Stories about Submarines

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

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is yet another example of small staff museums doing big things to save its history. The museum is in a large space right off the Manitowoc River, off Lake Michigan. I had a lot to inventory, so unfortunately I had to bypass the exhibits and go straight to the archives. I had the chance to work with Caitlin Clyne, the Registrar, and Lisa Pike, Research Assistant.

The museum’s oral history collection held a wide variety of formats, from born digital files, to donated DVDs, to cassettes recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. Being on the water, most of the subjects were about veteran experiences on submarines during World War II – the USS Cobia is also still sitting in front of the museum! Uniquely, there’s also experiences recollected from the home front of workers in the shipyard.

As always, thanks to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum for letting me spend the day with you!

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.

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