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Nebraska Chautauqua

Watch Virtual Chautauqua!

On July 30 and July 31, Chautauqua scholars Dr. Lenneal Henderson & Becky Stone and Eisenhower expert Jim Newton joined us for live online chats about Civil Rights and politics in the 1950s, answer your questions and respond to your thoughts. Watch the recorded videos now!

"The Fight for Civil Rights" with Dr. Lenneal Henderson & Becky Stone 

Dr. Henderson and Ms. Stone explored significant developments in the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and how the different events are tied to issues of politics, faith, and mass media.  They also discussed the historical figures that Henderson and Stone portray in "The Fifties in Focus" Nebraska Chautauqua  — Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks, respectively — and how events in the 1950s influence our country’s current conversations about race.

"Perceptions of President Eisenhower and Politics in the 1950s" with Jim Newton

Jim Newton describes how perceptions have changed about President Eisenhower as a key figure in the 1950s. He delves into how many events in the 1950s are shaped by his shrewd leadership.  We also talked with Jim Newton about what drew him to write about 1950s figures like President Eisenhower and Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Virtual Chautauqua Activities

"The Fifties in Focus" will be in Ashland during Summer 2021

Remember the 1950s? It was a decade that is often looked at with a sense of nostalgia and romanticism. But the 50s was also a time of sweeping change that can now be revisited with a more objective eye. Television, hot rods and rock-and-roll changed the way we spent our our free time. However, it wasn’t all idylic. 

The Cold War tensions continued to escalate with the Korean War and flare-ups around the world. Superpowers competed in an unprecedented space race. The U.S. experienced a baby boom that strained domestic resources. Meanwhile, women and minorities navigated an unfriendly labor market, and the Civil Rights movement began to solidify. McCarthyism compromised families, friendships and working relationships. 

Previously planned for late summer 2020, "The Fifties in Focus" will be hosted in Ashland during the summer of 2021. 

“Because Ashland is an ideal host for Chautauqua, the committee and Humanities Nebraska decided together that it would be better to postpone the event to next year, rather than proceed in a time of uncertainty and potential concern of spreading the COVID-19 virus,” explained Chautauqua manager Kristi Hayek Carley.

Until then, HN and the Ashland community will present programming and activities that will allow for the exploration of the 1950s this summer while staying socially distant. See the list below. Other opportunities will be added soon.


Summer 2021 • Ashland

  • Family friendly
  • Multiple opportunities to explore the 1950s
  • Interact with experts, family members, neighbors, and friends
  • Free for everyone!

Humanities Nebraska presented this new style of Chautauqua to give participants multiple opportunities to explore the social, economic, political, and international changes of the 1950s. There was a variety of activities and events for Nebraskans of all ages to enjoy, led by various experts and scholars.  

In 2021, "The Fifties in Focus" returns with many of the same scholars, but quite a few new things to enjoy as well in Ashland. Stay tuned for more details!

What is 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. The name itself comes from a resort community in New York State where in 1875, a summer program of lectures, sermons, and music attracted such enthusiastic audiences that within a few years similar programs sprang into existence for the public in other parts of the country.   Today, Chautauqua upholds the tradition of offering entertainment, education, and community-based heritage.  Humanities Nebraska has re-imagined Chautauqua to include contemporary experts offering insight regarding how historic events and achievements affect our lives today, along with scholars-in-residence presenting first-person portrayals of some of our most important historical figures. It's family-friendly fun, history and activities for all ages.


The 2021 Nebraska Chautauqua is sponsored in part by:

Chautauqua Events

More events will be added soon!
No events were found.

Humanities Nebraska programming is made possible by:

and generous individuals, foundations, and businesses across Nebraska.