NSEA at 150: The Search is On!

Sesquicentennial Event is Near; Association Memorabilia is Sought


In 2017, the Nebraska State Education Association will hit a milestone that few professional organizations – and none in Nebraska – can claim: 150 years of service to members.

A small group of educators met in Brownville on Oct. 16, 1867, to adopt a constitution, elect a president and begin a commitment, in their words, to “…elevating the profession of teaching and promoting the interests of schools in Nebraska.”

That Brownville meeting formally launched the Nebraska State Teachers Association, even though planning meetings had been held as early as 1865. The 1867 beginning predates the Nebraska Medical Association, founded in 1868, and the Nebraska Bar Association, a late-comer, founded in 1936.

That the NSTA had some clout from the beginning is evident: Robert W. Furnas, Nebraska’s third governor, was the first president of the NSEA. At the second NSTA meeting in 1868, members directed the president to appoint a committee to write school law for the year-old state, and to present the proposed laws to the Legislature.

Clearly, NSEA has a long and vibrant history. What NSEA does not have, unfortunately, is a deep archive of papers, buttons, photographs or other items of an historical nature.

As work is under way to plan a sesquicentennial celebration, the Association is also working to build a tangible record of the past. In recent years, the association has been fortunate to obtain a handful of buttons and ribbons worn by delegates to association meetings between 1920 and 1940. But other documents or memorabilia has been more difficult to find, much less to obtain for the permanent archives.

In 1997, NSEA Executive Director Craig R. Christiansen wrote and published an account of the Association’s first 130 years.

“As we approach the 150th anniversary, we’re looking for items to document and illustrate the organization’s past,” he said. “If members have items of historical nature, or know that Aunt Julia might still have her program from the 1939 NSTA convention, we’re interested.”

Members are also asked to be on the lookout at antique stores, or auctions, for items that might be of interest.

For details, call the NSEA at 1-800-742-0047 and ask for Al Koontz, or e-mail to: