Dana will be writing a series of dispatches from travels all over Wisconsin at cultural institutions, from libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and the memory organizations in-between. We have this rare opportunity thanks to our NEH grant-funded yearlong project, Listening to War: Uncovering Wisconsin’s Wartime Oral Histories. You can read more about it by visiting
For my last post I talked about my trip to Stevens Point in central Wisconsin. Well, I must’ve liked it so much that I went back again to the center of the state. This time, I visited four institutions in four towns: Niellsville, Marshfield, Wausau, and Medford.
The first leg of my trip was to the Highground Veterans Memorial Park, a truly special place with monuments, a Learning Center, and walking trails for all to experience. In the Learning Center, I met with curator June Abrahamson, who leads Reunion/Education nights for everyone to attend. At these events, she’s taken it on herself to record interviews with veterans about their experiences. Some of the events recorded included Vietnam, World War II, Persian Gulf War, and the Korean War.
After I completed my work at Highground, I had time to drive to the Marshfield Public Library, where I met Adult Services Librarian Mary Adler. The Public Library had a DVD of interviews recorded in 1995 with World War II veterans. It was a quick stop, but it was worth it to see the completely new library building! I saw many patrons using the new space and new computers, even on a Tuesday afternoon.
The next day, I met Ben Clark, archivist at the Marathon County Historical Society in Wausau. The MCHS held a huge surprise for us: cassette tapes made by the DC Everest High School Oral History Program, which we thought had been lost to time after they had been published in a book. One collection was interviews with World War II veterans and the other was with Hmong community members, both about the experience of immigrating to and settling in Wisconsin. We were thrilled to find these tapes!
Lastly, the next day I drove to Medford to visit the Taylor County Historical Society. I inventoried a collection of interviews done by a Boy Scout of local veterans, as well as VHS interviews done over 10 years ago. Society President Sara Nuernberger kindly took me and a volunteer out to a local catering shop run in Medford’s historic fire department, where we talked at length about A/V materials, oral histories, digital preservation, and funding for historical societies.
I appreciate these four institutions taking me in for the week. I learned a lot about the area, and made some delightful discoveries for our project.
We are currently reaching out to libraries, archives, museums and historical societies with relevant materials, but we may have missed you. Does your organization have oral histories? I’d love to hear from you! Please use this form to contact me about your collections.