Local History Webinars | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Local History Webinars

Online Learning for Local History and Community Organizations

Local History Webinars | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society's Local History Outreach office offers local history webinars throughout the year. All local history webinars are free and open to anyone interested in local history and the skills needed to collect, preserve and share your stories.


What Makes a Thing an Artifact?

Recorded April 27, 2023

A common challenge for local and regional collecting organizations is deciding just what to acquire. Many museums and historical societies are overburdened with large artifact collections. Wisconsin Historical Society Head Curator Joe Kapler will share key issues and challenges of general collecting, considerations for focusing efforts, and strategies to help communicate your mission and scope to patrons. He'll utilize examples from 25 years in the field. If you've previously attended this session at the Local History & Historic Preservation Conference, Joe will share recent issues and opportunities. Attendees are encouraged to bring specific issues for the Q&A portion of the webinar.

View a recording of the presentation here.

Outreach and Engagement: Sharing Connections with the Community

Recorded April 20, 2023

Outreach. Engagement. You’ve heard them (sometimes interchangeably!), you’ve heard that should be doing them…but what are they exactly, how are they distinct from each other, and where do they show up in the local and community history world? Laura Damon-Moore from Wisconsin Library Services will discuss these important approaches to sharing and building connections with your community and simple, actionable ideas for putting them into practice at your organization.

View a recording of the presentation here.

Newspapers and Digitization

Recorded April 13, 2023

Improving online access to historical local newspapers is a goal for many historical societies. Join Wisconsin Historical Society staff for a discussion of the various considerations that go into planning, creating, and maintaining online newspaper collections. WHS staff will focus on technology considerations, metadata standards, access considerations, and future planning.

View a recording of the presentation here.

Major Gifts Fundraising

Recorded April 6, 2023

Jamie Simek, author of "Beyond the Bake Sale, Fundraising for Local History Organizations" and Grants Manager at The Eiteljorg Museum, discusses strategies that can help organizations prepare for major gift fundraising. Chances are when you think about fundraising, you think about "big asks." But how do you know if your gift request is "major"? And whom should you ask? How much should you ask for? And what if they say no? In this webinar, we will use the fundraising cycle to talk about how your organization can prepare for major gift fundraising and answer some of your big questions before you start asking for big money.

View a recording of the presentation herePlease note that the first ten minutes of the presentation were not recorded due to technical difficulties.

EnlargePoster for Ojibwe Storytelling Series featuring photos of four speakers on a blue background with abstract florals and eagle
Ojibwe Storytelling Series

In Ojibwe culture, winter is storytelling season. The Wisconsin Historical Society celebrated by featuring Ojibwe storytellers in a four-part virtual series from Jan. 10-31, 2023.

Learn more about this webinar series and view recordings from the 2022 or 2023 season here.

January 10, 2023: Mike Wiggins, Jr.

Bad River Tribal Chairman and Renowned Storyteller

Mike Wiggins Jr. is the chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Wiggins is also a major advocate for the conservation of natural resources. Before becoming the chairman of the Bad River Band, Wiggins served as a conservation warden for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Today, he is a vocal leader in the protection of the Penokee Hills and in maintaining safe groundwater. In 2019, Wiggins was named an Outstanding Alumni of UW-Superior. Wiggens received his bachelor’s degree from UW-Superior in 1992.

View a recording of the presentation here.

January 17, 2023: Valerie Barber

Lac Courte Ojibwe Elder and Ojibwe Language Teacher

Valerie Barber is a Lac Courte Ojibwe elder and Ojibwe language teacher. Barber joined the US Marine Corps and served for six years before being honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant. She attended Mt. Senario College, earning a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in secondary education, and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University, earning an associate's degree in Native American Studies. She also completed a master's program in teaching and educational techology from the College of St. Scholastica. After many years of both formal and informal teaching, Barber continues to share her knowledge of Ojibwe language, storytelling, and cultural arts in her retirement.

View a recording of the presentation here.

January 24, 2023: Chris McGeshick

Former Chairman, Mole Lake Band, and Seasoned Ojibwe Cultural Practitioner

Chris McGeshick is the former chairman of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and board chairman of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Commission. He currently works as the compliance manager for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He has been a strong advocate for cultural and Ojibwe language revitalization and protecting northern Wisconsin natural resources.

View a recording of the presentation here.

January 31, 2023: Wanda McFaggen

St. Croix Tribal Member and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer

Wanda McFaggen is the tribal historic preservation officer for the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. McFaggan established the St. Croix Tribal Historic Preservation Department in August 2000 for the protection and preservation of cultural, historical, and archaeological resources on St. Croix reservation lands. She oversees many areas of importance to the St. Croix band, including archaeological and sacred sites, burial mounds, and research into tribal members, history, and traditions. She also helps maintain tribal traditions that are in danger of being forgotten.

View a recording of the presentation here.


Local Historical Societies and Local Government Records

Recorded March 25, 2022

Wisconsin Historical Society Local Government Records Archivist Andrew Baraniak will discuss various legal issues concerning local historical societies when it comes to holding local government records. Topics covered will include basic public records laws and open records requirements in the state, title transfer requirements under state law for government records, requirements for handling confidential information in public records, and next steps for identifying and handling local records that may be in the holdings of local historical societies.

This webinar is recommended for Wisconsin-based local historical societies, archives, and small museums that handle local government records.

View a recording of the presentation here.

Modern Jungles: A Conversation about the Hmong Refugee Experience in Wisconsin

Recorded April 29, 2021

Join the Wisconsin Historical Society for a panel discussion exploring the themes of the new Wisconsin Historical Society Press book Modern Jungles: A Hmong Refugees Childhood Story of Survival by Pao Lor. After a difficult and perilous journey that neither of his parents survived, five-year-old Pao Lor reached the safety of Thailand, but the young refugee boy's challenges were only just beginning. Drawing from both personal experiences and contemporary scholarship, panelists will discuss the Hmong diaspora to Wisconsin and the important contributions of Hmong Wisconsinites today. 

Panelists include Pao Lor, Professor and Chair, Professional Program in Education, UW-Green Bay; Chia Youyee Vang, Interim Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and Professor of History, UW-Milwaukee, and Member, Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators; and Mai Zong Vue, Board Member, The Hmong Institute, and Children's Mental Health Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Why You Can't Teach United States History without American Indians

Recorded April 21, 2021

For too many students, teachers, and scholars of U.S. history, Native American history has been at best an add-on - a subject dealt with at the margins of other topics. This webinar brings together four dynamic scholars to talk together about the methods and questions that are challenging this marginalization and to show why you can't teach U.S. history without American Indians.

This webinar is part of Our Shared Future, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's ongoing effort to educate the campus and the broader community on the Ho-Chunk Nation, the eleven other First Nations within the borders of Wisconsin, and the history they share with the university.

The webinar was moderated by Stephen Kantrowitz, Plaenert-Bascom Professor of History and faculty affiliate in Afro-American Studies and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Panelists include Elizabeth Ellis, Assistant Professor of History, New York University; Doug Kiel, Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern University; Dr. Rose Miron, Director, D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Newberry Library; and Sasha Maria Suarez, Assistant Professor of History and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Sharing Women's History: Exploring New Stories and Formats for Engaging Audiences

Recorded March 25, 2021

Join the Wisconsin Historical Society for a free online panel discussion exploring how women's stories and experiences can be told in new ways. Museums, historic sites, and other cultural organizations can share women's history through special programs, tours, and other storytelling formats. From a broad view of new directions for interpretation at museums and historic sites to strategies for virtual engagement, panelists will share examples of innovative programming and best practices for interpreting complex stories that engage new audiences.

Panelists include Mary van Balgooy, Vice President, Engaging Places, LLC, and Director, Society of Woman Geographers; Meredith S. Horsford, Executive Director, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum; and Brooke Steinhauser, Program Director, The Emily Dickinson Museum.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - A Webinar Series

While historical organizations have long grappled with how to interpret difficult or contested histories, recent events have added an increased sense of urgency for communities considering the meaning and message of historical markers, monuments, and statues and the critical issue of representation in our built environment. Join us as we invite panels of experts on monumental art, public history, and memory to discuss the meaning of these markers, monuments, and statues in our state and national consciousness and to consider how our built environment can better represent all people.

The panels were moderated by the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director and CEO of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Christian Øverland; professor of history and director of Marquette University's Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and Outreach, Dr. Robert Smith; and UW-Madison's Public History Project director, Kacie Lucchini Butcher.

Learn more about this webinar series here.

Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - A National Conversation

Recorded July 16, 2020

Discuss the historical context of the current controversy and to consider the meaning of these monuments in our national consciousness with panelists Dr. Karen Cox and Ken Lum.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - Wisconsin's Built Environment

Recorded August 20, 2020

Learn about the role of monumental art in Wisconsin and investigate the current controversy over historical monuments and markers with panelists Aaron Bird Bear and Kacie Lucchini Butcher.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Markers, Monuments, and Meaning - Change and Community

Recorded October 20, 2020

Explore how engaging diverse and inclusive perspectives creates opportunities to re-envision and democratize the process of creating, sharing, and evaluating monuments and historical markers.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Strategies for Fundraising Success during COVID-19

Recorded August 25, 2020

Join Wisconsin Historical Foundation staff members for a roundtable discussion of strategies for fundraising and annual giving during the COVID-19 pandemic as non-profits are navigating uncertain and challenging times. From major gifts and grants, to member support and annual giving campaigns, staff will share examples of strategies that have worked well and what pitfalls to avoid. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and share examples from their own organizations during the Q&A portion.

Panelists include Development Director Kristin Borst, Annual Giving Manager Hannah Hankins, and Development Officer Joe Kollar, all of the Wisconsin Historical Foundation.

View a recording of the webinar here.

Reopening Wisconsin Museums and Historic Sites

Recorded June 29, 2020

Join the Wisconsin Historical Society for a moderated discussion to share ideas and resources for safely reopening historic sites and museums during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin Historical Society staff will present an overview of the reopening plan for Society sites and participants can share resources, suggestions, and recent experiences with planning to reopen to the public.

View a recording of the webinar here.

The Local History Outreach Office also provides links to free webinars presented by partner organizations and continues providing access to the library of recorded webinars. The most timely information on offerings for local history organizations is included in the quarterly "What's New in Local History" e-newsletter. If you don't currently receive the e-newsletter, sign up by emailing fieldservices@wisconsinhistory.org.

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Have Questions?


Janet Seymour
c/o University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
105 Garfield Avenue, Hibbard 728
Eau Claire, WI 54701-4004
Phone: 715-836-2250