For most of its history, a fifteen- or sixteen-member
board, including twelve persons elected by the membership along
with the governor, chief justice of the Supreme Court, president
of the Nebraska Press Association, and chancellor of the University
of Nebraska as board members ex-officio, governed the Society.
After 1916 the Society constitution provided that the board appoint
a superintendent (later called director), who also served as
Board members were elected at the Society's
annual meetings until 1986, when a mail ballot system took effect,
enabling all Society members to cast their votes. In 1987 the
bylaws were amended to provide election of board members by congressional
district and limit their terms. A subsequent amendment eliminated
the ex-officio board members and replaced them in 1991 with three
members appointed by the governor of Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Historical Society was
officially recognized as a state agency by legislation approved
in 1994. The legislation incorporated the Society's existing
governing body, renamed as a board of trustees. The Board of
Trustees retains the authority to hire the Society director,
who serves as chief executive officer and secretary to the board.