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History Comes Alive for Audiences of Nebraska Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau Programs

September 20, 2011 | By Nebraska Humanities Council

“This was awesome!”

So said a seven-year-old boy at Karen Wyatt Drevo’s living history presentation as “Maria Rodaway: Prairie Pioneer.” Adults proclaimed the program outstanding and said it made them want to learn more about their own family histories.

Seven generations of Karen’s family have lived in Otoe County, Nebraska, and her lifelong interest in family history was sparked by the family stories told by her grandmothers. Discovery of letters written by her great-great grandmother led Karen to flesh out the stories into a family narrative, which she presents for children or adults or a combined audience.

Karen portrays Maria Rodaway (her great-great grandmother) in period attire as she looks back at her life as a prairie pioneer in Otoe County where she homesteaded in 1867. Maria crossed the Atlantic Ocean with seven children to reunite her family after a 7½-year separation. She endured grasshoppers, hail, drought, tornadoes, blizzards, and the loss of her husband and six of her 13 children as she worked to become a citizen and a land owner in a new country. Resilient and resourceful, she lived a life of usefulness to her family and a large circle of friends with her loving deeds and kind acts, delivering babies and nursing the sick.

Awesome indeed!

Karen Wyatt Drevo is a librarian at the Norfolk Public Library in Norfolk, NE. She is part of the Nebraska Humanities Council’s Speaker’s Bureau. The NHC Speaker’s Bureau serves Nebraska’s schools, libraries, museums, senior centers and other nonprofit organizations allowing them to experience living history presentations with Abraham Lincoln, a Civil War soldier, Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill, and Sojourner Truth, as well as many notable Nebraskans.

For more information, please visit the website of the Nebraska Humanities Council's Humanities Resource Center: