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NSHS Volunteer News

July/August 1999

Society History Conference Set for September 24-25

The 1999 annual history conference and meeting will be held in Lincoln on September 24 and 25. The theme is "Innovation and Ingenuity in Nebraska History," and the conference will feature tours, papers, and displays. Some of the unusual and ingenious objects Nebraskans have created will be highlighted in sessions at the Museum of Nebraska History. A tour of the Nebraska State Capitol will focus on the building's groundbreaking design, and on the current restoration project. A second tour will feature the Nebraska Products Lab at UNL, where foods are tested and marketing strategies are taught.

At a special evening event, State Senator David Landis will portray Senator George W. Norris in a dramatization of the Nebraska statesman's innovative legislative career. Dr. R. Douglas Hurt, director of the graduate program in agricultural and rural studies at Iowa State University and a leading agricultural historian, will provide the conference's keynote address. Annual Society awards for writing, historic preservation, and contributions to the preservation of Nebraska history and archeology will be presented.

For further information about the conference contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 or 1-800-833-6747.

NSHS Prepares for State Fair

Once again the NSHS plans to participate in the Nebraska State Fair. So don't miss this opportunity to volunteer at the fair. The 1999 State Fair runs from August 27 through September 6. Volunteers are needed to greet the public and provide information at the Cunningham Schoolhouse and Hudson Log Cabin in the Heritage Village area. Hudson Cabin volunteers also conduct the sale of merchandise. Volunteers may choose to work from the following three- or four-hour shifts: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 1:00-4:00 p.m., and 4:00-7:00 p.m. Parking and gate admission is provided by NSHS.

Individuals interested in volunteering at the State Fair should contact Marcia Friesen at 402-471-4746. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to this yearly project!

Volunteer Researches the Beatrice Commercial Historic District

Todd Knispel, a volunteer for the State Historic Preservation Office, has completed newspaper research for the Beatrice Commercial historic district. Todd will work with Laureen Reidesel of the Beatrice Public Library, who began the project more than a year ago. Thanks to Todd's diligent research the project will likely be completed this year. Todd has also contributed significant research time to the historic preservation staff. This assistance has been invaluable in helping to complete National Register nominations for sites across the state.

Volunteer Program - July 14

Please join us! All Nebraska State Historical Society volunteers are invited to attend the upcoming volunteer program on Wednesday, July 14, at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P Streets, Lincoln. The July program will feature a behind the scenes look at the Society's museum collections, as well as learning more about our new digital imaging capabilities.

The programs will be presented by NSHS staff members Mark Nelson, John Carter and Jill Koelling. The behind the scenes tour will run from 9:30 to 10:30, with the digital imaging program to follow from 11 to 12 noon. A potluck is planned at noon following the programs.

Please RSVP to Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 regarding your attendance, or if you have any questions.

image of childs letter

New Exhibit at 1500 R Street

A new exhibit at the Society's headquarters building located at 1500 R Street, Lincoln, entitled A Nebraskan Goes to NATO, tells the story of Alfred M. Gruenther and his service to NATO.

Alfred M. Gruenther was born March 3, 1899, at Platte Center, Nebraska. He attended Saint Thomas Military Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated from West Point in 1918. In 1922 he married Grace E. Crum.

Gruenther served thirty-eight years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of general in 1951. In 1953 President Eisenhower appointed Gruenther supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a position he held until 1956. From 1957 to 1964 he served as president of the American Red Cross. In 1966 former President Dwight D. Eisenhower said "[He] served his country brilliantly, selflessly and effectivelyin every position in which he has served he has established standards that no other has exceeded."

Gruenther visited Nebraska on a disaster mission in April 1960 after spring floods devastated many parts of the state. Gruenther died May 30, 1983 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The exhibit is open to the public with free admission. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8-5; Saturday, 8-5; and Sunday 1:30-5.

Vacation Exhibit Opens July 1

Road Trip! Life on Vacation with the Gehrkes of Lincoln, opens July 1 in the rotunda of the Historical Society's headquarters building at 15th & R Streets. This exhibit features photographs by Lincoln builder Edward Gehrke along with the travel diaries his wife, Margaret, kept between 1916 and 1939.

At a time when highways were few and far between, the Gehrkes traveled extensively across the United States in a succession of Buicks. Ed's photographs capture the challenges of camping as well as the grandeur of destinations from Niagara Falls to the Great Salt Lake. Margaret's journals vividly record the hardships and joys of early auto touring, offering wonderful additions to the photographs themselves. Together, these collections provide a marvelous opportunity to examine the appeal of motor touring and the adventurous spirit embodied by these early tourists.

Photo albums and diaries in the Historical Society's Library/Archives collections form the basis of the exhibit. Jill Koelling, assistant curator of audio-visual collections, selected the images and diary excerpts for the display. "The quality of the photographs is far above that of the average vacation snapshots," Koelling stated, "but it's the added documentation offered by the travel diaries that makes the collection so unique."

The display also features auto touring and camping items from the 1910s and 1920s, including a picnic set, auto water bag, tire chains, camping gear, and road maps. A special handout will offer visitors tips on the proper care of their own vacation photos.

Jill Koelling will speak about the Gehrkes on July 15, 1999, at the Brown Bag lecture series at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P Streets. The lecture starts at noon and is free and open to the public.

The exhibition continues through June 30, 2000, at the Historical Society's headquarters building, 15th & R Streets, Lincoln. The exhibit is open to the public free of charge, 8-5, Monday-Friday; 8-5 Saturday and 1:30-5 Sunday.

Chimney Rock Volunteers Honored

The Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees and Society staff were on hand to honor Mary George and Ruth Hiner for their volunteer service to the Chimney Rock National Historical Site, near Bayard. On behalf of the board and staff, Society Director Lawrence Sommer thanked Mary and Ruth for the many hours of volunteer service and their dedication to the Chimney Rock National Historic Site. Mary has been volunteering at the Visitor Center since it opened in 1993, and Ruth since 1998.

(image) Volunteer Recognition at the Chimney Rock National Historic Landmark. Back row, l-r: Loren Pospisil, Colleen Maser, Signe Kriss; Front row, l-r: Mary George, Ruth Hiner

July and August Brown Bag Lectures

On the third Thursday of each month, the NSHS hosts a free Brown Bag lecture series at the Museum of Nebraska History, 15th and P Streets, Lincoln. The lecture begins at noon ­ so bring your lunch!

The July 15 lecture, "Road Trip! Life on Vacation with the Gehrkes of Lincoln," will be presented by Jill Koelling, assistant curator, audio-visual collections, NSHS Library/Archives division. On August 18, Richard E. Jensen, senior research anthropologist, NSHS Research and Publications division, will present "The Fontenelle and Cabanne Trading Posts."

New at the Museum Store

The Historical Society is proud to present some of its newest publications, as well as other items that are carried at the Society's Museum Stores. They include:


Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899, by Tom Buecker

From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee; In the West That Was, edited by Richard E. Jensen

The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877, edited by R. Eli Paul

The Fontenelle and Cabanne Trading Posts: The History and Archeology of Two Missouri River Sites, 1822-1838, by Richard E. Jensen


A new Fort Robinson porcelain mug features the Ninth Cavalry, Company K insignia. The Ninth U.S. Cavalry was an African American "Buffalo Soldier" regiment stationed at Fort Robinson during the 1800s and 1890s.

John Falter lithographic prints are also available. These prints are from Falter's "Jazz from Life" series, part of the exhibit, Drawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, at the Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln.

There are numerous educational items for children, pottery and jewelry, as well as many other items created by Nebraska artists.

We invite you to come to the Museum Store at 15th & P Streets, Lincoln, or call Kris Riggs at 471-3447 or 1-800-833-6747, if you are interested in more information about these titles or other Museum Store items. Remember your volunteer discount!

Thanks For Your Continued Support!

Our sincerest thanks to the docents and volunteers who have made our spring tour season, summer workshops, continued patron service support, completion of research projects, and data entry projects such a success! We absolutely could not do all of these things without you! Your continued support in assisting us to fulfill our mission to "safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past" is very much appreciated. We can't tell you enough how much you mean to us. THANKS!!!

New Volunteer Faces

Jane Harrison, Museum Store

Lucy Lenk, Ford Center

Janet McCrae, Ford Center

Christina Radda, Ford Center

Katie Riggs, Museum Store

Barbara Ziegenbein, Administration

Calendar of Events

Now, through May 31, 2000: Dearly Beloved: Gifts and Gowns from Nebraska Weddings, exhibit open
Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

July 1: Road Trip! Vacation exhibit opens
NSHS Headquarters, Lincoln, Nebraska

July 3-5: Ford Center closed

July 4: 4th of July holiday
Museum of Nebraska History and historic sites open

July 5: Headquarters and offices closed
Museum of Nebraska History and historic sites open

July 14: Volunteer Program
9:30-10:30, Volunteer Program; 11:00-12:00, Volunteer Program; 12:00, Potluck Luncheon; Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

July 15: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

August 19: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

August 27-September 6: Nebraska State Fair

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 17 August 1999

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