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MCPL & Historical Society Team Up for Virtual Events

Lincoln and Douglas
historical classroom in Marathon County women suffragists

October 1, 2020

It’s a natural fit for the Marathon County Historical Society (MCHS) and the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) to work together to bring information and events to the public.

They share some of the same goals to keep history — and local history in particular — alive and accessible. With both locations either being closed or offering only limited access due the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve partnered to adapt and reorganize our joint programming for a virtual environment. Virtual talks are broadcast simultaneously via the platform Zoom, and live streamed on MCHS’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Each presentation is archived on the MCHS Facebook page and MCHS YouTube channel as well, for people unable to attend the live events.


History Chats

Our collaborative programming started mid-September 2020 with a weekly “History Chats” series led by MCHS librarian Gary Gisselman, who is currently taking a historical look at schools in Marathon County – including rural schools, schools started by churches, and schools in the 20th century. Future sessions will cover other local historical topics of interest. The “History Chats” series consists of brief (approximately 20 minutes) mid-day presentations every Thursday at 12:30. Visit the MCHC website for more information about this series.


History Speaks on the Air

Will the Women Vote? The Campaign for Equal Suffrage and Marathon County

To mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that provided women with the right to vote, Historical Society archivist Ben Clark provided a virtual “History Speaks on the Air” talk in September that shared some of the people in Marathon County who were active the women’s suffrage movement, as well as the aftermath of local elections after the 19th Amendment was ratified. You can view “Will the Women Vote? The Campaign for Equal Suffrage and Marathon County” on MCHS’s YouTube channel.

In October 2020, the Historical Society and library will co-sponsor two more “History Speaks on the Air” programs, on two very different topics:

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates :: October 17

In the midst of the campaign season for local, state, and national elected offices, Dr. Brett Barker will present a program on Saturday, October 17, about the historic 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas — and why the 7 debates represent both the best and worst aspects of American political tradition. Maybe you think our current political climate is the best, or the worst, but Dr. Barker’s talk will provide a much-needed break with a look at political debates more than 160 years ago.

At Rest :: October 31

On Saturday, October 31, MCHS curator of artifacts Kathy Volkmann will deliver a well-timed talk entitled “At Rest” taking a look at the social history of how people have dealt with death and mourning. Though Volkmann’s talk may conjure thoughts of Halloween, her talk also will resonate in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.


It’s not just a shared goal of providing information and entertainment that’s leading the collaboration between MCHS and MCPL. Funds allocated to the non-profit Historical Society in Marathon County’s 2020 Annual Budget came with one caveat, that County Administration work with the Historical Society to identify specific opportunities to partner with County departments. The result: a series of joint educational programs with the Marathon County Public Library.

More joint programming is in the works for late 2020 and into 2021. It’s taken us both a little time to adjust to a world of virtual programming, but the MCHS staff has worked hard to deliver their takes on local and national history in a way that keeps both their staff and the public safe, and MCPL is happy to play a part in bringing attention to these programs. 

Whether you’re a casual or dedicated fan of history — or even a student looking to learn more outside of classroom assignments — these are fun and interesting talks that are sure to teach you something about our local history!


Community Events History

image credit: Public domain.