Over the years, Nebraska has been “number one” in a lot of categories. We’ve had the
nation’s highest-rated football team, we’ve produced more popcorn than anyone else, we’ve
had more school districts, and our state boasts the largest stabilized sand dune formation in
the western hemisphere.
Nebraska also ranks number one in Czech immigration. Between 1856 and World War I,
some 50,000 Czechs chose Nebraska as their new home. By l9l0, first and second generation
Czechs made up about fourteen per cent of Nebraska’s foreign-born population. Per capita,
we had more first and second generation Czechs than any other state in the Union.
Along with clothing, tools, and household goods, Czechs brought their “cultural baggage”
with them to their new home. Czech food, language, literature, art, social organizations and
institutions found fertile fields on the Nebraska prairie. Some of the old country ways of
Bohemia and Moravia faded as immigrants became “American.” But many legacies of Czech
Today the most obvious place to see Czech ethnic culture presented is at the numerous
festivals in Czech communities across the state. But Czech culture is much more than polka
bands and prune kolaches. Czechs have made many contributions to the history and culture
of Nebraska. These “immigrant gifts” to Nebraska life are the focus of a new traveling
exhibition planned by the Nebraska State Historical Society. Scheduled to open in l993, the
exhibit will include photographs, documents, and depictions of artifacts.
Nebraska Czechs are invited to participate in the creation of the exhibit by sharing
photographs, documents, and reminiscences with Historical Society researchers. Project
Coordinator David Murphy is conducting a statewide survey of museums, historical societies
and Czech communities to find “the best.” Artifacts, photographs, manuscripts, or
documents will be borrowed by the Society, and photographed or copied for use in the
Specifically, the Society is searching for items brought from the Old Country, items made by
Czechs in Nebraska after their arrival, and documents and/or manuscripts on emigration and
settlement. Photographs of notable individuals, families, groups, or events, of Czech-
American community occasions and Czech homes, farmsteads, and buildings are also sought.
Individuals or groups with information or items to share should contact David Murphy,
Nebraska State Historical Society, P.O. Box 82554, Lincoln, NE, 68501.