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History

Chautauqua: With origins in the late 19th century, Chautauqua combines oratory and lectures with literary readings and musical entertainment. In the past, these touring groups would entertain and inform people living on the plains about political and cultural happenings. Today, Chautauqua upholds the tradition of offering entertainment, education, and community-based heritage. Attendees gather under the "big tent" and enjoy scholars-in-residence presenting first-person portrayals of some of our most important historical figures along with a variety of activities for all ages.

Chautauqua, the education entertainment event hosted by Humanities Nebraska, brings historical events to life using interactive performances and discussions with Great Plains scholars.

World War One: Legacies of a Forgotten War: 

This year’s theme, World War One: Legacies of a Forgotten War, examines the lasting influences of the Great War. Among the impacts addressed as a part of Chautauqua are the following:

  • how the War led to change in America's role in international relations;
  • how the War impacted the home front, including race, gender, ethnicity, and class issues; and
  • how technology shaped the War.

As part of the Chautauqua residency, five scholars will explore and discuss with local communities the lasting impacts of the Great War and how those events affect Americans today. Chautauqua scholars will portray historical figures who experienced many of the tremendous impacts the Great War, both at home and abroad. Each evening, President Woodrow Wilson will moderate one of four presentations of the following historical figures: author Edith Wharton, activist W.E.B. Du Bois, politician William Jennings Bryan, and social reformer Jane Addams.

Making Chautauqua Possible

Scholar Portrayals: 

Paul Vickery will be portraying Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States. Vickery holds a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University and is a history professor of history at Oral Roberts University.

Charles Everett Pace will be portraying W.E.B. Du Bois, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP. Pace is a full-time national Chautauqua scholar residing in Texarkana, Texas. His character portrayals tell the story of how African-American leaders during the last 190 years overcame many barriers of race, caste, class, and gender.

Ted Kachel will be portraying William Jennings Bryan, who served as Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State until 1915. Kachel is the former Head of the Theatre Program at Tulsa Community College. In addition to portraying several different Chautauqua characters, he teaches the occasional religion class at TCC using his Ph.D. in Religion and Society from Columbia University.

Karen Vuranch will be portraying Edith Wharton, a Pulitzer prize winning novelist and war correspondent. Vuranch is an instructor at Concord University in West Virginia and has participated in living-history presentations portraying 10 different characters.

Helen Lewis will be portraying Jane Addams, a prominent reformer and anti-war activist. Lewis has taught college-level English and Humanities courses since 1971, and currently teaches at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa.

Humanities Nebraska:

Humanities Nebraska inspires and enriches personal and public life by offering opportunities to thoughtfully engage with history and culture.

There are two organizations that fall under the Humanities Nebraska umbrella: the Nebraska Humanities Council is the entity that conducts programs and makes grants. The Nebraska Foundation for the Humanities works with the Council to secure private funding and advocate for public funding at the state and federal levels to support these programs. A third organization, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, serves as the endowment for both Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency.