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NSHS Volunteer News

November/December 2001

 Volunteer Spotlight on Phyllis Fischer

photo of Phyllis Fischer Want to know more about being a docent? Phyllis Fischer, a sixteen-year veteran, is more than ready to share her experiences. Her enthusiasm for the program, knowledge of the exhibits, and interest in helping young people is evident in the big smile that she projects when she arrives to give a tour. She began volunteering for NSHS in the Museum Store, but soon found that she wanted to work with teachers and students as a docent.

Recalling her first tour, Phyllis was a little unsure if she was ready, but afterwards the teacher and students assured her that she had done a fine job, and extended their thanks. Phyllis says she learns with each group, and hopes that she has touched the kids in a meaningful way. She reminds the students that history can be fun and after a tour with Phyllis, the students agree.

In addition to her work as a docent, Phyllis has volunteered for the Society at the Nebraska State Fair, assisted with workshops for kids at the museum, and participated in the Pastimes and Playthings festival at the Thomas P. Kennard House. When asked what it is she enjoys most about volunteering at NSHS, she remarked, "It is challenging and interesting, I love the people, and I always get thanked." She finds that the programs provided for volunteers and the Brown Bag lecture series are informative and enjoyable.

Phyllis's philosophy about volunteering is that "it is rewarding, exciting, and you constantly learn and have the opportunity to work with kids." NSHS staff who work with Phyllis say, "she is wonderful to work with. She is an incredibly dedicated and flexible person who loves history and kids. We are very fortunate that she has been one of our docents for so many years."

Prior to volunteering at the Society, Phyllis was a den mother, Girl Scout leader, 4-H leader, the Cotner Center program activities director, and worked at Miller and Paine and with a food service and catering business. Her interests include her porcelain doll collection, putting together her four dollhouses, and anything Victorian. In her spare time, she and her husband Lee travel extensively.

To Phyllis, we say "Thank you for your contributions as a docent." Your service and talents mean a great deal to the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Nebraskans Help Develop a National Program
for Discovering History

Do you know the history of your local school? Your favorite movie theater? Your favorite park? How do you begin to find out? PATHWAYS: Discovering Your Connections to History, a project of the American Association for State and Local History, is designed to outline the exciting process of discovery and uncovering of our community histories. Nebraskans and NSHS staff members are helping to develop this new program as authors and as a pilot site.

Barbara W. Sommer, professional oral historian of Lincoln, chaired one of four PATHWAYS program committees with members John Schleicher, NSHS coordinator of education and statewide services, Karen Stanley, curriculum specialist for Social Studies in the Lincoln Public Schools, and Suzanne Ratzlaff educator at Heartland Community Schools, Henderson, Nebraska, along with museum educators from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York. Their Museum Children's Program committee created a chapter in the PATHWAYS guide entitled "Creating History PATHWAYS for Children." This chapter includes lesson plans, tips, and resource guidance to help youth discover the historic buildings in their lives.

A companion booklet for the PATHWAYS program features chapters on how to use specific primary resources such as immigrant records, folklore, cemeteries, and photographs among others. For this booklet, Barbara W. Sommer and Mary Kay Quinlan, Ph.D., a freelance journalist and oral historian from Lincoln, authored a chapter entitled, "Finding Pathways Through Oral History."

In October, NSHS partnered with the F Street Recreation Center to conduct a pilot program of "PATHWAYS for Children." Eighteen 10 to12 year olds researched the history of three buildings, which are a big part of their lives: their recreation center and the two schools they attend. With the help of NSHS staff and volunteers, city historians, and elders, the youth received training in historical research and interpretation and did primary research to discover the stories of these buildings. The youth will continue to develop their interpretation of these histories, and in January and March, will create a video documentary. A special showing of this documentary will take place in the spring of 2002. For more information about Nebraskans activities in the PATHWAYS project, contact Jessica Stoner, 402-471-4757.

Holidays Past at the Society

The holidays are drawing near, and once again the Museum of Nebraska History at Fifteenth and P streets, Lincoln, will be decorated for the season, November 23-December 28, 2001. The Carson Parlor will depict an 1860s Nebraska Territorial Christmas, complete with tabletop tree, toys, and gifts. The World War II living room and the Halligan Dollhouse will also feature seasonal decorations. A tree with a toy theme will accompany the special exhibit, Nebraska Toy Stories. Two vintage sleighs will also be on view. Museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9-4:30; Saturday 9-5; Sunday, 1:30-5.

Building the State Exhibit Update

Construction continues on Building the State, the new permanent exhibit at the Museum of Nebraska History. Exhibits department carpenters are now installing exhibit panels and laminating bases for artifact cases, and the first two shipments of Plexiglas case covers have been received. Artist Curt Peacock is busy fabricating custom mounts for many of the more than seven hundred artifacts that will be included in the exhibit. Tour training for docents began in October, with sessions to be held monthly until the opening. Watch the Volunteer Newsletter for more information on the upcoming grand opening.

Please note that the general store on third floor of the Museum of Nebraska History will close October 15, 2001, for relocation to the new Building the State exhibit.

New Office Space Focus of November Volunteer Program

NSHS Archeology and Historic Preservation staff is moving to the third floor of the Lincoln Children's Museum. Join us on Wednesday, November 14, for a tour of the new office space and learn more about what goes on in these divisions.

The program will begin at the 10:30 A.M. in the Gilmore Room at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets. We will then walk across the street to tour the new offices of the Archeology and Historic Preservation divisions. A potluck lunch will follow in the Gilmore Room.

We welcome all volunteers to the program and bring your favorite potluck dish. Please contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955 regarding your attendance.

Museum Store Appreciation Day

To show our appreciation to volunteers and staff, the Nebraska State Historical Society has designated Tuesday, November 27, as "Appreciation Day." Volunteers and staff will receive twenty-five percent off museum store purchases. This is a great time to make holiday purchases, or to simply remember yourself.

Purchases may be made at any of our museum stores, including those at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln; the Fort Robinson Museum near Crawford; the Chimney Rock National Historic Site near Bayard; the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site in McCook; the Neligh Mill State Historic Site in Neligh, and the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha.

Volunteers Wanted For Victorian Holidays Past

The Thomas P. Kennard House, a Society historic site at 1627 H in Lincoln, will celebrate Victorian Holidays Past, featuring Victorian toys, decorations, and historic photographs, Saturday, November 24, through Saturday, December 29. The house will be open 9-12 and 1-4:30, Tuesday-Saturday. There will be an open house on Sunday, December 16, from 1 to 5, with free admission. Also that afternoon, Eastlake Manor, 720 South Sixteenth, and the Atwood House, 740 South Seventeenth, both in the same neighborhood, will be decorated for the holidays. Visitors will be welcomed from 1 to 5 with no admission charged.

Volunteer assistance is needed on November 20 to decorate the Kennard House in preparation for the upcoming holiday. Assistance is also needed on December 16 from 1:00-5:00 P.M. for the open house.

For additional information on the holiday event, decorating, and open house contact John Lindahl at 402-471-4764.

Sergeant Floyd's Grave

Historic graves provide a tangible connection to people and events significant in our history. Those of us who visited the final resting place of Forty-niner George Winslow during the recent Society bus tour perhaps paused to reflect upon the many hardships overland emigrants endured. Another grave symbolic of courage and a willingness to risk the unknown lies just beyond Nebraska's border, yet we can rightfully claim it as a link to our own history, forever altered by one of the great endeavors in the nation's past. It is the grave of Sgt. Charles Floyd, the only expedition member to die during Lewis and Clark's arduous trek from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast and back in 1804-06.

Floyd died August 20, 1804, probably from a ruptured appendix, as the expedition ascended the Missouri River just below present Sioux City, Iowa. The men of the Corps of Discovery buried the twenty-two-year-old soldier on a high hill overlooking the river, marking the grave with a cedar post. They named the bluff and a nearby stream after the unfortunate sergeant. Later travelers up the Missouri, including several artists, recorded the grave, helping insure the site would not be lost. About 1900, a large stone obelisk was erected at the grave. Today Floyd's Bluff and the gravesite is a park maintained by the city of Sioux City, easily accessible from US Highway 75 at Glenn Avenue. The park provides several interpretive signs about the expedition and a good view of the Missouri River and its valley, obviously much altered from the historic scene of nearly two centuries ago. For more about the Corps of Discovery's activities in this part of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota,, see Gary Moulton's article, "Lewis and Clark on the Middle Missouri," Nebraska History 81 (Fall 2000).

Jim Potter

Volunteer Needed for Indexing Project

In 2000, the NSHS Library/Archives division turned over to NEGenWeb, a database of over one hundred fifty thousand entries from indexing completed for Nebraska newspapers. (See This was the result of a project that developed in the 1980s. As part of a much earlier phase of this project volunteers were given old original Nebraska newspapers that they could index in their own homes. (The newspapers had been microfilmed by the historical society). Recently a former volunteer from this project returned to me some original newspapers that she was unable to index. These are now available for indexing by another volunteer. The indexing will be added to the database already available at the above site. If you are interested in this indexing project contact Cindy S. Drake at 471-4786 or Thank you.

Plattsmouth Evening News, March and April 1899, 1901
Plattsmouth Journal, 1903, 1908, Miscellaneous issues from 1905 and 1907
Plattsmouth Daily Herald, Jan-Jul 1892

Brown Bag Lectures

Please join us on November 15 and December 20 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 November 15, Marcee Baker, director of the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, will present "Bess Streeter Aldrich." Deborah Long, objects conservator, at the Society's Ford Conservation Center, will speak about "Conservation of the USS Nebraska Silver" on December 20.

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:

November 8, Shannon Calitri, "The Fetterman Massacre"

December 13, Jan Ross, "Christmas Traditions of Germans from Russia"

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

New Volunteers

Gwen Bedient, museum

Donna Martin, library/archives

Heather Olson, library/archives

Lauren Owens, museum

Traci Robison, archeology

Barbara Weaver, library/archives and museum

Calendar of Events

November 8: Lincoln Westerners
6:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, Nebraska

November 12: Veterans' Day
Note: In observance of Veterans' Day
Society headquarters and the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center in Omaha will be closed Monday, November 12. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Neihardt and Cather) will be closed November 11 and 12. Call for holiday hours at the Neihardt Site (402-648-3388) and Cather Site (402-746-2653).

November 14: Volunteer Program
10:30, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

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

November 20: Decorate Kennard House
Nebraska Statehood Memorial, 1627 H Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

November 22 and 23: Thanksgiving Holiday
Note: In observance of Thanksgiving
Society headquarters and the Ford Center will be closed Thursday, November 22, through Sunday, November 25. The Museum of Nebraska History will be closed November 22, and the Historic Sites (except Neihardt and Cather) will be closed November 22 and 23. For holiday hours at Neihardt and Cather, call as above.

November 23-December 28: Victorian Holidays Past
Nebraska Statehood Memorial, 1627 H Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

November 27: Museum Store Appreciation Day
10-4:30, Museum of Nebraska History, Lincoln, Nebraska

December 13: Lincoln Westerners
6:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, Ninth and P streets, Lincoln, Nebraska

December 16: Victorian Holidays Past, Open House
1-5 p.m., Thomas P. Kennard House, Nebraska Statehood Memorial, 1627 H Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

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

December 25: Christmas Day
Note: In observance of the holidays
Society headquarters and the Ford Center will be closed Tuesday, December 25, and Tuesday, January 1, 2002. The Museum of Nebraska History and the Historic Sites (except Neihardt and Cather) will be closed December 25 and January 1. For holiday hours at Neihardt and Cather, call as above.

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 15 October 2001

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