Opera House

The Willa Cather Foundation

dba the National Willa Cather Center

The Willa Cather Foundation—formerly the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial—is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather and preserving the historical settings and archival material associated with her life and writings. Since its founding in 1955, the Foundation has been headquartered in Cather's hometown of rural Red Cloud, Nebraska.

Our Purpose:

To promote and encourage increased understanding and appreciation of the life, times, settings, and work of Willa Cather.

Our Mission:

To enrich lives by advancing Willa Cather's legacy locally and beyond through education, preservation, and the arts.

Our Vision:

People everywhere will find meaning and inspiration in Cather's writing, life, times, and places.

Our Values:

These values guide the decisions and actions of our board, staff, and volunteers.

Creativity: We encourage the presentation and creation of artistic work.
Connection: We connect people through programs and services.
Inclusiveness: We commit to nurturing relationships with individuals and groups of all backgrounds, worldviews, and identities.
Learning: We continuously learn and teach.
Professionalism: We adhere to core professional standards for museums.
Stewardship: We are good stewards of sites, collections, and charitable gifts that are entrusted to us.

Our Core Programs: 

  • Operation of a museum, archive, and performing arts center at the National Willa Cather Center;
  • Preservation of the largest collection of nationally designated historic sites devoted to an American author;
  • Facilitation of research from a large body of archival material related to Cather’s life and writing, the Red Cloud and Webster County region, and Homestead-era Nebraska;
  • Guided tours of historic sites associated with Willa Cather’s life and writing, including her childhood home, a National Historic Landmark;
  • Publication of the Willa Cather Review, a peer-reviewed journal that offers a unique combination of original writing focused on Cather, her influences and times, and the pleasures of her artistry;
  • Organization of conferences and seminars that generate new research and scholarship;
  • Presentation of regular programming and arts exhibits in the Red Cloud Opera House, which played a key role in nurturing Willa Cather's own interest in the arts.
  • Restoration and conservation of the 612-acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie;
  • Coordination of an immersive summer teacher institute to foster the study of Cather literature and related history in K-12 classrooms;
  • Presentation of a virtual author series to elevate the work of contemporary writers;
  • Organization of an annual residency program for a small cohort of writers;
  • Curation of exhibits featuring artifacts from the Foundation’s collections, which include thousands of items that belonged to the Cather family, as well as other period pieces;
  • Allocation of scholarships to high school students and graduate students to further their Cather research or study of the humanities;
  • Encouragement of and cooperation with other Cather programs and initiatives.

Who We Serve:

The Willa Cather Foundation’s programs and resources directly serve more than 60,000 people each year. This includes approximately 8,000 to 10,000 on site visitors from an average of forty states and five countries, as well as over 50,000 individuals served remotely through online resources and publications. Patrons of WCF-sponsored programs represent Cather enthusiasts, scholars, teachers and students, devotees of the arts and humanities, residents of rural Red Cloud and surrounding regions, and cultural heritage tourists.

Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access 

The National Willa Cather Center values diversity and cultivates inclusion and belonging because we believe in the positive community and organizational outcomes that can be achieved when we all have the opportunity to engage in strengthening our collective potential. 

We strive to create spaces and programs where each visitor is welcomed, valued, and accommodated. We recognize that museums are spaces to have courageous conversations about the complex history we share, and we seek transparent discussions about those aspects of Cather’s writing and life that may challenge us, may unsettle us, and may appear to contradict our own values and beliefs. We embrace opportunities to meaningfully engage with all of our stakeholders towards a more equitable, accessible, and inclusive future. 


As humans, we are complex and unique and represent many backgrounds and perspectives. Our lived experiences are shaped by our identities, history, opportunities, and obstacles. With humility and purpose, we are striving to make progress towards diverse representation and actively engage underrepresented groups. As a result, we increase our ability to serve our communities with deeper relevance and authenticity. 


We are mindful that societal barriers to the full and fair participation in our mission have existed in the past and, in some cases, continue to exist. We are intentional about reducing these barriers. By increasing our understanding of the respective needs of individuals and communities, we seek to expand opportunities for all to find relevance and meaning in the life, the times, and the works of Willa Cather. 

Inclusion & Belonging

Inclusion is about each one of us coming together and feeling a sense of belonging and visibility. It is an active commitment to creating experiences and environments and nurturing relationships where individuals and groups of all backgrounds, worldviews, and identities are valued and can collaborate productively and creatively. 


Because we are stronger when everyone has the ability to contribute and engage, we strive to design, develop, and maintain resources, technology, information, facilities and services that can be used by all, including individuals with disabilities. We call this inclusive design thinking. 

Museum photo

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Support Our Work

The Willa Cather Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the work, life, and legacy of this great American writer. Through our scholarly endeavors, educational outreach, arts and humanities programs, and preservation of historical settings and archives, we serve as a vibrant memorial to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.