Echoes of the Heartland

Nebraska Humanities Series 2024

Hear the voices of Nebraska's rich past with the return of the exciting series, Echoes of the Heartland, featuring stories of history, culture, and music. Presented by 12 speakers from Humanities Nebraska, each event is free and open to the public and runs from February through December. The series is made possible by a grant from AARP Nebraska.

Upcoming Events | Saturdays @ 2pm

Abraham Lincoln, America's Greatest Political Orator
Speaker: Fred Nielsen
February 17 @ 2pm

Whether using humor, lawyer-like reason, or a Biblically-inspired prose that could verge on poetry, he was the nation’s most eloquent president. Public speaking was an essential part of Abraham Lincoln’s political career. His debates with Stephen Douglas made him a national figure. His speeches as president — especially the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address — helped shape Americans’ understanding of their country and chart a path toward reconciliation after the Civil War.


Myths of Women's Madness on the Plains
Speaker: Nancy B. Johnson
March 16 @ 2pm

This presentation examines the myths of Plains women—as they are promoted by authors of fiction and history—and the realities, based on recently published works, including diaries and journals. Independent scholar of the Great Plains and women’s studies, Nancy B. Johnson shows that the lives of Plains women were as varied as the pieces of a crazy quilt, focusing on Nebraska women 1870-1900.


Fight Against Slavery on the Great Plains: Nebraska's Underground Railroad
Speaker: Bill Hayes
April 13 @ 2pm

Independent historian Bill Hayes discusses the issue of slavery in the U.S. during the 1850s and the controversy surrounding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and how the issue affected people moving to the Nebraska Territory. The presentation describes the overall history of the Underground Railroad and how the movement became connected with the Great Plains. Hayes explores how the Underground Railroad formed in Nebraska and emphasizes specific sites where escaping enslaved persons most likely found refuge on their journey north to freedom.


Train Songs and Tales
Speaker: David Seay
May 11 @ 2pm

What is it about trains that so easily engages one’s imagination? Climb aboard with independent musician and historian David Seay as he shares a variety of railroad inspired songs and stories that offer peeks into the past from a wide variety of points of view. This upbeat excursion is accompanied by guitar, banjo, harmonica, whistles, and a sing-along or two. 


Mad Queen of the Prairies: The Frenzied First Years of the Nebraska Territory
Speaker: Jeff Barnes
June 8 @ 2pm

How do you establish a territory? Probably not the Nebraska way, where the seat of government shifted from town to town, where governors were changing every year – sometimes every few months – and where the banks printed their own money. Yet Nebraska was where an Indian chief was once governor and where women very nearly won the vote for the first time. Jeff Barnes shares the rarely seen images and seldom-heard stories of the unconventional first years of the Nebraska Territory, a place newspapers called the “Queen of the Prairies.”  


Echoes of an Era
Speaker: Paul Siebert
June 22 @ 2pm

Using the Nebraska State Seal and Flag as a back drop, independent scholar Paul Siebert presents a musical living history program of a family’s journey from Russia to Nebraska in the 1870’s. Using original and period music with up to 7 different acoustic instruments, storytelling, personal family history, period costume and extensive knowledge on the subject of Blacksmithing/metallurgy, Paul presents an interactive family centered entertaining program.


Heart's Compass: Women on the Trails
Speaker: Deb Carpenter-Nolting
July 20 @ 2pm

This is an account of pioneer women crossing the Plains in the 19th century. Writer and songwriter Deb Carpenter-Nolting presents original poems, songs and stories, as well as actual diary entries of women who journeyed on the Oregon Trail.


Patchwork of the Prairie
Speaker: Yvonne Hollenbeck
August 31 @ 2pm

Independent scholar Yvonne Hollenbeck presents a trunk show of approximately 30 quilts made by members of the same family spanning 135 years. The stories behind both the quilters and the quilts themselves are shared and accompanied with some of Hollenbeck’s own cowboy and cowgirl poetry.


Sisters from Outlaw Trail: Riders of the Hoot-Owl Trail
Speakers: Marci Broyhill & Teresa Kay Orr
September 28 @ 2pm

Sisters Marci and Teresa grew up along Highway 12, Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail. They incorporate their rural experience and research into narrative cowboy poetry and music. Props and PowerPoint enhance this educational and entertaining presentation. Topics include the complex characters and situations of the Western Movement such as: outlaws Doc Middleton (Nebraska’s Robin Hood) and Kid Wade, women who became entangled into webs of crime, livestock, and rustlers.


Andrew Carnegie
Speaker: Thomas N. King
October 12 @ 2pm

After his selling of United States Steel Company in 1901 and amassing a fortune equivalent to over $75 billion today, Andrew Carnegie devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy, specifically in the building and funding of public libraries. By the time of his death in 1919, he spent over 90% of his wealth on charitable projects and funded the building of 2,509 libraries, with locations in the US, the UK, and Canada. Step back to the Gilded Age and listen to a chautauqua portrayal of a once impoverished child from Scotland turned “ richest man in the world” who believed that the wealthy share their fortune for the betterment of mankind.


Overland Trails: The Children on the Trail
Speaker: Renae Hunt
November 9 @ 2pm

With over 352,000 emigrants traveling the Oregon, Mormon or California trails, one in five were under the age of 16. Many of these youths kept journals. This program discusses how these children traveled and relates some of the stories from their journals.


Sing Me a Story: The Ballad of Yesterday and Today
Speaker: Pat Boilesen
December 7 @ 2pm

Whether it be the ballad of the immigrant of the 1800’s or the ballad of today, these songs tell the story of life and living, good and bad. This program explores the differences and similarities between the ballads of yesteryear and the ballads of today, and why they are still sung today. 


Funding provided by:

AARP Nebraska logo

For more information about our partners, visit the AARP Nebraska or Humanities Nebraska websites.