Wisconsin Historical Society

816 State Street, Madison, WI

Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters building exterior.



Wisconsin History Tour: Oshkosh
Oshkosh Public Library.

Oshkosh Public Library

Location Information
Dates: April - May, 2016
Location:Oshkosh Public Library
106 Washington Avenue, Oshkosh, WI 54901


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Jim Draeger with Jill Miatech.

Society Director Ellsworth Brown presents Oshkosh Public Library Director Jeff Gilderson-Duwe with a certificate of appreciation

A Toast to Our Hosts

Oshkosh sure has a love of history! Thank you to the Oshkosh Public Library for hosting the Tour and to all our other local partners!

The first day of programs in Oshkosh was a busy one and started off with authors Ken and Barb Wardius' talk on Wisconsin's Lighthouses. The water theme carried on to Tamara Thomsen's discussion of Great Lakes shipwrecks and author Martha Bergland's presentation on the life of early scientist Increase Lapham.

The week continued with Society staff programs on how to care for your family treasures and a group presentation on genealogy featuring WHS archivist Lee Grady, UW-Oshkosh Area Research Center Director Joshua Ranger, and Local and Family History Librarian at the Oshkosh Public Library Mara Munroe. Oblio's Lounge, located in an old 1880's Schlitz Beer Hall, was the perfect location for History Happy Hour. The event filled the bar with brewing history enthusiasts and featured remarks by authors Lee Reiherzer and Jim Draeger. Local breweriana collectors displayed their items for guests to look and ask questions.

The week also featured presentations on Native American burial mounds, Vintage Wisconsin gardens, early plank and rail transportation, the Kovac planetarium, and flapper fashion. Sheila Glaske from the Paine Art Center and Gardens and Samara Hamze from the Buckstaff Planetarium joined the fun and shared the history of their organizations as well.

Thank you, Oshkosh! We enjoyed sharing Wisconsin's history with you!

Oshkosh Public Library

Paine Art Center and Gardens

Buckstaff Planetarium

Photo Gallery


Please note: these events have passed.

+Tuesday, April 5

  • 10 AM

    Wisconsin Lighthouses: A Photographic and Historical Guide

    Presented by authors Ken and Barb Wardius

    Join Society Press authors Ken and Barb Wardius on a picturesque tour of Wisconsin's lighthouses, including Asylum Bay and Bray's Point (Rockwell) lighthouses on Lake Winnebago. Through compelling photographs and stories, learn about the history of Wisconsin lighthouses and the keepers who kept these critical maritime beacons lit. A book signing will follow.

  • 12 PM

    Wisconsin's Historic Shipwrecks

    Presented by Society Underwater Archaeologist Tamara Thomsen

    Dive into the history hidden beneath the waves of the Great Lakes with underwater archaeologist Tamara Thomsen. Hear how shipwrecks uniquely tell the story of Wisconsin and how the state records and preserves these submerged treasures. Thomsen's photos illustrate shipwreck tales told in the Society Press book for young readers, "Great Ships on the Great Lakes: A Maritime History," available for sale after the presentation.

  • 2 PM

    Increase Lapham, Early Citizen Scientist

    Presented by author Martha Bergland

    Discover how Increase Lapham, Wisconsin's first scientist, played a leading role in founding what became the U.S. Weather Bureau. Society Press author Martha Bergland will discuss how Lapham was the first to describe the effects of Lakes Michigan and Superior on Wisconsin's temperatures, and to discover that Lake Michigan has a tide. A book signing will follow.

  • 5:30 PM

    Meet & Greet and Guided Tour of the Exhibit

    Join State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Draeger for a personal welcome and hear how the Society came to acquire items ranging from journals of Civil War soldiers to scripts of popular soap operas during a guided tour of the exhibit.

+Wednesday, April 6

  • 10 AM

    Practical Preservation for Your Family Treasures

    Presented by Society Presercation Coordinator Kathleen Mullen

    Do you have treasured items passed down from family members? Come and learn pragmatic ways to preserve a variety of family treasures including scrapbooks and digital photographs, as well as inherited family heirlooms or collections. Learn when and where to find a conservator to help.
  • 12 PM

    Your Stuff, Your Story

    Presented by State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Draeger

    Virtually everyone collects something. We want to know what you collect. Bring an item that has a story to tell such as a historic photo, art, glassware, clothing, or collectables such as breweriana or dolls and share your story with us. Have your story posted on "That's My Story," a collection of objects and stories from around Wisconsin on!

  • 2 PM

    Discover the Roots of Your Family Tree and Local History

    Presented by Lee Grady Society Reference Archivist, and Joshua Ranger, UW-Oshkosh Area Research Center Director

    Come stump our librarians and archivists! The Society houses one of the nation's greatest genealogical and history collections. In this two-part session the presenters will first discuss the Society's collections in Madison and throughout the state at the ARCs. In the second part of the presentation they will answer your questions and unearth resources to solve problems that have been stumping you!

  • 7 PM

    Wisconsin Mounds: Great Mysteries of History

    Presented by Society Archaeologist Amy Rosebrough

    Wisconsin boasts more Native American burial mounds and earthworks than any other part of the United States. From simple imitations of natural knolls to elaborate bas-relief sculptures of animals, birds, spirit beings, and human figures, Wisconsin's mounds fascinate and amaze. Dr. Amy Rosebrough will discuss the history of mound building in the Fox River passage of Wisconsin.

+Thursday, April 7

  • 10 AM

    Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening

    Presented by author Lee Somerville

    Discover Wisconsin's ornamental gardens of the 19th and early 20th centuries with Society Press author Lee Somerville. This talk showcases the "vernacular" gardens created by landscaping enthusiasts for their own use and pleasure as populations moved from farms to towns during this this time period. Sheila Glaske, Curator of Horticulture at the Paine Art Center and Gardens, will share a brief history of the museum's beautiful English gardens. A book signing will follow.

  • 12 PM

    Plank, Wheel and Rail: Transportation in Early Wisconsin

    Presented by Wade House Historic Site Curator of Interpretation and Collections Jim Willaert

    Technological advancement brought significant changes to the way Wisconsinites lived, worked, and traveled in the late 19th century. Hear how innovations in travel, from plank roads to railroads, contributed to the changing face of Oshkosh and east central Wisconsin from Wade House Curator Jim Willaert.

  • 5:30 PM

    History Happy Hour

    Oblio's Lounge, 434 N. Main Street, Oshkosh, WI 54901

    Join author Jim Draeger for a history happy hour at Oblio's Lounge. Yak it up over a Schlitz in this old Schlitz Beer Hall, see breweriana from local collectors, and decorate your own beer labels. Signed copies of Draeger's best-selling book "Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin's Historic Bars and Breweries" will be available for purchase. Society Members get a free drink!

+Friday, April 8

  • 10 AM

    The Man who Painted the Universe: The Story of a Planertarium in the Heart of the North Woods

    Presented by authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank

    Discover the story of Frank Kovac Jr., builder of a 22-foot rotating globe planetarium in Montico, Wisconsin, with Society Press authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank. "The Man Who Painted the Universe" details how this amateur astronomer single-handedly built a North Woods treasure, painting more than 5,000 stars in glowing paint. Hear how you can view the stars in your own community from Buckstaff Planetarium staff of UW-Oshkosh. A book signing will follow.

  • 12 PM

    Flapper Fashion

    Presented by Society Curator of Social History Leslie Bellais

    Flappers, those young women of the 1920s who scoffed at conventional standards of behavior, threw aside the corsets and burdensome clothes of their mothers for shockingly short, sleeveless, androgynous dresses. Leslie Bellais will put the flapper in context of fashion history and illustrate how the flapper style dramatically changed women's clothing.

Want More History?

The Oshkosh Public Library will present additional history programming through May with local speakers Mara Munroe, Clarence "Inky" Jungwirth, Don Potter, and Brad Larson. Learn about the historic buildings and churches of Oshkosh, discover the story of Orphan Trains, and hear about a new, exciting exhibit at the Oshkosh Public Museum. Additional programs will be offered by the Winnebago County Historical & Archaeological Society, the Buttes des Mort Historic Preservation Society, and the Oshkosh Landmarks Commission. For program times and dates, visit or call 920-236-5205.

Oshkosh Public Library.

A Toast to Our Hosts

Oshkosh Public Library

The Wisconsin Historical Society thanks the Oshkosh Public Library for hosting the Wisconsin History Tour exhibit and events during the months of April and May.

Hands-on history activities.

Next Tour Stop

See the Tour!

June 2016

Exciting and educational events, exhibits, programs and workshops are planned for the Wisconsin History Tour in June and July 2016. Check back soon for more details.

Learn More >>