Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans:
A Brief BioBibliography of 900 Individuals

Copyright © 2008 by E. A. Kral

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A historical researcher and writer, the author previously taught in the public schools of Livingston, CA and of Lincoln and Grand Island, NE for a combined total of 30 years. He is currently engaged in researching and writing a bio-bibliographic reference on more than 900 nationally distinguished Nebraskans, and offers his preliminary findings in this Internet version.

Candidates for inclusion are any nationally distinguished person who was born in Nebraska or who resided in the state for any length of time after 1854, the year the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. Selection criteria for inclusion involves meeting most, if not all, of the following conditions or traits:

  1.     A pioneer in a field, a founder, inventor, developer, creator, opinion maker,  significant leader, record holder, performer or major philanthropist.
  2.     Listed in reliable reputable national references or publications.
  3.     Longevity of accomplishment, preferably a major portion of one’s lifetime.
  4.     Magnitude of accomplishment (the pinnacle or near-pinnacle of one’s field or  expertise) and contribution to society.
  5.     Recognized as distinguished by peers and audiences elsewhere.
  6.     Recipient of major national awards, honors or recognition.

The names of individuals who have been known to perpetrate harmful or significant fraud or were convicted of a felony are not included.

The author has provided selected entries based on above-stated criteria, and has therefore not intended to include everyone who has made important contributions on the national level. Other authors are encouraged to research and write about those who have achieved on the local, state and regional levels as well as the national arena, and families can benefit from preparing histories based on their own ancestry.

Readers are urged to pursue the suggested readings for each entry to learn more about an individual’s accomplishment. If the local library does not house the sources listed, consider using the interlibrary loan system.

Microfilm of all Nebraska newspapers is housed in the public reading room of the Nebraska State Historical Society at 1500 R Street in Lincoln, which is open daily except Sunday, Monday and holidays. Phone the NSHS at (402) 471-3270 or (800) 833-6747 to learn hours the reading room is open.

The microform room at Love Library on the city campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln houses microfilm of several national newspapers such as the New York Times as well as many journals. Phone Love Library at (402) 472-2848 for access hours.

This Internet edition is available on websites hosted by the Nebraska State Education Association, the Nebraska Press Association, and the Gage County Historical Society as a resource for Nebraska educators and their students as well as anyone else, such as journalists and state leaders. The organizations hosting this web- site version are in no way responsible for the content or accuracy of the information provided by the author.

The author grants permission and encourages educators and librarians and county historical society directors to print the complete file (introduction, table of contents, brief biographical entries, and index of entrants) for placement in local collections for long-term access to the public.

Upon completion of the project in a few years, the author will donate his original files for addition to the E. A. Kral Personal Papers Collection housed in the Archives at Love Library on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln city campus.

Duplicate files that contain the majority of information housed in the author’s original files are now accessible to the public at the Gage County Museum at 2nd & Court Streets in Beatrice. Prior arrangements are necessary. Contact staff members by phone (402) 228-1679 or email:

For convenience of readers, brief highlights of many significant accomplishments by Nebraskans in all fields nationally are provided in the Table of Contents. The biographical entries reveal that hundreds of persons connected to the state by birth and by residence have achieved the pinnacle of their fields of endeavor, and have been credited by their peers for major influence, innovations, inventions, and other notable efforts.

In the area of public leadership, the state can claim one U.S. President, three U.S. Vice Presidents, sixteen who have served in Cabinet-level executive positions, eight in White House assignments in direct contact with our nation’s President, and several who have held high offices of various federal agencies. Two have served in major political offices in foreign countries.

In the private sector, the state can claim one person who was ranked as the 13th wealthiest American in history, founders of many enduring businesses of national influence, and chief executive officers of dozens of large corporations as well as educational institutions.

Indicators of significant achievements by Nebraska-connected professionals in all fields exist not only in their accomplishments but also in the many forms of high recognition. This Internet version includes 175 entrants who have been included in the American National Biography, the prestigious biographical reference published by Oxford University Press. Also noteworthy is the fact that 42 were featured on the cover of Time, and several on the covers of Business Week, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and other magazines.

Thirty-one entrants were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (and several more to the NAS companion organizations of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering) and seven to the National Academy of Design. Two were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

As for awards, six Nebraskans have won Nobel Prizes, three more were nominated, and one who refused nomination; twenty-one the Pulitzer Prize (17 individual and 4 group), twelve the Horatio Alger Award, 13 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, six the National Medal of Science, and two U.S. poet laureates.

In mass communication, music, and performing arts, there have been 15 different recipients of Academy Awards (some more than once), 14 Emmy Awards, 11 Golden Globe Awards, seven Tony Awards, eight Peabody Awards (4 individual and 3 group), four Grammy Awards, and two Obie Awards. There have been 29 persons honored with a star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Among the indicators of high achievement in the field of sports are 23 Olympic gold medal winners, at least 16 college coaches who won national championships, 15 athletes inducted into professional halls of fame (and 10 more in the entries of short-term residents), and two Sullivan Award winners.

The author could not have identified and researched the accomplishments of so many Nebraskans alone. He therefore acknowledges the research assistance of archivists and staff members of public and private repositories and institutions statewide and nationwide, and appreciates many instances of cooperation from staff members of Doane College Library at Crete, Love Library at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the public libraries at Beatrice, Crete, Lincoln, Omaha, and Wilber, the Nebraska State Historical Society at Lincoln, the Douglas County Historical Society at Omaha, and the Gage County Historical Society at Beatrice. Special gratitude is also extended to state newspapers as well as relatives and friends of entrants for their valuable assistance. And last but not least, the author thanks the staff of the Crete News and the Nebraska State Education Association for preparation of the electronic version for placement on the Internet.

Suggestions or corrections or inquiries may be mailed to the author at PO Box 685, Wilber, NE 68465. Or contact Al Koontz or Karen Kilgarin of the NSEA at (402) 475-7611 or (800) 742-0047 or email: Or contact Allen Beermann of the NPA at (402) 476-2851 or (800) 369-2850 or email: Or contact Lesa Arterburn of Gage County Museum at (402) 228-1679 or email: