March 1, 2017 is our official Statehood Day, the 150th celebration of Nebraska becoming the 37th state in the Union, the first one following the end of the Civil War.
At the Beatrice Public Library, we are planning to celebrate this all year long. It will be part of our book discussions each month through October. It will be the theme of at least two exhibits in our new gallery space in the renovated lower level area. It will be part of our Summer Reading Program theme “Build a Better World.” It is even part of the quarterly Seed Library programs. Finally, it will be part of our 40th “Memories of Christmas Past” holiday display in December.
The monthly Beatrice Public Library Book Discussion will feature titles from the Nebraska 150 Books Project. I was fortunate enough to be part of the committee that selected these 150 recommended titles and really look forward to reading and rereading some of these incredible books!
We began the series with a diary from 1857 that paralleled the founding of Beatrice. The diary’s author even noted when the HANNIBAL landed in Omaha in May. This was the trip that brought our town founders to Nebraska. In February we move on to a story of former slaves homesteading in Nebraska which is based upon true events. March takes us to a book about Nebraska women journalists including Clara Bewick Colby and Willa Cather.
April will feature BLACK ELK SPEAKS and a special guest speaker from the Neihardt Foundation board. May will highlight the autobiography of George Norris, the U.S. Senator who was instrumental in the establishment of Homestead National Monument. The summer months will feature a book about the State Capitol, a collection of stories by Roger Welsch and history of the tribes who have called Nebraska their home.
The last titles will be the first published book by Bess Streeter Aldrich and the “ One Book, One Lincoln” selection. Once again, we are pleased to have Homestead National Monument of America as our partner for this book discussion series.
March 1 will be the opening of a special exhibit NATIVE AMERICAN PRESENCE ON THE MISSOURI (1850s-1890s): An Exhibit in Honor of Nebraska’s 150th Birthday from the Collection of George Neubert. Some of you will remember George as a graduate of Beatrice High School, others as the former Director of the Sheldon Art Gallery, and still others as the current head of the Flatwater Folk Art Museum in Brownville. Mr. Neubert has been kind enough to loan us a selection of over 40 prints and etchings from his personal collection which includes works by Bodmer, Catlin and Remington.
This exhibit will be open through May 21. At the same time in the Heritage Room, the Library will be displaying a collection of historic maps dating back to the original designation of Nebraska Territory which extended to the Canadian border. In the summer, the Nebraska Collection will be exhibited by the Library.
This includes works by Nebraska artists collected by Maurice and Dorothy Hevelone as well as pieces from the collection of the Beatrice Public Library. The year will end with a surprise exhibit emphasizing Nebraska that will be held in the Fall.
The Summer Reading Program “Building” theme has inspired the Library to plan a series of special presentations featuring historic buildings. Topics will include the State Capitol, Homestead National Monument, the Gage County Courthouse and the Downtown Beatrice Historical District. These will be held on Tuesdays in June and July. There will be an afternoon program for children at 2 p.m. and one for general audiences at 7 p.m.
The Seed Library programs will feature the Goldenrod, Nebraska wildflowers and the Cottonwood tree. In addition to their annual Tomato Tasting event and Iris Exchange, this gives the group an opportunity to present a different view of the State Flower, plants some characterize as State weeds and the State Tree.
These programs are planned for April, June and September.
In December we will be celebrating 160 years of holiday events in Beatrice, one of the oldest established towns in Nebraska. Beatrice is 10 years older than the State. This gives us 16 decades of holidays to commemorate, something few places in Nebraska can claim. Watch for more details about this exhibit.
And Happy Birthday, Nebraska! It’s going to be a great year!