Living History: I played a black Civil War veteran

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | February 22, 2017 | By:

Reggie Kellum plays Howard Brooks at Talking Spirits Cemetery Tour 2017The annual “Talking Spirit’s” walking tour produced by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum highlights the local and state history buried in the picturesque Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison. Every year, about 2,000 school children arrive by the busload to walk the grounds with a knowledgeable tour guide. Along the paths, they stop to hear from four people, all actors in period clothing portraying real people. The scripts for these characters are researched by the museum staff and written by a playwright.  They are chosen to reveal often lesser-known  experiences of the Civil War. History comes to life through these real stories and theatrical vignettes.

Howard Brooks was of these characters for the fall 2016 Talking Spirits tour. Read More


Rochelle’s Story: Piecing together family history

Voices from the Field | February 8, 2017 | By:

Photo of Rochelle's mother with her sisters in Missouri.

by Rochelle Fritsch

Stories passed down from grandparent to grandchild often tell stories of identity – who we were – and who we are.

In my case, my grandparents died before I was born. Their absence left a space where identity should have been. Later, my own parents died before my daughter was born.

I realized what had been a space for me was a chasm for my daughter.

With memories being the only source to fill the chasm, I brushed away my brain’s cobwebs and tried to remember bits and clues from decades-old conversations. Soon, the most basic clue emerged: my grandmother’s name. Read More


From the Director: Looking for Leadership

Humanities Programs in Focus | January 25, 2017 | By:

American flag in a fieldIn 2010, Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, finished his first year on the job and a 50-state “civility tour.”  Today, when aggressively hyper-partisan politics leave the nation feeling more deeply divided than ever, the idea of a federal agency leader preaching civility can seem weirdly idealistic.  But Leach had spent 30 years in Congress prior to the NEH, which might damage a person’s idealism, but should hopefully add to their realism – at least about what we should ask of the federal government. Read More


Healthy Living in the New Year

Our Working Lives Project | January 12, 2017 | By:

a pile of carrots

by Katherine Sanders, PhD

The New Year is a season of promises.  Many of us pledge to make improvements in our lives.  And, of course, many of our promises are about health.  (I’m procrastinating even as I write this – I should be on my way to the gym!)

Your health promises might be like mine, focused on something you know directly impacts your well-being, such as what you eat and how often you move. 

But there is another area of life that also has a direct impact on health – work.  Most of us spend the majority of our waking lives working.  That work experience shapes our mental and physical health.  It either supports or erodes our self-esteem and sense of belonging.  If you’ve worked in an unhealthy work system, you’ve lived this.  It can be a visceral experience.

What most people don’t realize is that we can design work to promote health.  There are decades of research on work’s impact on health.  We know how. So when the WHC invited me to refresh this article from last year, I jumped at the chance.  I’m eager to reach as many people as I can with this message: Work can be healthy for you.  And you deserve healthy work.

It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Shop Talk speaker series.  I’ve enjoyed talking with people from diverse professions and career stages.  What unites us is our interest in creating healthier working lives for ourselves and our colleagues. 

What would 2017 be like for you if one of your resolutions was to increase the health of your working life? Read More


Commensality: Eating Together in the New Year

Humanities Programs in Focus | December 21, 2016 | By:

2016-commensality-image-and-text

Read More


Announcing November Mini Grant Awards

Humanities Programs in Focus | December 8, 2016 | By:

2016 WHC Grant AwardsWe’re pleased to award $12,061 in Mini Grants to projects around the state that reach all ages, covering topics from race and ethnicity to immigration, and from literature to local history.

Congratulations to these seven organizations! These projects tell Wisconsin’s stories and bring communities together to explore important themes and reach groups often overlooked. We welcome you to be a part of the story and see these projects and events.

Inspiration starts here!


Read More


Grants 101: Healing through the Humanities

Humanities Programs in Focus, Tips for Grant Writers | December 1, 2016 | By:

A poem and artwork by a participant in an Untold Stories workshop

It’s through the reflection allowed by the humanities that we gain the perspectives that help us heal.

by Meg Turville-Heitz

We’ve been looking at measuring the impact of humanities programs through evaluation. Last time, I wrote about evaluating impact internally – how we improve our own programs with honest post mortems. This article focuses on our external impact and talking about why the humanities matter. Read More


A Black Police Officer Tells His Story

Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | November 17, 2016 | By:

Corey Saffold presents ShopTalk in Waukesha

What is it like to be a cop, and black?

When a white state trooper pulled over a black off-duty Madison police officer, Corey Saffold, what did the trooper assume about the man with dreadlocks and a gun – officer Saffold’s service pistol – on the passenger seat?  What did the trooper do next? Read More


Grants 101: Evaluating your relationships

Humanities Programs in Focus, Tips for Grant Writers | November 2, 2016 | By:

Picturing Milwaukee People & Places

Experiences with the humanities change lives. We know that. We also know that beyond the tally of who participated directly, the impact of an encounter with ideas can ripple outward in unpredictable ways.

by Meg Turville-Heitz

A few weeks ago I started a conversation about evaluating our impact in “Taking measure of your humanities project.” I talked about how we can evaluate impact both from the perspective of how programming affects how organizations operate, and what individual participants take home. This week, I’m sharing the story of Professor Arijit Sen’s project, Picturing Milwaukee, as a case study in using participant feedback to improve programming and organizational relationships.

I visited Sen at his UW-Milwaukee Building-Landscape-Culture field school this past summer to talk about how his project evolved since he received two Major Grants from the Council several years ago. His experience was enlightening. He looked beyond the feel-good successes in participant evaluations of his project to focus on where he missed the mark.

In thinking through those short-comings, Sen built a far better project and more meaningful partnerships that led to a much deeper community impact than he had initially imagined. Read More


Announcing Major Grant Awards

Humanities Programs in Focus | October 20, 2016 | By:

2016 WHC Grant AwardsWe’re pleased to award $49,921 to five incredible projects that tackle everything from race and ethnicity to a look at past, present and future water infrastructure explored via a mobile video game.

Congratulations to these five organizations! These incredible projects tell meaningful stories about Wisconsin and bring communities together to explore important themes. We welcome you to be a part of the story and see these projects and events.

Inspiration starts here!


Read More