Our Nation Subjects

Tales from Fort Atkinson: Feeding a Frontier Fort

by Suzanne Gucciardo

When the Missouri Expedition was sent into the little known reaches of the Louisiana Purchase to establish a U.S. military presence, the Army failed to appreciate the difficulty of feeding its men on the frontier.  Following a disastrous winter of 1819-1820, Colonel Atkinson was determined to keep his garrison healthy through cultivation of grain crops and vegetables.  The agriculture program at Fort Atkinson not only provided a surplus of food for the men and their families, it also provided important information about farming on the plains for the settlers who would come later.

Trade Between the Lakota Sioux and Early White Traders

by Jerome Kills Small

This program is about the changes in the Lakota language and culture due to the impact of the trade between the Lakota Sioux and early white traders.  The value of the Lakota language is in the speakers ability to create words descriptively and instantaneously to any change or introduction of new items to their culture.  The use of money started a whole new way of building words for measuring, weighing, credit, currency, budgeting and debt.

Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Carrie Nation

by Brad Kellogg by Raija Weiershauser

Come along on a Woman’s Christian Temperance Union crusade through the speakeasies, saloons and hoochie coochie tents of pre-prohibition times.  Weiershauser and Kellogg share the stories of crusaders like Carrie Nation who, with bible in one hand and a hatchet in the other, sought to reform society through creation of a “sober and pure world.”

Nebraskans and The Great War

by Spencer Davis

This presentation explores how three important Nebraskans of the time reacted to the war.  William Jennings Bryan, who resigned as Secretary of State in President Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet because of his opposition to the war; Senator George Norris, who opposed President Wilson’s declaration of war; and Willa Cather, whose novel about the war won a Pulitzer Prize.

Frederick Douglass – The Voice of Abolition

by Spencer Davis

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was the leading African American abolitionist of the nineteenth century.  His “Narrative,” published in 1845, is a classic account of self-education as well as the most influential slave narrative.  Douglass’s belief that the progress from slavery to freedom required mental liberation as well as physical liberation provides the theme for this presentation.

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor

by Joe Starita

On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche received her medical degree―becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country. By age twenty-six, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 850 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick―tuberculosis, small pox, measles, influenza―families scattered miles apart, whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs.

George Shannon: Youngest Member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

by Bill Hayes

Hayes presents the story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition through the eyes of its youngest member, George Shannon. In full costume, he shares his experiences that he had on the journey to the Pacific Ocean and highlights some of the adventures (and misadventures) of the expedition party. At the end of the presentation, Hayes steps out of character to give the audience “the rest of the story” about Shannon.

Ahead of Their Time-The Story of the Omaha DePorres Club

by Matt Holland

Holland reveals the little-know story of the Omaha DePorres Club’s pioneering efforts to change the pattern of racial discrimination and segregation that existed in Nebraska’s largest city. Tracing the arc of the club’s evolution from its founding in 1947, Holland provides moving insights into the members and their motives, struggles, and victories.

A Bad Man in a Better Place: Jesse James in Nebraska

by Jeff Barnes

The notorious Jesse James typically isn’t thought of in connection with Nebraska… but he was here. Nebraska was where the outlaw could find family and friends. It was where he could plan robberies, make a recovery or an escape, and even sit for his most famous photograph. He wanted to buy a farm here and some even say he started a family here! Author Jeff Barnes shares what’s known of the truth, the fiction, and the legend of Jesse James in Nebraska.

The African Presence in Spanish America

by Jose Francisco Garcia

Learn how the migration of millions of Africans into the Americas over a period of time stretching from the 16th century to 1862 has influenced the peoples, history and culture of Spanish America.

American History Told Through Mexican American Eyes

by Jose Francisco Garcia

The story of how historical events tie  Americans in general to the Spanish experience in the Americas.….from Cortez to Dia de los Muertos, the co-mingling of cultures contributes to our national heritage.   A quick study to help understand the relevance of Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, Dia de los Muertos, Dia de los Ninos and other commemorations crossing over to American mainstream culture.

Behind The Meaning of Names

by Karen Gettert Shoemaker

Karen Gettert Shoemaker, the author of the One Book One Nebraska 2016 selection, reads from and discusses the role of family stories and historic research in the writing of her historic novel The Meaning of Names. This presentation includes discussions of World War I, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, the experiences of immigrants and first-generation Americans in the early 1900s, and the role of men and women in a changing society, as well as the many subjects readers bring to the conversation.

Beverly Deepe Keever: An Unconventional Woman for An Unconventional War

by Thomas Berg

In her book Death Zones & Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting Keever champions women as capable war correspondents and trounces the misconception that the American press “lost” the war.  Berg discusses Keever’s exploration of the war’s poorly understood and under-appreciated earliest years, and how she demonstrates that the president and his advisers—by hubris, ignorance, and choice—missed significant opportunities to understand and fight the war.

America’s History, People and Culture on Postage Stamps

by Bob Ferguson

High-resolution images of stamps displayed on a large-screen TV illustrate a patriotic story presenting military heroes from the Civil War to Vietnam, presidents and celebrities who served, veterans organizations, memorials to the fallen, and symbols of American ideals. Other themes with appropriate stamp images available for this program include: women, African Americans, the American Revolution, the settlement of the West, and National Parks. For general audiences; collectors will also be interested.

U.S. Stamps Tell A Story; A Few Have More Than One

by Bob Ferguson

How have advances in mail delivery been chronicled on stamps? What innovations in stamp design and production have been introduced over the years? How have errors on stamps discovered by the public created valuable collectibles and embarrassments for the post office? These questions are answered with the aid of high-resolution stamp images – true works of art – displayed on a large-screen TV. For general audiences; collectors will also be interested.

 

Four Blue Stars in the Window: A Story of WWII

by Barbara Eymann Mohrman

Mohrman uses diaries, logbooks, interviews, photographs and authentic World War II memorabilia to tell the story of her family’s experiences during WWII.  The program follows her father and three uncles as they move from the difficult dust bowl years into the major battles of the Great War including Tarawa, Saipan, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  The program also tells of those who waited at home.

Buffalo Bill’s Nebraska

by Jeff Barnes

William F. Cody was born, raised, and died elsewhere but it was in Nebraska where he made his home and where the celebrity and legend of Buffalo Bill was born. What happened in the Cornhusker State to create a man who was arguably the world’s first “superstar”? Author Jeff Barnes tells the story of Cody in Nebraska, from his days as an Indian scout, as a hunting guide to the rich and famous, as the creator of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” and his enduring legacy in the state, nation, and world today. PowerPoint presentation with historic and contemporary photos and images.

Voicing a Cause, Voicing a Self: Jane Addams of Hull House

by Helen M. Lewis

Throughout her long career advocating the needs of impoverished immigrants, exploited laborers, youth criminals and war victims, Jane Addams valued Hull House, her settlement house in Chicago, as the center from which she and her colleagues could assist others and improve society, while adding meaning to their own lives. She trusted social democracy to restore dignity to the marginal. Her many publications reveal a person finding identity and purpose through her causes. The presentation, done in costume, helps to explain the path chosen by this Nobel Peace Prize recipient, as well as to convey the relevance of Addams’ work and ideas today.

Chief Little Crow of the 1862 Uprising

by Jerome Kills Small

Kills Small presents the story of Little Crow, a Dakota leader, and his experience with the U.S. government culminating in the tragic events of 1862.

Mormon Trails and Communities in Nebraska

by Gail Geo. Holmes

This program is about some 40,000 religious refugees, 1846-1866. They developed four trails and six communities in Nebraska. They published three early Nebraska newspapers, including the first in Omaha. A Mormon lawyer organized Nebraska’s first congressional election and devised a way to break the southern state’s deadlock on admission of Nebraska to the Union as a territory.

The Mormon Trail at the Missouri

by Gail Geo. Holmes

This presentation explores the challenges facing the Mormons during their westward migration across the Missouri River and up the Platte River.  Holmes discusses 90 Mormon communities in the Middle Missouri Valley which the refugees from western Illinois and southeastern Iowa built.  There they regained their health and resupplied their covered wagons to go on another 900 miles to settle in the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Train Songs and Tales

by David Seay

What is it about trains that so easily engages one’s imagination? Climb aboard with David as he shares a variety of railroad inspired songs and stories that offer peeks into the past from a wide variety of points of view. This upbeat excursion is accompanied by guitar, banjo, harmonica, whistles, and a sing-along or two.

What If? History

by Jack Campbell

Campbell reaches back into the 16th and 17th centuries to explore events that helped make the United States of America what it is today. He invites the audience into a discussion about how our country might be different today if not for these events.

Completing, Remembering, and Forgetting the Civil War

by Fred Nielsen

The work of peace was, in its way, as difficult as the fighting of the Civil War. After Appomattox, divisive questions remained: What was the place of freed slaves? What was the federal government’s responsibility to them? How would former Confederate states be readmitted to the Union? In the end, Americans put their country back together by often forgetting why they had fought in the first place. How they reconstructed a broken nation in the 19th century still shapes the United States in the 21st.

Nebraska Spirit: The North Platte Canteen

by Charlotte M. Endorf

During World War II, American soldiers from across the country rolled through North Platte, Nebraska, on troop trains en route to Europe and the Pacific.  Learn the story of the community that turned a railroad depot into a legend and touched the lives of more than six million soldiers from 1942 to 1946.  Charlotte salutes our humble Veterans who served in the military.  This program is excellent for Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day.

The Universal Sacred Hoop

by Nancy Gillis

Presentation explaining and exploring the concept of the sacred hoop image from a variety of tribal traditions, including the interpretation given to John G. Neihardt by the Oglala Lakota Holy Man Black Elk. Emphasis on the cultural and spiritual context. Approx. 45 min.

To Live and Die on the Plains

by Jeff Barnes

It wasn’t all sunsets and songbirds in crossing the Great Plains. Death was a frequent and indiscriminant fellow traveler on the wagon trails and he took many forms – disease, gunshot, stampedes, nature, accidents, Indian attack and many more. Author Jeff Barnes presents an interesting look at how you could have “bought the farm” on the Platte River Road, or at least have made a down payment. Rarely seen historic maps, paintings, photographs and other images are used to tell these tales of tragedy from the pioneers. NOTE: Some of the historic images presented are graphic in nature and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Fight Against Slavery on the Great Plains: Nebraska's Underground Railroad

by Bill Hayes

Hayes discusses the issue of slavery in the U.S. during the 1850s and the controversy surrounding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and how the issue affected people moving to the Nebraska Territory.  The presentation describes the overall history of the Underground Railroad and how the movement became connected with the Great Plains.  Hayes explores how the Underground Railroad formed in Nebraska and emphasizes specific sites where escaping slave most likely found refuge on their journey north to freedom.

Dust Covered Dreams

by Barbara Eymann Mohrman

Dust Covered Dreams details the experiences of the Eymann family in Oakdale, Nebraska during the 1930s. Vintage photos, stories, and artifacts tell the lighter side of this family of twelve and the hardships of dust and grasshoppers.  Dust covered the dreams of the Eymanns and changed their futures as it did for thousands of Nebraska families. A program for K-8 students includes hands-on activities about the 1930s dust bowl years in Nebraska.

Understanding American Indian Tribal Governments

by Wynema Morris

Morris asks what it means to be an enrolled tribal member, which leads to the issues of tribal jurisdiction, tribal sovereignty, Las Vegas-style gaming and relationships with the U.S. government. Morris explains the role and function of tribal governments and how the interaction between Indian tribes and early Europeans during the Age of Discovery forged legal and political ties that continue to have an impact today.

Legends and Leaders of the West

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

Learn about leaders and legends who shaped the American West. Sacagawea, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, Doc Middleton and others are the focus of this program of original songs, stories and poems. Student activities based on the program are available on request.

The Heart’s Compass: Women on the Trails

by Lyn Messersmith by Deb Carpenter-Nolting

This is an account of pioneer women crossing the Plains in the 19th century. Carpenter-Nolting and Messersmith present original poems, songs and stories, as well as actual diary entries of women who journeyed on the Oregon Trail.

Corps of Discovery in Song and Story

by Michael F. McDonald

Through original songs and stories, McDonald leads a lively celebration of the challenges and adventures faced by the members of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.

Libbie's Story

by Marla Matkin

This is a Chautauqua-style program about Elizabeth Bacon Custer, the wife of Gen. George Armstrong Custer. As “Libbie,” Matkin introduces her audiences to the Civil War, the 7th Cavalry, the Kansas Plains, the Little Bighorn and her husband and Golden Cavalier, General Custer. Based on historical fact, it is a personal account of the Custers from the first furtive glances of romance to Libbie’s last remembrances as widow, author and lecturer.

Frontier Military Posts (And the Women Who Called Them Home)

by Marla Matkin

This presentation is designed to introduce audiences to the lives and times of these extraordinary women. Audiences learn about the different classes of women on post, their day-to-day routines, their social interactions and, on a more personal note, how they functioned under Victorian and military constraints. At the conclusion of the program, Matkin demonstrates a Victorian tea, which was a source of comfort, relaxation and reflection for officers’ wives.

Cattle Towns and Soiled Doves

by Marla Matkin

Possessing a twinkle in her eye and a tantalizing sense of humor, the Contessa is in rare form as she deftly transports you to the frontier of cow towns, painted ladies and the riveting characters that strode the streets and rode the range. Movies, television and novels have long kept the West and its saga alive, but it takes the insight of a charmer such as the Contessa to immerse you in the history and lore of such an unforgettable moment in time. Her invitation is an appeal to suspend 21st century reality and travel back to the boomtowns where men lived by the gun and women lived by their wits. It’s the Victorian Era on the wild side. As the Contessa, Matkin employs ample supplies of humor, sensitivity and skill to navigate the nuances of the subjects of this presentation.

Music of the Plains

by David Marsh

Pioneers who settled the Plains traveled from far and wide, yet endured many similar joys and hardships.  David’s goals with this program are twofold: 1) to demonstrate the various cultures represented by these courageous folks and 2) to share stories and sing songs that arose out of their common experience of early life here.  Though music, audiences learn about homesteading, cowboys, children’s games and the wonders of the wide open prairie.

Music of the Civil War

by David Marsh

Multi-instrumentalist Marsh brings the Civil War to life with songs and stories. Children and adults alike will enjoy, learn, and sing along to songs from both sides of this epic American conflict and hear the origins of patriotic songs like “Dear Old Dixie” and .the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The Klondike Goldrush , Seen Through the Eyes of Robert W. Service, Bard of the Yukon

by Stuart C. Lynn

In a Chautauqua-style presentation, Lynn portrays the Scottish-born poet Robert W. Service. Lynn revives the age-old art of storytelling with personal recollections and renditions of ballads about the Klondike gold rush. Service lived and wrote in the Yukon between 1903 and 1910. The program introduces listeners to such characters as Dangerous Dan McGrew, Sam McGee, Blasphemous Bill McGee, Salvation Bill and others.

Adam Clayton Powell: A Living History Presentation

by Preston Love Jr.

Join a Harlem, New York, audience in 1968 to hear Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a civil rights advocate and U.S. Congressman for more than twenty-five years, give a campaign speech in which he recalls his history and the ups and downs of his life and career.

Riding for Glory: Missionary Travel to the Oregon Territory: 1836-1838

by Helen M. Lewis

Join Lewis as she describes six women, their backgrounds, their missionary goals, and their ultimate sacrifice of travel as newly-weds to the Oregon Territory

Meet Buffalo Bill

by Terry Lane

William F. Cody reflects on his life as express messenger, teamster, buffalo hunter, scout, actor, showman and builder of the West through a series of true-life adventures–from Bill’s perspective, of course. Length and content can be varied according to audience.

President U.S. Grant

by Thomas N. King

Step back to the Gilded Age and listen to the stories and personal history from one of America’s most popular and yet misunderstood Presidents. This Chautauqua-style portrayal takes President Ulysses S. Grant from personal mediocrity to his promotion to the highest-ranking general in the Union Army to his election as the eighteenth President of the United States. Complete with period costume, the presentation allows audiences to relive the two controversial presidential terms through the eyes of Ulysses S. Grant.

General U.S. Grant

by Thomas N. King

Step back to the Civil War era and listen to tales and personal history from one of America’s most famous generals. This Chautauqua-style portrayal takes Ulysses S. Grant from personal mediocrity to his promotion to the highest-ranking general in the Union Army. Complete with period costume, the presentation allows audiences to relive the war years through the eyes of General Grant.

Songs, Dances and Games of the Lakota

by Jerome Kills Small

Kills Small describes the history and origin of Native American songs and dances. A lecturer and storyteller who makes hand drums and pow-wow-size wood drums, Kills Small also is a singer of Lakota songs who has traveled extensively as a member of the Oyate Singers of Vermillion, S.D.

Dr. Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa)

by Jerome Kills Small

Charles Alexander Eastman was 32 when he accepted his first appointment as a physician for the Indian Bureau at the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1890. He witnessed the Wounded Knee Massacre and later recounted what he saw and did in his autobiography “From the Deep Woods to Civilization.” In this living-history presentaion, Kills Small portrays Eastman and describes the many changes he went through and his service in many areas of Dakota and Lakota Sioux life.

Harvesting Foods and Medicines in the Dakota Tradition

by Jerome Kills Small

In this presentation, Kills Small describes the medicinal foods and plants that grow in the Missouri River valley, on the Great Plains and on up to the Rocky Mountains. He talks about the universal uses, legends and history of the plants in Native American life.

Ho For America! Northern European Immigrants to the Midwest

by Jeff Kappeler

Stories of immigrants who settled Nebraska contain fascinating accounts of sacrifice, courage and endurance. The journey to America was a difficult process that is examined in three parts: the decision, the journey and the adjustment. The presentation includes packing an actual immigrant chest and other essential baggage needed by the immigrant for the ocean voyage and the new life on the prairie.

Away and Across the Plains: Pioneer Trails through Nebraska

by Jeff Kappeler

Discover how pioneers passing through Nebraska territory in their journey west had a profound influence on the settling of the state. This presentation focuses on the lives and experiences of the emigrants and the pioneer inhabitants. It includes authentic artifacts used on the trail pertaining to the areas of transportation, food, clothing, tools and bedding.

Wahtohtana hedan Nyut^achi mahin Xanje akipa (Otoe and Missouria Meet Big Knives)

by Matthew "Sitting Bear" Jones

This program examines the first and second meetings that Lewis and Clark held with the Otoe-Missouria nation. Through the Otoe-Missouria nation’s oral history this program examines the perceptions they had of these new wan^sige ska (white people). It also looks at the historical repercussions that the Otoe-Missouria experienced after this first contact and what the tribe thinks about this historical meeting today.

Myths of Women’s Madness on the Plains

by Nancy B. Johnson

This presentation examines the myths of Plains women—as they are promoted by authors of fiction and history—and the realities, based on recently published works, including diaries and journals. Johnson shows that the lives of Plains women were as varied as the pieces of a crazy quilt. She focuses on Nebraska women 1870-1900. This program is designed for adults.

Overland Trails: The Children on the Trail

by Renae M. Hunt

With over 352,000 emigrants traveling the Oregon, Mormon or California trails, one in five were under the age of 16. Many of these youths kept journals. This program discusses how these children traveled and relates some of the stories from their journals. This program is appropriate for all ages.

Lewis and Clark: What Was Their Value Worth? --Seaman, York, Sacagawea and Pomp Stories

by Renae M. Hunt

The Corps of Discovery was a fascinating group of individuals. But there were four members of the corps that were “valuable” but not paid. Hunt discusses these four members and tells stories of their adventures. She also dispels a few myths about these members. This program is appropriate for all ages.

From Bleeding Kansas to Old Virginny: Songs and Stories of the Civil War

by Dan Holtz

For four years, the Civil War raged on such storied battlefields as Gettysburg and Antietam in the East to lesser-known places like La Glorieta Pass in New Mexico. With guitar and harmonica accompaniment, Holtz performs songs that express the war’s wide variety of sentiments, issues and stories. The program includes some of the popular patriotic and sentimental parlor songs. Thus, the war is chronicled and tied to memorable excerpts from some of the great conflict’s novels, poems and short stories. Holtz can also present the program as living history by portraying fictional Nebraska Territory settler Matthias Parker telling stories and anecdotes as though gleaned from newspapers of the day or from returning veterans. As Parker, Holtz comments on and quotes such personalities as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and John Brown.

Paul Revere’s Ride

by Donald Hickey

This Power Point program–featuring portraits, illustrations, and maps—examines Paul Revere’s famous ride in 1775. We will look at what people commonly think Revere did with what he actually did. We will also explore the role of other participants in the story, especially other riders who were active that night. In addition, we will examine why Henry Wadsworth Longfellow chose to immortalize Revere in a poem some 85 years later and how this poem shaped our understanding of the event. We will pay special attention to where Longfellow, either by accident or design, got the story wrong.

Uncle Sam: The Origins and Evolution of an American Icon

by Donald Hickey

This Power Point program—featuring portraits, illustrations, and cartoons—will examine where “Uncle Sam,” the nickname for the U.S. government, came from and how it evolved over time. We will examine the conventional view, endorsed by a state and federal government resolutions, which attributes the nickname to “Uncle Sam” Wilson, an entrepreneur in Troy, New York, who supplied the U.S. Army with meat during the War of 1812. We will present evidence that calls this view into question and offer an alternative theory on where the nickname came from and why it became so popular.

When Did the White House Become the “White House”?

by Donald Hickey

This Power Point program—featuring portraits, illustrations, and newspaper evidence—will examine the origins and early history of the White House, which today is arguably the most famous building in the world. We will pay special attention to when and how the White House got its name. Although conventional wisdom holds that the name originated when the White House was rebuilt after being burned during the War of 1812, the evidence suggests that the name was in use as early as 1802, a mere eighteen months after the building was first occupied by President John Adams.

A Tribute to MLK

by Felicia Webster by Michelle Troxclair

Learn through original poetic works the profound effect of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s sacrifice, contributions and legacy today, through the time honored artistic medium of Spoken Word. Spoken Word is part of the Great African Oral Tradition by which familial stories, history, traditions, morals and values, hopes and dreams, pain and tragedy are all relayed through cleverly woven poems and stories.

The Great Body of the Republic: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Plains

by Kenneth Winkle

Abraham Lincoln considered the Great Plains important for America’s future. As president, however, Lincoln subordinated the interest of the Great Plains and the people who lived there because of his efforts to win the Civil War.  Professor Winkle investigates how Lincoln’s wartime policies changed the history of the Great Plains forever and left an indelible impression on the lives and culture of the people who live here today.

The History of Trick Roping and the Wild West Show

by Joan Wells

Wells uses the vanishing folk art of trick roping to bring the color and history of the Old West alive. South of the border in Old Mexico, the charros created rope spinning -making intricate flower designs with ropes. When Vincente Otopeza introduced this trick roping tradition to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1894, he gave American cowboys a different perspective on trick and fancy roping. Wells follows the evolution of trick roping through the heyday of Will Rogers and his affiliation with the Texas Jacks Wild West Show and the Ziegfeld Follies in the first decades of the 20th century.

Nebraska and the Civil War

by David Wells

Few people realize that Nebraska was involved in one of the most tragic events in our history, the Civil War, from 1861-1865. The territory sent 1/3 of its male population to the war, and more than 200 died or were killed. After the war, thousands of veterans came to Nebraska. By 1890 more than 100,000 veterans lived here, and they played a major role in the development of Nebraska from a territory to statehood. They helped found many of the cities. This presentation looks at these early settlers and the role they played—geographically specific to the program site.

Memorial Day: Its Origins, Its Heritage, Its Legacy

by David Wells

This program traces the development of the Memorial Day holiday, beginning with its significance in the wake of the Civil War. Using slides of holiday mementos and photographs of Memorial Day parades and ceremonies, the presentation shows how the Grand Army of the Republic rallied support for the holiday. The presentation contrasts the relative insignificance of the holiday today with the mania and reverence of earlier years, seeking to understand why these changes occurred.

America and the Great War: 1914-1918

by David Wells

The role of America in “the war to end all wars” is misunderstood. Most people think only of the 1917-18 period when U.S. soldiers marched off to save the world, not realizing that from 1914-17 the nation was opposed to the war. Songs of the period show the changing attitude of the American public, from neutrality to anti-war sentiments to entry in the war and the ultimate defeat of Germany. World War II and the Cold War make more sense when you understand what happened between 1914-18. Wells features a special section of patriotic songs written by Nebraskans from Chadron to Omaha. A 45-minute slide program and a large display of sheet music are included.

A Modern-day Encounter With the Santa Fe Trail

by Les Vilda

This program is presented by a scholar who has traveled the Santa Fe Trail twice by historical means: once walking with a pack donkey (1984) and once with a horse and wagon (1987). The program juxtaposes the history of the trail with Les’s experiences in the 1980’s, comparing the routes, modes of transportation and clothing used in modern-day historical reenactments to those of the 19th-century trail traveler. Sites along the trail are discussed regarding their historical significance in the heyday of the trail, as well as their present-day roles in interpreting the history of the trail.

Our Plains Indian Heritage

by Phyllis R. Stone

Stone, a descendant of Chief Iron Shell, an elder of the Rosebud Sioux tribe and a Sun Dancer, explains the uses and traditions of handmade items she brings for this presentation — items from both past and present American Indian cultures. Dressed in a traditional Sioux woman’s dress, she speaks about the life of the Rosebud Sioux as she shares artifacts. She describes life on the reservation and how her family combines their Indian heritage with other interests. Also included in the talk are artifacts and legends of the Mountain Man and the relationship of that culture to the Indians of the Plains.

Lifestyles of Lakota Women

by Phyllis R. Stone

As a descendant of Chief Iron Shell, a peace chief of the Rosebud Sioux, Stone shares her expertise on the lifestyle of a Lakota woman from birth to death. She describes changes that have come about in modern times, contrasting the contemporary lifestyles of Lakota women with past traditions. The degree to which Lakota women lead lives separately and distinctly from men in their tribe is discussed, and variations of practices that can be found among women in the tribe are described. Stone’s intimate knowledge of her Rosebud Sioux people and their ceremonies, her native attire and artifacts make this a rich and unique experience for young people

I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice

by Joe Starita

Joe Starita discusses the legal, social and political importance of the landmark 1879 decision in which a judge declared that Ponca Chief Standing Bear was “a person” within the meaning of the law and entitled to the same Constitutional protections as white citizens.

A Civil War Irish Soldier’s Journey to Nebraska

by Charles E. Real

Real follows the very different paths of two brothers fleeing An Gorta Mor (Gaelic for the great hunger) only to face each other on opposite sides of the American Civil War. While one brother does not survive Shiloh’s killing fields, the other becomes an officer and later successful settler and businessman in Nebraska. The program is a commemoration of survival, war, and pioneering and reveals how this ex-soldier becomes financial backer to several North Dakota and Minnesota towns and his relationship to the Great Lakes ore ship Edmund Fitzgerald.

Nebraska Farm Families During the Depression

by Dorothy Rieke

This historical program by Rieke reveals both the sad and the humorous experiences of a Nebraska farm family in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Nebraskans Remember World War II

by Doug Rung

In 1996, the NHC and five Nebraska communities sponsored the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit “Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941-1945.” Rung led his community’s oral history project and helped to preserve a unique portion of Nebraska history by those who recounted their memories of war years. Travel back with Rung to the 1940s and World War II for stories about local military installations, the people involved with their operations and how the war affected the economy and everyday life of many Nebraskans.

Nebraska Frontier Physician: Robert Ramsay Livingston, M.D

by John Schleicher

Schleicher shares the story of Dr. Robert Ramsay Livingston of Plattsmouth, one of the outstanding pioneer figures in Nebraska medicine.  Livingston began practicing medicine in Plattsmouth in 1859, captained the First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, helped organize the Nebraska State Medical Society and was one of the first delegates from Nebraska to the American Medical Association.  Among varied accomplishments, he served as Chief Surgeon of the Burlington Railroad in Nebraska, Mayor of Plattsmouth, and President of the Faculty of the Omaha Medical College. Schleicher can present the program as living history by portraying Dr. Livingston in period attire or as a lecture presentation.

A Day in the Life of a Victorian Lady

by Patricia Pixley

Using authentic artifacts and costume, a day in the life of a Victorian lady unfolds, from breakfast through afternoon tea. By examining the social customs, dress, etiquette and decorative furnishings of the 1870s and ’80s, audiences learn about the social conventions surrounding the organization of the household, the maintenance of social status and the role of etiquette in determining place in the Victorian-era community.

Abraham Lincoln, America’s Greatest Political Orator

by Fred Nielsen

Public speaking was an essential part of Abraham Lincoln’s political career. His debates with Stephen Douglas made him a national figure. His speeches as president — especially the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address — helped shape Americans’ understanding of their country and chart a path toward reconciliation after the Civil War. Whether using humor, lawyer-like reason, or a Biblically-inspired prose that could verge on poetry, he was the nation’s most eloquent president.

General George Crook: His Life and Times

by Greg Nestroyl

Dressed in period costume, Nestroyl introduces General George Crook with a program of entertaining history from an American Indian War veteran and humanitarian. Nestroyl presents reflections and experiences from on and off of the field of battle through the eyes of the man who was called the “Greatest Indian fighter in the U.S. Army.”

Speaking of Ella Deloria

by Joyzelle Gingway Godfrey

Deloria wrote the book “Waterlily” and the anthropology companion textbook “Dakota Way of Life” based on the extensive Sioux elder interviews she began compiling in the early 1920s and from her own knowledge as a Dakota woman raised among and with family ties to Lakota families. This presentation is about the woman and her work.

Sitting Bull Family Story

by Joyzelle Gingway Godfrey

The history of this family told by the daughter of Sitting Bull covers the time from prior to Euro-American contact up to and including the Massacre at Wounded Knee. The historical events that are recorded about the life of Sitting Bull are also the record of the events that led to the massacre.

Lewis and Clark Meet the Sioux

by Joyzelle Gingway Godfrey

A family on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in South Dakota is descended from Meriwether Lewis according to their oral family history. Using the event descriptions from the personal journal of Lewis and the material collected by Ella Deloria of the historical society of the Sioux, we explore the possibilities for such a liaison.

The Voice of Native American Women

by Nancy Gillis

This presentation is a compilation of excerpts from primary documents in which Native American women’s comments, pleas and advice have been recorded, from the earliest records of negotiations with the colonists to contemporary women, including professionals, artists and activists. In a series of readings, interspersed with background material, it explores the way native women have spoken out in political, social and spiritual settings in humor, pathos, anger and celebration, passing their legacy to the next generation.

The Plains Tribes and the Homestead Act

by Nancy Gillis

While many tribes inhabited the immense tract of land called The Great Plains, interacting with their environment, neighboring tribes, and even European explorers and trappers for centuries, two decades prior to the American Civil War and the two decades following the Civil War brought tremendous changes due to increased tensions in the East and legislation enacted in Washington  – the Homestead Act of 1862.  Nancy Gillis will examine why and how these changes occurred on the Plains for the tribes  by looking at changes in foods, clothing, housing, family structure, gender roles, land control, and political relationships.

Dust Bowl Descent

by Bill Ganzel

Ganzel located and interviewed a number of individuals who survived the Depression by using photographs taken by the Farm Security Administration. This program follows his journey in locating these people, recounts their stories and juxtaposes recent photographs with 60-year-old images to provide a compelling account of the triumph of the human spirit over hard times.

Medical Care on the Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery

by Dr. Richard Fruehling

Fruehling reviews the state of medicine at the time of the Expedition and the medical treatments employed by Lewis and Clark. Over the 28 months and the 8000 miles of their journey, only one man died. The men of the Expedition encountered many medical problems. The Commanders treated many of the Native Americans along the way. This program is for grade 9 through adult.

The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley

by Charlotte M. Endorf

She was described as the “greatest woman rifle shot.” A star attraction of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Oakley thrilled audiences around the world with her daring shooting feats. A champion in a man’s sport, she changed ideas about the abilities of women in the 19th century. Her fame and fortune came from her skill with guns, yet she was a Quaker.  This presentation dispels myth to reveal the real Annie Oakley.  Charlotte has traveled into seven states the summers of 2015 and 2016 following the journey of Annie.  She has met with museum curators and Annie’s family members to delve into the Oakley history.  Always on Target:  Adventurous Annie Oakley was released Easter of 2016 and From Phoebe to Famous:  Annie Oakley a Legacy of Giving is coming early 2017.

Excess Baggage: Riding the Orphan Train

by Charlotte M. Endorf

Charlotte Endorf traveled more than 15,000 miles, seeking the last surviving riders and descendants to document the real-life stories of the children who rode the Orphan Trains between the years 1854 and 1929. Dressed in period attire, she entertains and educates audiences of all ages about this little known Nebraska history.  She found she was related to an Orphan Train rider after thousands of miles of speaking about the subject.  Could you be too?  Charlotte wrote four books, produced two DVDs and a CD about this subject.  She took an actual 94-year-old Orphan Train rider to New York City to open her records that dated back to 1917.  The rider, who lived to be 100, traveled about 100,000 miles with her as she spoke.  She was one of the last of the Orphan Train riders Charlotte knew, and is sorry to note that she died in 2014.  This talk is great for many purposes, including women’s club meetings, libraries, town festivals, schools, nursing homes, and senior centers.

Maria Rodaway: Prairie Pioneer

by Karen Wyatt Drevo

Maria (portrayed by her great-great granddaughter in period attire) looks back at her life as a prairie pioneer in Otoe County, Neb., where she homesteaded in 1867. Maria crossed the Atlantic Ocean with seven children to reunite her family after a 7½ year separation. She endured grasshoppers, hail, drought, tornadoes, blizzards, and the loss of her husband and six of her 13 children as she worked to become a citizen and a land owner in a new country. Resilient and resourceful, she lived a life of usefulness to her family and large circle of friends with her loving deeds and kind acts, delivering babies and nursing the sick. Program suitable for children grade 4 to adults.

Nebraska: Crossroads of the Western Fur Trade

by Darrel W. Draper

This humorous, one-hour presentation, composed from literature, is an entertaining and amusing summary of the history of the fur trade, including trading companies, personalities and the achievements of fur traders and mountain men who lived in or passed through Nebraska. This tabloid-style review of the oddities and ironies of the industry has been carefully researched but is humorously presented in a sensationalized style. It recounts some of the bizarre happenings that resulted in the most important discoveries of land and routes enabling the U.S. to claim and populate the West.

Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider President

by Darrel W. Draper

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is famous for his energetic personality, range of interests and achievements, leadership of the Progressive Movement, model of masculinity, and his “cowboy” image. Roosevelt’s achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. This living history presentation delves into Roosevelt’s life after his presidency and brings this historical icon to life.

Daniel Freeman: America’s First Homesteader

by Darrel W. Draper

Hear Daniel Freeman’s amazing story as Darrel Draper portrays “Old Number One” in full costume. It is a Chautauqua-style, humorous and historically factual account of America’s first homesteader and the impact of the Homestead Act in settling the West. Recommended for ages 10 to adult.

George Drouillard: Hunter, Interpreter and Sign-Talker for Lewis and Clark

by Darrel W. Draper

In full expedition costume and voyageur accent, Draper combines history and acting ability to portray the life of Lewis and Clark’s most valuable expedition member.  Half French and half Shawnee Indian, this expert hunter, Indian sign talker and wilderness woodsman was called upon by the two captains whenever they needed a nearly impossible task to be completed. The audience will relive the humor, dangers, miracles and hardships of the expedition and receive a rare glimpse of how Shawnee spirituality contributed to the success of this amazing story of human perseverance and voyage of western discovery.

Lincoln Lore and Legend

by Spencer Davis

Abraham Lincoln rarely discussed his personal feelings or details of his early life; but in this presentation Spencer Davis sheds some light on Lincoln’s political controversies, as well as rail-splitting legends, the Ann Rutledge affair and other personal issues. A realistic perspective makes Lincoln’s achievements even more remarkable.

African-American Soldiers in the Civil War: Fighting on Two Fronts

by Spencer Davis

This program presents the story of African-American soldiers in battle and their struggle for equal treatment in the Union army. Black troops in uniform were often transformed by the experience. The presentation describes how black troops faced discrimination within the Union Army as well as Confederate attacks. A growing number of these soldiers’ letters and articles have been discovered, and they form the basis for this presentation.

Abraham Lincoln: The Personal Side

by Spencer Davis

Lincoln’s greatness as president resulted from a life of continual progress and transformation. The obstacles Lincoln faced and the characteristics he expressed are the subject of this presentation.

The Allied Invasion of Japan

by Jack Campbell

With the use of declassified, former top-secret battle plans, Campbell tells the story of the planned Allied invasion of Japan in the last days of World War II. Scheduled for Nov. 1, 1945, the invasion was called off in favor of atomic bombs, which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This presentation also explores the subsequent debate over the use of nuclear arms.

Sharpie: Nebraska’s Queen of the Air

by Diane R. Bartels

This Power Point presentation is based on Bartels’ extensive research and book about Evelyn Sharp, a pioneering, teenage
aviatrix who became a war hero. Sharp taught men to fly and was one of the first women to ferry U.S. Army Air Force fighters during World War II, freeing men for combat.  The program is appropriate for students as well as adults.