Archive for the ‘Voices from the Field’ Category


Voices from the Field | March 15, 2017 | By:

Flag displayed in a museumAn Argument for Maintaining Federal Funding for the Arts & Humanities

This Opinion piece was published on March 8, 2017 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

by Anne Pryor

It would be a short-sighted mistake by Congress to eliminate or defund the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Communities across Wisconsin are better informed, more cohesive and creatively positioned to market their assets thanks to investments made through grants from the endowments. Both founded in 1965 by Congress, the two endowments support local endeavors generated by community members who want to connect with others on vital issues. They do this by creating exhibits, conducting research, performing, conversing or preserving heritage, and the endowments provide seed money to make this happen. Read More

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

How We Will Work: Stories from Wisconsin

Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 6, 2016 | By:


Here on Humanities Booyah, we curate a mix of voices and ideas. Our interests are eclectic. We are just as interested in hearing from museum directors with tips for reaching out to new audiences as we are in learning about nearly-forgotten Wisconsin authors and their once-famous books.

Our all-time most popular article, however, stands out for being different. “In My Experience: The Work of a Medical Transcriptionist” is a personal story shared with us by a woman named Sue in Menomonee Falls. We had just launched our Working Lives Project when Sue contacted us in response to hearing our director, Dena Wortzel, challenge us to reflect on the unseen work — and workers — all around us.  Sue knew too well what being unseen can mean. Read More

The Power of Cultural Institutions

Voices from the Field | September 6, 2016 | By:

Wisconsin Pulitzer Winners

Contemplating the fate of forgotten Pulitzer winners got us thinking about the power of cultural institutions to determine what continues to have currency. And what sinks from view. They say our attention spans are getting even shorter. Who among today’s writers and thinkers will be remembered? And what role do we have in building or maintaining their legacy?

We’re glad that this year, thanks to the respect still accorded Pulitzer and its prize winners, we are being prodded to read some authors whose reputations have lasted. We are also challenged to consider some who have been set aside. Do these works stand up to modern standards? If we take the time to read their descriptions of eras past, what might we learn about the world we live in? Read More

Looking to Literature to Ask the Enduring Questions

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | August 11, 2016 | By:

Thornton Wilder, Pulitzer Prize Winner

What does it all mean?

Wisconsin can claim many Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and artists. While not all of their names are well-known, Thornton Wilder’s certainly is. He was born in Madison and is probably best known for the play Our Town. But before he wrote Our Town, he won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey in 1928. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Or even read it? 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey has been called a moral fable. Someone who narrowly escapes a tragedy asks the ultimate questions of existence: Why them? Why not me? Was this an accident? Or are we all actors in a divine play?

These enduring questions are for us each to ponder as our lives unfold.  Exploring them is the essence of the humanities. As ambassadors for this type of reflection, and because we love to talk books, we asked a friend and former board member if he’d like to review The Bridge of San Luis Rey.  We bet he’ll make you want to read and enjoy the book, as he did! Read More

Summer Reading: Staff Picks for 2016

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | June 30, 2016 | By:

WHC reads for summer 2016

What are you reading?

That is a common question around the WHC office, and one that leads to fascinating conversation. We all have different tastes, which means we get a glimpse into other worlds by hearing what others are reading. 

As is now tradition, we are sharing our Staff Summer Reading Picks. We would love to hear from you! What are you reading? Read More

‘Nothin’ But Nets’ at the Port Exploreum

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | February 3, 2016 | By:

Downtown Port Washington

These days there are few reminders of the once-dominant commercial fishing industry in Port Washington. The Lake Michigan community is one of the oldest in Wisconsin.  A natural harbor at the mouth of Sauk Creek, the location has drawn people to fish since there have been people fishing. In 1870, the notoriously rough harbor was dredged to improve access for ships.  Port Washington became the first man-made harbor in North America, and commercial fishing took hold as the main industry.

“It was a family-oriented industry. Men, women, and children were all part of the business,” the historian and Nothin’ But Nets project coordinator Matt Foss explained. 

Read More

Reflections: Our Favorite Humanities Experiences of 2015

Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project, Tips for Grant Writers, Voices from the Field | January 20, 2016 | By:


The past year has been an important year at the WHC. We have been working hard to use our online presence to support and strengthen the statewide humanities community. These efforts include using Facebook to spread inspiration, encourage curiosity, and celebrate your work, and ours. We also participate in the lively and often reverential Twitter conversation about the public humanities.

And here, on Humanities Booyah, we are sharing best practices for public programming, talking about the challenges of writing grant proposals, and highlighting voices, ideas and projects with articles written just for you. A year ago, we declared our goals for this online magazine. In the coming year, we will be Read More

The Year Ahead: Make New Friends and Keep the Old

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | January 6, 2016 | By:


If you’ve ever gotten a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, then you may have mentally thanked the WHC’s board, knowing that they’re the folks who saw the promise in your proposal.  You may not have known that there are twenty-five members at any given time, each serving up to two 3-year terms.  In addition to humanities scholars from UW campuses and private colleges like Northland, board members come from many different backgrounds and parts of the state. 

While serving on the board, members meet in person three times a year.  They get to know one another and, through grant review and program attendance, increase their familiarity with the cultural landscape of the state. We’ve often wished we could just keep adding to and expanding our circle without ever losing the talent and friendship of our past board members. Until recently, we didn’t have a formal structure for maintaining a connection with these outstanding resources, ambassadors, friends and allies. Read More