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NSHS Volunteer News

January / February 2004

 Volunteer Spotlight on Eric Bachenberg

Eric Bachenberg
As I began my interview with Eric Bachenberg, I came to learn that he started volunteering at the NSHS before there was an official volunteer program. In 1983 Eric came to the NSHS to do research in the photo archives for an article he was working on. He discovered a collection of photographs known as the "Val Kuska collection," which he was interested in using for his article. The collection, however, was not yet organized, which meant it wasn't available for use. To Eric's credit, knowing how important the collection would be to his research and that of others, he volunteered to organize it. As a result of his efforts, he completed his research and wrote, "Seneca, Nebraska: Rise and Fall of a Railroad Town," for the Burlington Bulletin, No. 9.

Following the cataloging of the Val Kuska photo collection, Eric cataloged the Macdonald photo collection. Eric's continued involvement in the NSHS has led him to assist with archeology digs; at the Kennard House during the holiday season; as an author of "Music From the Soil of the American Midwest: Howard Hanson, Educator, Composer, Conductor" for Nebraska History magazine, and to research and prepare an exhibit about Hanson that is featured at the Society's headquarters building.

Eric had this to say about volunteering - "It's the learning experience, working with people, the ability to share my knowledge, and to help preserve history. All are very important." "It [history] happened in your back yard - Nebraska history is about what actually happened in Nebraska." Eric continued, "Sometimes you think you know all there is to know [about a subject], and the truth is, it is the gateway to the universe of what there is yet to learn."

As a history major and a graduate of the UN-L museum studies program, Eric has been providing assistance to the Jefferson County Historical Society in Fairbury. Fairbury served as the division headquarters for the Rock Island Railroad until it ceased operation in 1980. The railroad connection in Fairbury was a good match for Eric because of his interest in railroads, both as subject matter and as a hobbyist.

Among Eric's other interests is "shape note" singing, also known as Sacred Harp or Southern Harmony singing. He is also involved in the St. Paul Church choir in Lincoln. Currently, Eric is serving as the chair for the planning of the Rock Island Technical Society's annual meeting, which will be held in Lincoln in 2004. When Eric isn't volunteering, he works for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Eric's commitment to Nebraska history and the Nebraska State Historical Society is certainly evident in the many volunteer projects he has undertaken during the past twenty years.

- Deb McWilliams

D-DAY Sixtieth Anniversary European Tour for NSHS Members

Travel from Normandy to Bastogne to Berlin with NSHS and Matterhorn Travel in 2004! Society members and their guests are invited to participate in a tour to Europe in conjunction with the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day. The tour will run from June 7-15, with an option for an additional one-week extended tour (through June 21). A separate brochure announcing the tour was mailed in December from Matterhorn Travel, an Annapolis, Maryland, travel agency that specializes in joint partnerships with non-profit organizations.

Highlights include airfare from USA to Paris, with return from Frankfurt; overnights near Paris, in Normandy, Reims, Luxembourg, and Frankfurt; buffet breakfast and dinner each day; four education sessions with former West Point faculty; a visit to a Champagne Cellar near Reims and sightseeing at Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Bayeux, Ste. Mere Eglise, Three Museums, Mont-St-Michel, Reims, Bastogne, Luxembourg, Rhineland.

Consult your brochure or visit for specific questions about this great travel and learning opportunity.

Join the Westerners

The Lincoln Corral of Westerners, an organization dedicated to promoting knowledge of and appreciation for Western history, invites you to join their chapter. The Westerners meet in the evenings on the second Thursday, September through May, at the Holiday Inn, Ninth and P Streets, Lincoln.

Social activities begin at 6:30 PM, with dinner at 7:00, and the program following at 8:00. Reservations are required. The January 8, 2004, program presented by Pat Pixley from the Historical Society of Douglas County in Omaha, will be "Victorian Christmas Traditions." On February 12 NSHS Archeologist Rob Bozell, will speak on the findings at the Stephen Long Engineer Cantonment archeological site near Omaha. For further information contact Margaret Allington at 402-488-5698.

Westerners International was founded in Chicago in 1944. Today, there are more than one hundred twenty "Corrals" throughout the United States and overseas. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the history of the American West.

Brown Bag Lectures

The Brown Bag lectures begin at noon and are presented at the Museum of Nebraska History on Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Bring your lunch and join us for some informative presentations. If you can't join us for the lecture, look for them on Lincoln's Cable Channel 5.

On January 15, NSHS Objects Conservator Debbie Long, will present "SOS!: A National Look at Outdoor Sculpture." This presentation will provide an overview of Save Outdoor Sculpture!, a national project developed to locate, identify, and document all of the public sculpture in America.

Suzanne Wise, executive director of the Nebraska Arts Council, on February 19, will present "Public Art: A Blessing and A Curse." Using examples, Suzanne will define the various types of public art and how public art happens. She will explore the reasons why public art is such a polarizing phenomena for communities.

Nebraska Turns 150!

This year marks Nebraska's 150th anniversary as a political entity. President Franklin Pierce signed the act to organize the territories of Nebraska and Kansas on May 30, 1854. While the March 1, 1867, anniversary of Nebraska statehood is annually observed, the territorial birthday is rarely noted. But in 2004 the NSHS will be marking the territorial sesquicentennial with an exhibit at 1500 R Street, Lincoln, a Brown Bag lecture in July at the Museum of Nebraska History in Lincoln, and a new issue of Nebraska Trailblazer, our newspaper for fourth-graders.

The territorial system, established by the Ordinance of 1787, was a unique feature of American democracy, providing a method for creating new states as the nation expanded. Congress imposed a basic political framework on each new territory that enabled the people settling there to learn self-government. The administration in Washington appointed a territorial governor, judges, and other officials, and paid most of the territorial expenses. The people in the territory elected a legislature and a non-voting delegate to Congress. As the territory became settled and the people became adept at managing their own affairs, they could petition Congress to admit them to statehood on an equal basis with older states. According to historian Roy Nichols, the genius of the territorial idea lay in providing periodic self-renewal of the federal system as the people practiced "the art of creating their own government."

Thirty-one of the fifty states were once territories, but none had a more fascinating or significant territorial history than Nebraska. In the beginning, the creation of Nebraska and Kansas territories in 1854 represented the latest, ultimately futile, effort to compromise the divisive issue of slavery short of civil war. In the end, Nebraska's admission to statehood in 1867 marked a new relationship between states and the federal government with respect to their authority over civil rights. Like bookends, Nebraska, the territory, and Nebraska, the state, neatly encompassed a watershed era in American political history.

As the anniversary year unfolds, I'll plan to focus on other aspects of our territorial history including the origins of the "Kansas-Nebraska Act," how the territorial government worked (or did not work), and the significant issues involved in Nebraska's admission to statehood. In the meantime, watch for the new exhibit opening at 1500 R Street, on February 23.

-Jim Potter

Fort Robinson History Conference Set for April 2004

The Fifth Fort Robinson History Conference will be held at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford on April 22-24. It is cosponsored by the NSHS and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with financial support from Ron and Judy Parks of Papillion and the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation. The theme for the 2004 conference is "A New Army for a New Century: Military Culture in Transition, 1890-1917." The conference will feature scholarly papers, tours, exhibits, demonstrations, and social events.

To receive a conference registration form when available, contact Lana Hatcher at 402-471-3272 (e-mail: or write FRHC, Nebraska State Historical Society, P O Box 82554, Lincoln, NE 68501-2554.

Save Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit at Museum of Nebraska History

Preserving Memory: America's Monumental Legacy will open January 20, 2004 at the Museum of Nebraska History. This touring exhibit was developed by Save Outdoor Sculpture!, a project sponsored by Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian Art Museum devoted to caring for and learning from America's collection of outdoor sculpture. The exhibit is a series of twenty full-color panels featuring nearly two hundred artworks-including Nebraska's own State Capitol Sower. Visitors will be encouraged to consider the impulses behind the creation of public sculpture and to reflect on their own community's origins memorialized through its monuments.

Preserving Memory also explains some of the most common physical threats to outdoor sculpture. It features communities that have taken steps to preserve these local and national treasures. Special panels for children present information about dogs, horses, secrets, and diseases as portrayed in sculpture. The entry panel will focus on the State Capitol's Sower, the restoration of which was partially funded by the Save Outdoor Sculpture! Program.

Public sculpture, monuments, and memorials record our history in brief. They reflect our community goals and collective consciousness. They are memory aids, a sort of family album, a string around each community's finger. Preserving Memory explains who and what achieves "monumental status" and gives insight into the process. It also tells the stories of public sculpture ranging from "found" art by self-taught artists to totem poles to commemorative fountains to the Statue of Liberty.

This touring exhibit was made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It can be seen at the Museum of Nebraska History from January 20, 2004 through February 15, 2004. Museum hours are 9:00-4:30 Tuesday-Friday and 1:00-4:30 Saturday and Sunday. For information please call the museum at 471-4754. The January and February monthly brown bag lectures at the Museum of Nebraska History will feature topics related to Preserving Memory:America's Monumental Legacy.

Preserving Memory: America's Monumental Legacy will travel from the Museum of Nebraska History to the Nebraska State Capitol where it will be on display from February 23 through February 28. The exhibit will then travel to the Nebraska State Historical Society's Omaha facility, the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, where it can be seen from March 5 through April 23.

Nebraska Territorial Sesquicentennial in 2004

The year 2004 is the 150th anniversary of the passage of the bill that created Nebraska and Kansas territories, and a number of activities are planned to turn attention to this historic legislation that not only shaped our state but our nation, including:

Making Us Laugh: Nebraskans in Comedies

Making us Laugh: Nebraskans in Comedies, great American films, to which Nebraskans have contributed, will be featured in the 2004 NSHS film series beginning January 18. The films will be shown at 1:30 p.m., at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln, and are open to the public.

Underwriting for the film series is provided by the Douglas Theatre Company, Lincoln, through the efforts of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation.

January 18: The Freshman (1990) Marlon Brando satirizes his earlier role from The Godfather in this comedy.

January 25: Airplane! (1980) Bellevue High School graduate Robert Hays stars in this parody of disaster films.

February 1: Cannery Row (1982) Omaha's Nick Nolte romances Debra Winger in a film based on John Steinbeck's stories.

February 8: The Male Animal (1942) Henry Fonda plays a college professor jealous of his wife's old flame, a football hero.

February 15: Our Man Flint (1966) Laurel native James Coburn spoofs James Bond and other secret agent films of the 1960s.

February 22: Funny Face (1957) With George Gershwin tunes as an accompaniment, photographer Fred Astaire turns bookstore clerk Audrey Hepburn into a fashion model.

February 29: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1989) Excerpts from many of Lloyd's classic comedies are highlighted in this documentary.

Indian on horseback logo
Museum Store
heart Simply Irresistibleheart


The Nebraska State Historical Society museum stores carry an array of jewelry that is simply irresistible. The baubles for women and men feature Nebraska's landscape, nature, and designs inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, so give us a call at 402-471-3447, to find out more about the irresistible jewelry that will be adored by your Valentine for years to come.

by artist Cindy Paul - distinct art glass jewelry featuring Nebraska's Platte Valley Horizon, Nebraska
Sky, and Sandhills.

Sterling silver horse pins
- inspired by images from Plains Indians drawings from the late 1800s.

Grandmother's Buttons Collection
- features hand-crafted pieces with authentic Victorian-era buttons.

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright
- cuff links and money clips are sure to please, in silver and blue pattern.

Simply Sterling
- handcrafted jewelry in sterling silver, featuring petroglyph designs.


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

Volunteer Program - NSHS and the Next 125 Years

Please join us on Wednesday, January 14, 2004, for a program that will focus on NSHS and the Next 125 Years. Presenting the program will be Larry Sommer, NSHS director, along with NSHS associate directors. The program begins at 10:30, followed by a potluck luncheon, at 1500 R Street, Lincoln. Please contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 regarding your attendance.

Nominations Sought for Nebraska Hall of Fame

The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission is accepting nominations of prospective inductees. To receive a nomination form and the criteria governing nominations, contact Marcia Friesen at 402-471-4746. The deadline for receipt of nominations is 5PM (CST) on April 1, 2004.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Nebraska and the nation. Individuals must be deceased thirty-five years to be considered.

New Volunteer

Brandon Langer, Administration


Calendar of Events
January / February 2004

January 2004

January 14: *Volunteer Program
10:30 a.m., 1500 R Street, Lincoln

January 9: *NSHS Board of Trustees Meeting

January 20: Preserving Memory Exhibit Opening

January 15: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00 noon

January 18: Film Series

January 25: Film Series

February 2004

February 1: Film Series

February 8: Film Series

February 15: Film Series

February 19: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00 noon

February 23: 150th Anniversary Exhibit Opening
NSHS Headquarters, 1500 R Street, Lincoln

February 29: Film Series


March 2004

March 7: Film Series

(*Location other than the Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln)


"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."

Volunteer News is published bi-monthly for the world-class volunteers at the Nebraska State Historical Society. For information about volunteering with any of our divisions, or at any location across the state, contact:

Deb McWilliams, Volunteer Services
402-471-4955 or 1-800-833-6747

Apply for Volunteer Service today!

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Last updated 25 February 2004

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