.
- Constructed, painted, and installed reproduction decorative wooden pieces of the mill's third floor dormers.
- Participated in the Neligh Chamber of Commerce's Nostalgic Christmas tour of homes by decorating the 1886 addition of the mill with an 1880s Christmas theme.
- Hosted the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's traveling art exhibit.
Neligh Mill State Historic Site
Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site
" 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."
- Welcomed to the house ninety-three county high school juniors participating in Cornhusker Boys and Girls County Government Day.
- Presented several programs by site supervisor Linda Hein to groups throughout the McCook region.
- Hosted displays of pre-World War II quilts in September and post-World War II quilts in March.
- Held the annual spinning, weaving, and needlework display in June.
- Helped coordinate the McCook appearance of Barn Again, a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.
- Facilitated a focus group project in McCook to help gain local feedback on how the Society is perceived.
- Represented the Society as part of the local Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, the Heritage Square Committee, and McCook Main Street.
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."
- Hosted the C-SPAN cable network that aired a live, three-hour program on Willa Cather as part of the Great American Writers series, resulting in a short-term dramatic increase in visitation.
- Installed new steps to the back door of the St. Julianna Catholic Church.
- Placed informative materials about the Willa Cather State Historic Site on a display table at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney during Museum Days.
- Hosted the "Pastimes and Playthings" historic toys and games as part of the "Time Travel for Kids" program at the Little Red School House in Red Cloud.
- Welcomed attendees to the annual Cather Spring Conference, which featured a Nebraska Quilter's Guild quilt contest.
Willa Cather State Historic Site
John G. Neihardt State Historic Site
" 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."
- Hosted a meeting of the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees.
- Welcomed an estimated 250 people to the annual Neihardt Day celebration. The celebration recognized Neihardt's eightieth anniversary as Poet Laureate of Nebraska.
- Held the annual Neihardt Spring Conference with the theme "The Year of Mona: Women in Literature and the Arts." As part of the conference, a temporary exhibit on the life and work of Mona Neihardt was installed.
- Hosted art exhibits including works from the Red Cloud Heritage Center, the Museum of Nebraska Art, the Bancroft-Lyons Art Club, and the Bancroft-Rosalie High School.
- Offered monthly "Sunday Afternoon at the Museum" programs.
- Coordinated and directed the fourth Neihardt/Black Elk Young Writer's Workshop.
- Continued work on the Neihardt Oral History Project.
- Published the third volume of the Neihardt Journal.
- Wished Chuck Trimble well as he announced his retirement as the executive director of the Neihardt Foundation and its Institute for Vision and Learning and director of the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site.
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.
- Awarded three grants to support research in Society collections, the results to be considered for publication. Funding was provided by the Gladys Marie Lux Education Endowment and the Tom and Marilyn Allan Fund, both administered by the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.
- Published Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948, by Thomas R. Buecker, the second in a two-volume history of Fort Robinson, funded by the Parks Publishing Fund established by Ron and Judith Parks at the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.
- Published interpretive booklets including: Courthouse Rock State Historic Site, Water Powered Flour Mills in Nebraska, and Lewis and Clark on the Middle Missouri. Publication of the latter booklet was supported by the National Park Service, Niobrara/Missouri National Scenic Riverways.
- Coordinated, with the Museum/Historic Sites Division and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Fourth Fort Robinson History Conference with the theme, "Indian Wars Leaders and Leadership."
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 participates in legislative studies, statewide planning processes, and interagency cooperation.
- Sponsored LR231 and LR417, interim study resolutions of the Nebraska State Legislature to compile information on programs that further historic preservation and community development. Nebraska is one of only two states nationwide that offers no financial or tax policy that encourages preservation and improvements to historic buildings.
- Assisted in the organization of a Community Preservation Coalition. The coalition is composed of state and local government, preservation and "main street" organizations in support of community development and historic preservation initiatives, including LR14CA, the Community Preservation Assistance Act. Proposed legislation would enable Nebraska to adopt a property tax policy addressing the role of historic preservation as a key element of community revitalization and economic vitality in Nebraska towns and neighborhoods.
- Co-sponsored the Nebraska Lied Main Street Program in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Roads, Nebraska Rural Development Commission, Nebraska Community Foundation, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture. Participating communities include Alliance, Bassett, Beatrice, Central City, Fremont, Gothenburg, Kimball, McCook, Ogallala, Plattsmouth, Scottsbluff, and Wayne. Eleven other communities are enrolled as associate communities.
- Participated in interagency programs including the Nebraska Department of Roads Transportation Enhancement Program, the Nebraska Byways program co-administered by the Nebraska Department of Roads and Nebraska Department of Economic Development Division of Travel and Tourism, and the Technical Assistance Review Process (TARP) consisting of six state and federal agencies that assist and coordinate housing programs. The office is also represented in planning or program committees on environmental enhancement, outdoor recreation, trails, and tourism development.
- Sponsored sessions of the 2001 "Nebraska Institute: Teaching Nebraska History and Culture through Social Studies and the Humanities," a cooperative venture
of the Society, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Lincoln Public Schools. The sessions were offered to practicing educators about teaching with historic places in their communities.
- Funded Certified Local Government (CLG) historic preservation programs in Lincoln, Omaha, and Red Cloud. CLG funds underwrote local preservation activities including an extensive survey of some 15,000 historic properties in the greater Benson neighborhood of Omaha, an African-American oral history project in Lincoln, and the publication of design guidelines for Red Cloud residential historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Allocated 2002-03 funding for Certified Local Government programs, including projects in the Havelock business district in Lincoln and surveys of nine Omaha neighborhoods, other planning and public programs, and listing of properties to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Conducted or participated in some fifty-five public information and education outreach meetings statewide. Audiences included local and regional development groups, Nebraska Lied Main Street communities, planning organizations, and local and tribal governments.
- Sponsored the opening session of the 2001 NSHS History Conference and Annual Meeting, featuring historic preservation in the host community of North Platte.
- Presented two sessions on Nebraska's historic preservation and transportation programs for the National Conference on Transportation and Historic Preservation: Finding Common Ground, sponsored by Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers in Lexington, Kentucky, June 2-4, 2002. Nebraska's Transportation Enhancement Program and historic preservation initiatives have received national recognition by conference sponsors.
- Participated in the completion of Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) for the Union Stockyards and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) recordation of the former Wilson Packing Plant, both in Omaha.
- Processed the entry of eighteen properties to the National Register of Historic Places. A total of 879 Nebraska properties are now recognized in the National Register of Historic Places. A complete list is located on the Society's website, www.nebraskahistory.org. New listings:
- Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and Rectory, St. Helena
- Schuyler Carnegie Library, Schuyler
- Fairfield Carnegie Library, Fairfield
- Inland School, Inland
- Ackerhurst-Eipperhurst Dairy Barn, Bennington vicinity
- Midway Ranch House, rural Dawson County
- Rackett Grange Hall, rural Garden County
- Big Blowout Archeological Site, Keith County
- Meismer Bison Kill Archeological Site, Keith County
- Calhoun House, Lincoln
- Federal Trust Building, Lincoln
- Yost House, Lincoln
- Meridian Highway, rural Pierce County
- Columbus Izaak Walton League Lodge, Columbus vicinit
- Keystone Hotel, McCook
- Ellie Mae Archeological Site, Sherman County
- Old McDonald Farm, rural Washington County
- Wayne Municipal Auditorium, Wayne
- Funded a statewide survey and overview of highway development in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Roads. The project includes a history of the development of roads in Nebraska from turn-of-the-century "good roads" boosters and the earliest "automobile trails" to the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Five historic highways have been field surveyed: the Canada-to-Mexico Meridian Highway (U.S. 81), U.S. 20, the transcontinental Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30), the former Potash Highway (Nebraska Highway 2) and the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Highway (U.S. 6 and 34). Field investigations followed about 2,000 miles of these historic routes and identified 918 historic transportation-related properties in fifty-five counties.
- Commissioned a preservation plan for a well-preserved, rural segment of the old Lincoln Highway near Elkhorn. The plan will identify comprehensive planning, land-use and transportation issues, as well as options for preserving this rare, brick-paved section of early highway in its rural setting. Contributing to the plan are the city of Elkhorn, Douglas County, the city of Omaha (Planning Department and Parks, Recreation and Public Property Department), the Metro Area Planning Agency, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the Federal Highway Administration.
- Co-hosted the third national conference, "Preserving the Historic Road in America," held in Omaha, April 11-14, 2002. State hosts were the Society and Nebraska Department of Roads. The biennial conference was sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Park Service, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Federal Highway Administration. More than three hundred preservation, engineering, and planning professionals participated, representing thirty-one states.
- Completed a history of Nebraska aviation, scheduled for publication in 2003, the "centennial of flight," the result of a two-year project in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics.
- Completed Nebraska Historic Buildings Surveys in Red Willow, Chase, Banner, and Kimball counties. Surveys included intensive surveys of Kimball and McCook downtown areas in support of local Main Street programs, and National Register evaluation of the Wheat Growers Hotel in Kimball and a stone corral in Chase County, a rare site associated with the Texas cattle trail. A total of 838 properties were included in field surveys in the four counties.
- Initiated Nebraska Historic Buildings Surveys in Sarpy, Saunders, Nuckolls, and Webster counties. Sarpy and Saunders county efforts will include an assessment of urban metropolitan growth and its effects on rural and historic properties. In Webster County, properties associated with Willa Cather and listed in the National Register of Historic Places some twenty years ago will be reevaluated.
- Exceeded 62,000 properties entered in the Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey. A new database now expands accessibility to data collected over the past twenty- five years and will assist conversion to the Geographic Information System (GIS).
- Processed three applications for historic preservation tax incentives projects in Omaha, Scottsbluff, and Nebraska City. Additional projects exceeding $75 million are now underway or completed this period for the Drake Court Apartment complex and warehouse conversions (Omaha), redevelopment of the former Municipal Power Plant in Fremont, the former Burlington Station in Hastings, and former office buildings in downtown Lincoln.
- Commented on 1,525 federal undertakings for potential effects on historic and culturally significant properties ranging in size and scope from individual cell tower locations to housing rehabilitation projects and highway corridor studies. Major studies included the Lincoln Beltway, Omaha-Lincoln Interstate 80 expansion, and proposed Northeast Nebraska expressway.
- Co-sponsored publication, with the Archeology Division, of the latest in the series, Explore Nebraska Archeology, about investigations at the site of the 1887 Fort Robinson adobe barracks that housed the Ninth and Tenth cavalry, "Buffalo Soldiers."
- Completed a boundary study of Fort Robinson under contract with the National Park Service Midwest Regional Office in Omaha. The study will result in reevaluation of the National Historic Landmark boundary, encompassing more than 20,000 acres and including lands associated with the tragic Cheyenne Outbreak.
- Completed an archeological survey of the Pumpkin Creek and Lower South Platte drainages in Cheyenne, Deuel, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Morrill, Kimball, and Banner counties The project resulted in the listing of a bison kill site and Paleoindian site-- both in Keith County-- to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Completed archeological investigations of the Lower Elkhorn and Platte River drainage in western Douglas and Sarpy counties, conducted by the Society's Archeology Division.
- Initiated archeological investigations in the Omaha metropolitan vicinities of Sarpy, Douglas and Washington counties, conducted by the Society's Archeology Division.
- Conducted a 5,000-acre archeological survey of the Upper Loup drainage in Custer, Loup, Blaine, Thomas, Brown and Cherry counties, jointly conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Anthropology Department and Nebraska State Museum.
- Relocated facilities of the State Historic Preservation Office and Archeology Division to leased space at the Lincoln Children's Museum, which accommodates the growing collections of both the Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey and archeological surveys, the cross-disciplinary talents of staff, and shared facilities and systems.
State Historic Preservation Office
" 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 evaluates 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 research and publishing.
- Relocated to new offices and curatorial facilities in space leased from the Lincoln Children's Museum.
- Evaluated 170 Nebraska Department of Roads projects for potential impact to National Register of Historic Places-eligible sites. More than forty new archeological sites were discovered.
- Recorded 289 previously unknown archeological sites identified by archeologists from the Society and other agencies, including both Euroamerican and Native American properties.
- Presented four papers at the Plains Anthropological Society meeting in Lincoln.
- Organized and co-chaired a session on African American history and archeology at the Missouri Valley History Conference in Omaha.
- Published articles in Plains Anthropologist and Nebraska History.
- Presented lectures to thirty-two public or school groups.
- Provided archeological fieldwork experience to several groups of students from Omaha area high schools.
- Offered a tour of archeological sites to Pawnee tribal members participating in a powwow in Genoa.
- Re-housed all archeological records and maps supported by grants from the National Park Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- Co-produced a CD-ROM containing reports on early Nebraska archeological investigations.
- Participated in twenty-three investigations at the State Patrol crime lab or with various other law enforcement agencies, including recovery of two homicide victims.
- Inventoried twenty boxes of artifacts.
- Fielded sixty-three inquiries from the public regarding various aspects of Nebraska archeology.
- Consulted with the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Oto-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma regarding repatriation of human remains and funerary objects.
- Taught the University of Nebraska Archeological Field School, involving twelve students.
- Entered into cooperative agreements with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for curation of federal archeological collections at the Society
- Continued laboratory analysis of materials from several Native American flint quarries in Furnas County, and the Eagle Ridge site, an early eighteenth-century Native American village discovered in a Sarpy County housing development.
- Processed eight loans for outside researchers from Beloit College, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the Indiana State Museum, the Stuhr Museum, and the University of Tennessee.
- Completed reports on excavations at the Fort Robinson adobe barracks in Dawes County and the Beaver Creek prehistoric site in Boone County.
- Conducted forty-two site file/literature searches for outside researchers.
- Edited the journal, Central Plains Archeology.
- Completed a 3,500-acre sample survey in the Omaha area, a joint Archeology Division/Historic Preservation Office undertaking.
- Directed fifteen volunteers who provided more than 1,000 hours of fieldwork, data entry, and laboratory processing of artifacts.
- Published an installment of the series Explore Nebraska Archeology, a joint project with the Historic Preservation Office. This year's installment focused on archeological investigations at Fort Robinson.
- Conducted excavations at the 1850s townsite of Rockport north of Omaha in response to a proposed Washington County road improvement.
- Conducted emergency salvage investigations at the Woodcliff site in Saunders County, and excavated three burials and twenty refuse pits that relate to Pawnee and Oto occupation of the area during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
- Co-hosted the 2001 Plains Anthropological Conference.
- Coordinated book reviews for the journal, Plains Anthropologist.
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.
- Accepted more than 140 new projects for conservation treatment including several wall murals in dioramas at UN-L's Morrill Hall, a collection of silver from Fremont's May Museum, an Ansel Adams print, a collection of silhouettes on paper and plaster, the Susan LaFlesche Picotte diary, and a Miro print.
- Completed conservation treatment of objects for museums and private clients around the region including a collection of signed U. S. Supreme Court chief justice documents, eight polychrome wood Santos figures, several Karl Bodmer printing plates, a survey of parts of the steamboat Bertrand collection, and an examination of a Joan Mitchell painting.
- Completed the examination of more than 400 objects for the Museum of Nebraska History installation of the exhibit, Building the State. Completed conservation treatments for the exhibit including the William Jennings Bryan torchlight "transparency," a surveyor's compass, an Eli windmill wheel, and nearly 250 other objects.
- Completed a special technical examination of the Louisiana Purchase proclamation, owned by a prominent Nebraska businessman and community leader, which provided information for exhibition labels for the Joslyn Art Museum and for packets distributed to the media. The examination also confirmed the age and attribution of the document.
- Completed conservation assessments for the Friends of Whitehall, the Saline County Historical Society, the University of Nebraska State Museum, the Furnas- Gosper Historic Museum Association, the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society, and the Boys Town Hall of History. Assessments are currently underway for the NSHS Library/Archives, Johnson City Historical Society, the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site, the Please Touch Museum, and the St. Joseph Museum. Many of these assessments were funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services CAP program and administered by Heritage Preservation, a national preservation organization.
- Completed an assessment of the conservation needs of the wallpaper in Willa Cather's bedroom in the Willa Cather Childhood Home as part of a Save America's Treasures grant project.
- Completed a survey of more than 200 pieces of American folk art for the Huntington Museum in West Virginia and accepted a request to complete a storage assessment for this collection.
- Received a Kress Publication Fellowship from the American Institute for Conservation and other support for writing and publishing a book on preventive conservation techniques and principles for collections and historic house museums.
- Delivered more than twenty workshops, special tours, and lectures for the public and NSHS staff covering a variety of topics related to conservation, including caring for objects and the preservation and conservation of collections. Programs included lectures for the American Historical Print Collector's Society and the NSHS Brown Bag series (the treatment of the USS Nebraska Silver Service).
- Distributed a printed report of a national meeting of Native tribes. Fifteen Indian professionals involved with tribal preservation from across the United States joined professionals from museum and preservation organizations for a two-day meeting. The meeting and report were funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Completed a postgraduate internship for Farideh Fekrsanati, funded by the Getty Grant Program. The internship focused on the treatment of organic materials and provided an opportunity to gain experience in the practice of the latest techniques in object treatment. Fekrsanati conducted research into the safe removal of arsenical pesticide treatments from feathers.
- Completed one-year internships for two Argentinean museum professionals in the objects lab focusing on the development of basic conservation skills. The internships for Gabriela Ammirati and Fernando Marte were a result of training previously provided by Ford Center staff in Argentina and were funded through the Antorchas Foundation.
- Completed a short preprogram internship for Deborah Uhl, currently enrolled at the State University at Buffalo program in art conservation.
- Hosted more than 3,000 people who visited the Ford Center to tour the Ford Exhibit, the conservation and digital imaging laboratories, and attend special functions.
- Hosted twenty-six rental events in Paxson Hall.
- Distributed more than 1,500 Ford Conservation Center brochures across Nebraska, the region, and the country.
- Answered hundreds of public inquiries and letters requesting information on the care and preservation of collections.
- Created more than five hundred digital files of objects from NSHS collections, including pieces from the Library/Archives, Archeology, and Museum divisions, and the Historic Preservation Office.
- Carried out nearly fifty digital imaging projects for other state agencies, regional institutions, and individual clients.
- Continued to work on the IMLS-funded "Kansas Territory" project for the Kansas State Historical Society and the University of Kansas, which has included production of more than 1,500 scans by the digital imaging lab. A temporary scanning specialist has been hired to facilitate the project.
- Provided tours and demonstrations of the digital imaging lab to visiting conservators, museum professionals, artists, students, and community groups.
- Consulted with institutions nationwide about digital imaging of collections.
- Conducted digital imaging workshops, including a two-day workshop for the Oklahoma Museum Association.
- Wrote Technical Leaflet 217, "Digitizing your Collection," for the Winter 2002 issue of the American Association for State and Local History's journal, History News. A copy of the leaflet is included with each set of PastPerfect© collection software sold.
Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
The diverse and innovative activities summarized in the preceding pages make it clear that the Nebraska State Historical Society continues to effectively pursue its mission of safeguarding and interpreting Nebraska's past. But collecting and preserving the state's history fulfills only part of the Society's mission; equally important is making that rich, diverse history accessible to the thousands of Nebraskans and out-of-state visitors who visit the Society's museums and historic sites, read its publications, and browse its World Wide Web site each year. And it is private support, channeled through the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, that makes it possible for the Society to go beyond minimum expectations and share the unique aspects of Nebraska's remarkable heritage with the widest possible audience.
The Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, incorporated in 1942, works to secure private gifts that will support the short- and long-term goals of the Historical Society. These gifts-the private side of this public-private partnership-are vital for funding new initiatives to protect, interpret, and share the stories of Nebraska.
The Foundation is pleased to recognize and thank the donors who generously provided support during the 200102 fiscal year. We are gratified to have earned the support of so many Nebraskans (public and private organizations and individuals) who 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, Nebraska State Historical Society
Fiscal Year 2001-2002 Operations
(Based on preliminary year-end information. Excludes fiscal year accruals.)
Revenues % Dollar Amounts State Appropriations 66.83 $4,189,511 NSHS Foundation Support 1.69 106,085* Earned Income 17.50 1,096,860 Federal Grants/Contracts 13.46 843,601 Donations/Grants/Spec. Events .52 32,741 Total Revenues $6,268,798 Expenditures Museum/Historic Sites 24.21 $1,517,625 Administrative Services 23.18 1,453,643 Library/Archives 16.56 1,038,007 Historic Preservation 13.98 876,374 Archeology 9.45 592,413 Conservation 7.23 452,936 Research & Publications 5.39 337,800 Total Expenditures $6,268,798
* In addition to the figure above the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation provided direct support in the amount of $115,256.
Tony A. Schmitz
Deputy Director for Operations