Margaret Hanson loves history, so being able to put together the Blair Public Library and Technology Center's latest exhibit was right up her alley.

"I think it's fun to look back and see what was here," Hanson, the library's gallery exhibit coordinator, said as she looked at the various displays in the exhibit hall.

The exhibit celebrates Blair's 150th anniversary and honors founder John I Blair's birthday on Aug. 22. A photo of the founder and a copy of the auction notice from March 10, 1869, are two of the items featured in the exhibit. The auction notice has attracted the attention of visitors, Hanson said.

"I'm amazed at the number of people who have come here and looked at it and get down and read it," she said.

The central feature of the exhibit, which opened Aug. 16, is the Nebraska Territory Land Grant document given to Washington County, which is signed by President James Buchanan.

Items for the exhibit came from Hanson's family and collections from a number of Blair residents.

Hanson even went to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., for one of the displays.

"When I was researching, I came across some Sanborn fire insurance maps, so when I was back in D.C. this summer, I went to the Library of Congress and saw the originals," she said. "I like history, so that was cool to me."

Hanson brought copies of the maps back with her to put on display.

The maps were originally created by the Sanborn Map Company to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the United States, according to information appearing alongside the maps. They are also valuable in historic research because they provide evidence of change. The maps are from January 1886 and August 1902.

Visitors to the exhibit will find a rage of memorabilia, including photos and newspaper articles. There's a copy of the Blair Republican newspaper from 1890, as well as front pages of Blair newspapers dated 1942, 1945 and 1949. Another display celebrates Enterprise Media Group's 150th anniversary.

A "yo-yo" quilt restored by a Blair resident and items from Dana College are also on display.

In other areas, glass cases are filled with customer appreciation items given out by Blair businesses, as well as memorabilia from early businesses and celebrations.

A pictorial history about the women’s suffrage movement in Blair and Nebraska was one of the more interesting pieces of information Hanson came across as she did her research.

"It's one of the things that surprised me," she said. "Learning that all the states around Nebraska were already on board and who was trying to block it."

Joining the historical items on display is a new creation finished last week.

Ryan Ray put together a Lego display depicting Washington Street from 16th to 17th streets. He completed it as his grandmother, Donna Henton of Blair, was hosting a singing for her “If These Bricks Could Talk" book Aug. 18.

Hanson said it's been fun putting together the exhibit.

"Some of these businesses I remember my mom and dad talking about," she said. "I was wishing my mom and dad could be here to look at this and hear their stores from that time period."

The exhibit will be on display until the end of September. Hours at the library are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.