WHS Welcomes New Director

Wisconsin Historical Society Names Christian W. Overland as the New Ruth and Hartley Barker Director

Current Executive Vice President of The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan Will Head Wisconsin’s Premier Historical Organization

The Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators has appointed Christian W. Overland as its new Ruth and Hartley Barker Director. Overland is currently the executive vice president of The Henry Ford, an internationally-recognized history destination in Dearborn, Michigan.

“The Wisconsin Historical Society is rich in educational resources and one of the best history organizations in our nation,” said Overland. “I am very excited about working with the Society’s staff and Board of Curators to create meaningful and memorable mission-based experiences through access to history.”

“Christian emerged following a national search as our top choice to lead the Society,” said Brian Rude, the president of Society’s Board of Curators. “His impressive career at an important historical institution gives him the skills, insights and experience to lead the Wisconsin Historical Society forward.”

Overland has held a variety of administrative roles at The Henry Ford since 1992. Since 2010, he has been responsible for leading and managing strategic planning, historical research, the maintenance and growth of the institution’s collections and visitor experiences as its executive vice president. Overland also has overseen education programs, experience design, museum operations and national positioning.

The Henry Ford is a national historic landmark that draws nearly 1.8 million visitors annually to its five attractions: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and The Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience.

Major leadership initiatives by Overland have included the master plan effort, restoration and transformation of Greenfield Village as well as planning, developing and implementing the Henry Ford Museum Master Plan.

Prior to his positions in Michigan, Overland worked for the Minnesota Historical Society and was a volunteer gallery lecturer at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies and Art History at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and his master’s degree at the State University of New York College at Oneonta and New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, NY in American History and Museum Studies.

Overland, a Minnesota native, has moved to Wisconsin with his wife Maura and their three children.

Overland will replace Ellsworth Brown, who announced his intention to retire last August. Brown has led the Society since July 2004.

“Ellsworth’s efforts have enhanced the national standing and reputation of the Wisconsin Historical Society,” said Rude. “The Board of Curators thanks him for his leadership in the preservation of Wisconsin’s heritage and his unwavering commitment to helping the Society connect people to the past by collecting, preserving, and sharing important stories.”

According to Rude, Overland will be taking over leadership of the Society, its diverse operations and its exceptional North American history resources at an exciting time. In 2018, the Society will move into a new 188,000 square foot State Archive Preservation Facility and explore ways to upgrade the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.

Overland begins his new assignment in Madison on February 12.

For more information about the Wisconsin Historical Society including its mission, sites, programs, and services, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.

Wisconsin Historical Society Footer

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February 2 & 3: WADA’s 44th Winter Show

WADA Winter 2018

Mark your calendars for the

Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association
Antiques Show & Sale
February 2 & 3, 2018
Friday 10:00 – 8:00, Saturday 10:00 – 5:00
at the Waukesha County Expo Center

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Featuring:

-Over 55 quality antiques dealers

-Special exhibit The Marketing of Tobacco

-Friday night fish fry dinner

-Free parking

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Admission: $7 (good both days)

Click here for a $1-off admission coupon!

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Directions: I-94 to Hwy J (exit 294) South 1 mile. West to Show.

GPS: 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha, WI 53188

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Proceeds from the show fund high school scholarships and grants for Wisconsin historic and heritage groups.

For more information, call 414-510-4441 or visit www.wisconsinantiquesdealers.com.

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The Story of the Jones Island Kaszube Fishermen

Connecting Wisconsin to the Rest of the World:

The Jones Island Kaszube Fishermen’s Saga Returned Home to Poland in 2017

From left to right: Janina Kurowska, curator Wejherowo Museum, Professor Emerita Anne M. Gurnack, Thomas Fopke, director Wejherowo Museum.

From left to right: Janina Kurowska, curator Wejherowo Museum, Professor Emerita Anne M. Gurnack, Thomas Fopke, director Wejherowo Museum.

Our FWHS Board Member, Professor Emerita Anne M. Gurnack, has devoted years of research and presentations to a fascinating connection between Poland and Wisconsin. This not only included research in Milwaukee, but also work in Poland with Thomas Fopke, director and Janina Kurowska, curator of Wejherowo Museum in Poland. They bonded together to tell the saga of the Kaszube Fishermen.

Anne presented exhibits and talks here in Wisconsin, but on September 25, 2017 the story of the Kashubian Jones Island fishermen who emigrated in the late 1870’s from the Hel Peninsula to Jones Island Milwaukee, Wisconsin returned home to Poland. On that day, a presentation took place at the Museum in the village of Wejherowo, a Pomeranian region of Poland. The exhibit resulted from a partnership, established in early 2017, between the Milwaukee Public Library and the Wejherowo Museum, resulting in a careful study of materials to use. Materials chosen included over 150 photographs. For many years the saga of the fishermen had been forgotten or only remembered by local descendants still living in Milwaukee.

jones island favorite photo

In the mid-nineteenth century Poland was no longer a sovereign nation, causing economic and political pressures that encouraged many inhabitants of Poland to leave their homes and emigrate to other places of the world. Many were Kazubes who lived on the Hel Peninsula in villages in the Pomeranian region, including many fishermen dominated by Prussian influence, that affected religious, governmental, economic, and educational dimensions of their lives. Valentin Struck visited the United States in the 1860’s and discovered Jones Island, adjacent to the city of Milwaukee. When he returned home he encouraged neighbors, friends and family members to move to the United States and settle there. Jones Island had been named after a ship builder who inhabited the area many years prior to Struck’s arrival. Shortly thereafter, groups of Kaszube fishermen arrived on Jones Island and quickly developed a prosperous fishing village. In a few years’ time there were 1600 inhabitants there, mostly Kaszubes but also including some Germans and Norwegians.

The Struck Family, and grocer Jakub Muza, managed to initiate the settlement families who thought the land was free or believed that they had purchased certain parcels. The complex issues related to deeded ownership and rights to this property would soon be called into question by groups including the Illinois Steel Company and the City of Milwaukee.

Jones Island -Kasube fishermen edited

Settlers experienced discriminatory behaviors by mainlander Milwaukee Polish immigrants who had arrived there previously. Dating or marriage to a Kaszube person from Jones Island was considered undesirable by the city’s Polish dwellers, and fisherman’s families continued to be treated as undesirable residents as they attempted to establish their new homes on Jones Island. But the fishing village itself thrived despite hardships.

The neighboring Illinois Steel Company considered the fishermen “squatters.” The steel company initiated over eighty lawsuits with the intent of removing these “illegal settlers” from their homes. A few of the lengthy lawsuits were won by the fishermen through the defense of “adverse possession,” meaning that were able to prove they had inhabited their property for twenty consecutive years. Eventually, some financial settlements were arranged. By the 1940’s all the Jones Island inhabitants had moved on to make way for the new harbor and the sanitation plant. Many years later in the 1970’s, Milwaukee named a small area on the island “Kaszube Park” where fisherman descendants meet each year on the first Saturday in August to celebrate their heritage. Milwaukee Mayor Barrett declared September 25th “Jones Island Fisherman Day,” and a copy of this proclamation was also presented to the city of Wejherowo.

Jones Island certificate

In summary, the story of these daring Jones Island Kaszube fishermen has now returned to their homeland in Poland, and through the tireless efforts of Anne and so many here and abroad, the “fisherfolk” from this Milwaukee settlement will not be forgotten.

 

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We Eagerly Await April’s Auction

Save the Date!

Auctin graphics - vintage

The 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2018!

The auction’s Preview Night event will be the night before: Friday, April 27, 2018.

And in the meantime, remember to donate your antique and vintage items for the auction; see our previous post for more information!

 

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An Auction Approaches!

For “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction,” FRIENDS of WHS Seek Antique Treasures

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auctions Volunteers; WADA Continues as Founding Sponsor

Auction Promo Pic

The FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society are currently collecting tax-deductible donations of antiques and vintage items for their April 2018 “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” held at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle.

The inaugural auction, held in April 2010, was followed by three successful encores in April 2012, 2014, and 2016. Thus far the proceeds from the four biennial auctions have provided important funding for the Wisconsin Historical Society’s historic sites as well as for National History Day.

Though it is still months away, the “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” demands a great deal of advance preparation. Contributions of antiques (more than 99 years old) and vintage items (50-99 years old) will be gathered from across middle America. Tax-deductible receipts will be provided.

A fifth grant recently received from the Wisconsin Antiques Dealers Association (WADA) continues their commitment as the auction’s founding sponsors. The admissions charged at their October and February antiques shows in Waukesha fund their grant and scholarship programs. See www.WisconsinAntiquesDealers.com to learn more.

Carol Miller of Bailey’s Honor Auction Service in Oconomowoc has once again volunteered to call the auction. You can follow her many auctions throughout the year at www.BaileysHonor.com.

For questions about the April 2018 “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” or to make a donation of an antique or vintage item, please contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700, info@eagle-house.com, or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272, jjmcard@comcast.net.

 

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Annual Meeting 2017: Recap and Report!

On June 28th, a determined group of FRIENDS members from various locales came together in Rock County to visit the Historical Society and tour Rotary Gardens. Like the postal service, neither the wind nor rain kept us from our appointed rounds of the many garden settings, ponds and art work. The recently mounted outdoor garden art project was a hit with the gaily decorated colorful fish forms helping to brighten the cloudy, sunless morning. On command, the rain relented as our tour ended and we boarded our mini-coach.

2017 Annual Meeting Pic 1

Heading back to the Rock Co. Historical Society headquarters, we were chauffeured past many historic buildings in the downtown area and through portions of three of Janesville’s historic districts. Upon arrival at the society, we were welcomed by director Mike Reuter who apprised us of the many recently completed and ongoing projects what will put the Tallman House and entire grounds into a campus- type destination environment. A tour followed highlighting the relocated Frances Willard Schoolhouse, the totally refurbished carriage barn (fall of 2017 completion), and of the c. 1857 Tallman House itself.

2017 Annual Meeting Pic 2

If you have not visited this historic site lately, you will be amazed at all of the renovations and thoughtful additions. The near future will provide visitors with hands on exhibits, audio, and video displays to engage mind and body. This is not your mom and dad’s house museum but an interpretive look at our historical past through a 21st-century lens.

2017 Annual Meeting Pic 3

A wonderful catered luncheon preceded our annual membership meeting. The meeting covered topics from the fall excursion to the 2018 excursion. For a complete report of the annual meeting, please click here.

If you couldn’t make it this year, we hope to see you at the 2018 annual meeting. The location will be revealed later this year!

Best,

Phillip Schauer, President FWHS

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Autumn Excursion 2017: Frankly, It’s the Wright Thing to Do

Autumn Excursion 2017

September 27 – 29

FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society Presents:

Frank Lloyd Wright Trail through Wisconsin!

Join the FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society for another fascinating 3-day tour as we follow the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail through southern Wisconsin. This year’s adventure will be held September 27 – 29 and we will celebrate  the sesquicentennial of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth by visiting many of the famed architect’s most famous creations in the Badger State.

2017 Autumn Excursion a2017 Autumn Excursion b

The 2017 Autumn Excursion begins and ends in Madison and includes visits to Wright-designed buildings in Milwaukee, Racine, Delavan, and Spring Green. Our tour stops include the Unitarian Meeting House, Monona Terrace, The Cotton Exchange, SC Johnson Administration Building & Research Tower, Ross Summer Residence, AP Johnson House, Wallis Cottage, the Spencer House, The Lake Lawn Resort, Taliesin, the Wyoming Valley Cultural Arts Center, Gilmore House, and Lamp House.

2017 Autumn Excursion c2017 Autumn Excursion d

The registration fee for the 2017 Autumn Excursion is $610 for double and $710 for single occupancy. The fee includes motor coach transportation, driver, on-board entertainment, site charges, entrance fees, accommodations, special speakers, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.

Click here for the registration form and itinerary of this year’s excursion! For additional information, call JoEllen Hegwood at 414-476-4061.

Registration deadline is August 20, 2017.

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Annual Meeting 2017: The Rock County Historical Society

Annual Meeting 2017 Save the Date

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Do You Know About the 30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction?

You have seen the biennial “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction” advertised for about eight years now. Ever wonder how the FRIENDS of the Wisconsin Historical Society chose this name for their first auction when planning began in 2009? They’re all about preserving and sharing history, so they wanted to choose a name that would be a history lesson in itself. Wisconsin was the 30th state admitted to the Union, and therefore the 30th star on the flag. And now you know!

30th Star Flag

And speaking of facts about the “30th Star Benefit Antiques Auction,” did you also know that the donation period for the next auction has already begun? In keeping with their efforts to preserve and share history, the FRIENDS are seeking donations of vintage (50-99 years old) and antique (more than 99 years old) items for the next auction, to be held in 2018 for the benefit of Wisconsin’s State Historic Sites. And did you know that your item donations are tax-deductible?

To make an item donation, you can contact Riene Wells at 262-363-4700, info@eagle-house.com, or Debbie McArdle at 815-575-1272, jjmcard@comcast.net. And now you know!

 

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Participate in National History Day 2017!

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National History Day (NHD) is a yearlong program that helps students (grades 6-12) learn about historical events, issues, ideas, and people. Every year there is a new theme; the theme for 2017 is “Taking a Stand in History.”

Would you like to be a part of this event, but are not sure how? You can volunteer! They need room monitors and judges (judges decide which projects and students will advance on to the next level). People from all backgrounds are encouraged to volunteer! They need your help!

The application to sign up to be a volunteer judge or room monitor at the regional or state level can be found on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

If you just want to see what the students are up to, there will be open houses in many regions. All the dates, times, and locations can also be found on the historical society website.

Just a few of the dates:

The Northeastern Region Contest is Saturday, March 4 at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.

The Northwestern Region Contest is Thursday, March 16 at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

The Western Region Contest is Tuesday, March 28 at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

The State Event is Saturday, April 22 at the UW-Madison campus.

The most important takeaway from National History Day is that it is designed to revolutionize the teaching and learning of history. If you want to read more about NHD and why their themes change each year, you can look at the NHD website.

 

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