Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin history’

When a visionary director takes inspiration from a visionary artist

Humanities Programs in Focus | October 26, 2017 | By:

Heritage Days offers the “chance to overcome generations of mistrust and create passionate young historians who will keep history alive and relevant to our lives.”  

Driving north on highway 13, just before you get to the town of Phillips in northern Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Concrete Park is hard to miss.  More than 200 sculptures, made of concrete and studded with colored glass, depict giants, winged angels, figures of history and legend, menageries of wild and domestic animals, and various scenes of ordinary men and women in daily life.  Read More

A complicated truth: Milwaukee History

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | May 18, 2017 | By:

Founder's Day Saturday Feb. 25, 2017 for America's Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) event program-Help Heal The Racial Divide In Our City- held at the Milwaukee Public Library Centennial Hall downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pat A. Robinson photo

America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) organized the “Help Heal The Racial Divide In Our City” event engaging Milwaukee community leaders in facilitated small-group conversations. Photo by Pat Robinson, courtesy of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation.

On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation of public schools “solely on the basis of race” denies black children “equal educational opportunity.” Thurgood Marshall argued the Brown v. Board of Education case before the Court. He went on to become the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.

In Wisconsin, just two years later, Vel Phillips became the first African American and first woman elected to Milwaukee’s Common Council. 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

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

Earth Day makes me think of Gaylord Nelson

Humanities Programs in Focus | April 22, 2014 | By:

Gaylord Nelson paddling a canoe.

Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day. Wisconsin’s own Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea for Earth Day in 1970, when he was a US Senator. He was born in Clear Lake, a town of about 1,000 people (today) in Polk County.

Clear Lake is a lovely place. On the western border of the state, its regional identity is strongly shaped by the Upper St. Croix Valley. This association honors the geography of the place and ignores map lines. I think it’s good to be reminded that we live on an Earth, not on a map. Read More

Mini-Grants Awarded to Four Humanities Projects

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 12, 2014 | By:

A committee of WHC board members reviews mini-grant applications four times every year.  Awards are for a maximum of $2,000. The grant process is designed to be accessible for first-time applicants and organizations with few staff.  Some of the organizations that receive WHC grants are driven entirely by volunteers.  Small grants can have big impacts, thanks to the hard work and imagination of people around the state.

The following four projects exemplify the power of small grants.  A total of $6,546 was awarded in the February 2014 round.

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Five Outstanding Public Humanities Programs Receive WHC Major Grants

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 7, 2014 | By:


We have seven grant rounds every year and when applications come in, we are impressed with the public humanities projects going on around the state. We are proud to be able to support these home-grown ideas with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Wisconsin, and individual donors.

The projects are often innovative, always interesting, and potentially transformational for the communities involved. In February, a total of $43,877 was awarded to five applicants.

The grant program is competitive and applicants put a lot of time and energy into their applications.  So we say a big “Congratulations!” to the following organizations:

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Women are making history. And they always have been.

Humanities Programs in Focus, Our Working Lives Project | February 28, 2014 | By:

Civil Rights Leader Vel Philips with two students

There are moments when it seems obvious that history is being made. This will go down in history, as they say.  Sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we see that particular moments, people, and events were critical.

The humanities help us study the stories, the cultures, the movers and shakers and the ordinary people of our world, and remind us that we are all part of history. History books, however, can never tell the whole story. For most of recorded history, in fact, a whole lot has been missing.  Women’s stories, in particular, are still shockingly absent from textbooks currently used in schools.

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