History Nebraska Blog

2021 History Nebraska Awards

History Nebraska 2021 Awards

History Nebraska is proud to announce the winners of the 2021 History Nebraska Awards. History Nebraska annually recognizes people that provide significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history. Winners will be presented with their awards during a special Legislative event on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021, at the Nebraska History Museum

  • 2021 Champion of History Award – Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation, Genoa, NE
  • 2021 History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award – Michael Sandstrom, Chadron Public Schools, Chadron, NE
  • 2021 History Nebraska Advocacy Award – Dan Worth, BVH Architects, Lincoln, NE
  • 2021 Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award – Tom McLeay, Clarity Development, Omaha, NE
  • 2021 James L. Sellers Award – Lisa Lindell, Brookings, South Dakota

The Champion of History Award will be given to the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation in Genoa, NE. The Foundation, which volunteers almost entirely run, has been working for roughly 30 years to collect and preserve the history of the Indian Industrial School in Genoa, NE. Without the Foundation, we would know far less about the school than we currently do, school buildings and remnants would likely not still exist, and hundreds of Native people would not have seen what took place at the school and the lasting impact it has had upon Nebraska’s Native communities.

The Champion of History Award recognizes outstanding contributions by an individual or organization that helps preserve or interpret Nebraska history.  

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award will be given to Michael Sandstrom from Chadron Public Schools in Chadron, NE. Mr. Sandstrom is an outstanding teacher that goes the extra mile for students. Students learn to utilize primary documents in a way that makes history fun and interactive. Each year Mr. Sandstrom travels across the entire state with students to compete in the Nebraska State History Day competition. His students demonstrate mastery of historical analysis of original primary and secondary documents. He inspires his students to love history and think critically about the many points of view found in accounts. Getting students to this level of skill attainment and be willing to travel seven hours in a big yellow school bus across the state speaks volumes about his ability to motivate and inspire his students.

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually to a teacher who excels in teaching Nebraska history through creativity and imagination in the classroom by using documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary sources.

The History Nebraska Advocacy Award will be presented to Dan Worth of BVH Architects in Lincoln, NE. Mr. Worth’s career has been spent preserving our built environment, both as an architect and an advocate for preservation. He has assisted the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office by being a catalyst for preserving historically meaningful buildings throughout Nebraska and the Great Plains States, the importance and value of whose architectural heritage was previously unappreciated. Dan has spearheaded the listing of four historic sites on the National Register of Historic Places and their inclusion in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered Places.” Those sites, whose preservation he also undertook, include the Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital, built by the nation’s first Native American woman doctor. As chair of History Nebraska’s Historic Preservation Board, he led the successful drive to have more than 250 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The History Nebraska Advocacy Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions or assistance by an individual or organization to History Nebraska through volunteerism, advocacy, or donation.

The Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award will be given to Tom McLeay of Clarity Development in Omaha, NE. In partnership with GreenSlate Development, Tom and his team gave new life to the former Blackstone Hotel in Omaha through a $75 million rehabilitation project. The former hotel closed in 1984 and was extensively renovated for office use and renamed the Blackstone Center. The tile floors and ornamental plaster ceilings were covered, and the guest rooms and hallways were removed for an open-air office. All that remained on the interior of the former hotel’s glory days were the marble staircase and the eighth-floor ballroom. The current rehabilitation started in 2018. The exterior was thoughtfully repaired, and the interior was restored to its historic appearance. Guests are greeted with dazzling, intricate tile floors, which were uncovered and painstaking restored using matching tiles. The ornamental plaster ceiling of the top floor ballroom was loving restored. The famous Cottonwood Room, a restaurant and cocktail lounge, was recreated in the basement level. Even the faux cottonwood tree documented in historic photos was reproduced. The upper-story hotel rooms and corridors were restored based on historic blueprints, replacing the open-air offices from the 1984 redevelopment. Because of Tom and his team’s efforts, what was once one of the ritziest hotels in Omaha is now one of the hippest hotels.

The Nebraska Preservation Award recognizes significant achievements in historic preservation in Nebraska by an individual or organization.  The award is given for one of two categories: “brick and mortar projects” or “individual or group achievements.”

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award will be given to Lisa Lindell of Brookings, South Dakota. Lisa is being recognized for her article, ”’The Nebraska Cyclone’: Lillie Williams and the Embrace of Sport and Spectacle,” published in Nebraska History Magazine in 2019. Judges from Doane University wrote, “The information that Lindell includes about Williams’ early life shows careful and thorough research, as does her discussion of the history of cycling and of women’s involvement in professional sports.”

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award was created in 1967. The award is given each year for the “best article” published in a volume of Nebraska History Magazine. The author receives an award and $1,000 from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation through the support of Catherine Sellers Angle.

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