Author Archive

Why do we work? and other questions for working people

Our Working Lives Project, Voices from the Field | October 12, 2017 | By:

Work clock

By Alison Staudinger

Why do you work?

How can a daily activity like work be both the worst and the best of life? Perhaps it is in part because humans have come to expect meaning from their work, in addition to material or social benefits. To understand this development, the humanities offer a unique lens. They offer records of the everyday and methods to study them.

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Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate asks, Why Poetry?

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | September 28, 2017 | By:

On Poetry and Memory

by Karla Huston

I never saw a Purple Cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one

Those lines are from a poem by Gelett Burgess. It is a poem I remember my father reciting to me when I was a child.  I remember imagining that purple cow mooing through my past, swishing her purple tail.

I’m more serious about poetry now. 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


Free Labor: Working & Living at an Asylum

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | May 4, 2017 | By:

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Emily Rock is curator at the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, where she manages the artifact collection, coordinates educational programs, and curates exhibits. She is passionate about community building and works to make history come alive with creative approaches to storytelling.

Asylum: Out of the Shadows, open through May 20th at The History Museum at the Castle, is the result of Emily’s and others’ effort tell the story of the Outagamie County Asylum. With this exhibition, the museum ambitiously sought ‘truth and reconciliation’ for past abuses and aimed to personalize the stories of the residents and employees.  We are proud to be a funder of this community exploration as part of our Working Lives Project.
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#SavetheNEH

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


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


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


Report Back: The Black Workers Forum

Our Working Lives Project | April 28, 2016 | By:

Collage of poster and murals at the Madison Labor Temple.

A collection of murals and signs on view at the Madison Labor Temple during the Black Workers Forum. Photos by Faron Levesque.

Work is something we all do, like sleeping and eating, in our own way. Work can be very personal, but none of us works in a vacuum. Life is work, and work connects to everything else.

This week, Faron Levesque, a PhD candidate in the History Department at UW-Madison, gives us her thoughts on the subject. She specializes in social movements and the cultural history of gender. As such, she sees the connection between work and current social movements that address inequities in housing, debt, education, incarceration, healthcare….and more. Read More


What Is(n’t) Oral History. Or, the Rise of the “Oral History of [Fill in the Blank].”

Tips for Grant Writers, Voices from the Field | November 18, 2015 | By:

The-Simpsons-Season-15-Episode-2-My-Mother-the-Carjacker

 

Troy Reeves works as an Oral Historian for the UW-Madison Archives, which is a part of the UW-Madison Libraries. For over ten years,  Troy has been keeping an eye on where and how the term ‘oral history’ pops up on the internet. It turns out that not all of the claims meet his professional criteria for best-practices in recording, preserving and archiving personal stories. 

After arguing for the power and the value of Oral History in a previous Humanities Booyah article, he suggested it might be useful to address the common use of the term for those of us working in the public humanities. Troy’s love for pop-culture doesn’t mean he wants to see the work of Oral Historians go completely rogue, at least not entirely.

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