The Great Plains Black History Museum

The Great Plains Black History Museum Manuscript Collection

Below is a framework for the Great Plains Black History Museum's Collection Outline and Description (to date). This is a work in progress underway at the Nebraska State Historical Society; spring, 2010.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


RG .AM: Great Plains Black History Museum (Omaha, Neb.), 1976-2010

Papers: 1857-2009
Omaha, Douglas County, Neb.: African American Manuscript Collection
Size: 125. cu. ft.; 6 cu. ft. photographs

RG . AM: The Great Plains Black History Museum of Omaha, Nebraska, manuscript collection consists of historical records dating from 1857-2009. For almost four decades, from 1976-2002, the Curator of the GPBHM amassed the manuscript materials of African Americans in the Great Plains Region (Wyoming, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, and especially Nebraska). The content of this large collection represents the history of African Americans West of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from Texas to South Dakota and Chicago. During it heyday, the Museum thrived under the care of founder and Director Bertha Calloway. The private non-profit museum opened its doors to the public, offering displays of African American homesteaders, cowboys, soldiers, and African Americans in the sciences and in sports. The collection also contains rare books and sheet music, with holdings in African American literature, cookery, and local politics. The Collection boasts rich cultural holdings including: interviews with elders from the post-Civil War Era, church histories, and Masonic rituals and events acted out in local contexts. The contents of the GPBHM provide historical documentation of African American activities and pursuits representative of a wide array of subjects, disciplines, and periods. Over half of the materials represent African American life in Omaha, Nebraska. Another quarter of the boxes document African American life and history in other Nebraska cities and towns, as well as Africana community life in Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas. The Original Curator of the Collection became ill in the final years of the twentieth century, and the GPBHM Board of Directors initiated a number of different strategies to preserve the collection and keep the holdings safe and intact.


In this collection you will find: photographs of Mildred Brown founder of the African American newspaper the Omaha Star; documentation of the life of Nebraska artist Anna Burckhardt; information on Ava Speese and family (African American homesteaders). Other homesteaders whose lives are documented here are John Bridewell, Harriet Green, Ollie Walker, Hester and Charles Meehan, and Myra Kincaid. Contained here are records documenting B. Calloway's Ms. Black Nebraska pageant; and a joint Black Studies Department/GPBHM Oral History Project II. Included here are details on the artistic careers of local musicians from the 1930’s -1960s, especially, noteworthy are holdings on Basie Givens' "Basie Bombadiers"; Earl Graves Orchestra [c. 1957], and Dan Des Dunes Band. There is a “Negro” Business Directory for Omaha from 1941, and Women (s) Christian Temperance Union Papers. Here also are documentation of African Americans in early Radio and Television. The collection holds the minutes of meetings held at the integrated YWCA site at Camp Brewster. Other papers document the deep involvement of North Omaha men and women in African American Masonry. Also included are the partial runs of local Black alternative newspapers, and institutional records including the BLAC Papers (Black Liberators for Action on Campus) a student group at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, whose members were active in the Anti-Apartheid Movement of the 1980’s. The collection documents the experiences of African American cattlemen on the plains. Materials on the Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs are housed here, as is a series on African American voluntary associations. Materials on the De Porres Club provide details regarding African American activism in Omaha, and there is a wealth of information on many aspects of the local Civil Rights Movement. Contained here, as well, is information on African American social clubs.

This collection is arranged in nine subgroups: 1) Local Histories; 2) Black Institutions; 3) Family Papers; 4) Newspapers; 5) Rare Books; 6) Musical Scores; 7) B. Calloway's Research Collection Africana; 8) Photograph Collection; and 9) Artifacts.

Subgroup 1: Local Histories, is comprised of several series with documents pertaining to African Americans in Omaha and Lincoln, specifically, and to African Americans in Nebraska in general. Local histories contain documents relating to: the arts, church, civil rights, cowboys, clubs (and social life), fraternities, homesteaders, masons, military, music, politicians, Pullman porters , schools, etc. Subgroup 2: Black Institutions, holds documents created by institutions which define themselves as black in orientation, and institutions which integrated prior to 1965, and whose mission included desegregation and civil rights for African Americans. Subgroup 3: Family Papers, holds the papers of (at present) twelve family collections. Subgroup 4: African American Newspapers, includes rare, alternative presses with limited runs. Subgroup 5: Curator Bertha Calloway's Research Collection Africana, is both national and international in scope. It consists of roughly 25 boxes of records on subjects ranging from African art to the Underground Rail Road. Subgroup 6: Musical Scores, is comprised of both Church and Secular music in the African American tradition. Subgroup 7: Rare Books, includes publications on African American history, literature, and Black cookbooks. Subgroup 8: is comprised of Photographs (aprox. 6 cu. feet). Most of the photos here document the history of African Americans in Nebraska, and especially in Omaha. Subgroup 9: Artifacts, holds period dresses, phonographs, quilts, hats, and more.

(The Collection Outline and Description is a work in progress)
Subgroup 1 Local Histories: holds series with documents pertaining to African Americans in Omaha or Lincoln, specifically, and to African Americans in Nebraska in general. Local histories contain: Arts, Church, Civil Rights, Cowboys, Clubs (and Social life), Fraternities, Homesteaders, Masons, Military, Music, Schools, etc.

Subgroup 2 Black Institutions: contains documents created by institutions which define themselves as black in orientation, and which are organized and run by African Americans. Also in this subgroup are the materials of institutions that integrated prior to 1965, and whose mission included desegregation and civil rights for African Americans. This subgroup holds administrative materials for the GPBHM itself (and its programs), the Papers of the : NAACP; the North side Y.W.C.A; the Urban League; and the National Federation of Colored Women Clubs.
Subgroup 3 Family Papers: There are at present roughly twelve family collections. The surnames of families include, Dixon, Thomas, Chambers, and more.
Subgroup 4 Newspapers: African American Newspapers--includes rare, alternative presses
with limited runs. Contains issues of The Voice, Everybody Magazine, and Black

Subgroup 5 B. Calloway's Research Collection Africana: contains African American
Historical Data and Materials compiled by the original curator of the

Subgroup 6 Musical Scores: Contains Church and Secular sheet music in the African American tradition.

Subgroup 7 Rare Books: contains manuscripts (some of which are out of print) for which African Americans serve as subject, topic, and audience.

Subgroup 8 Photograph Collection: A large collection (aprox. 6 cu. feet), of photographs
of African Americans in the Midwest.

Subgroup 9 Artifacts: period dresses, phonographs, quilts, hats, and more.

Note: Of the approximately 180 boxes that make up the GPBHM Archival Collection, 83 of the boxes fall under Subgroup 1: Local Histories. The contents of first twenty-nine boxes in Subgroup 1 are described below; (about 1/5th of the total collection).

Subgroup 1 Local Histories: (preliminary) Series Description

The Local Histories Subgroup is (at present) divided into nine (9) series. The series are 1) African Americans in Nebraska, 2) Black Business and Professional Men, 3) Black Women, 4) Black Arts Community 5) the Black Church, 6) Civil Rights, 7) Black Cowboys, 8) Church Life, and 9) Clubs.

Series 1: Local Histories, contains a copy of H.J. Pinkett’s book, Omaha Negros. Also housed here is information on the Nebraska Chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH); the Urban League of Omaha, and documentation of desegregation attempts in the “Gate City.” Series 2: Black Business and Professional Men, documents the lives and work of African American business men: Horace Colley (Neb. Furrier); the Myers family (of Myers Funeral Home) ; Sones of Sones Real Estate; A.B. Pittman (veterinarian); Fred Conley (Omaha city councilman); Gene Crump (attorney) ; Jimmy Jewell (owner Dreamland Ballroom); Aubrey Wise; William Bryant; Silas Robbins, and many more. Series 3 explores the lives of African American women, including: Anna Burckhardt (local artist and art teacher); Rowena Moore (laborer and activist) ; Anna Partridge; Zahrya Hill; Christine Dixon, Helen Mahammit; Ruth Thomas; Della Littlejohn; Judy Solomon; and Vickey Parks among others. Series 2: Black Arts, includes information on Omaha artist Neville Murray; the Artists’ Coop; and the Bill Brice Memorial Art Gallery, among other items. Series 5 : the Black Church, holds a number of church histories including the histories of: Pilgrim Baptist Church, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, St. Philips’ Church, and St. John’s A.M.E. Also contained here are lists of church members, church financial records, and Sunday school journals. Series 6: Civil Rights, is comprised of information on a school desegregation suit filled by parents in Omaha, Neb. (1964), and the ruling in the case by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (1975). The Series also contains information on housing problems in Omaha. Series 7: Church Life, provides documentation of events which combine secular and religious life. Emblematic of the holdings is St. Philip’s Coronation pageant, a multi-purpose event sponsored by both church and secular entities. Series 9: Clubs, contains information on many of North Omaha’s voluntary associations. A significant number of these clubs held several social events each year –usually ballroom dances. Their papers document African American participation in Omaha’s popular ballroom dancing from 1940-1969. Other clubs focused on securing civil liberties and civil rights for African Americans. The De Porres Club was known for its activism, and its civil rights campaigns are recorded here.


Subgroup 1: Local Histories
Series 1: African Americans in Nebraska
Box 1
1. Oral History
2. “Colored Voters,” Souvenir Album
3. Omaha Negroes, by H. J. Pinkett
4. Prominent Nebraska Negroes
5. NASALH (Neb. Association for the Study of African American Life and History)
6. Black History
7. Urban League
8. Booker T. Washington
9. Drum Talk: Afro American History Review (1978).
10. Inventors
11. Mandela
12. Benjamin Quarrels “What the Historian Owes the Negro” (1966)
13. “Information on Desegregation”
14. Black History
15. African American History Kit
16. Black History Month: Great Plains Black History Museum Open House 1988-89

Box 2

1. Alliance, Neb. “Legend & Memory,” Phase II
2. Black Women in Neb. History “A List,”
3. Photos & Negatives, African Americans in early Neb.
4. Women in Politics
5. Lillian Westbrook
6. 4th Annual Nebraska Women of Color Conf, 1988.
7. Title of the GPBHM Museum plot

Series 2: Black Business and Professional Men

Box 1


1. Myers Funeral Home bill of sale
2. Edward Danner campaign material
3. Sones Real Estate
4. “T.C.” Lowell White, Bicentennial Bike Rider
5. Horace Colley, Nebraskan in fur Industry
6. Charles Parrot
7. Cortex Peters (typewriting)
8.Dr. Julian LaFontant, Chair UNO Black Studies (1984)
9. John T. Vidal, NY Black furrier
10. Stokely Carmichael (A.K.A. Kwame Ture)
11. James Beatty, Trustee Western Heritage Museum
12. Loose material
13. Mike Boyle, Mayor Omaha
14. Jim Hart, businessman
15. Sones Real Estate
16. Builders: Slim Thomas, Bobby Hunt
17. Vernon Jordan, Jr.
18. Charles Davis (Omaha Human Relations Board)
19. Iroquois Lodge # 92 Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks

Box 2


1. Assorted Photos
2. Reprinted Photos (national figures0
3. Delegate Democratic Convention
4. Jesse Jackson for President Campaign material
5. Newspaper politics
6. Mayors of Omaha
7. Dr. A.B. Pittman, veterinarian
8. Fred Conley, candidate for city council (1987), bio, correspondence
9. Paul Brady, Fed. Law Judge
10. Gene Crump for Neb. Attorney General
11. James Henry Lane, Kansas 1860
12. Clarence Wigington, ice sculptor
13. Leroy Walker, Owner McDonalds Franchise, Omaha
14. First 100 Days, Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago (article, clippings)
15. “Leon Evans” Community Bank of Nebr. (5180 Ames Av.) c. 1973
16. George Thomas, Realtor
17. Blacks in the White House and Congress
18. “100 Most Influential Black Americans” clippings
19. Eldridge Cleaver, clippings
20. Jesse Jackson & the Rainbow Coalition, Papers.

Box 3


1. Eddie Chambers, Al Grice, and James Hart (includes funeral program of Bill Brice).
2. Photos, Jimmy Jewell, 1935
3. Madd Dadds, Materials, 1991
4. Silas Robbins (1st African American Admitted to the Neb. Bar).
5. Brief Bios Influential A.A. in Omaha
6. Nebraska Rainbow Coalition “Statement of Principles,” (1988)
7. William Bryant, early Black Attorney
8. Jesse Jackson, clippings
9. Aubrey Wise, owner Phillips Dept. Store
10. Component Concepts, Joe Saunders
11. Correspondence of Dubois L. Gilliam, E.G.O Officer (Council Bluffs, IA) c. 1977
12. A. Phillip Randolph Chapter, Press Release
13. Lawrence McVoy, campaign material
14. Arthur McCaw, clippings
15. Franklin Credit Union
16. Franklin Credit Union, Larry King
17. Correspondence GPBHM & Larry King
18. Franklin Credit Union
19. Larry King Jr., & Alice King, Photo
10. Larry & Alice King attorney’s correspondence w/ B. Calloway
11. Jimmie Williams, Linotype machine (c. 1954).
12. James Beatty, Western Heritage Trustee
13. Will and Testament of Roy A. White
14. Brief Bio, Silas Robbins, 1st African American Attorney in Neb.
15. Harold Washington, Chicago
16. Loose Material
17. Photos

Box 4


1. Businessmen’s Directory
2. Mary McLeod Bethune, Education
3. Nebraska Marrow
4. Tony Brown, Journalist
5. Herman Cain, Godfather’s Pizza
6. Attorney J.C. Crawford
7. Photo, Lawrence Kenneth Myers, Jr.
8. Paul Allen’s Showcase Lounge, clippings
9. John Owen, Neb. State Senator, 1933-34 & William Cooper
10. Clarence Wigington, artist
11. Great Plains Black History Museum—Grand Opening
12. H.J. Pinkett, Attorney, Omaha; clippings
13. Wayne Loften, clippings
14. MidCity Business and Professional Association; clippings
15. Homer Early (1972) S. Omaha, clippings
16. Mike Green, former UNL running back, clippings
17. Small claims court J. & B. Calloway v. Ronald Ford; R. Ford and Ms. Black Nebraska (1979)
18.Jimmy Williams, Printer
19. B. Calloway’s treatise on a Black History Museum, function and purpose
20. Flyer, Henry Louis Gates
21. Photo, Dr. Ralph Bunche
22. Simon Harrold, drummer/ Dan Des Dunes & Happy Hollow Country Club waiter; clippings
23. Andrew Young, clippings
24. Lee & Batheja, engineering firm, Omaha
25. “Frederick Douglass’ Grandson” photo
26. Hardy Meeks, shoe repair
27. Harold Becker, GPBM Board member, clippings
28. Keith Russ, Prisoner and Toastmaster
29. Ritz Cab, during Safeway driver’s strike, clippings
30. Ray L. Williams, attorney; B. Calloway, notary
31. Lawrence W.M. McVoy, Omaha Board of Education campaign material.
32. Misc.

Series 3: Black Women

Box 1


1. Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial; museum feasibility study
2. Rosa Parks
3. Dr. Clair Owens
4. Black Women’s Festival
5. Jethro Moore, Rowena Moore’s father, clippings (1969).
6. U.S. Congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm
7. Photo: Mrs. Anna Burckhardt, art instructor Lincoln
8. Brenda Warren Council, election material, clippings
9. Edwena Justus, engineer R.R.
10. Tribute to Women, pamphlet
11. Rosa Parks
12. Anna (Gaines) Partridge, Oakview farm for African American children
13. “Racial Tension” article, Omaha New Horizons, 1991
14. Bethune Museum
15. Ethel Davis; clippings
16. Dr. Cecilia Willis
17. Lillian Dorsey, clippings
18. Black Women in America, Darlene Clark Hine & Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
19. Stephanie Webb, Columbus Neb. & the Black Women of the Great Plains Symposium
20. Emily West, Yellow Rose of Texas
21. Leona Lee
22. Mildred Hill
23. Zahrya Hill, 1st African American women admitted to Neb. Bar [c. 1928]
24. Lila Northcross
25 Clara Brown, pioneer, brief bio
26. Maria Metoyer, Plantation home in Louisiana
27. Mary Elizabeth Bowser, clipping
28. Toni Brodis, carpenter
29. Mary Barner, soap business (MO)
30. Project Equality, Kathy Ligger
31. Channie Perkins
32. Letters and Papers of Josephine Smith, Neb. City (1906)(court docs, photos, and letters)
33. Marguerita Hill Danner, certificate
34. Christine Dixon, and women of color hired at old telephone co.

Box 2


1. Mahammit School of Cookery, Recipes & Domestic Service, (1939)
2. Integrated school (c. 1930)
3. Speese Family; Neb. Homesteaders, photo
4. Minnie Patton, photo
5. Helen Mahammit, catering; clippings and photos
6. Pegg Family, Valentine, Neb.
7. Myrtle Hall Rhodes, Washington, IA; photo
8. Rose McWilliams Fisher, Letter to Amer. Civil Liberties Union
9. Article, “Black Women & Discrimination”
10. Ruth Thomas (Mrs. Francis Thomas) Homesteading family, Family Papers
11. Mildred D. Brown and Dr. Kelsey Jones
12. Bill McCallop, Shawnee, KS
13. Women drivers (overland)
14. Anna Burckhardt (wife of Rev. O. J.)
15. Mrs. Roberts, Indianola, Neb.
16. Sones Real Estate
17. Alfred Jones, Lease 1915 for Castle Hotel (16th ST.)
18. Muriel Pullum
19. Dan Estevan, Mrs. Nina Wheeler’s grandfather
20. “Colored Old People’s Home,” Omaha ,
21. Vera Chandler Foster, UNL Grad.
22. Mary Francis Berry, at UNO
23. Maxine Waters
24. Black Women of the Great Plains, posters

Box 3


1. Nebraska Women
2. Angela Davis
3. Anna Partridge, Oakview Home
4. Joyce Young
5. Black Museum Grant, clippings
6. Luther Jackson, Historian
7. Correspondence
8. First Annual Black Omahan Dinner (sponsored by Black Women Unlimited)
9. Lt. Doyle
10. Douglas County Republican Women’s Club
11. Barbara Richardson, clipping
12. Shirley Chisholm
13. Belle Taylor 1920, photos
14. Anieta Hayes
15. Allene Watkins, Emma Parks, clippings
16. Beulan Britt, Photo Collection
17. Lillian Dorsey, pharmacist in Omaha, clipping
18. Jannie Kelley, Model, Eunice Johnson, Fashion
19. Nettie Frederick, Chiropodist, Illinois license [c. 1924]
20. Juanita Hanger, Cleveland, OH
21. Della Littlejohn (b. Merrill, b. 1902), interview by B. Calloway (May 6, 1988)
22. Gladys Styles Johnston, clippings
23. Lorraine Hansberry
24. Judy Solomon Correspondence w/ GPBHM
25. Walter Vincent Brooks, “A Note to the Black Woman,”
26. Beatrice Williams, Certification
27. Black Professional Women
28. “Black Role Models,” clippings (includes list of influential Blk. Women in Neb. : Judge Elizabeth Pittman; Activist Leola Bullock; Minister Sirilda Belva Spicer; Activist, Lela Knox Shanks; V.P. Smith College, E. Shelton Burden, etc. )
29. Ada Burton
30. Diana Ross, annotated photograph
31. Women’s international convention of Church of God in Christ (c. 1955)
32. Lovetta Busch, organizer of Woodson Center.
33. Ida Rusk Levi, clippings
34. Susie Scott Yancy Papers and Photographs (of Nat. Assoc. of Colored Women, c. 1949).
35. Women of Color Conference [c. 1991]
36. Alyce Wilson, Woodson Center, Omaha
37. Loose material.

Box 4


1. Cotillion Links, photos
2. YWCA “Clearing House” Scholarship Winners (. 1977).
3. McFalls/Logan Family Papers
4. Sherwood, Horace (1912)
5. Colorado, photos
6. Vickey Parks, clippings
7. Robin Fraizer
8. Black Women
9. Mary Jane Duncan
10. Susie Philip
11. Frances Bell—deed of sale
12. Road Show, (Vaudeville genre).

Series 4: Black Arts/Arts Community

Box 1


1. Great Plains Black Museum Art Exhibition “Neville Murray,” [1990]
2. Artists’ Coop
3. Richard Samuel Roberts, photographer
4. African cards
5. Workers compensation
6. Publications
7. Great Plains Black Museum Art Show (1979).
8. Art Guild Newsletter and other publications
9. GPBM Workshops (1989)
10. African culture
11. African art-Detroit
12. Art publications
13. Gordon Parks Exhibit at the GPBHM (1986)
14. Commercial art
15. Prints, donated by A. Carter
16. Clippings
17. Arts in Omaha

Box 2


1. Bill Brice Memorial Art Gallery
2. Art Scholars
3. Correspondence of Tim McClendon
4. Kellogg Project
5. African American Museum of Art and History
6. Metro Arts (May, 1986)
7. Frank Hodsell, clipping
8. Matthew C. Stelly “Battle for the Arts” 1984
9. B. Calloway correspondence—arts
10. Arts
11. Artist, Emerson Terry
12. Augusta Savage and Edmonia Lewis
13. Black Artists
14. “For the Good Times” B. Calloway on African American Music in Omaha
15. Arts Clippings
16. Neville Murray
17. Art Talk “The Acquisition of Art in the Black Community,” B. Calloway
18. GPBHM “Sharing Tradition”
19. I Dream A World, book
20. Loose material

Series 5: The Black Church

Box 1


1. Forty-Eighth Annual National Sunday School Congress (1953)
2. Allen A.M. E. Church, Yankton, S. Dakota (1980)
3. Church Records (Misc.)
4. Pleasant Green Baptist Church Financial Report, 1997.
5. A History of St. John A.M.E. of Nebr. (f. 1867)
6. Journal of Church Affairs, Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society (1917-1947), by Lenora Gray.
7. Black Catholic Church
8. The New Day (1942) Father Divine’s Weekly
9. Brief History of the Black Church in Neb. [1963?]
10. Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Minutes (1940-1946)
11. A brief History of Zion Baptist Church

Box 2


1. Black Church in Topeka/Kansas City A.M. E (1973)
2. Black Church in Omaha [1965]; Amended Articles of Incorporation Church of God in Christ (1976)
3. W. M. Cleve Madison, Papers (1976)
4. Black Church, Omaha (1965)
5. A.M.E. Zion, Correspondence (1883)
6. Hymnal
7. Reverend M. Green, Papers
8. Paradise Baptist Papers; and photographs
9. Holy Ghost Temple Sunday School Record Book, 1965-1967
10. Itinerant Preachers, Omaha, clippings
11. Rev. Ridley, Church at 28th & Lake Streets
12. Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (1975)
13. Clair Methodist Church, Omaha [c. 1963] summer program
14. Church of the Living God, Journal (1955)

Box 3


1. Church News
2. Paradise Baptist
3. Bethel A.M.E. Junior Ushers, photo
4. Bethel A.M.E. Church, (24th & Franklin, photos
5. Mt. Zion Baptist, Lincoln, NE (1991), Correspondence
6. Louise Perrodin (b. Oppolusas, LA) and B. Calloway Interview (c. 1976)
7. Church publications
8. Church photos
9. Clair Methodist Summer project
10. Black Theology
11. Pilgrim Baptist, Financial Ledgers & Rosters; church history (1968)
12. Grace Tabernacle Church, clippings
13. Unification Church, NY
14. “Old Folks Home,” clippings
15. Pilgrim Church, Men’s Laymen Ledger & Minutes (1956-1959; Rev. Charles Favors
16. Pleasant Green Church Papers
17. Father Divine, Midwestern followers
18. Church Papers of S. Dixon
19. Church of God in Christ, Lizzie Robinson, clippings
20. Seventh Day Adventist Church, Papers
21. United Methodist Community Center Inc. /Wesley House (c. 1981)
23. Church photo
24. Misc.

Box 4


1. Moring Star Ground Breaking Ceremony (1981)
2. The Black Church, publication by M. R. Middleton, 1976
3. Mt. Calvary Church
4. Song books
5. Scrapbook of Omaha Churches before 1950
6. Easter Treasury
7. Chronicle of Black Protest, clippings
8. Calvin Memorial Church
9. Church of God in Christ, Bishop Louis H. Fard
10. Moring Star Baptist
11. Rev. J. Crowder, Pleasant Green, preacher’s license
12. Father Divine
13. Rev. Livingston Wills
14. Church of God in Christ, Scrapbook and photos
15. Church Misc.
16. Loose Material

Box 5


1. History of Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, Omaha (1915)
2. Metro Baptist Church, Rev. W. Harper
3. Tabernacle Church of Christ & Rev. Livingston Wills
4. A.M.E. Conf. attendees (List)
5. St. Benedict
6. Mt. Moriah Baptist, brief bio
7. Hillside Presbyterian
8. Bethel A.M.E., membership lists
9. Zion Baptist Church
10. Zion Imperial Chair, correspondence
11. Program: National Baptist Sunday School Conference, Omaha, 1958
12. Loose Materials

Box 6


1. Interdenominational Pastors’ Wives Council (1968-73)
2. National Baptist Convention (1955)
3. A.M.E. General Conference
4. Publications (includes a history of “Negro Baptists” in NC [c. 1955]
5. Minutes of the 16th General Conf. of Colored Methodist Episcopal Church at K.C. MO (1926)
6. Plays, ceremonies, manuals
7. Rev. Ike Church, Chicago
8. Sheet Music
9. The Challenge of Interracial Justice; Boys Town (books)
10. Mary Hill Circle Church Meetings, Ledger and Journal (1954)
11. Church Papers, misc. (Father Divine; Wesley House Board, correspondence , clippings; list holiness churches of Omaha.
12. Loose Material

Box 7


1. “Religion in Omaha,” article
2. Allen Chapel
3. Salem Baptist
4. Philadelphia Baptist
5. Cleaves Temple Church; (includes program from 83rd Annual Kansas-MO Conf. held at Cleves Temple in Omaha (2431 Decatur; 1964); photos
6. St. Philips Episcopal Church, Coronation Pageant, programs and photos (1966)
7. St. Philips, (18th and Capitol Ave)
8. St. Philips Coronation (1940-1966)
9. St. Philips, Father Williams
10. St. Philips Church History, photos
11. Bethel Baptist; brief autobiography by Rev. Thomas A. Taggart, church father
12. Mt. Nebo Baptist Church (3211 Pinkney, 1975), photos, correspondence
13. “The Black Church” WH (1971), list of churches in Ministerial Alliance
14. Misc. Church

Box 8


1. “Beauty in Ashes” missionary travel Journal by Basilia Bell (1965)
2. UNO and GPBHM re: Rev. Ben Chavis’ visit to Omaha (1983), correspondence
3. B. Calloway and Rev. Andrew Rollins (Presiding Elder Omaha-Wichita District Kansas-Neb. Conf.), correspondence
4. Rev. Elijah Hill, correspondence
5. Pioneers and the Bible in Omaha (1907)
6. Tabernacle Baptist
7. “The Black Manifesto,” (Apr. 26, 1969)
8. “Unfinished Pattern,” a Play
9. Church Music
10. Essay by Paul Briggs
11. St. John’s A.M.E., list of deceased members (includes Mildred Brown, 1989, and others).
12. Church Publications (ex. Sunday School Quarterly of Church of the Living God, 1963.)
13. National Baptist Convention: Woman’s Auxiliary (1950-68)
14. New Era Baptist Convention of Neb. (1952)
15. Foreign Missionaries: Retreat & Travel Journal [c. 1961?]
16. Songbooks/ Children’s Stories
17. Publications, misc. churches
18. Church of God in Christ: State Women’s Convention
19. Programs, misc. churches
20. Clippings

Box 9


1. St. John’s Choir, photos
2. St. John’s A.M.E. (Apr., 1, 1990), list of deceased members
3. St. John A.M.E. Program, 1942; Funeral Program
4. Mt. Zion A.M.E Sunday School Journal, Neb. City, 1930
5. St. John’s Material
6. St. John’s 100th Anniversary volume Church History, photos
7. St. John’s A.M.E. (f. 1865), photos
8. St. Johns’ A.M.E., programs, clippings
9. Address Book, African Americans in Omaha (1945)
10. Richard Allen, A.M.E.
11. Misc. Literature
12. Seventh Day Adventist

Series 6: Civil Rights

Box 1


1. “Riots and Rebellion: Civil Violence in the Urban Community” chapter (p. 241-147)
2. Civil Liberties Handbook (1963)
3. City Council Agenda; Correspondence B. Calloway and Mayor M. Boyle (1983)
4. Nellie Mae Webb, et. al. vs. School District of Omaha (c. 1964); sub. (1975)
5. Ronald Reagan at National Black Republican Council, clippings
6. Racial Concerns, 1988-93
7. Urban research, Omaha (1979)
8. Mayors of Omaha
9. Youth Scholarships
10. Urban Housing
11. Black History Month Proclamation , Neb. (1983)
12. “Midwest Sex Desegregation” Newsletter (1980/81)
13. Flyers
14. Desegregation, clippings
15. Voter rally
16. Publications, misc.
17. Clippings, , misc.

Series 7: Black Cowboys

Box 1


1. “Negro” Cowboys
2. Jim Kelly, photo
3. “Plain Talk,” GPBM Newsletter, articles on Blk. Cowboys
4. “Pictorial History of the Black Cowboy,” by GPBM (1978)
5. Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo, KC, MO (May 28, 1989), photos
6. Dollars and Sense Magazine
7. Dr. Dawkins’ “Ride of the Century,” modern day cowboy
8. Bill Pickett Rodeo/ J. M. products
9. “Black Cowboys” script for WOW TV
10. Jim Kelly, Blk. Cowboy in Neb.
11. Black Cowboys
12. Civil Rights in Neb.
13. Stevenson family cattlemen & women
14. Book Project
15. “The Black Cowboy,” script by B. Calloway, TV film special-- aired on WOW TV
16. Boley, Oklahoma Rodeo, program (1982)

Box 2


1. Black cowboy, S. Dakota
2. “Black Cowboy” script by B. Calloway
3. Bill Picket Rodeo
4. Cecil Williams, Black Cowboy
5. “River City Roundup” & North Omaha Festival (1985)
6. Black cowboys, photos and illustrations
7. Excerpts [from the Black West?]
8. Rodeos
9. Black Cowboys, articles
10. Boley, Oklahoma, Rodeo
11. Cowboy flyers, clippings
12. GPBHM “Black Cowboys” film series
13. Underground Rail Road, Neb. to Iowa
14. Misc.

Series 8: Church-Life [Church sponsored Social Events in N. Omaha]

Box 1


1. St. Philips Episcopal Church Coronation Pageant
2. Midwest Athletic Club Programs
3. Christian Methodist Episc. Church (CME) Kansas-MO Conf. at Cleves Temple (1964)
4. Young People’s Auxiliary, minutes (1936-1939)
5. Clubs, programs and guest cards
6. A.M.E., programs
7. Jehovah Witness programs
8. Baptist, programs
9. Holiness Church, programs
10. Calvin Memorial Presby. Church, programs
11. St. Benedict Club
12. Masons
13. Fraternity

Series 9: Clubs [Voluntary Associations]

Box 1


1. Benedict Club (f. 1957)
2. Memo Charity Club (1940)
3. Midwest Athletic Club
4. Neb. Assoc. of Colored Women’s Clubs, Certificate of Renewal (1968)
5. Club Invitations [c. 1965]
6. Cardinal Club and other clubs, photos
7. Fraternities and Sororities
8. Midwest Athletic Club “Clubs on Parade,” program [c. 1963]
9. AM Vets Club
10. AM Vets Social club (1990s)
11. Friendly 16 Bridge Club [c. 1934]
12. St. Philip’s Church Newsletter (Mar., 1956)
13. Clubs, rosters & programs (incl. Modernette Club)
14. Clubs, Hobby Club
15. Ideal Improvement Club, misc.
16. Iroquois Lodge No. 92 (1955)

Box 2


1. De Porres Club, St. Benedict the Moor Church (brief history)
2. De Porres Club, Father Markoe
3. De Porres Club, bus protest (1951)
4. Correspondence
5. Photographs
6. “Father Markoe, S.J.” by Denny Holland, and photos
7. St. Benedicts Parish (brief History)
8. De Porres Club, membership List
9. St. Benedict the Moor Church
10. De Porres Club, Father Markoe
11. De Porres Club
12. De Porres Club, correspondence
13. De Porres Club Reunion, photos
14. Father Markoe, brief biography
15. St. Benedict’s Parish
16. Sacred Heart
17. Father Markoe, correspondence
18. Publications about Father Markoe
19. Father John Markoe, publications of
20. Father Markoe funeral, clippings
21. Transcribed Speech
22. Father Clements
23. St. Benedict, programs
24. School desegregation
25. Black Catholics
26. De Porres Club Reunion
27. Misc.
28. De Porres Club photographs (Mildred Brown, Father Markoe, and Whitney Young)
29. the Omaha Star, articles

Box 3


1. Club Directories
2. Rod and Gun club Auxiliary, financial ledger & minutes [c. 1955]
3. National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs
4. 47th Annual Session of Neb. Assoc. of Colored Women’s Clubs (1905-1952), held at Near North
5. Crisis Magazines, issues (1917, 1934)
6. YWCA Cafeteria
7. Clippings
8. Misc.

Box 4

1. Carnation Ballroom, Quack Club, Photos
2. Eureka Art Club, minutes (1957-1959)
3. Traverrie Club, bylaws
4. Clubs: brochures, programs, invitations
5. Club Directory
6. National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs [c. 1955]
7. Clubs, photos
8. Clubs, clippings
9. Midwest Athletic Club, constitution and articles of incorporation
10. Links
11. War Work Certificate
12. Clubs, misc.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

GPBHM Project Update April 10-29

April 26

I continue to work on the formal container list, but am barely a fourth of the way done. I can't help but believe that at some point community members began turning over their family papers and private collections to Mrs. Calloway. They must have trusted that Calloway would preserve their family legacies through the efforts of the museum. The collection is too large and too varied to have been the results of rescue efforts-- from abandoned buildings (although it is documented that Mrs. Calloway did engage in searches of abandoned premises before they could be demolished by the city). I continue to find treasures. Here is one of Phil Donahue being honored at Boys Town. . . Who would have guessed that the museum had co-sponsored a Nebraska branch of the Association for the Study of African American History and Life. There is a copy of a print by James Van Der Zee (Harlem artist), as well as information on Pullman Porters (the Protective Order of Dining Car Waiters-Local no. 465) in Omaha. Apparently A. Philip Randolph personally organized an Omaha Division of Sleeping Car Porters in Nebraska in 1925.

April 22

Today a graduate student named Amy Forss came to conduct research in the collection. Ms. Forss obtained special permission from Mr. Calloway to do so. Ms. Forss' dissertation is on the indomitable Ms. Mildred Brown, founder and manager of the Omaha Star Newspaper, and naturally, the Great Plains Black History Museum and the Nebraska State Historical Society, did all that they could to accommodate the scholar.

I have finished perusing and sorting the collection into major sections. However, I continue to be distracted by the wealth of the holdings. Some examples of the breadth and depth of the manuscript holdings are: clippings of articles on the Black Panther Party trials in California and in Omaha; lighting directions for a series of minstrel and vaudeville type shows which opened in the city; information on dining car waiters in Omaha; original essays by Father John P. Markoe on discrimination as a sin against humanity [c. 1951]; and an Omaha High School Register from 1914. There is also evidence of African American participation at the Trans Mississippi Expo of 1898 at Kounze Park (aka Malcolm X Park).

April 19

Mr. Jim Calloway surprised me today by bringing Mrs. Calloway to see the collection. I had met Mrs. Calloway on a number of occasions, but many years had passed. She arrived in a wheelchair, and with a nurse. I was actually in awe of the great lady. Mrs. Calloway showed great interest in the photographs and asked to be reminded of several of the women photographed early in 20th century Omaha. Although many years have gone by since Mrs. Calloway has worked with the papers, her passion for African American history was clear.

April 12

Have found a brief biography on curator Bertha Calloway. She was born in Denver, Colorado and became head of the Great Plains Black Museum in 1979. The museum opened, however, in 1976, but operated, it seems, with considerable collaboration by members of the board. In fact, Mrs. Calloway had established an early form of the museum in the late 1960s. The prototype was called the Negro Historical Society of Nebraska, and was patterned, in large fashion, after the State Historical Society of Nebraska. Mrs. Calloway envisioned the Great Plains Black Museum as a regional repository of African American manuscripts and memorabilia, and wanted it to serve the several states which make up the Great Plains. . . I am increasingly intrigued with Mrs. Calloway as a curator. As far as I know, the general public did not have access to the enormous archive that Mrs. Calloway amassed, and yet, the running of the museum must have occupied only a portion of the director's time. She was indeed acquisitions manager, curator, conservation specialist, as well as hostess and director of the museum.

The collection revealed a number of interesting items today. In a box of Rare Books, is a 1969 issue of Ebony Magazine featuring the late Betty Shabazz reflecting on her life with Malcolm X. Forrest M. Stith's book, Sunrises and Sunsets, on the transition of an African American from slavery to freedom is in good form. There is a box on art, which includes some artistic designs by my friend the artist Neville Murray, and more materials on Professional African American men in Omaha. Inside of the latter is a handy list of the African American owned and operated business along North 24th Street, back in the community's hey day--before desegregation.

There are Boxes on Sports, and one on Prospect Hill Cemetery (where African American graves are indicated by the word "colored" until 1887, and afterwards are not marked as such, but have the names Myers or Thomas (Black owned funeral homes) associated with the cemetery plots--so that African Americans interned here are identifiable. I continue to enjoy my work and am looking forward to the day that this collection can be made available to the public.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5, 2010 Update

I have spent the past two and 1/2 weeks finalizing my sorting of the GPBHM Collection into large sub-categories. All of the boxed archival material is now in one of nine sub-groups. The sub-groups are:

1. Black Institutions --institutions which define themselves as black in orientation, and which are organized and run by African Americans, or integrated institutions whose mission includes desegregation and civil rights for African Americans. This subgroup includes administrative materials for the GPBHM itself (and its programs), the NAACP, the Northside Y.W.C.A, Urban Action Association, the Urban League, the National Federation of Colored Women Clubs, etc.

2. Local Histories---Any Series with documents pertaining to African Americans in Omaha or Lincoln specifically, and to African Americans in Nebraska in General. Local histories include: Arts, Church, Civil Rights, Cowboys, Clubs (and Social life), Fraternities, Homesteaders, Masons, Military, Music, Schools, etc.

3. Family Papers--There are at present roughly twelve family collections. The surnames of families include, Dixon, Thomas, Chambers, and more.

4. Newspapers--African American Newspapers--includes rare, alternative presses with limited runs. Contains issues of The Voice, Everybody Magazine, and Black Realities.

5. Rare Books--contains African American history books, and Black cookbooks, among other items.

6. Musical Scores--Church and Secular music in the African American tradition.

7. B. Calloway's Research Collection Africana--contains African American Historical Data and Materials compiled by the original curator of the collection.

8. Photograph Collection: A large collection (aprox. 4 cu. feet), of photographs of African Americans in the Midwest. Most of the photos document the history of African Americans in Nebraska, and especially in Omaha.

9. Artifacts--period dresses, records, and more.

I started typing the formal container list today April 5. I had an idea about how to proceed and checked with Tom Mooney, who said it would work out fine, for now. The collection will be described one Sub-Group at a time. Boxes within each sub-group will be identified by title (ex. Masons). For Boxes bearing the same title, successive boxes will be numbered (Masons, Masons 2, Masons 3, etc). When the files in the boxes approximate the actual contents, the file name will be listed. Otherwise, a name will be adopted which describes the majority of the contents of a file.

I hope to post the container lists for the collection (or at least a few of the subgroups in a couple of weeks). In the meanwhile, here are some highlights from the weeks of March 22, and March 29. (Note that Jim Calloway came down on March 29th and today on April 5. His visits are instructive, but the trade off is that I am not as able to focus for as many hours on the task at hand).

Highlights include:

a brief biography of Flora Pinkston; photos linking Lincoln's Col. Paul and Alda Adams with Mildred Brown founder of the Omaha Star. Other items of importance are: A history of the life of Father John Markoe, Photos of St. Benedict School Children, and a Box on Black Nebraska Women including information on Anna Burckhardt, T.O. Muhammit and others. African American Artists in Omaha, A list of African American businesses in Omaha [c. 1950s?], and a club directory from 1970 were fascinating in their contents. Charlie Washington's funeral program, and other funeral programs of Northside personalities were instructive. There is a box on the Trans Mississippi Expo. of 1898 and African American participation. A Series on Pullman Porters in Nebraska, and the history of the Omaha Division, will garner the attention of scholars. The wealth of the holdings are clear to me. I wonder whether the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture, or the Emory University Collection entitled MARBLE would consider providing an endowment for this collection as it is one of the largest and most in- depth collections documenting African American life that I have ever seen, and is truly one-of-a kind in its documentation of African American life on the Great Plains.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010 T. Johnson

March 19 2010

The past two weeks have been busy ones. I spoke with Jim Calloway about the possibility of digitally recording some of the photographs in the collection-- in order that they may be preserved. Jim seemed to favor the idea.

March 8,

On March 8th I found still more fascinating items in the GPBHM Archives. I jotted down some of the items here.

There was a box entitled "Photo's of People." Inside was a copy of a photo of Ava Speese and family (African American homesteaders). This box differs from other's as it seems to contain photos which relate back to other series in the collection. I decided to place it in the Local History section (rather than in the photograph collection). When we begin arranging the collection, a decision will have to be made about whether or not to move these items back into the series to which they relate. Today, I also got to explore the Dan Des Dunes Band Box, which includes photo's of the band, singers, sheet music and more. This box includes a handwritten container list. I have discovered lists in some of the other boxes as well. They are often tucked away inside of one of the folders. . . Today I also found a box of Administrative materials including conference presentation drafts written by the collection's original curator Mrs. Bertha Calloway. Here too, are documents relating to one of Mrs. Calloway's programs--Ms. Black Nebraska. There are directions to judges, communication with contestants, programs, and pictures of young black women (some in bathing suits). I recall the pageants, and remember Ms. Calloway's emphasis on the beauty of all women. She hoped that the event would help to heal those who were "color-struck" by light or white skin --which is nothing--I clearly recall her saying-- but a remnant from slavery.
More administrative items included correspondence, and a negative of Mrs. Calloway in front of the Museum back in its heyday. . . Other finds: Boxes on "African Americans in Early Nebraska History;" two boxes of materials from the Black Studies Department; the records of Alonzo Smith--former Chair of the UNO Black Studies Department. Ms. Calloway and Dr. Smith once wrote a book together. Here we find Oral History Project II transcripts.

The richness of the holdings deepen with each box that I open. Here are items on local musicians from the 1950s. Basie Givens' "Basie Bombadiers" are photographed, as is Earl Graves Orchestra [c. 1957]. Next is a box on Pioneers and Homesteaders (some of these from Alliance and Hall Counties). Names of homesteaders include: John Bridewell, Harriet Green, Ollie Walker, Hester and Charles Meehan (interracial couple), Myra Kincaid and others.
The next box contains a Negro Business Directory for Omaha from 1941. Here is a box on the Black Church with a handwritten history [c. 1939]of St. John's AME in Omaha. There are more boxes to add to the ever growing Dixon Family collection. A wonderful item inside is a file on the Women (s) Christian Temperance Union. . . I will not be able to describe every box, but my appreciation for this collection of materials is great.

March 12

Another great day! I will try to simply list the box titles without going into so much detail--since the container list is forthcoming. I have taken notes today on boxes containing items about:
Schools; African Americans in Radio and Television; African Americans in Nebraska; the Urban Action Association, the Missouri Vally Historical Society, Camp Brewster, African American Masonry, Black Newspapers, Ms. Flora Pinkston (music/piano teacher).

March 15,

I continued shifting boxes into shelves. The Local History collection is the largest, but the Family Histories are close behind. Today studied photographs from a series on the KKK, there was also material on Midwestern artists, the NAACP, and the North Branch YWCA--whose former home, I learned today, was at 23rd and Lake Streets, in the very building that later became the home of the Great Plains Black History Museum.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

by T. A. Johnson

March 1

Today I found a brochure from the Stone Soul Picnic. I remember attending the annual event at Carter Lake, Iowa (right across the river from Omaha) when I was a child, and then as a teenager, and eventually as a young wife. I had heard that Ms. Calloway was involved in the planning each year, but I am gradually getting the idea that she may have been the driving force. In graduate school and while interviewing local Nebraska families, I began to understand these annual spring or mid-summer picnics as cultural events. They, in fact, are a time for the entire African American community to come together on holiday. There is always music—the best of classic R &B, Jazz, and some live performances. Families pitch tents or campers around the lake and spend 1-4 days camping, eating, and socializing with their neighbors. It may be a regional affair, I am not sure, but it certainly has something in common with the Native American Pow Wow. Not infrequently, there is an overlapping of the Stone Soul Picnic and Pow Wow’s and some participation in the picnic by individuals who have membership in or relatives in the Omaha, Winnebago and other Local tribes. A small African American presence is also a regular occurance at the Pow Wow’s .
Other items which brought back memories included a file on BLAC, Black Liberators for Action on Campus a student group at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I was actually a member of this group back in 1983. Our main focus was to advocate for the end of Apartheid in South Africa.
I also found today a series of reports entitled Community Resource Index (1970). Inside there are scores of brief biographies of African Americans in Omaha. It is a delightful find for anyone interested in Omaha history.
I noted something about the apparent organization of the collection today and felt momentarily confused. It seems there are frequently two or more boxes with the same subject heading, but the materials inside have been collected for different purposes. For example: There are at least two boxes labeled “Cowboys.” The materials inside of box one are what I am now calling “type one” material. Type one materials document the early cattlemen here in Nebraska, via correspondence, bills of sale for cattle, diaries, and photographs, for example. The other box labeled “Cowboys” is what I am now dubbing “type two,” materials. Type two items are primarily educational material (secondary source items) geared toward display, or gathered for the purpose of teaching about the topic. I discussed this with Tom Mooney, Curator of Manuscripts for the State of Nebraska, and he said that this was not unusual for a museum. Mr. Calloway had already given me a copy of the principles and collections policy of the NSHS (available on-line but which I had never looked for), and indeed they have a separate division for educational materials.
March 3,
On Wednesday I traveled (50 mi.) to Omaha and visited the Love Jazz Center and my friend Neville Murray who is the Curator, and Executive Director there. The institution is five years old but I had my first tour. I felt revived by all of the culture. There are hundreds of paintings, and photographs of African and African American people. The art has reproduced life in action: people working, dancing, riding bicycles, resting, struggling, socializing, going to church and protesting. The collection is amazing and its artistic level so high that I felt inspired to get my clay out and begin to work on my own art. At the end of the visit, Neville said that If Mr. Calloway would like to have a room or part of a room to work on setting up display items for the museum, he would be welcome to bring them to the Love Jazz Center. I hope that Mr. Calloway and the GPBHM Board of Directors will consider this offer, for the spot is in the heart of North Omaha, less than a block from whether the GPBHM stands.

March 5
I was invited to join Mr. Calloway and others at the Museum site this afternoon, as the heritage foundation was coming to view the building and was considering providing funds for its repair. I did not attend the meeting as I was scheduled to work in the archives. I later learned that the tour and discussion went well.
Today I discovered a method for temporarily containing mold. Whenever I feel the need to transfer items to a new box or folder due to mold (either on the outside or on the outer edges) I disrupt the mold by scrubbing with a paper towel or cloth until I interrupt the patterned growth. I think this may retard the advance of the mold and may give us a few months leeway—until we can secure the needed archival supplies.
This was truly and inspirational day for me as both a historian and as a budding archivist. My notes are extensive, but I will try to summarize them here.
One box on African American Art contains information on the Eure family of Omaha, and inside is a signed letter from the late actor Ossie Davis. I also was delighted to find a file on Alternative Black Newspapers. I had come across a single issue of Black Realties while working on the Chambers Collection, but the entire paper was not there. Now I learn that Chambers, and David Rice, as well as Carl Allison, Alfred Thomas, and others wrote for the paper. I also learned that the publication was circulated by Wesley House. All of this helps me to reconstruct North Omaha politically, in the late 1960’s –early 1970’s.

Understanding the Collection
More important for the GPBHM Project is that I have finally found a system for the initial sorting of these boxes. I place five boxes at a time on the work cart, identify the primary contents, and place them in one of the emerging Subgroups: Family History; Local Histories; Administration; Racial Issues and Civil Rights; Institutional Histories (African American, or Integrated), and Topic Research. There is also a Library Collection (including books, journals, popular magazines, and newspapers and newspaper clippings), and a Photograph Collection.
(By now I have discovered the color of the boxes has no bearing, I am not yet sure about the numbering system. My guess is that the numbers refer not to contents, but to the order in which the item entered the collection).
It is perhaps obvious, that Local Histories and Civil Rights are not mutually exclusive subjects. Rather, this artificial division is a means of separating out local histories which are focused on the Masons, African American Art, Church, and other categories from Civil Rights. The reason for this is a practical one, namely, the extensive size of the Racial and Civil Rights papers seem to demand their own internal arrangement, and because the topic includes additional papers tying local events to the National Civil Rights movement, this temporary arrangement seems logical.
I am beginning to get an Idea of the scope of the collection. Contained here is a box on African Americans in Iowa and South Dakota. One file includes correspondence of the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and their maintenance of a home for young women at Iowa City. One letter details the exclusion of African American girls from a similar institution run by white women.
Other interesting aspects of my work today include a photo of the Patton Hotel, which was run by and for African Americans—barred from the downtown hotels in Omaha. There is an excellent series here on the De Porres Club; and documentation of the social activism which emanated from its gatherings. In the Clubs and Organizations Box, a program from the Seventh Annual Clubs on Parade event relays information on the histories and memberships of many of Omaha’s African American clubs; popular in the 1940s and 1950s. These include: the Rattlers; Beau Brummel (which met at the home of the Urban League on Lake Street); the Serveretts, and the La Flores among others.

March 8, 2010
Mr. Calloway sat in while I worked today. He answered questions for me about a reference to “road shows”; clarified what he wished to do with framed pictures (keep them in frames until funds were available to reframe them); and directed me to throw out the unsolicited publications (catalogs and advertisements) which were in one box of the papers.

Practicum Blog GPBHM Collection
(T.A. Johnson)
February 16, 2010

One week ago, I met Mr. Jim Calloway at the Douglas County Historical Society. There we discussed the possibility of moving the Great Plains Black History Museum’s archival collection from the storage facility (on the lot of the Great Plains Black History Museum in Omaha) into the DCHS on temporary loan. Their lead archivist and Dr. Dennis Mihelich, a board member, attended the meeting. Both felt that they needed to view the collection before making any commitments, in order to determine its condition. The DCHS representatives also expressed uncertainty about whether they could take the collection on a temporary basis. Mr. Calloway decided to open the storage bin over weekend so that the contents could be viewed. On Saturday, staff from the Douglas County Historical Society viewed the contents, along with myself, and two representatives from the Nebraska State Historical Society. After long deliberation, and an offer to place the archival collection at the NSHS for a period of one year for safekeeping in dry conditions, and with the GPBHM retaining full title to the collection, Mr. Calloway decided to place the archives in with the NSHS in Lincoln.
Today, State Archivist Andrea Faling, and Curator of Manuscripts for the NSHS Tom Mooney, myself, and Mr. Calloway loaded onto a truck and transferred the paper portion of the collection to Lincoln. The primary reason for the move was that the materials were beginning to erode. The collection had been stored outside for a number of years due to damage to the roof of the museum. Some of the boxes were tingeing green with mold and a few photos looked to be deteriorating. It is hoped that funding, and or collaborations can be sought to help reconstruct a permanent home for the collection. After the move, Mr. Calloway and I went to see his mother, Bertha Calloway, the curator of the museum for nearly four decades, at the nursing home.

February 22, 2010
I met with Mr. Calloway at a local cafeteria, and we discussed the future of the collection for a couple of hours.

February 23, 2010
Mr. Calloway joined me for a tour of the Nebraska State Historical Society. He wanted to see where the papers are being stored, as well as the place where I will process them. The NSHS is undergoing renovations and we happened to arrive on moving day. Staff members were relocating their offices from one side of the building to another. It is easy to tell that many aspects of the facility have been updated. I think that we were both impressed, and Mr. Calloway inquired about the cost of the project.
February 26 Day 1
Today is Friday. It is my first opportunity to work with the papers. When I arrived at the NSHS I saw that Tom and Andrea had created an office for me. I have a desk, and a computer. I was surprised and very pleased. I spent some time going over a box of photographs. At length I described them. Most will remain in frames unless Mr. Calloway decides that he wants them removed. Most of the people in the photos are not identified (we may find out more when and if we look at the backs of the pictures). The photos included a picture of Omahans celebrating the Masonic festival St. John’s Day. There was also a picture of the locally famous Dan Des Dunes Band, a baby in buggy, and African Americans in early model cars (c. 1918-1930).
At length, I tried to survey the collection more generally. Many of the boxes are numbered and with labels on the outside. I tried to determine whether the labels matched the contents, but found cases where they did as well as cases where they did not. I also tried to organize a couple of boxes by number, and alternatively by color, to see if there were any correlation between those factors and the contents (i.e. associations of material between boxes according to some system). At last I noted that several categories of material emerged. At present I have found that there are: family collections; histories of integrated institutions in Nebraska, local history including a) church history, b) early African American schools, c) homesteaders, d) cowboys, e) and masons. There are also administrative papers, photograph collections (as well as photos in the topical collections), and a biographical collection of the Calloway family. The work was extremely interesting and the collection’s depths I have not yet been able to ascertain as I have only perused 10 or 15 of 180 boxes.