Speaker's Bureau

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum Speaker’s Bureau consists of Staff who offer to present on a variety of topics. Most presentations are 45-60 minutes in length and require a projector and screen. While no speaker’s fee is required, donations to the museum are welcomed to offset travel costs. Presentations are dependent upon speaker availability. If a topic of interest is not listed below, please contact visitor.curator@dva.wisconsin.gov directly.


Wisconsin Veterans Museum
30 W. Mifflin St.
Madison, WI 53703

Submit a request for a presentation at your organization, club, or event.

Intro to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Founded by Civil War veterans in 1901, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum has grown from a small room in the State Capitol building filled with Civil War artifacts to an award winning museum that preserves and shares the stories of Wisconsin veterans from the Civil War to the present through exhibits, programs, and other educational activities. Learn more about this vital Wisconsin institution and some of the stories it preserves in this presentation.

Brave and Enduring Soldiers: Civil War Service of the Green Bay Tribes (with Russ Horton)

Despite broken treaties, decades of mistreatment, and sometimes open conflict with the US government, thousands of Native Americans joined the Union Army during the Civil War. This presentation looks at the participation of men from three Wisconsin tribes and examines their contributions and their reasons for fighting.

Faces of the Iron Brigade (with Kevin Hampton)

Comprised of men from the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Infantry Regiments, as well as the 19th Indiana and 24th Michigan, the “Iron Brigade” earned its reputation as one of the fiercest fighting units in the Union Army. Though their battlefield exploits are well recorded in history, the part that is sometimes overlooked is the human element of the men behind the heroic name. Thought artifacts, images, and firsthand accounts, “Faces of the Iron Brigade” will shed light on the humanity of the men who made history.

Fighting Fenians of the 17th Wisconsin Infantry: Irish in the Civil War (with Russ Horton)

Many states raised ethnic regiments, or units composed almost entirely of immigrants from a particular European country, during the Civil War. Wisconsin raised well-known German and Scandinavian regiments. This presentation looks at the semi-successful attempt to raise an Irish regiment and the story of their service.

The Grand Army of the Republic (with Chris Kolakowski)

The GAR was the national organization for Civil War veterans that existed from 1866 to 1956. It left a significant legacy, including the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. This presentation will give an overview of the GAR and its activities.

Old Abe the War Eagle (with Russ Horton)

Old Abe, a bald eagle who served as the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, rose to national fame both during and after the conflict. After his death, interest and even controversy continued to follow him. This talk presents a history of his life, as well as some questions that followed Old Abe into the 21st century.
Wisconsin Germans in the Civil War (with Russ Horton)

Many states raised ethnic regiments, or units composed almost entirely of immigrants from a particular European country, during the Civil War. With such a large number of German immigrants, Wisconsin raised 2 entire German regiments, in addition to the hundreds of German immigrants who served individually in other units. This presentation examines the stories of the formation and service of the German regiments, as well as individual soldiers of German descent.

Wisconsin Was There in the Civil War (with Chris Kolakowski)

Wisconsinites served in all theaters of the Civil War. This presentation focuses on three lesser-known Wisconsin Civil War stories tied to important Civil War events: the 8th Wisconsin in the Vicksburg Campaign, Arthur MacArthur at Missionary Ridge, and William Cushing sinking CSS Albemarle in North Carolina.

How Much Can a Human Being Endure: Shell Shock in World War I (with Russ Horton)

Shell shock is a term that is synonymous with World War I and it had an incredible impact on the fighting forces of all countries involved. But what was it, and is it related to modern day PTSD? This presentation examines who shell shock was understood during World War I, how the United States handled it, and how dealing with shell shock affected US military policy moving forward.

I Went in to Do My Share: Wisconsin Indians in World War I (with Russ Horton)

World War I came at a time of incredible turmoil for Native Americans, many of whom were reeling from allotment and its affects, continuing to cope with aggressive government policies of assimilation and the loss of culture, and asking legitimate questions about citizenship and rights. Despite that turmoil, an estimated 12,000 American Indians served in the military during World War I, including several hundred from Wisconsin. This presentation uses the stories of Wisconsin Indian veterans to tell this complex tale.

Our Girls Over There: Wisconsin Women in World War I (with Russ Horton)

World War I presented American women with their first opportunity to serve in the active military, and more than 30,000 volunteered. This presentation examines the overall participation of women in World War I, with a focus on the stories of individual Wisconsin female veterans.  
Over the Top and Over There: Wisconsin Stories from World War I (with Kevin Hampton)

Wisconsin went to war reluctantly in 1917, but by the Armistice in 1918 the Badger State’s veterans made important contributions to Allied victory. The war left an important legacy visible in the Wisconsin National Guard and at various places on the state’s geography. This talk will examine the war through the accounts and stories of Wisconsin veterans on land, sea, and air.

Akira Toki and the Purple Heart Battalion (with Russ Horton)

Even as the US government was forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps, more than 20,000 young men of Japanese descent volunteered for service in World War II. Many served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit fought so hard and suffered so many casualties that they earned the nickname The Purple Heart Battalion. Learn about the formation of the 442nd RCT, their battle history, and a Wisconsin veteran named Akira Toki who fought with them in Europe.

Bloody Buna: the 32nd Division's Baptism of Fire in World War II (with Kevin Hampton)

The Wisconsin-Michigan 32nd Division fought at Buna in New Guinea and completed the first victorious Allied campaign of the Pacific War. However, the battle was difficult as the Americans and Australians battled the weather and terrain along with a determined enemy. This talk will discuss the battle, some of its participants and their experiences, and what it meant for Wisconsin.

Douglas MacArthur As Leader (with Chris Kolakowski)

Wisconsin’s Douglas MacArthur was one of World War II’s dominant personalities. He fought longer in the Pacific than virtually any other officer, winning important victories. This talk will examine his leadership style and his key battles from 1941 to 1945.

Leadership Lessons from the Battle of the Bulge (with Chris Kolakowski)

The Ardennes Offensive (aka the Battle of the Bulge) in December 1944 was the largest battle ever fought by the US Army. Using case studies from the battle and the museum’s exhibits, this talk explores important lessons for leaders of any organization.

Operation Torch (with Chris Kolakowski)

The 1942 invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch, was the first step on the road to Rome and Berlin. It was also the longest and one of the most complex amphibious landings in history. This talk will examine the operation, its context, and how it fit in to the overall story of World War II.


The Korean War: An Overview (with Chris Kolakowski)

Korea was an active battleground between 1950 and 1953, in a conflict that was the first United Nations war. This presentation will give an overview of the war, its context, and relevance today.

Wisconsin Veterans Tell Their Stories (with Luke Sprague)

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum has one of the largest veterans’ oral history collections in the United States. This program features unique audio and video content from Wisconsin veterans in the collection. This brief overview is meant to familiarize the public with our oral history program and oral history in general.

Interviewing, Theory, Process, and Techniques (with Luke Sprague)

This three-part in-depth class is meant to be a beginner’s level training for people who want to conduct oral history interviews. There are three parts to the course. Part one covers the theory, ethics, and principles of conducting oral history interviews. Part two explains the pre-interview processes and the interview guide development. Part three reveals some good interview techniques.

Oral History Interviewing Practicum (with Luke Sprague)

This hands-on course familiarizes interviewers with recording equipment and techniques related to in-person interviewing. The lab explains what good and bad recording practices are and specifics regarding recording technology and how to implement using it. In preparation for their first interview, participants will take turns interviewing their peers and applying the theory and knowledge acquired in the theory, processing, and technique course.

How to Use Past Perfect for Oral Histories (with Luke Sprague)

The purpose of this quick course is to show students how they can use the museum database program Past Perfect for oral history cataloging. The Archive, Oral History, and Custom panels/tabs will be covered in detail during this course. Specific topics include planning for metadata, exportation of metadata, lexicon, custom fields, data entry, archival location, archival notes, external links, linking photographs, controlled vocabularies, and much more.

How to Catalog Oral Histories Using OCLC (with Luke Sprague)

The purpose of this quick class is to teach the student how to use the Online Computer Library Catalog (OCLC) for cataloging oral histories on WorldCat.Org. The content covers using navigating and creating bibliographic and local holdings records for oral histories using constant data records and manual data entry. Topics include Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), controlling headings, field formatting, validation, electronic location, date formatting, locking, producing, save files, and much more. This course is aimed at beginning OCLC users for oral history audio and video cataloging specifically.

Implementing the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) at Your Organization (with Luke Sprague)

This course would be helpful to those people trying to decide if they should implement the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) at their organization. We will look at differing implementations at various museums, archives, libraries, universities, and organizations. The class covers the archival concepts of findability, accessibility, usability, and sustainability as they apply to OHMS. The course also explains the specifics necessary to implement this application for an oral history program and the basic steps required to get your OHMS viewer set-up. Topics include file structure, folder structure, permissions, metadata, and media player appearance.

How to Index Oral Histories Using the Oral History Metatdata Synchronizer (OHMS) (with Luke Sprague)

This course teaches the student how to use indexing with OHMS to help patrons find, access, and make oral history content usable. The two different techniques for indexing with OHMS are covered in-depth.

How to Use Transcriptions with the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) (with Luke Sprague)

This course teaches the student how to implement transcripts in OHMS. The workflow for transcript implementation will be explained from transcript formatting to uploading and synchronization. Specific issues that come up when making transcripts available in OHMS will be covered.


Finding Those Who Served: Military Genealogy (with Russ Horton)

Do you have a veteran in your family tree? In this presentation, learn about sources, tips, and tricks that you can use to learn about your military ancestor from the Civil War to the present. Presentations below focus on a particular conflict.

Civil War Genealogy (with Russ Horton)

World War I Genealogy (with Russ Horton)

World War II Genealogy (with Russ Horton)

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