Age Group Subjects

Nebraska’s Landmark Buildings

by Jeff Barnes

From the first trader cabins through the skyscrapers of today, the buildings of Nebraska tell the story of the state. They carry the tales of pioneers, of its emigrant and ethnic groups, of its famous sons and daughters, of its suffering through war, its prosperity in peace, and of its innovation and excellence.

Jeff Barnes, author of the new book 150 at 150: Nebraska’s Landmark Buildings at the State’s Sesquicentennial, features many of the buildings that have survived the decades, the architects who designed them, and the communities and people who used them. His talk also highlights Thomas Rogers Kimball, the state’s greatest architect and the newest inductee of the Nebraska Hall of Fame. Additionally, Barnes will also feature local landmarks for each community presentation.

Isaac Wiles & the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska

by John Schleicher

This program provides an overview of the history of the Nebraska Territory and Nebraska statehood and examines the origins of the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska through the life and times of Isaac Wiles, who settled in Cass County in 1856, led the 1st Nebraska Militia during the Civil War, and served in both the territorial and state legislatures. While serving in the state legislature, Wiles introduced a bill to provide a seal for the State of Nebraska and created the state motto “Equality Before the Law.”  

Cowboy Poetry and Nighthawk Tunes

by Michael F. McDonald

What do the Mexican-American War, Irish music and the American cowboy have in common? McDonald answers that question with an introduction to early nighthawk tunes, which were initially a tool of the working cowboy to keep the herded cattle settled down at night. McDonald shares tunes from Thomas Moore’s “Irish Melodies” poetry and those of Stephen Foster and George F. Root. The program concludes with cowboy poetry set to McDonald’s original western-style music, and can be customized for the group from the work of several cowboy poets.

Walking With a Dream: John Neihardt's Preparation for Black Elk Speaks

by Timothy G. Anderson

John G. Neihardt and Nicholas Black Elk hit it off the first time they met. In a sense, both men had long been preparing for this meeting. Black Elk knew white storytellers from traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Neihardt had spent years interviewing elderly Omaha tribal members near Bancroft, Nebraska. This allowed them to forge a bond that produced a 20th Century religious classic.

 

History of the Nebraska State Fair

by Jim McKee

Before Nebraska was even a state there was a Nebraska Territorial Fair, which was not only the first territory of the U. S. to have an official fair but it was the only territory to ever have a fair.  This program shows the development of the Nebraska fair from territorial days through the Omaha-based 1898 Transmississippi Exposition which replaced the state fair that year and the various cities which hosted the event before its “permanent” move to Lincoln and ends as the state fair moved to Grand Island.  

Up the Nebraska Cattle Trail and Songs of the West

by Joan Wells

When the Union Pacific built the railroad across Nebraska in 1867 cattle ranching was almost unknown in the state.  With a surplus of cattle in Texas, cattle drives brought hundreds of thousands of cattle to Nebraska by way of the Great Western Trail from San Antonio to Ogallala, where they were shipped to markets in eastern cities.  The cowboys on these four-month-long cattle drives would pass the time singing songs about life on the trail.  They’d calm the cattle at night with songs traced back to European folk songs.  Wells and Simon sing and tell the story of the origin of western music.

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.

And All That Jazz

by Randall Snyder

A survey of the development of American jazz from the late nineteenth century to the present, with special emphasis on its African American origins and the stylistic idioms of individual performers. Lectures will incorporate PowerPoint visual images with historic recordings and live demonstrations using piano and other instruments.

Computer Games: From Pokémon to Cutting Edge Research

by Donald Costello

Costello’s presentation will re-examine the social and learning values of games and envision the myriad future uses for and developments in computer and video games.

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.

abuse is not LOVE

by Felicia Webster

abuse is not LOVE, is a spoken word play with the creative highlights and energy of Dani Cleveland, Doriette Jordan, Paula Bell and Felicia Webster. This highly charged 40 minute play uses interactive dialogue, gospel, hip hop and theater to disseminate information on the cycle of abuse. With personal testimonies and emotional ups and downs,  this is a show that is dedicated to keeping it real and telling the truth about domestic violence, it’s the healing journey and support needed to make it through the storm.

John & Mona Neihardt

by Brad Kellogg by Raija Weiershauser

Sit down with John & Mona Neihardt, as he writes at his typewriter and she works on a sculpture.  Listen in as they reminisce about their lives together, including their long distance courtship as Mona studied under Rodin in Paris and John’s travels to South Dakota to meet Black Elk.

All Original, All Nebraska

by Dan Holtz

Holtz celebrates and commemorates people, places, and events in Nebraska history through original songs (accompanied by guitar and harmonica) and the stories and background behind them. The songs’ subjects range from a general celebration of Nebraska (“We’re Nebraska”); to a retrospective on the Sandhills; to a tribute to Susan LaFlesche Picotte, the first Native American woman to become a medical doctor; to a salute to Husker football; to a tribute to the migration of the Sandhill Cranes; and more.

Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail, Highway 12

by Marci Broyhill

Cowboy poetry, story, humor and a power point presentation, provide information regarding Nebraska’s colorful characters: Doc Middleton, Kid Wade, Jesse James and vigilantes. It also highlights the positive character and influence of ranchers, Ruth and Cal Thompson, owners of the White Horse Ranch. Travel the Outlaw Trail where universal forces of good and evil; past and present often intersect

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.

In Their Own Image: The Hidden History of African Americans in Omaha

by Patrick Jones

Go beyond negative headlines and persistent stereotypes to discover the rich, and largely hidden, history of African Americans in Omaha. Drawing on an array of digitized artifacts from the Great Plains Black History Museum collection, Jones offers a multi-faceted portrait of black life in Omaha since the late 19th century.

The Desire to Be Heard: Art, Culture, and the Human Experience

by Christopher Krampe

In an increasingly numbers-oriented society, the value of the humanities face heightened scrutiny from politicians, employers, and the general public. Krampe explores the significance and importance of art throughout human history, and why some things are very important, even if they cannot be easily measured or quantified.  The presentation introduces cutting edge archaeological discoveries and research in the exploration of the human need to be heard.

Stories From Nebraska's Agricultural History

by Jody Lamp

Lamp honors Nebraska’s agricultural history with stories of the spaces, places, inventions, commodities, events, and people that made Nebraska one of the top agricultural states in the nation and gave rise to such slogans as “The Beef State” and “The Cornhusker State.” Lamp will enlighten and entertain with important and little know stories like the history of the Grand Island Horse and Mule Barn Markets.

More Than Football: George Flippin's Stromsburg Years

by Kathy Nelson

George Flippin, the son of freed slaves, is famous for being the first African American to play football for the University of Nebraska in the 1890’s.  He went on to become a doctor in Stromsburg. He was an eloquent speaker on behalf of African American’s everywhere, a world class doctor who delivered babies, healed the sick, and cared for the dying regardless of a families ability to pay. Nelson tells his story, which includes the first civil rights case in Nebraska.

Music on the Trail: Where American Folk Songs Meet Classical Art Music

by Donna Gunn

Venture from the mysterious bayou of the Deep South, experience the vastness of the open prairie, feel the energy from atop Scottsbluff National Monument, and triumph in the accomplishment of fording the mountains to the Promised Land as you cross the Oregon Trail. Gunn provides an interactive experience with music inspired from American Folk songs and brought to life by American composers such as Roy Harris, R. Nathanial Dett, and Aaron Copland.

Discoveries from the Fortepiano

by Donna Gunn

Travel back to the Enlightenment where intellectual and creative individualism flourished! Explore and hear the revolutionary developments in the piano that Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart capitalized on in their composing. Experience the marked influence of Affekt and Strum und Drang;  feel the frustrations, angst, and joys expressed through the Viennese Sigh; all distinctive traits of the eighteenth century, where music mirrored the dynamic social changes of the time. Visual presentations and solo piano performance by Gunn.

Poetry of Women on the Land

by Lucy Adkins by Marge Saiser

Women pioneers and homesteaders played an important part in the development and heritage of Nebraska. In this program, Marge Saiser and Lucy Adkins will honor them, sharing poetry they have written from the point of view of Nebraska women living from the 1890’s to the present. In addition, to provide a flavor of daily living in early Nebraska, they will feature excerpts from diaries and letters of plains women from the past.

 

A Perfect Understanding: The Romance of John and Mona Neihardt

by Timothy G. Anderson

John G. Neihardt, Nebraska’s poet laureate, proposed to Mona Martinsen—and she accepted—before they had set eyes on one another. He was a poet and author, and she was a sculptor, and together they built a life based on something they called the “higher values” of art and beauty. Though to a large extent she set aside her own art for the sake of her husband’s, Mona was integral to his work, advising him and contributing to a life that made his work possible.

 

Lonesome Dreamer: The Life of John G. Neihardt

by Timothy G. Anderson

This program, which draws on Anderson’s 2016 biography of John G. Neihardt, examines the life of Nebraska’s poet laureate. Beginning with his birth in 1881 and highlighting the 30 years he lived in Nebraska, Neihardt’s life story covers the triumphs and disappointments he experienced in a publishing career of more than 70 years and the personal life that he enjoyed with his wife and four children.

 

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.

How Chocolate Twice Conquered the American Continent: A Deliciously Historical Perspective

by Jose Francisco Garcia

The tale begins with 2000 year old murals depicting the uses for chocolate and continues to the present time witnessing the allure and power chocolate continues to have on human society.  Garcia shares the history of cacao and discusses its value as a worldwide commodity.

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.

Getting to Know Weldon Kees Through His Songs and Lyrics

by Helen Waring Johnson

Beatrice Nebraska native Weldon Kees, known primarily for his dark poetry, was also one of the mid-century’s most versatile and artistic personalities–an abstract expressionist artist, photographer, accomplished pianist and  composer-lyricist of popular songs. Singer-Songwriter Waring Johnson discusses Kees and performs from this little known repertoire focusing on Kees’ witty, intelligent lyrics of songs written in collaboration with San Francisco clarinetist Bob Helm.

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.

 

Poetry from the Plains

by Twyla M. Hansen

Hansen will read selections from her poetry and discuss how the landscape of the Great Plains has inspired, influenced and shaped her writing. Her poetry follows in the footsteps of earlier Plains writers, using a sense of place to make connections between the natural and human worlds, the land and all its inhabitants–the ordinary, extraordinary food for poetry and stories about the human experience on the Plains and beyond. This presentation encourages audience questions on subjects of interest to creative writers.

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.

Dunne "Dooing" It

by Robert Dunne

Dunne provides a look at traditional Aboriginal culture using such musical instruments as the didgeridoo (an ancient Australian wind instrument made from a tree branch hollowed out by termites), clapsticks and bullroar.

Didgeridoo and Dulcimer, Too

by Phyllis Dunne by Robert Dunne

The Dunnes present the unique sounds of the Appalachian Mountain dulcimer and the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo. The program invites audience participation as the Dunnes describe the representative cultures. The dulcimer and the didgeridoo are known for their characteristic mesmerizing drones. Phyllis focuses on the history behind American folk songs, while Bob shares the legacy of Australian Aboriginal folk tales and traditions.

Promise in a New Land: Migrating and Settling in Nebraska

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

Beam-Clarke, as Mariah Monahan, with Irish brogue and period costume, depicts a Nebraska settler between 1845 and 1870. Based on historical fact, this is a first-person Chautauqua-style presentation. Through a spellbinding rendition, viewers are transported in time to sail the ocean, ride the wagon trail, feel the loneliness and fight prairie fires. Laugh and cry with stories of successful crops, dancing, hard work, grasshoppers, losing loved ones and becoming an American. The program has two sequels entitled “The Courage to Continue” and “Grit n Gumption.” Educational and entertaining. This program is appropriate for all ages.

The Courage to Continue: Changing Homesteads in Nebraska

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

This is a sequel to the program “Promise in a New Land.” Beam-Clarke, in period attire with Irish brogue, depicts Nebraska life on the prairie, 1870 to 1885. Based on historical fact, she continues her story in a dramatic Chautauqua-style presentation. Selling the homestead, they begin again as cattlemen in the desolate Sandhills. Relive trials of building the sod house, lightning storms, crying for rain, rattlesnakes and the never-ending wind. Delight with the 4th of July, Christmas and American pride. The program has a sequel entitled “Grit n Gumption.” This program is appropriate for all ages.

Grit ‘n’ Gumption

by Cherrie Beam-Callaway

This program is a continuation of stories told in “Promise in a New Land” and “The Courage to Continue.” Reprising her role as Mariah Monahan, in period attire with Irish brogue, Beam-Clarke tells more captivating stories depicting Nebraska life from 1860 to 1895. Hear about children becoming lost in the prairie, dealing with injuries, lack of women in the country, living on cornmeal, need for music and the endless monotonous labor. Learn how they dealt with schooling, childbirth, tornadoes and Indians. Educational and entertaining. This program is appropriate for all ages.

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.

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.

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.”

Music From Around the World

by David Marsh

With over a dozen instruments and stories about each, David entertains with music from around the world. This multi-cultural program is a musical expose of the influence that immigrants from around the world have had on our American culture. Audiences learn about the creativity of the “folk” who developed the instruments and musical styles, the role music has played in traditional cultures and the musical influences various cultures have had on one another in America.

Playing Around With Words: Poems, Stories, and the Creative Process

by Twyla M. Hansen

Creative writing is a process that thrives on practice. This writing workshop focuses on the creative process for both poetry and short prose. Twyla will use readings of her own and others’ writing, along with guided writing exercises, to create an interactive and supportive workshop. Through these exercises, participants will retrieve their own and others’ experiences to generate new possibilities for unique stories that might also be shaped into a poem or essay. For beginning and seasoned writers, middle school through adult.

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.

Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X)

by Sharif Z. Liwaru

What did Malcolm X stand for and what significance does he have to the radical politics and movements of his time? I share his life as he describes it, as a “chronology of changes”, presenting a view of Malcolm’s life and the changes he underwent, as well as the relevance of his social, political, and even spiritual thought. The challenge is to take Malcolm X, all of him, and present this information in an accessible manner.

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.

Tales from Hans Christian Andersen

by Lisa Kramme

The delightful stories of Hans Christian Andersen are brought to life in the imaginations of audience members as Lisa Kramme shares tales by this great Danish author. Listeners also learn about the life of Andersen, including his early struggles and later successes.

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.

A Visitor from Russia

by Richard Kimbrough

Kimbrough assumes the personage of Dr. Viktor Ustinov, a Russian visiting the U.S.A. He points out cultural differences ranging from food to education to marriage. Later in the program he drops his “Russian” accent and addresses the audience as himself, but before he assumes his real identity, the audience will be forced to think about cultural and political differences. He has presented this program more than 500 times all across the nation.

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.

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.

Children Stories, Animal Stories and Traditional Lakota Stories

by Jerome Kills Small

Kills Small tells children’s stories and animal stories that have been passed down for generations as part of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux traditions. Among the types of stories covered are iktomi (trickster tales) and ohunkanka (old legends). When speaking to adult audiences, Kills Small also analyzes the Native American storytelling tradition.

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.

Aaron Douglas, UNL Class of ’22: Visual Artist of the Harlem Renaissance

by Peggy Jones

This visual presentation will introduce the artist Aaron Douglas, the “Father of Black Art.” Douglas was the first Black graduate of the UNL Department of Art. His work is a celebration of Afrocentric Modernism, with which he established one of the earliest affirmative depictions of Black identity, history, and experience.

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.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe: The Forgotten Nebraskans

by Matthew "Sitting Bear" Jones

This program celebrates the Otoe-Missouria Tribes. Matthew Jones is a member of the Otoe-Missouria Nation. He will talk about the Nation’s impact on the state of Nebraska, the Territory (Louisiana Purchase) to Statehood. Come take the journey of discovery and learn how these aboriginal people and our state effected each other.

Kiowa Tales

by Matthew "Sitting Bear" Jones

These are the stories, tales and legends of Set-Angia, Sitting Bear’s Native American people. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, these stories reveal the Kiowa vision of the world—from the time of Creation to the coming of the white man. Attired in native dress, Sitting Bear brings to the audience through his storytelling the thinking and customs of his Kiowa people, legends such as why the Crow is black and how the Coyote got his yell.

Nebraska Archaeology: 10,000 B.C.E. to Circa 1800 C.E.

by Nolan Johnson

This program discusses the lengthy human occupation prior to the arrival of Euro-Americans in Nebraska. The human timeline is divided into Paleo-Indian hunters, Archaic hunter-gatherers, Woodland horticulturalists, Plains Villagers, Horse Nomads, Coalescent, and post contact. Archeological evidence, including stone and bone tools, architecture, floral and faunal remains, and settlement patterns, are used to illustrate prehistoric lifeways.

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.

Nebraska through Song and Story

by Dan Holtz

Nebraska has not only a rich tradition in literature but also a rich, less-publicized tradition in music. This program interweaves songs, accompanied on guitar and harmonica, with excerpts from works by Willa Cather, John Neihardt, Mari Sandoz and Bess Streeter Aldrich. In a narrative from about 1850 to 1904, it tells the stories of the people who came to and through early Nebraska, the pioneers who crossed the overland trails, the settlers and the Native Americans. This program can be tailored for either a young audience or an adult audience.

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.

Poetry of the African-American Cowboy

by Vicki Troxel Harris

A selection of stories from the African-American history of Nebraska have been put to rhyme as only cowboy poetry can be presented.  Harris draws from her research to share stories and poems of love, adventure, and respect, often with a bit of humor.  Those who have already heard the stories told in “African-American Homesteaders and Cowboys of Nebraska” will especially enjoy this program of history in the rhythm and romance of the range.

African-American Pioneers and Entrepreneurs of Nebraska

by Vicki Troxel Harris

African-American doctors, barbers, music teachers and innovative and prosperous orchard owners are some of the people who come to life in this presentation. Harris collected many oral histories while researching African-American settlements in Nebraska. Through her scholarship, Nebraska history has a fascinating new chapter.

African-American Homesteaders and Cowboys of Nebraska

by Vicki Troxel Harris

In the 1854 census of Nebraska, there were 14 blacks listed as slaves. After the Civil War, African-Americans came to Nebraska as cowhands, laborers, cavalrymen and homesteaders. Harris recounts many of the oral histories she has collected about cowboys, such as Jim Kelly and Amos Harris from the Lexington area and Roy Hayes of Cherry County “who could catch anything with legs.”

Quilting Your Legacy

by Janie York

This program begins with stories about the men and women who helped shape Nebraska’s early quilt history and continues with a discussion of quilting as both a form of artistic expression and storytelling medium in our own culture. This program also demonstrates quilting as a method of recording family history. This program can be customized for any age group.

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

Folk Traditions Through Music

by David Seay

Designed for school groups, these programs give students hands-on experience with the harmonica and teach how music reflects cultural traditions and conveys them from one generation to the next.

The “Tradition” in Traditional Folk Music

by David Seay

David Seay examines how over the generations folk traditions of different cultures have merged to become our own traditions as immigrants have found their way to Nebraska. This presentation features demonstrations and stories of folk instruments such as harmonica, penny whistle, Lakota style flute, ocarina, pan pipes, yak horn, bugle, musical saw, banjo, singing bowl, and limbertoys. This show is very flexible and works for audiences of any age.

Nebraska’s Musical Smorgasbord: Music from Various Ethnic Groups in Nebraska

by Chris Sayre

This program explores the rich diversity of folk music that has been a part of Nebraska’s history from the time it was a territory to the present day. Performing on the button accordion, concertina, dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, musical saw and zithers, Sayre invites his audience to experience the music of the ethnic groups that have called Nebraska home.

Nebraska Territory Stories

by David Seay

In this upbeat presentation David performs folk music that existed at the time Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867. Between tunes he discusses how these songs provide glimpses into history by telling stories of everyday life of the pioneers during the 13 years before Nebraska statehood.  This cheerful show works particularly well for family audiences as it has opportunities for volunteers to come up front and participate. Instruments featured are banjo, harmonica, whistles, and mountain dulcimer.

A Musical Journey Across America: Songs That Helped Shape a Nation

by Chris Sayre

From the engaging sea shanties of the Eastern Seaboard to the haunting songs of the Appalachian Mountains, from the blues of Mississippi to the pioneer songs of the American West, Chris Sayre brings to life the rich and varied music of the continental United States. Performing on guitar, mandolin, banjo, slide guitar, concertina, melodeon, lap dulcimer and musical saw, Chris captivates his audiences and leaves them with a deeper understanding of how we got to where we are today.

Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls!

by Dorothy Rieke

This discussion about what makes a story scary includes plenty of terrifying examples. There are age-appropriate stories to thrill and chill any audience.

Andean Folk Music and Cultures of South America

by Oscar Rios Pohirieth

Experience the Andean cultures of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Chile through an acoustic journey and storytelling. The founder and director of the award-winning Lincoln-based Andean musical group Kusi Taki (Quechua for Enchanting Music) will play traditional South American instruments including the Quena (flute), Zampoñas (panpipes), Charango (ten-stringed small guitar) and Bombo (goatskin drum) and sing in Spanish and Quechua to bring alive the cultures and history of the indigenous peoples of the Andes.

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.”

James Whitcomb Riley, the Fiddling Children’s Poet

by Deborah Greenblatt

Using Riley’s own words, Greenblatt weaves a whimsical glimpse into the world of this famous Hoosier poet. This show, performed in character and in costume, features musical settings of Riley’s poems composed by Greenblatt, as well as portions of Riley’s lectures (he toured with Edgar Allan Poe) and letters (he corresponded with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

Storytelling of the Dakota

by Joyzelle Gingway Godfrey

This presentation demonstrates the historic societal structure of the Dakota people through the medium of storytelling. The adventures of the first set of twins born in the world will give a glimpse of the family structure, food gathering and beliefs of their tribal people.

Storytelling and the Hispanic Oral Tradition

by Linda Garcia-Perez

An experienced storyteller, Garcia-Perez draws on her experiences as a young girl in Omaha’s Mexican-American barrio. Her stories convey a universal message of humor, wonder and tradition. The presentation can be tailored to focus on one of the following topics:

  • “Traditional Hispanic Stories for Families and Children” – using stories to bring to life the myths, fantasies and tales of Latin cultures
  • “Keeping the Oral Tradition Alive: Abuelita (Grandmother) Stories I Heard When I Was a Girl” – examples of stories based on rights of passage
  • ” Traditional Mexican, Central and South American Motifs as Vehicles for Folk Tales” – depicting the life and times of Hispanic People

Nebraska’s Mexican-American Legacy

by Jose Francisco Garcia

A full 150 years before the 1st pioneer families entered Nebraska territory, Mexican traders, soldiers and explorers left their imprint on the land and its culture. Jose’s presentation takes you along on a journey of exploration that began in 1720 and continues in Nebraska to this very day.

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.

Making Music Come Alive

by Phyllis Dunne

Dunne presents toe-tapping, hand-clapping, sing-along music for kids of all ages. An eclectic blend of folk and traditional music is performed with voice, dulcimer and piano, spiced with interesting historical and personal insights. Dunne combines entertainment and education for an interactive exploration of music appreciation.

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.

The History of Nebraska as Told by Peter Sarpy

by Darrel W. Draper

Dressed in period costume and speaking in his native French accent, “Peter Sarpy” describes the transformation of Nebraska from French colony to statehood. This dramatic one-act play uses humor, interactive audience participation and factual historical anecdotes to captivate youth and adult audiences alike. This living-history presentation is appropriate for schools, civic groups, churches, museums and festivals.

J. Sterling Morton: Author of Arbor Day

by Darrel W. Draper

This history program introduces the audience to the life of J. Sterling Morton, from his birth in upstate New York to his rise to power and fame in Nebraska. Within five years after his arrival at Bellevue, Morton was twice elected to the Territorial Legislature, appointed Clerk of Supreme Court, became Territorial Secretary and was made acting Governor at the age of 26. The founder of Arbor Day would later become secretary of agriculture. The presenter, in costume and in character, uses humor and pathos to give us new insight into Morton’s failures and successes, educating and entertaining audiences of all ages.

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.

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.

Nebraska’s Winding Road to Statehood: In the Footsteps of a Female Settler

by Sara Brandes Crook

Barbara Kagi Mayhew Bradway, a female settler, recounts the issues of Nebraska’s territorial days. In a first-person portrayal, Sara Brandes Crook recounts Bradway’s impressions as an early permanent white settler. She also explores the Underground Railroad. Bradway was the older sister of John Kagi, who was a close confidant to John Brown.

Feathers and Verses

by Bill Clemente

This program is an exciting multi-media, multi-disciplined program specifically created to incite the imagination and enhance the writing skills of children, especially (but not limited to) 4th to 6th graders. This program combines slides and discussion of common Nebraska backyard birds, their songs, photographs and coloring-book pictures with a variety of creative-writing exercises.

The Irish in Nebraska, 1850-2000

by James P. Cavanaugh

This program is a review of the Irish in Nebraska from the days before the Nebraska Territory to the present.

Sing me a Story: The Ballad of Yesterday and Today

by Pat Boilesen

Whether it be the ballad of the immigrant of the 1800’s or the ballad of today, these songs tell the story of life and living, good and bad. This program explores the differences and similarities between the ballads of yesteryear and the ballads of today, and why they are still sung today.

The Mountain Dulcimer

by Bill Behmer by Gwen Meister

Using folk songs as illustrations, Bill Behmer outlines the history and folklore or this simple-to-play, inexpensive and often homemade American folk instrument. He discusses the dulcimer’s European and Asian ancestors and similar fretted zithers found in other traditions. He demonstrates and compares traditional and contemporary playing styles, a variety of tuning methods and how to play the dulcimer by ear. Bill is accompanied by his wife, Gwen Meister, singing harmony and playing autoharp and rhythm instruments.

Traditional Folk Music

by Bill Behmer by Gwen Meister

This presentation is a brief overview of Anglo-American folk music, including 500-year-old British Isles ballads and American folk songs over the centuries. Gwen Meister and Bill Behmer describe the “folk process” as they accompany themselves on mountain dulcimer, fiddle, autoharp and other traditional instruments.