Ward Irish Music Archives Announces Conference

On October 18-20, 2012 the Ward Irish Music Archives will host a conference: “The Session! A conference on Irish & Irish American Music & Entertainment” will be held at the Irish Fest Center at 1532 Wauwatosa Ave. This 3 day conference will be the first of its kind in North America. The Session will combine papers and panels on Irish traditional and popular music with video screenings & presentations from the Ward Irish Music Archives. Live music will be integral to this event. A cornerstone event of the conference will be a Gene Kelly Centennial Celebration held on Saturday October 20th.


Local Archives Receive Governor’s Archives Awards

The Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board and the Wisconsin Historical Society recently lauded recipients of the 2011 Governor’s Archives Awards. The awards, presented annually since 2001, recognize outstanding work in preserving and providing access to Wisconsin’s historical records. In addition, the recipients each received a $500 gift certificate from DEMCO, Inc.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The award for Archival Achievement was presented to UWM Libraries for their development of the March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project. The award recognizes a historical records repository that has made an outstanding contribution to the archival profession.

The March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project is a digital collection drawn from archival collections from the UWM Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society, including documents, photographs, news film footage, and oral history recordings and transcripts. These collections could previously be accessed only in person during the Libraries’ limited hours. Now, scholars, students, teachers, and members of the community can access the materials from any location. The digital collection can be accessed at: http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/digilib/march/.

The UW-Madison Digital Collections Center and Department of Geography

A partnership between the University of Wisconsin- Madison Digital Collections Center (UWDCC) and Department of Geography was recognized with the award for Archival Innovation for their work on the Changing Landscapes of Wisconsin Project. The award highlights projects that demonstrate the significance or relevance of historical records in new ways, or that use historical records to reach new audiences.

The Changing Landscapes of Wisconsin project was designed to preserve and expand access to a rare collection of historic aerial photographs of Wisconsin’s landscapes from 1937-1941. The photographs were expertly digitized and indexed by the UWDCC and made available to researchers using the Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder, a tool created by the State Cartographer’s Office which combines the historical images with modern mapping technology. The photography collection and the WHAIFinder can be accessed at the Department of Geography’s website (http://www.geography.wisc.edu/maplib/aerial.html).

Penny Deshur of the Jewish Museum Milwaukee Wins Award for Archival Advocacy

Penny Deshur of the Jewish Museum Milwaukee was the recipient of the award for Archival Advocacy. WHRAB recognized Deshur’s extensive body of work as a teacher, genealogist, community leader, and philanthropist. The award honors support for historical records work through organizational leadership, public advocacy and financial or volunteer contributions.

As the co-chair of a Milwaukee Jewish Federation Women’s Division genealogy group, Penny Deshur helped establish the Wisconsin Jewish Genealogical Society in 1989, and served as the Society’s president for 10 years. Deshur also serves as the Jewish Museum’s Vice President of Education and Development Committee Chair, and teaches genealogy classes in Milwaukee and surrounding communities. In addition to these accomplishments, Deshur devotes considerable time and effort to making Jewish burial records available online for researchers and genealogists at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s website (http://jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/history/statistics/ burial/index.php?/).

The Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board jointly sponsor the Governor’s Archives Awards annually. The Wisconsin Historical Records Advisory Board consists of 10 members appointed by the governor. It assists Wisconsin institutions in applying for federal grants for archival work and in improving the appreciation and care of historical records in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Historical Society Appoints New Director of Library-Archives Division

The Wisconsin Historical Society has announced the appointment of Matt Blessing, head of special collections and archives at Marquette University in Milwaukee, as the director of the Society’s Library- Archives Division. Blessing, who formerly worked as an archivist at the Society from 1991 to 1999, will begin his new duties on Jan. 17.

Blessing has worked as an archivist for Marquette since 1999, overseeing some of the university’s most widely used collections, including the original manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” as well as manuscript collections documenting Catholic social justice movements such as Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement. Part of his role has been to digitize significant amounts of material in the university’s archival collections for Internet access, something that is also a priority at the Society.

The Society’s archives maintains many collections of national scope, including mass communications history; U.S. labor history; social and political collections; and the Draper Manuscripts, which document critical stages in the Westward Movement between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812. The archives also include extensive visual and sound records, including more than a million historical photographs, posters, oral history recordings and motion picture films.

The Society’s library serves as the North American history library for the University of Wisconsin- Madison and holds nearly 4 million printed and microform items on history, genealogy and related topics. It also maintains a massive newspaper collection dating to Colonial days and is an official documents depository for the governments of Wisconsin, the United States and Canada.

“The Society’s research collections are extraordinary, not only for Wisconsin history, but also across many aspects of American history,” said Blessing. “People recognize and value the leadership that the Historical Society continues to provide in preserving and presenting history. I’m excited to join an organization committed to doing such important work.”

Blessing will oversee a professional staff of 45 positions. His appointment follows a yearlong national search.

The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories.