Nebraska Authors

Bertha Calloway

Born 1925-07-14 Denver, CO (USA)

Died 2017-11-25

Omaha civil rights activist and black history enthusiast and collector Bertha Calloway opened the Great Plains Black History Museum in 1976 with her husband, James T. Calloway. She had also founded the Negro Historical Society in 1962. One of Calloway's own ancestors was a black cowhand, and one strong museum theme was black cowboys. The museum has been open only intermittently in recent years. The founder's son Jim Calloway has led some desperate efforts to save the museum. Omaha freelance journalist Leo Adam Biga has reported extensively on the Calloway's efforts and the museum's difficulties. In a 2012 story he noted that the Nebraska State Historical Society had cataloged and stored the museum's collections.

Biga also notes the controversy that surrounded the 1998 book, Visions of Freedom on the Great Plains: An Illustrated History of African Americans in Nebraska, a collaboration between Bertha Calloway and Alonzo N. Smith. The book was planned as a showcase for the museum's collections and photographs but was found to be so riddled with errors that the museum refused to accept it from the publisher. Everyone involved, including corporate sponsors, seems to have been wounded and the book became the subject of a threatened lawsuit.


Places Lived

Omaha, NE
Denver, CO
Langston, OK

Author Of

  • Nonfiction
  • Journalism


African-American History; Local History; Omaha (Nebraska)--History


Langston University, Langston, OK


Curator of the Great Plains Black History Museum, 1976-


Black Women of the Great Plains. 1989. (VHS, from the Lincoln City Libraries' Celebrating Nebraska Women Lecture Series)
Visions of Freedom on the Great Plains: An Illustrated History of African Americans in Nebraska. 1998. (with Alonzo N. Smith)

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Bertha Calloway

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)