October 29, 2022 | Last updated Jun 8, 2023

Made in Nebraska: The Douglas Voting Booth

This voting booth was manufactured by the Douglas Manufacturing Company in Crete, Nebraska in 1996. The company was founded by William W. and Elizabeth (Robb) Douglas. According to company history, Elizabeth pledged $20,000 to a missionary to Tibet without knowing how she would fulfill the promise. She then had a dream where she saw an old man with a long white beard who told her to make a steel collapsible voting booth. When she woke up, she used cardboard and sewing pins to put together a prototype, and a patent was issued to the Douglases in 1906. In the early years, a few voting booths were made by Dempster Mill in Beatrice, and then in a factory in Los Angeles. In 1912 a factory was built in Crete, Nebraska, where it operated until the company closed in 2015. History Nebraska has several Douglas voting booths in its collection, including an early example that is currently on display at the Nebraska History Museum.

This late 20th-century example of a handicapped accessible Douglas voting booth and hundreds of other objects were recently recataloged and photographed as part of a grant project for rehousing and recataloging furniture and large artifacts in History Nebraska’s collection. You can view this object and more in History Nebraska’s online database at: nebraskahistory.pastperfectonline.com

This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services IMLS number, MA-30-16-0329-16.

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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