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NSHS Volunteer News

September/October 2002

 Volunteer Spotlight on Scott Argabright

Scott Argabright
In March of 1999, Scott Argabright began volunteering at NSHS with the Library/Archives Division. Because of his interest in genealogy he sought an opportunity with the library to hone his research skills. As a volunteer, Scott responds to correspondence received by the Society from individuals requesting research assistance. Using his keen research abilities he pursues requests for obituaries, census records, naturalization records, and military records, to name a few. His finds are then conveyed to the person making the request. In the last fiscal year the Society received 3,700 written requests for information, which makes Scott's assistance in this area invaluable.

Scott is committed to volunteering each Friday. He enjoys volunteering at NSHS because "it is just a great place." He went on to say, "One of the things I enjoy is finding information that makes me appreciate Nebraska history more. I have learned a lot about doing research because it is important to my personal research, and this is a great place to work on hot days."

Scott worked for the federal government prior to volunteering at NSHS. He was employed by the Soil Conservation Service as a regional agronomist, providing technical support for twelve states. Scott explained that he was the link between agronomists in the twelve states and the Washington, D.C office. Scott also served as past president of the Lincoln-Lancaster Genealogical Society. When he isn't volunteering you can find Scott and his friends at city or private golf courses. They are looking forward to playing the new Arbor Links golf course at Nebraska City.

Scott believes "when you reach retirement you need to do something useful [like volunteering], but have the ability to be flexible." According to the staff, "Scott is one of our most dedicated, likeable, and hard working volunteers, ever -- we can't even get him to take a lunch break."

Event Planned at Ford Center

The Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees cordially invites you to attend a special event, Thursday, September 12, 2002, at 7:30 p.m., at the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, 1326 South Thirty-second Street, Omaha, Nebraska. Dessert and beverages will be served.

A program by Thomas R Buecker, "The Untold Stories of Fort Robinson" will follow a brief business meeting and presentation of annual Society awards. A reception and tours of the Ford Center will follow the program.

To register for the event contact Deb McWilliams at 402-471-4955 by September 5, 2002. Registration is $10 per person.

New Exhibit Opens October 1
Still Making the Best Better: 100 Years of 4-H in Nebraska

Due to the airconditioning system failure at the Museum of Nebraska History, the 4-H exhibit had to be cancelled. Look for an on-line feature with 4-H history coming soon to our website.

A new exhibit exploring the development of 4-H in Nebraska, and its continued importance in the lives of many Nebraska families, will open October 1 at the Museum of Nebraska history, Fifteenth and P Streets, Lincoln. Hundreds of artifacts and photographs from NSHS collections and from the collections of former and current 4-H members, are showcased in this exhibit. It includes projects completed as early as the 1930s, stories and artifacts from Nebraska participants in 4-H international exchange programs, and photographs and memories of 4-H members past and present. The exhibit is scheduled to run through the end of 2003. For more information, contact Deb Arenz at 471-4759.

Early McCook Through a Doctor's Eyes

McCook will be one of the stops on the fall tour for volunteers, where we will visit the Senator George W. Norris House. Aside from its connection with Nebraska's distinguished senator, McCook has a rich history dating from its founding by the Lincoln Land Company in the spring of 1882. Barely three years later, young Dr. Byron B. Davis arrived to join four other physicians practicing in the bustling town of about two thousand. From his arrival in May 1885 until his marriage two years later, Davis wrote regularly to his fiancé, Sopha Myers, describing in detail his experiences as a doctor and his impressions of McCook's social and political life. Dr. John B. Davis edited these fascinating letters for publication in the summer 1986 issue of Nebraska History, and you might like to read them in advance of the tour. Copies of the magazine are available in the Library/Archives reference room at Society headquarters.

In the beginning, Davis took any and all cases to build up his practice, including treating snakebites and alcoholic coma. Often he treated patients after the more established physicians had given up hope. Many of his patients were children suffering from diseases such as diptheria, measles, or pneumonia. Hot summer weather in those pre-air-conditioned days seemed to increase the mortality, but Davis lost few patients. He also treated accident victims and once amputated a man's leg, which had been crushed by a falling tree. Like other doctors of his day, Davis frequently traveled long hours by horse and buggy in all kinds of weather to reach the sick in rural areas. He provided details on these cases and more in his letters to Sopha Myers.

At the end of his first year, Davis reported his cash income above expenses as $900, and predicted the next year would be even better. He purchased town lots as an investment and began building the house he and his bride would occupy after their marriage. Although the house would cost some $2,000, Davis advised Sopha, "people are very apt to employ the physician who seems most prosperous." Davis remained in McCook until 1893, then studied for several months in Germany before moving to Omaha. He became chairman of the department of surgery of the Nebraska Medical College before his death in 1933. ­ Jim Potter

Volunteers Support NSHS

Nebraska State Historical Society volunteers are the best! In fiscal year 2001-02 Society volunteers contributed 7,888 hours. Volunteers have always been an important part of the Society's work since it's founding in 1878. They help the Society to fulfill its mission to safeguard and interpret Nebraska's past and make it accessible in ways that enrich present and future generations. Just a few of the contributions include:

The listing features only a small portion of the commitment made by NSHS volunteers. The staff tips its collective hat to the volunteers and expresses sincere appreciation for your continued and dedicated service to the NSHS.

Tour Scheduled for October

Plan to join Society volunteers, members, and friends on this two-day motor coach tour on Thursday and Friday, October 10-11. Tour highlights include visits to the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, the Fort McPherson National Cemetery near North Platte, the Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site in McCook, the Minden Opera House in Minden, and a Civil War monument and Marker in Sutton, as well as other interesting sites along the way.

Space is limited and the registration deadline is September 20. For further information or a registration form please contact Deb McWilliams at 471-4955.

Volunteer Program Focuses on New Ways to Work With Moving Images

All volunteers are invited to attend the upcoming volunteer program on Wednesday, September 11, at the Historical Society, 1500 R Street, Lincoln. Paul Eisloeffel, the Library/Archives Division, will present the program entitled, the "New Ways to Work With Moving Images."

The program will start with coffee at 10:00 a.m. and the program will follow at 10:30. RSVP to Deb McWilliams at 402-471-4955 regarding your attendance, or if you have any questions.

Indian on horseback logo

The Nebraska State Historical Society Museum Stores
invite you to shop with us!

During our seventeenth anniversary sale, the week of September 22-28, members and volunteers will receive a 25 percent discount.
Stop in or give us a call to learn more about our educational and unique merchandise that will engage your mind and bring back memories.

A few back-to-school ideas from the Museum Store

Nebraska's Best Trivia Game

This fun and educational game contains 1,500 questions and answers about the state of Nebraska.

A Historical Album of Nebraska
This children's book takes a fascinating look at Nebraska's past, from Native Americans to European exploration and settlement, through early statehood to the present day.

A One-Room School
The experiences of going to a one-room school are described in this book. The rules, regulations, routines, and activities are presented in an easy-to-understand format.

Schoolyard Games
This book is a good resource for the study of schoolyard games in early pioneer days.

Small Slates and Slate Pencils
Writing instruments from a bygone era.

Nebraska State Historical Society Museum Store
1-800-833-6747 or 402-471-3447

Pre-WWII Quilt Display

The Senator George W. Norris State Historic Site is hosting a Pre-World War II quilt display from September 3 through 28. Regular hours are 9:30-12 and 1-5, Tuesday through Saturday. Special evening tours for groups can be arranged by contacting Linda Hein at 308-345-8484.

Docents Needed

The Nebraska State Historical Society's Museum of Nebraska History is facing a docent drought-not enough docents to give guided tours to the more than 11,000 students who visit the museum each year. Only about half the school groups visiting the museum receive guided tours, but most want them. What once was a river of docents-many of them retired schoolteachers-has dried up so the Historical Society is looking for help. To prepare new docents, the museum will host a docent orientation event, Tuesday, October 22, 9-11a.m. at the Museum of Nebraska History, Fifteenth and P Streets, and docent training sessions, November through February.

"We can currently accommodate only half of the requests for guided tours, and so we hope to double our docent team," says Jessica Stoner, museum educator. Last year groups came to the Museum of Nebraska History from as far away as Halsey and Albion, and from as near as McPhee Elementary in Lincoln. "When you have got five or more students, a docent is helpful and informative and makes the trip much more worth our time," says Jerene Kruse, K-5 art educator at Boone Central in Albion. Ms. Kruse also valued the intergenerational experience provided in her recent tour. "It is good for the students to get the idea that the older generation really has something special to share. A lot of kids have little contact with a grandparent or a retired person, and they don't hear the stories of what past generations have gone through."

No previous knowledge or training is required to become a docent because both Nebraska history and communication strategies are covered in docent training. Desirable characteristics for docents include a willingness to learn and communicate stories of Nebraska history using historical objects and biographies, and ingenuity in working with groups of various ages, interests, and abilities. Benefits include flexible scheduling, behind the scenes experiences, working with kids, and the chance to learn in-depth history. To apply or nominate someone to join the Museum of Nebraska History's docent program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Deb McWilliams at 402-471-4955.

NSHS Website

The Nebraska State Historical Society continues to develop its website with new and expanded information. The website address is By going to the website visitors can become members of the society, explore volunteer activities, shop from the museum store catalog, check out new exhibits, and learn about upcoming activities.

If you have any comments or questions about the website please contact Lynne Ireland at 402-471-4758 or

New Volunteers

Molly Bergeron, library/archives

Leon Bose, museum

Laurie Einspahr, archeology

Nadene Furstenau, Neligh Mill

Nelda Grady, archeology

Helen Griffin, museum store

Judy Hanefeldt, library/archives

Pat Henry, museum store

Pat Kaltenberger, museum store

Phyllis Krotz, library/archives

Kurt Meyer, archeology

Anita Miller, Neligh Mill

Marge Moore, museum store

Jon Nelson, research & publications

Bonnie Quinn, library/archives

Jordan Ridder, Neligh Mill

David Rogers, library/archives

Don Schmidt, library/archives

Jane Shaw, museum store

Melissa Stout, library/archives

Khoi Tran, library/archives

Calendar of Events

September 11: Volunteer Program
10:00 am, Lincoln

September 12: Program at Ford Center
7:30 pm, Omaha (see article)

September 13: Board of Trustees Meeting
8:30 am, Ford Center, Omaha

September 22-28: 17th Anniversary Sale, Museum Store
25% off for all volunteers!!

October 10-11: Fall Bus Tour

October 14: Columbus Day Observed

October 27: Daylight Savings Time Ends
Set your clocks back one hour.

October 31: Halloween
Eat lots of candy!!

"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 22 October 2002

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