Community Partnerships and the History Harvest – Jim Beatty

Partnering with the History Harvest came at the right time for the Great Plains Black History Museum.  The GPBHM is a unique archive of African American history and experience in Nebraska and across the Great Plains.  The museum was established in 1976 and operated through the mid-1990s.  Unfortunately, the museum and archive closed to the public in the mid-1990s and subsequently underwent more than a decade of turmoil, which kept the museum shuttered and the archival collection neglected.  In 2011, I joined the museum to spearhead a new effort to get the GPBHM back on its feet and returned to its important role in the local community and beyond as a repository of African American experience in this region.  Partnering with the History Harvest offered our organization a unique opportunity to showcase a sampling of the hundreds of wonderful artifacts contained within the more than 200 archival boxes of materials in our collection.  In addition, History Harvest students donated their time to help reorganize, rehabilitate and document some of our archival holdings, a critical need for the GPBHM as we continue to do the hard work of rebuilding the museum and archives.  And it was just a lot of fun working with these young people, seeing first-hand their commitment to African American history in North Omaha, as well as the various ways their engagement with that history impacted them each in very personal ways.  It is a testament to both the power of African American history in North Omaha and the promise of community partnerships, like the History Harvest, in fostering a renewed appreciation for local history and its relationship to the national story of America.

Jim Beatty is Director of the Great Plains Black History Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The Great Plains Black History Museum is a History Harvest partner, and provided the North Omaha Harvest students with valuable experiences and expertise.

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