UNL professor of libraries, Katherine L. Walter

Humanities Nebraska (HN) selected UNL Emeriti Professor Katherine L. Walter to receive the 2022 Sower Award in the Humanities.

For many years, Walter chaired UNL’s Digital Initiatives & Special Collections and was a founding director of the nationally-renowned Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. Her work established Nebraska as a leader in digital humanities while enriching the humanities throughout the state. Walter was a board member of HN’s Council from 2013-2019, serving as Council chair in 2016 and 2017. She also has chaired the Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association, and was appointed to the Nebraska State Historical Records Board by Governors Mike Johanns and Dave Heineman.

“Kay’s profound impact on the humanities in Nebraska has literally transformed the field, touched the lives of generations of students, teachers, and librarians, and reached tens of thousands of Nebraskans across the state,” said nominator and University of Nebraska historian William G. Thomas.

Among Walter’s many national grants was the transformative Nebraska Digital Newspaper Project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which resulted in preservation and digitization of community newspapers from across Nebraska. Through Nebraska Newspapers (http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu), Nebraskans have free online access to more than 650,000 pages of historic Nebraska newspapers.

Walter was honored on September 28, 2022 at the benefit dinner immediately preceding the 27th Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, which will be delivered by New York Times bestselling author Candice Millard. “A Clear and Steady Eye: Storytelling and Our Shared History” was a free public event beginning at 7:30 p.m. with a live-stream viewing option. Kicking off the E.N. Thompson Forum’s 2022 series titled “Creativity to Solve Global Challenges,” the Governor’s Lecture was presented by Humanities Nebraska with co-sponsors the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues, and the University of Nebraska. 

About the Sower Award in the Humanities

Humanities Nebraska presents the Sower Award in the Humanities annually to honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to the public understanding of the humanities in Nebraska. This contribution can be made through any combination of time, expertise, or resources. The selection committee will consider how nominees have helped enrich the lives of Nebraskans through the humanities: history, literature, culture, philosophy, and all the ways we explore what it means to be human.

Each year, the Sower Award in the Humanities is presented prior to the annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities. The award recipient must be present. In some past years the Sower Award was presented to organizations or communities; as of 2016 only individuals are eligible for nomination. Current board and staff members of Humanities Nebraska are not eligible.

Previous honorees have included: 

  • Talented humanities faculty who have taken the humanities to the public beyond their classroom;
  • Committed volunteers dedicating their time and energy to enhancing the cultural life of Nebraska;
  • Thoughtful journalists and filmmakers bringing the humanities to bear on important public issues;
  • Generous philanthropists who have directed significant financial support to humanities-related programs and projects accessible by Nebraskans

Past Sower Award Recipients:

Individuals: Marian Andersen, Robert Audi, Keith Blackledge, Marion Marsh Brown, Gene Bunge, Jack Campbell, State Sen. LaVon Crosby, Nancy Duncan, Walter Friedlander, Judi gaiashkibos, John Gottschalk, Natalie Hahn, Richard Holland, Jane Renner Hood, Ron Hull, Ted Kooser, Frederick Luebke, Robert Manley, Jack McBride, Gary Moulton, Ron Naugle, Robert Nefsky, Paul Olson, Don Pederson, Rhonda Seacrest, Todd Simon, Joe Seger, Bernice Slote, Annette and Paul Smith, Pamela Hilton Snow, Joe Starita, E.N. “Jack” Thompson, Charles “Chuck” Trimble, Morrie Tuttle, Don Welch, Larry Wewel, and John R. Wunder.

Institutions: Beatrice Public Library, Commercial Federal Savings and Loan, Cooper Foundation, El Museo Latino, Holdrege Public Library, InterNorth Foundation, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Nebraska Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Omaha World Herald, Septemberfest Committee of Omaha, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Education Foundation, and the Woods Charitable Fund.

Communities: Aurora, Central City, Chadron, Cozad, David City, Gering, Henderson, Oakland, Scottsbluff, Seward, and Verdigre.