Private Tours of Some of Your Favorite Wisconsin Sites!

Private Tours

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Wednesday, June 26: Annual Meeting 2019

Annual Meeting 2019 Postcard


Please click on, print, fill out, and mail the form below to register:

Annual Meeting 2019 Form

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A Tour and Luncheon Worth Archiving!

FRIENDS of WHS Members Tour SAPF

Friends of WHS board members and others toured the new State Archive Preservation Facility (SAPF) on Madison’s near-east side on Tuesday, September 18th. Led by board president Phil Schauer, Friends members were given a tour of the new state-of-the-art facility by Matt Blessing, WHS administrator of the Division of Library, Archives and Museum collections.

Blessing led the group through the new four-story storage facility that will eventually hold more than 500,000 artifacts. The facility will also contain 200,000 books and over 50,000 archival boxes with millions of pages of manuscript pages and documents from state agencies. The WHS is also moving 110,000 historic objects to the new facility, located at 202 South Thornton Avenue, along with hundreds of boxes filled with over 400,000 archeological objects. In addition, the new facility will house 22,000 objects and several archival collections from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.


Highlights of the tour of SAPF included a stop in the film storage room, where a temperature of forty degrees with a constant low humidity level will preserve the fantastic film and movie collection for the future. Blessing explained that when a film needs to be shown, it will be moved to a transition room where the temperature is gradually raised – again to preserve the quality of the film. Currently most of the film collection is still at the WHS headquarters on the UW campus. When the weather cools in October the collection will be moved to SAPF.


Blessing also explained the new digital identification system that helps staff locate objects and collections. Each object has a scanning ID code that is also on the storage box and the shelf where the box is stored at SAPF. When a researcher needs an object, they can identify it online at the WHS site. WHS staff at SAPF then can locate the needed document of object, pull it from its storage shelf, and by the next morning the researcher can access the needed material at the WHS headquarters building.


On the tour, Friends members saw an early version of the Oscar Mayer “Wiener Mobile,” the hamburger-carrying caricature of Marc’s Big Boy restaurants, and an early television camera from the WHA educational TV station. Stepping out onto the loading dock area of SAPF, Blessing explained that trucks arrive daily with materials from the WHS headquarters building. This process has been going on since early spring and will continue for several years before the move is completed.

Blessing stressed that the new SAPF facility helps the historical society meet its mission of “To collect, preserve and share.” The new facility was built with extra storage space so that the WHS can continue to meet its mission into the future.

FRIENDS of WHS Honor Fannie Hicklin

As part of the September meeting of the Friends of WHS board, a luncheon meal was shared at the Hungry Goat restaurant in Fitchburg. At the gathering, Friends’ President Phil Schauer honored Dr. Fannie Hicklin for her many years of service to both the Wisconsin Historical Society, where she served on the Board of Curators for 27 years including as President of the board, and the Friends of WHS group, where she served as a board member for many years.


After her introduction at the luncheon Dr. Hicklin regaled the gathered Friends members with stories about coming to Madison to get her doctorate degree at UW. During that time she also worked at the historical society and first became aware of the importance of the institution. Her witty recollections entranced the gathering as the centenarian (Fannie recently celebrated her 100th birthday!) retired educator’s presence made for a wonderful time for all.

– Brad Steinmetz, FWHS Vice President

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Tuesday, September 18th: WHS Facility Tour and Lunch

10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Touring the State Archives Preservation Facility

(204 South Thornton Avenue, Madison, WI 53703)

Afterwards: Lunch at the Thirsty Goat

(3040 Cahill Main, Fitchburg, WI 53711)

The FRIENDS are pleased to invite you to an exclusive guided tour of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s newly constructed, state-of-the-art State Archives Preservation Facility. We have the opportunity to be shown the new building, which has an impressive space of 189,730 square feet. The Administrator of the Division of Library-Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Matt Blessing, will be guiding the tour on Tuesday, September 18th from 10:30 am to noon.

State Archive Preservation Facility

Following this incredible opportunity to have a peek into the amazing archives held in this new facility, the FRIENDS will be having lunch at the Thirsty Goat in Fitchburg. The restaurant has great food and drinks, but even better is that 15% of the total spent by us at lunch will be donated to our very own FHWS!


Join us for a morning of learning about the preservation of Wisconsin’s history and celebrating the ability to aid these efforts through your support.

Please RSVP with names and phone numbers of those planning to attend to Patricia Lawler Layde at or 414-254-9135.


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We’re Meeting in Madison: Join Us at the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 26th

Annual Meeting 2018 Itinerary and Form

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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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A New Year, A New Adventure

Got the New Year blues?
Well, here’s something to look forward to in 2017:
Where on earth–or rather, where in Wisconsin–could FRIENDS be going for the Annual Meeting in the summer, and the Excursion in the fall? What history mysteries are waiting to be uncovered so close to home? And will you join us for the adventure of finding out?

Old Suitcases

Keep a lookout for the next issue of Pillars, when maybe at least one of these questions might be answered!

tour bus

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An Autumn Excursion to a Summer Home of the Stars

Did you know that Genesee Depot, Wisconsin holds an estate called Ten Chimneys (aptly named for its chimney count!), which was the summer home of Broadway’s legendary performing couple Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt? And did you know that many famous figures of the stage and screen were guests at Ten Chimneys throughout the mid-twentieth century, including Carol Channing, Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, and Laurence Olivier?

You can learn more about the Lunts and their estate when you journey with us on our September 21-23 Autumn Excursion, when we’ll visit Ten Chimneys as part of our tour of Wisconsin’s historic entertainment-related sites.

For the Autumn Excursion brochure, including the itinerary and registration form, click here!


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The Show Must Go On!

Did you know that Baraboo, Wisconsin was the home of the Ringling Brothers, as well as the home base of their famous “World’s Greatest Shows” traveling circus? And did you know that Baraboo is now home to the Circus World Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of circus materials in the world, including restored wagons, artifacts, and buildings used by the Ringling Brothers themselves?

You can learn more about the history of the great traveling circuses by traveling with us on our September 21-23 Autumn Excursion, when we’ll visit the Circus World Museum as part of our tour of Wisconsin’s historic entertainment-related sites. The show must go on…and so must you (go on this trip, that is)!

For the Autumn Excursion brochure, including the itinerary and registration form, click here!


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Lights, Camera, Action!

Did you know that Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the setting for the classic television sitcoms Happy Days and its spin-off Laverne & Shirley? You can learn more about our state’s rich history of television, film, theater, and radio by joining us on the set of our September 21-23 Autumn Excursion, when we’ll visit the archives of the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research as part of our tour of Wisconsin’s historic entertainment-related sites.

For the Autumn Excursion brochure, including the itinerary and registration form, click here!


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