Treasures from Nebraska Museums

The NSHS works hard to collect and preserve Nebraska history, but we don’t do it alone. Historical organizations and museums dot our ninety-three counties and contain many treasures. To support their work in preserving our collective history we’re showcasing items from the collections of various Nebraska historical organizations through our Treasures from Nebraska Museums program. The items are featured in our newsletter, Nebraska History News, on our blog, and on exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Our featured organization from late October through December of 2013 is the Otoe County Museum of Memories in Syracuse.  The Museum of Memories has three buildings:  the former First Lutheran Church, the church Parsonage, and the Henry Kramer Memorial Building.  The church contains reconstructed scenes ranging from a butcher shop to a wedding at the altar and numerous artifacts ranging from quilts to toys.  The Parsonage features artifacts and displays on Otoe County history, military uniforms and artifacts, quilts, and a large collection relating to the Chick Boyes Players—a traveling act from the 1930s-1950s.  Big game trophies can be seen in the Henry Kramer Memorial Building.

Exterior of the Parsonage



Big game trophies in the Henry Kramer Memorial building


A sample of the displays in the Lutheran Church and Parsonage


The museum is located at 366 Poplar Street in Syracuse. It is open from May 1 through September 30, Wednesdays 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and Sundays 1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.  Appointments can be made to view the museum at other times by calling 402-269-2355 or 402-269-2571.  Free admission. Below are a few of the many items from the museum’s collection:


This china jar with lid was hand painted by Clarissa Parker sometime before 1936 in Unadilla. The museum holds a large collection of Clarissa’s china which shows her development as an artist over the decades.


The museum features a collection of artifacts and documents relating to the Bluebirds softball team that was active in Syracuse in the 1930s.  Featured here are a signed softball and a team photo from 1933.  Additional Bluebirds artifacts are on exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum. The Bluebirds were organized, managed, and coached by Dr. William Hillis, and players were recruited from all over southeast Nebraska.  They played both men and women, sometimes seriously and sometimes for fun, but were good enough to win state championships and compete in national championships in 1935, 1936, and 1937.  Although they disbanded in 1938, their exploits and success provided a bright spot for many Nebraskans suffering through hard times.

–Deb Arenz, Associate Director for Collections

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About History Nebraska
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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