The Founding of the Nebraska Hall of Fame

The current Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans. The Hall of Fame Commission, with members appointed by the governor, is the official body responsible for the evaluation of candidates and the bestowal of this honor.

In 1935 the Omaha World-Herald asked three students of state history to choose ten persons they would nominate for a prospective Nebraska Hall of Fame. The only condition was that persons named could not then be living. The three members of the informal “jury” were Ned C. Abbott, superintendent of the Nebraska School for the Blind at Nebraska City and an executive board member of the Nebraska State Historical Society; Dr. L. V. Jacks, history professor at Creighton University; and Dean Edgar A. Holt, history professor at Omaha Municipal University.

The Sunday World-Herald of April 14, 1935, reported the results. All three, making their selections independently, agreed upon four candidates: William Jennings Bryan, Gilbert M. Hitchcock, J. Sterling Morton, and Dr. Harold Gifford. All are members of the current Nebraska Hall of Fame except Gifford, a noted Omaha eye surgeon and civic leader.

Two of the three jurors agreed on two more candidates: Edward Creighton and Solon Borglum. Creighton, Omaha entrepreneur and telegraph builder, is a member of the current Hall of Fame but Solon Borglum, a sculptor, is not. The following individuals received one vote each from one of the three jurors: the Rev. William Hamilton, missionary; Ammi L. Bixby, journalist; William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, frontiersman and showman; Carrie Belle Raymond, music teacher; Dr. August F. Jonas, surgeon; Dr. Fred Morrow Fling, historian; John Creighton, Omaha entrepreneur and brother of Edward; James G. Dahlman, “cowboy” mayor of Omaha; James H. Canfield, University of Nebraska chancellor; Edward Rosewater, founder and longtime editor of the Omaha Bee; Thomas R. Kimball, architect; the Rev. DeWitt C. Huntington, Methodist minister and chancellor of Nebraska Wesleyan University; Dr. Charles E. Bessey, botanist; and Charles H. Morrill, University of Nebraska benefactor for whom Morrill Hall at UNL is named. Of these individuals, only Cody is a member of the current Nebraska Fall of Fame. 

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