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.

Looking for recordings from past special event webinar series? Follow the links below.

Ojibwe Storytelling Series Markers, Monuments, and Meaning


Practical Accessibility

Jason Beloungy, Executive Director, Access to Independence
Wendy Weiler, Board Member, Access to Independence

May 2, 2024, 10 am

Register Here

This presentation will provide attendees with useful information on accessibility considerations for people, spaces, and events. The session will delve into practical tips for inclusivity and assistance for visitors with disabilities; ensuring accessible spaces, including historic considerations; digital accessibility; accessible events; feedback on effectiveness; and promotion of accessibility and inclusion.

Access to Independence is a disability-led and run organization that serves people of any disability, any age, and any identity. The organization also provides an array of accessibility consultation services for businesses and organizations.

Powwow Prep

Becky Taylor and Thomas Cain, Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Members

May 22, 2024, 6 pm

Register Here

"Powwow Prep" is for everyone!

If you've ever wanted to learn more about powwows and what to do when you attend one, this is the webinar for you. Becky Taylor and Thomas Cain, Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members, are providing this introduction to powwows webinar. Combined, they have about 80 years of experience on the powwow trail, traveling all over the country and logging thousands of hours powwowing. During this webinar, they will teach us powwow etiquette, so you know what to do and what not to do. You’ll learn how powwows are organized and some fun things to do while attending. Becky and friends will demonstrate dances while Thomas provides live singing and drumming. You can join in the fun from home by getting up and trying the dance moves yourself! Becky will also share some of her favorite stories from the powwow trail. The event is free, but registration is required. To learn more about Wisconsin powwows, click here.


Boards: What Are They Good For?

Recorded April 4, 2024

What should you expect from your board? What should your board expect from you? How does a board evolve? We'll explore these questions, and probably a few more, and – with any luck – we might come up with some answers.

Jason S. Wright CFRE, Executive Director, The History Center

View a recording of the presentation here.

A Fresh Look at Nathan Myrick and the Founders of Our Communities

Recorded March 7, 2024

Nathan Myrick is largely credited as the founder of La Crosse, Wisconsin. But when you examine his story, you find that he lived in La Crosse for just six years, and when he left in 1848, it was to follow the Ho-Chunk as they were forcibly removed from the new state of Wisconsin. In this presentation, we will address what it means to commemorate people like Myrick, question the founding narratives that we hold so close to our community's identity, and give strategies on how to shift the way we discuss our founding and local history.

Jenny DeRocher, Librarian, La Crosse Public Library Archives & Local History Department
Kacie Lucchini Butcher, Public History Project Director, UW-Madison Public History Project
Henry Greengrass, Community Advocate

View a recording of the presentation here.

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.

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.

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. 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