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NSHS Volunteer News

May/June 2002

American flag graphic Thanks NSHS Volunteers!
We couldn't do it without you!

The NSHS staff extends our sincere thanks and appreciation to our volunteers for the many ways that each of you assists us in preserving and interpreting Nebraska's history. As Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."

Volunteer Appreciation

The NSHS invites all volunteers to an appreciation on May 8 at 2:00 p.m. at the Rococo Theatre, 140 North Thirteenth Street, Lincoln. A program and refreshments will be provided.

The event is an opportunity to congratulate and thank the many volunteers who assist the Society in carrying out its mission "to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past and make it accessible in ways that enrich present and future generations." Please RSVP to Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 by May 1.
 Volunteer Spotlight on Lincoln Camera Club

Lincoln Camera Club members Larry Wells
and Don Hogg cleaning glass plate negatives.

photo of volunteers at work

Camera Club and Photo Collection Meet

The volunteer spotlight focus is on the Lincoln Camera Club. Beginning in January, club members met every Friday afternoon to clean glass plate negatives. The negatives are from a Palisade, Nebraska, studio collection, and were recently donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

The Lincoln Camera Club has been in existence for more than fifty years. Club members meet twice a month on the first and third Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., Gere Library, 2400 S. fifty-sixth Street, Lincoln. The club is involved in civic opportunities including serving as judges for the annual photo contest hosted by Lincoln's Agency on Aging. The club also has a print and slide exchange with members of a camera club from Lincoln, England. The Lincoln Camera Club is a member of the North Central Camera Club Council (N4C) and the national organization of the Photographic Society of America (PSA).

Monthly programs feature guest speakers who are involved in photography. The organization promotes photography to both amateurs and professionals. Once a month the club holds a friendly photo contest among its membership. Items judged include slides, black and white, and color prints. For further information about the Lincoln Camera Club contact Don McKibben, Jr., at 474-2702.

Club members participating in cleaning the Palisade glass plate negative collection include: Claudius Shoniwa, Don Hogg, Jim Kendrick, Dennis Gaibler, Luna Tsang, Elva Osten, Leland Osten, Yvonne Nelson, James Sahs, Larry Wells, and Karin Andersen.

The project, which was recently completed, will be a great benefit to the Society photo collection, as well as providing a wonderful resource to researchers. We are pleased to have such a capable and enthusiastic group assist with this project.

Nebraska History Recorded for Nebraskans with Visual or Physical Impairment

In a letter dated December 3, 1969, Marvin F. Kivett, then director of the Nebraska State Historical Society, granted formal permission to the Nebraska Library Commission to reproduce Nebraska History "solely for use of the blind or handicapped." Since that date, Library Commission volunteer narrators and staff have faithfully recorded this publication in the commission's studios for free distribution to individuals unable to use regular print because of visual or physical impairment.

Nebraska History is one of sixteen magazines and newsletters of regional interest now produced in the studios of the Library Commission's Talking Book and Braille Service. A corps of volunteers also records twenty to twenty-five books per year, most of which are written by Nebraskans or about Nebraska. This recording effort supplements the resources provided by the Library of Congress / National Library Service, which are also circulated statewide through the Talking Book and Braille Service.

Nebraska became the twenty-eighth talking book library in the Library of Congress / National Library Service nationwide network of cooperating libraries. Prior to this designation, visually impaired Nebraskans received service through a regional center at the Denver Public Library.

Today, with a collection of 49,000 titles, mostly on cassette, the Library Commission provides free talking books and magazines on cassette and in Braille to more than 4,600 Nebraskans with visual or physical impairment. As the Talking Book and Braille Service celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, the Society is pleased to have provided Nebraska History in support of the program and we look forward to our continued partnership.

Videographers Needed

See our Brown Bag lectures from a new perspective ­ via a video camera. Learn what goes on behind the scenes during videotaping of our Brown Bag lectures by joining the video crew. We need volunteers to work as camera operators for the NSHS lectures.

The NSHS Brown Bag lectures are held on the third Thursday of the month, and are presented in the Elmer E. Blackman Auditorium at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln, from noon to one o'clock. Training will be provided.

The lectures are aired on Lincoln Cablevision on government public access channel five and also loaned on videotape through the Museum of Nebraska History.

Contact Deb McWilliams for more information at 471-4955.

Spinning, Weaving, and Needlework at Norris House

During the month of June, the George W. Norris State Historic Site will host a spinning, weaving, and needlework display. Examples of tatting, counted cross-stitch, quilting, weaving, and many other needlecrafts are planned. The "Norris women," including George Norris's mother, Mary Mook Norris; his first wife, Pluma; second wife, Ellie; and daughters Hazel, Marian, and Gertrude, were skilled at redwork embroidery, crochet, ric-rac lace, and quilting. The work by the "Norris women" supplements many related items from local collections and artisans. The Norris house, with its original furnishings, is a perfect backdrop for this needlework exhibit.

The exhibit can be viewed during the hours of 9:30-12 and 1-5 Tuesday through Saturday, at 706 Norris Avenue, McCook. For further information about the exhibit contact Linda Hein at 308-345-8484.

Soldier Journalism in the First Nebraska Regiment, 1861-64.

Society volunteers who serve as docents are probably familiar with a rare artifact of Nebraska's Civil War history. It is the January 31, 1862, issue of The First Nebraska Volunteer (perhaps the only issue), which was a small newspaper published by some member of the regiment when it was stationed at Georgetown, Missouri. The paper is on display in the Civil War section of Nebraska Joins the Union. (I noticed that the label mistakenly says the paper was published in Mississippi.) The editor gave his name only as "Provy," but he was certainly a member of the regiment. The civilian editor in Georgetown had fled the war, leaving behind the mostly intact newspaper office. It's doubtful whether another issue of The First Nebraska Volunteer was published, because the regiment left Georgetown on February 3, 1862.
Recently I discovered that another, probably equally short-lived, newspaper was published in early 1864 by several Nebraska soldiers when the regiment was stationed at Batesville, Arkansas. By then, it was the First Nebraska Cavalry, and its colonel, Robert R. Livingston, was commander of the District of Northeast Arkansas. The paper was the Batesville Bazzoo and the only known issue is that of February 6, 1864. It is vol. 1, no. 2, so at least one earlier issue was published. The surviving copy is at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. "Bazoo" is slang for mouth, a not inappropriate name for a newspaper.
  Soldier journalism of this type was sporadic at best, and may have been a way for the "editors" to relieve the monotony of military life. Yet these little papers probably helped improve the soldiers' morale, not so much for the news they contained, but as a familiar reminder of the civilian society they had left behind.

-Jim Potter

Archeology Dig Planned

The Archeology Division, of the Nebraska State Historical Society will be conducting two projects this spring in the Omaha area. The first is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Roads and will involve excavations at the territorial townsite of Rockport. A small portion of Old Rockport will be damaged during improvement of a county road. Excavations will focus on determining the locations of former homes, commercial buildings, and related features. Research questions that can be addressed involve architecture, subsistence, and technology. Rockport contains a Native American occupation (circa A.D. 1000-1400) that will also be investigated. The area under investigation is also the approximate location of Manuel Lisa's early nineteenth-century trading post. To date, archeological ruins associated with this important historic site have not been identified. The Archeology Division will be working with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archeological Field School on this project.

We are sorry to report that due to adverse environmental conditions at the dig site, this event for Society volunteers has been cancelled, as of May 14th, 2002.
The Archeology Division will sponsor a dig at Old Rockport for Society volunteers only on Saturday, June 8 (rain day, June 15). The cost is thirty dollars per person, and space is limited to thirty people. Those participating should be prepared to deal with mosquitoes and poison ivy. If interested, contact Michelle Furby at 402-471-4760.

The Archeology Division will also be conducting a surface survey of five thousand acres of Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties. The goal of this project is to gain a firmer grasp on the archeological resources in the Omaha area that may be threatened by future urban expansion. Field efforts will focus on creek valleys south of Papillion and along the Missouri River from Florence to Ft. Calhoun. The project is a joint effort of the Archeology Division and the State Historic Preservation Office.

Eric Bachenberg, Mary Lienemann, and Glen
Carmen sporting period dress for the opening night
of "Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916."

photo of volunteers in costume Building the State Opening a Success

Over three hundred people braved a late winter storm to take part in the grand opening celebration of Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916 on statehood day, March 1. Secretary of State John Gale, Lincoln Mayor Don Wesely, and Society Director Larry Sommer presided over the joint 135th birthday party for Nebraska and exhibit opening.

In addition to a first look at the new exhibit, visitors enjoyed numerous children's activities, music provided by strolling minstrel Chris Sayre, and birthday cakes that featured historic photos from the Society's collections. If you missed the grand opening don't worry, Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916, the newest permanent gallery at the Museum of Nebraska History, is open for viewing 9:00-4:30, Monday-Friday and 1:00-4:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Bring your family and walk through a life-size sod house, visit the Goehner Brothers General Store, listen to songs from the turn-of-the-century, crank a coffee-grinder, hoist a sad iron, practice your penmanship on a slate, and learn about the decisions Nebraskans made while they were building a state from scratch.

photo of volunteer in front of sod house For group tours or more information call 402-471-4754 or visit the Society website at

Mary Lienemann in front of the sod house featured in
the "Building the State: Nebraska, 1867-1916" exhibit.

Brown Bag Lectures at Museum

Join us on the third Thursday of May and June for the Society's free Brown bag lecture series at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. The lectures begin at noon ­ so bring your lunch.

On May 16, Clarice Carlson Orr of Lincoln will present "Kitchens of Our Cultures: From Smorgasbord and Sauerbraten to Fajitas and Falafel." Plan also to attend the June 20 lecture featuring "Beef in Nebraska," presented by Gail DiDonato, professor of history, University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Lincoln Westerners

The Lincoln Corral of Westerners invites you to become a member and attend their programs. Westerners International was founded in Chicago in 1944. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the history of the American West.

The Lincoln Westerners meet monthly at the Holiday Inn, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, beginning with a social period at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:00, followed by a program at 8:00.

Upcoming programs include: May 10, Steve Nosal, "The History of Lincoln's Sunken Gardens." The June meeting date and location is yet to be announced.

For further information about the Lincoln Corral of Westerners and reservations (required), call Margaret Allington at 488-5698.

New Volunteers

Ernie Arrigo, research & publications

Leoda Davis, museum store

Toni Hamersky, research & publications

Crystal Harris, administration

Jim Kendrick, library/archives

Robin McClanahan, library/archives

Molly McGath, library/archives

Beverly Stammler, library/archives

Coke Wolthuis, museum store

Dick Young, library/archives

Calendar of Events

May 8: Volunteer Appreciation
2:00, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

May 10: Lincoln Westerners Meeting
6:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, Nebraska 

May 12: Mothers Day

May 16: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

May 27: Memorial Day
In observance of Memorial Day, headquarters offices and the Gerald R. Ford Center in Omaha will be closed Monday, May 27. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Cather and Neihardt) will be open. Call for holiday hours at the Cather Site (402-746-2653) and the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388).

June 7: NSHS Board of Trustees Meeting
Bancroft, Nebraska

June 16: Fathers Day

June 20: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

July 4: Independence Day
In observance of Independence Day, headquarters offices, the Ford Center, and the Library/Archives will be closed Thursday, July 4. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Cather and Neihardt) will be open July 4. Call for holiday hours at the Cather and Neihardt Sites.

"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."

Membership Makes A Great Gift

Looking for that special holiday gift that keeps on giving all year long? How about a membership in the Nebraska State Historical Society? Recipients of the gift will receive Nebraska History, a quarterly magazine devoted to the story of Nebraska's past; bimonthly newsletters; information about upcoming events; and discounts on publications and items purchased at Society museum stores.

The cost for a membership is outlined here. Membership makes a great gift, and helps the Society fulfill its mission to safeguarding and interpreting Nebraska's past. Thank you for joining!

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 12 April 2002

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