John M. Thayer, Nebraska Civil War General and later Governor, is the first nominee submitted to the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission for consideration as a possible 2014 selection. Michael J. Smith, Director/CEO of the Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS) and Secretary of the Commission encouraged other nominations before the December 31, 2011 deadline.
Thayer (1820-1906) served as commander of the Nebraska militia before the Civil War and went on to lead the First Nebraska Regiment in the early years of that struggle before his promotion to brigadier general. He was one of Nebraska’s first two U.S. Senators after statehood was achieved in 1867. He served as Governor of the State of Nebraska from 1887 to 1892. Thayer’s nomination was submitted and is being supported by military historians across the state.
Smith noted that other nominations are welcome, but must be received in his office at the Nebraska State Historical Society by December 31, 2011, at 11:59 PM. Criteria and nominations are available online at www.nebraskahistory.org/admin/hall_of_fame/ or by calling 402-471-4955 or emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By state statute the Commission may vote to induct one honoree every five years. Internationally-known botanist and University of Nebraska professor Charles E. Bessey (1845-1915) was inducted in 2009. He joined such Nebraska notables as Willa Cather, Ponca Chief Standing Bear and political leader William Jennings Bryan, just some of the 24 Nebraskans who have been inducted since the Nebraska Hall of Fame was established by the Unicameral in 1961.
To be considered, nominees must have achieved prominence and be recognized as “outstanding Nebraskans.” “Nebraskans” designates those who were born in the state or gained prominence while living here, or whose notable achievements were influenced by their residence in Nebraska. Nominees must have been deceased for 35 years or more. Preference is given to Nebraskans who have contributed in the areas of public affairs, the arts and sciences and the professions. Entertainment and athletics are given less weight in the deliberations of the seven member Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission.
Eligible nominations received by the December 31, 2011 deadline will be considered at a series of public meetings during 2012 and 2013. Any selection that might be made will be determined in 2014.
More information is also available at www.nebraskahistory.org by typing “hall of fame” into the search box.