Tag Archives: Wisconsin Historical Society

“History Inspires People to Build a Better Future”

submitted by Kay Schwichtenberg; photo by Mike Engelberger

Christian Overland 5 22 2019Christian W. Overland has been the Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society since his appointment in February 2018.  He came to Madison from sixteen years in various positions at The Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan.

Overland has stepped into the position at an exciting time.  He and the Wisconsin Historical Society are planning to develop a new museum that would nearly double the square footage of the current facility on the Capitol Square at Mifflin and State Street.  It will be a $120 million public/private funding effort with the state funding $70 million and private funds providing the remaining $50 million. The story is unfolding in several chapters.

Chapter one started with the recently completed Wisconsin Historical Society archive facility on the east side of Madison that houses more than 200 million artifacts. It includes a large North American history collection that is second only in size to the archives in the Library of Congress.

Chapter two now connects that history through events and digital access for every citizen in the state. The new museum will be transformational by boosting access to many thousands more visitors.  Those stories will be shared around the state and around the world.

With additional space, Overland believes that exhibition and educational activities could be expanded with new state of the art technology providing visitors and students a unique ‘Wisconsin experience’.

Overland said that public input into the ideas, plans and content is critical to a successful project.  To that end, the Historical Society is setting up multiple events across the state to get input. “Every community needs a voice,” Overland said.

For more information visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.

Our thanks to WisEye for videotaping our meeting this week, and if you missed our meeting, you can watch it here.

Michael Edmonds: Bold (Not to Say Crazy)

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Edmonds Michael

History is not only made by celebrities, it’s made by each of us and the choices we make every day.  That’s the lesson Michael Edmonds says we should take away from the 43,000 documents and images compiled by the Wisconsin Historical Society on the civil rights movement.

Edmonds brought to life the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project with some of the stories behind the people collecting these historical documents for Rotary members Feb 11.  This was the summer when volunteers arrived in the Deep South to register voters and teach nonviolence, and more than 60,000 black Mississippians risked everything to overturn a system that brutally exploited them.

Wisconsin has one of the richest civil rights collections anywhere, and the largest American history collection anywhere, according to Edwards.

Edmonds is Deputy Director of the Library–Archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society and curator of its online collection of more than 25,000 pages documenting Freedom Summer. A 1976 graduate of Harvard University, he earned an MS degree at Simmons College in 1979 and taught part-time at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

These vivid primary sources shared by Edmonds, collected by the Wisconsin Historical Society, provided both firsthand accounts of this astounding grassroots struggle as well as a broader understanding of the civil rights movement and the work to collect them.

Edmonds closed by saying, “Remember, an archive is not a dusty old place, it’s an engine to remember our place in the world quite differently. For example, your grandmothers didn’t know they had to be so brave.”

For information on Edmond’s book Risking Everything: a Freedom Summer Reader click www.wisconsinhistory.org.  To view 43,000 pages of historical civil rights documents click: www.Wisconsinhistory.org/freedomsummer.