12 trailblazing Nebraska women honored in Durham Museum exhibit

Some of the names may be familiar. Others, maybe not.

Names like Sarah Joslyn and Rose Blumkin. Kimi Takechi and Octa Keen. Edwina Justus and Staff Sgt. Ashleigh Buch.

They are women with stories, told and untold, that illustrate the Nebraska experience. And now they’re getting a share of the spotlight.

On Saturday, the Durham Museum unveiled “Women in Omaha: A Biographical Sketch Through History,” a new exhibit that shares the diverse experiences of 12 Nebraska women through time. The exhibit will remain open through July 29.

Each featured woman blazed a trail in her own unique way, said Carrie Meyer, director of curatorial and education services at the museum. Of the 12 women in the exhibit, 10 are still living.

“These are women who live in our community — still live in our community,” Meyer said. “They have these wonderful stories. They’re just like everyone else, but they are making an impact.”

In creating the exhibit, the Durham partnered with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s history department and Service Learning Academy. Students enrolled in women’s history classes gathered oral histories and artifacts to piece together biographical displays for each figure, said Elaine Nelson, assistant professor of history at UNO who led the effort at the university.

Nelson said she wanted the 12 women chosen to illustrate the Nebraska experience from various perspectives. She reached out to community groups, such as the Great Plains Black History Museum and the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, for help contacting women her students could profile.

Each display features artifacts, including clothing and documents, that belongs or belonged to each woman. The featured subjects are: