NSHS Awards 2015

Last Friday was the Nebraska State Historical Society’s 137th Annual Meeting and its annual award luncheon. We were thrilled to celebrate the year with a packed room of lovers, makers, and preservers of history. For those who weren’t able to join us, enjoy this rundown of all the winners (and photographs taken by NSHS Trustee Jose Garcia): The Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award recognizes “outstanding contributions or assistance to the Nebraska State Historical Society” in the form of either long-term service or a significant one-time contribution by an individual or organization. This years award was given posthumously to Thomas R. Buecker.

The family of Tom Buecker accepts the Furnas Award.


Tom Buecker came to work for the NSHS in 1977, serving as curator at Neligh Mill State Historic Site (1977-1985), Fort Robinson Museum (1985-2011), and the Thomas P. Kennard House in Lincoln (2011-2015). He authored  three books: Fort Robinson and the American West, 1874-1899; Fort Robinson and the American Century, 1900-1948; and, A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman: Lt. James E. H. Foster in the West, 1873-1881, which received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. He also wrote more than seventy published articles on the history of the West. A fourth book, Last Days of Red Cloud Agency, will be published by the NSHS in 2016.

The Asa T. Hill Memorial Award was created in 1975 to recognize an individual or organization for an outstanding research project or interpretation of an archeological site or sites in the field of Great Plains archeology and was awarded to The Nebraska Land Trust in recognition of their ongoing efforts to develop conservation easements for lands in Nebraska containing important archeological resources.

Dave Sands and Glen Johnson accept the Hill Award on behalf of the Nebraska Land Trust.


Such easements have been developed in Sarpy, Boone, Saunders, and Dawes counties. They now hold 29 easements in 13 counties protecting 11,804 acres. Eleven of their 29 easements contain either historical or cultural resources.

The Nebraska Preservation Award was created in 1988 to recognize significant achievements in Nebraska historic preservation by an individual or organization. It is the state’s premiere recognition for the preservation of historic places, honoring the recipient as an example for other Nebraskans who pursue similar endeavors.

Bryce and Elizabeth Lund accepting the Nebraska Preservation Award.


One definition of restoration is “bringing back to a former condition.” This is exemplified by recent efforts of Elizabeth and Bryce Lund. They took a grand house, built in 1887 by J. D. McDonald on Fremont’s Military Avenue, and restored it to its original elegance. The house had been previously remodeled as a hospital and funeral home. Among the alterations in the 1950s and ’60s was the replacement of its two-story porch with metal awnings. Using a historical print, the Lunds restored the porch to its original condition.

Likewise, much of the house’s interior, which now serves as a medical clinic, was thoughtfully restored. The work was overseen by the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Nebraska State Historical Society, allowing the owners to take advantage of historic preservation tax incentives.

The Addison E. Sheldon Memorial Award, created in 1973, is given annually to an individual or organization for “outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation in the field of Nebraska History.” The 2015 Addison E. Sheldon Award winner was Dr. Daniel Holtz.

Dr. Dan Holtz and the Sheldon Award.


Dr. Holtz was nominated for his contribution to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history through teaching and public programs. These include Peru State College’s Trails and Tales Tour and Institute, which provides Nebraska’s elementary-through -secondary teachers the opportunity to learn about Nebraska’s history and literature. His “Nebraska through Song and Story” program, given through the Humanities Nebraska Speakers Bureau, interprets Nebraska history by featuring early-day folk songs and the stories behind them.

Dr. Holtz served on the NSHS Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2014. He is currently involved in planning the state’s 2017 sesquicentennial celebration, serving on both the Nebraska 150 Foundation and on Peru State College’s Sesquicentennial Executive Committee.

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award, created in 1967, is given each year for the “best article” published in a volume of Nebraska History. The jury is provided by a Nebraska college or university history department that is not represented by an article in the judging pool. Articles are evaluated on use of primary sources, quality of research and writing, and reader interest.

Dan Jibreus receives the Sellers Award.


This year the Sellers Award was given to Dan Jibréus’s article, “The Long Journey of White Fox,” which appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Nebraska History. The judges wrote that Dan’s “extensive research, on a topic of interest to lay persons and academics alike, sheds light on a host of fascinating issues, and thus in our view was the clear winner.”   

Dan Jibréus is trained in archaeology and ethnology at The University of Uppsala, Sweden. He worked for many years as an antiquarian book seller and this led to his employment at the Hagströmer Library, which is the rare book collection (mainly pre-1850) of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

For more information on Jibréus and his visit to Nebraska to accept his award, check out our recent blog post!

The James C. Olson Memorial Award is given annually to a Nebraska teacher who epitomizes the best Nebraska educators have to offer in engaging, inspiring, and guiding their students to discover and enjoy the histories we share. The award is limited to K-12 teachers who encourage their students in endeavors such as History Day, who use documents, oral history, or place in classroom projects, or who employ other innovative methods to make Nebraska history come alive for their students and this year was awarded to JoAnn Wallman.

JoAnn Wallman receives the Olson Memorial Award.


Like learners of all ages, young children learn best by using all of their senses. JoAnn Wallman is a first grade teacher at Messiah Lutheran School in Lincoln. Since 1975 she has brought Nebraska history to life for her students, providing many learning opportunities. When she brings her students to the Nebraska History Museum, they are always well-prepared and knowledgeable about state’s history when they arrive. By providing activities that encourage understanding of the past, Mrs. Wallman instills in her students a lifelong love of history.

The Champion of Nebraska History Award is presented to an individual who has provided distinguished service in the public arena in support of the mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society.  Former Nebraska First Lady Sally Ganem was recognized for her conspicuous public service in championing continued stewardship of the Governor’s Residence and a virtual tour of the Nebraska State Capitol.

Former Nebraska First Lady Sally Ganem receives the Champion of Nebraska History Award.


She conceived and led the development of the virtual tour, raising more than half a million dollars to fund the project and working with the NSHS, NET, and with the Nebraska Department of Education to develop curriculum based on state social studies standards.

She also supported the NSHS’s successful nomination of the Governor’s Residence to the National Register of Historic Places and worked with our staff so we could install exhibits of historical value for celebrations and open houses. Her work has expanded the knowledge of Nebraska heritage across the state.

Congratulations to all our honorees!

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