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NSHS Volunteer News

May/June 2003

 Volunteer Spotlight on Jackie SabatkaJackie Sabatka photo

In 1990 Jackie Sabatka was reading the Sunday newspaper and saw a notice seeking docents to give tours at the Museum of Nebraska History. She responded, and the Society continues to enjoy her talents today.

Jackie has always had an interest in Nebraska and Plains history. As she recalled, "When the Society's museum was at the state capitol, I would walk through the capitol and look at the exhibits on my way to work."

Jackie indicated that, "as a docent I enjoy the opportunity to meet people and share history, especially with school children." For her, one of the best things about volunteering is "the opportunity to learn from the training that is provided and the bus tours. My experience as a volunteer has broadened my knowledge of the state's history and its resources."

When she isn't volunteering Jackie manages the Valparaiso Senior Center, teaches piano, and is an organist at her church. She is also involved in the Valparaiso Women's Club and the Farmerettes Club. Her other love and interest is travel.

In getting to know Jackie, I have come to see her as a person who takes a keen interest in her children and grandchildren--family is very important to her. She shares her love of history and other interests with her family by inviting them on trips and going to concerts. "I also love to take my grandchildren on crane watches--we try to go each year the day after Easter." Jackie has four children and nine grandchildren, with another grandchild arriving in July.

Jackie's long-term service to the Society and her willingness to encourage others to volunteer certainly will leave a legacy that her family can be proud of. Through her volunteer work she exemplifies service to others. Thanks, Jackie, for your commitment to NSHS!

Celebrating NSHS Volunteers

The Nebraska State Historical Society invites all volunteers and staff to attend a Volunteer Appreciation on Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at 3:00 p.m., at the Van Brunt Visitors Center/Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, 313 North Thirteenth Street, Lincoln. Event highlights include a brief program, tour of the visitors center/media arts center, and dessert.

The event is an opportunity for us to thank and congratulate Society volunteers who have contributed numerous hours of service to assist in carrying out the Society's mission. Volunteers are one of the Society's greatest resources. Please RSVP by May 1, to Lana at 471-3272.

Hats off to Our Docents

With the increase in our docent corps from ten to twenty-six, this spring we are able to offer guided tours to all groups. Last year we could offer tours only on certain days of the week. Thanks to each docent "old" and "new" for your dedication and hard work. The experienced docents have conducted our model tours, and it has been terrific to watch the new docents grow in their knowledge, skills, and confidence.

This spring the docents have also implemented "Great Tours," a new series of thematic tours. Themes allow teachers to make informed choices on focusing their tour when they visit the museum. This year's theme choices include, for First Nebraskans, Resourceful Peoples, Unique Peoples, and Remarkable Relationships; and for Building the State, State Essentials, Everyday Life, Nebraska Agriculture, and Using the Land. We look forward to the teacher and docent feedback on these themes. Hats off to the docents!

New Workshops for Kids

This summer we are offering a series of four Making History Workshops for groups of six to twelve children in grades one through five. These workshops are an hour long and are booked like tours, Monday through Friday, during regular museum hours, June 9 - August 22, 2003. In each workshop children will go on a thirty-minute tour with a docent and then spend thirty-minutes in the History Workshop--our new classroom--making a craft version of one or two objects they saw during their tour. The cost per child is $3. The four workshop titles are American Indians, Pioneer Peoples, Everyday Life, 1867-1916, and Home Front Kids of World War II. For more information about the Making History Workshops, please call the museum office, 471-4754, or visit the Historical Society's Making History Workshops webpage.

Education Intern

We are pleased to have Amanda Ray, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln museum studies graduate student, with us this summer as our Making History Workshop coordinator. Amanda is a familiar face around the museum, having recently completed docent training. For her internship, Amanda will work in the education department with Museum Educator Jessica Stoner, designing and implementing the Making History Workshops. Welcome, Amanda!

Docents up for New Challenge

Our Making History Workshop leaders this summer will be our docents. Participating docents will complete two sessions of training in late May and early June and then will be ready to lead these workshops. We look forward to this new adventure with the docents and the chance to work with them year round. Thank you, docents!

Sheldon and the Society

Addison E. Sheldon, who led the Nebraska State Historical Society from 1917 to 1943, was a pivotal figure in our history. When he became superintendent (as Society directors were called then), the Society had no easily accessible museum, published no magazine, and did little public outreach. By the time Sheldon died in 1943 at age eighty-two, a publicly-oriented Society museum had been open in the state capitol for a decade, a bill to raise funds for the Society's own building had been passed by the legislature, and Nebraska History magazine was completing its twenty-fifth year under his editorship. In many ways Sheldon was the bridge from the small, somewhat elitist and antiquarian State Historical Society of the late nineteenth century to the "modern" Society that emerged with the directorship of James C. Olson (1946-56) and the opening of the R street building in 1953.

Although he was somewhat younger than the Society's founders, men such as Robert W. Furnas and J. Sterling Morton, Sheldon resembled them in having lived through much of Nebraska's "pioneer" period. He grew up on a Seward County homestead, filed his own homestead claim in Cherry County in the 1880s, and edited a Chadron newspaper in the 1890s. He covered the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre and was elected to the 1897 legislature on the Populist ticket.

Sheldon was forty-one when he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska in 1902. Although he worked for the Society between 1901 and 1911, he left in the latter year and did not return until he was appointed superintendent in 1917. Two years later he earned a doctorate from Columbia University. His dissertation was published as Land Systems and Land Policies in Nebraska, volume twenty-two in the Society's Publications series. It remains a significant work on the subject.

Perhaps Sheldon's greatest legacy was his success in broadening the Society's reach and promoting the importance of history to the public. He founded Nebraska History magazine, authored numerous books and articles (many aimed at school children), and gave hundreds of talks. He arranged for a Society exhibit car to tour Nebraska via the Burlington Railroad in 1928, which attracted some 180,000 visitors. He promoted marking historic sites and organizing county historical societies. During his tenure Nebraska history went on the radio, the Society became a leader in Great Plains archeology, and notable collections were acquired, such as the Eli S. Ricker interviews about Indian wars in the West. During the Depression Sheldon oversaw a dramatic expansion of Society functions with workers provided under federal New Deal programs.

Sheldon was not without his idiosyncrasies. He is the only superintendent/director to write poetry and then have the nerve to publish it frequently in the magazine he edited. I will conclude this glimpse at one of the Nebraska State Historical Society's most memorable figures with a few stanzas from his poem about the Lewis and Clark centennial:

A hundred years ago a rude sail tent was set
By the Missouri's flood-far frontier, wild and rough;
Beneath its shade the white and red men met,
Struck hands, smoked pipe-and named it Council Bluff.

The curious catbird's querulous question-note
Challenged the invaders of his solitude;
The warning from the wildwood warbler's throat
Hushed the harsh clamor of her startled brood.

Beneath the bluff the river beat its breast,
Mad that its mystery should so soon be told;
Beyond-the boundless prairie stretching west
Mimicked the August sun with disks of gold.

Those who would like to read the remaining six stanzas can find the poem on p.192 of Nebraska History 18 (1937).

--Jim Potter


Food Products

Nebraska's entrepreneurial spirit is alive with Nebraska-made food items. These products make great gifts, are fun to share with friends, or simply to enjoy yourself.

Sandhills Jelly, made with 100 percent juice and a variety of fresh chili peppers available in Grape-Peach Habanero, Raspberry Jalapeno, and Berry Serrano.

Sandhills Salsa, available in medium or hot.

Mustard from the South Side (south of the Platte River), this mustard is a combination of both sweet and spicy. Available in Original and Spicy Hot. 

Country Barn Harvest Soup Mix, colorful layers of dried vegetables, grains, spices and seasonings are packaged in a mason jar.

Peppered Buffalo Steak Jerky sticks.

June's Cornbread Mix, packaged in assorted gingham bags.


Fort Robinson and the American West 1874-1899, by Thomas R. Buecker, now available in paperback.

The Lewis and Clark Journals, An American Epic of Discovery, The Abridgment of the Definitive Nebraska Edition, edited and with an introduction by Gary E. Moulton.

Historic Railroads of Nebraska, by Michael M. Bartels and James J. Reisdorff.


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

E-mail Endeavor

In an effort to better serve Society volunteers, we would like you to provide us with e-mail addresses. We recognize that not everyone uses e-mail, but for those who do, we would like to update our files. E-mail is becoming a tool that the Historical Society often uses to communicate information about events, volunteer activities, discounts, and programming.

E-mail addresses can be sent to, Lana provides assistance to the volunteer program through data and record keeping. Thanks for helping us to stay in touch with you. Please be assured that your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone outside of the Society.

Brown Bag Lectures

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 noon­bring your lunch and learn something new.

On May 15 John Carter, senior research associate at NSHS, will present "Yesterday's Tomorrows: Nebraska's Visionary Thinkers." Everyone has wondered what the future will look like, and Nebraskans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were no different. Through research funded in part by a Nebraska Humanities Council grant, Carter has been exploring how yesterday's Nebraskans envisioned their tomorrows, and he will reveal several of their stories, ranging from the wild and wacky to the eerily prescient.

Plan also to attend the June 19 lecture, featuring "Eli Ricker: Conduit to History," presented by Dick Jensen, senior research anthropologist at NSHS. Eli S. Ricker, a Chadron, Nebraska, judge and newspaper editor in the early twentieth century, interviewed participants-both Indian and white-in the Indian Wars of the late nineteenth century. His interviews, 5,500 handwritten pages, are one of the finest collections in existence of first-person accounts of conditions and battles on the Plains. Never before fully available to the public, the interviews have been transcribed, edited, and annotated by Richard Jensen, and will soon be released in a two-volume edition by the University of Nebraska Press.

New Faces

Tom Adams, library/archives

Mel Antrim, museum store

Yunju Kim, library/archives

Martha Miller, library/archives

Patrick Morgans, Ford Center

Kevin Obrist, library/archives

Brandon Rice, museum

Robert Ridder, Ford Center

Calendar of Events
May 2003

May 1: May Day

May 11: Mother's Day

May 14: *Volunteer Appreciation
3:00 pm, 313 North Thirteenth Street, Lincoln. (see article above)

May 15: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00 noon, Lincoln

May 26: Memorial Day Observed
(see note below)

June 2003

June 14: Flag Day
Fly your flag!!

June 15: Father's Day

June 19: Brown Bag Lecture
12:00 noon, Lincoln

June 21: Summer begins

July 2003

July 4: Independence Day
(see note below)

(*Location other than the Museum of Nebraska History)

Note: In observance of Memorial Day, Society headquarters, NSHS offices in the Lincoln Children's Museum, and the Ford Center will be closed Monday, May 26. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites operated by the NSHS will be open. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388) and Cather Site (402-746-2653).

In observance of Independence Day, Society headquarters, NSHS offices in the Lincoln Children's Museum, and the Ford Center will be closed Friday, July 4. The Library/Archives will be closed Saturday, July 5. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites operated by the NSHS will be open. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site and Cather Site as above.

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"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 18 April 2003

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