The end of October doesn’t just mean colorful leaves, warmer blankets and Halloween — it also means the Wisconsin Local History and Historic Preservation Conference! This year’s conference was held in Wisconsin Dells, which is kind of like one big pool party for families (it was a little too chilly for conference participants to partake in the waterparks, though).
Luckily, I was able to time my latest site visit around the conference. I visited the Archives and Area Research Center at UW-Stevens Point, just an hour away from the Dells. I worked with Archivist Ruth Wachter-Nelson, who ensured I had a great time in the archives. Ruth and her students have been doing thorough work to describe A/V collections on an item level, which was incredibly helpful for our project.
UWSP stores and provides access to certain collections from the Portage County Historical Society. The PCHS collections includes oral histories on cassette, recorded mainly in the 1980s. They cover a wide range of subjects, from anti-war protests, World War I in Russia, World War II, life as a POW, the Korean War, playing basketball in free Europe, the Vietnam War, and the Polish Resistance Movement. The PCHS collections also include VHS tapes primarily covering recollections of World War II, mostly recorded in the 1990s. We are very fortunate that PCHS and UWSP had the foresight to collect these stories thirty years ago.
After my visit to Stevens Point, I headed off to the Local History Conference. I had the pleasure to meet so many local historians, archivists, and librarians. Wisconsin history is in good hands.
There are many more collections to visit in central Wisconsin, so I’m already planning another trip to the area in early November. Does your organization have oral histories? I’d love to hear from you! Please use this form to contact me about your collections.