Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration Project Collection, 1995-1999

Summary Information

Collection Summary

Title: Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration Project Collection
Dates: 1995-1999

  • Cedarburg Cultural Center (Cedarburg, Wis.)
Unique Identifier: CSUMC0037-CG

Contents: Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures: 49 folders, 9 audiocassette recordings, approximately 2411 35 mm color slides, 3 11x13 3/4 color prints, 62 8x10 black-and-white prints, 4 8x10 color prints, 43 4x6 color prints and 35 mm negatives, 8 3 1/2x5 color prints, 97 4x5 internegatives (77 color and 20 black-and-white), 25 black and white contact sheets, 17 color exhibit prints, 14 black-and-white exhibit prints, 7 18x24 floor plans, 4 sets and 2 comb-bound booklets of 8 1/2x14 display case drawings, 2 VHS recordings, and 6 3.5-inch computer diskettes.

Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
432 East Campus Mall, Room 332
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Web site: http://csumc.wisc.edu

Archival Location:
Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (Map)

Ethnographic documentation (1996-1997) used by the Cedarburg Cultural Center (Cedarburg, Wisconsin) to organize a substantial traveling exhibition (1997-1999) focused on the panoply of folk arts throughout the state, including musical instrument building, basketmaking, quiltmaking, and decoy carving, consisting of manuscript materials, audio recordings, graphic materials, and electronic media.

Language: The records are in English.

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-csumc-csumc0037cg
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Collection Concordance by Format
Quantity Physical Description Location
Manuscript Materials
49 folders Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
Sound Recordings
9 audiocassettes Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
Graphic Materials
2411 35 mm color slides (approximately) Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
76 color photographs Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
75 black-and-white photographs Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
4 sheets black-and-white and color 35 mm negatives Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
25 contact sheets Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
97 color and black-and-white internegatives Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
7 18x24 floor plans Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
4 sets + 2 booklets 8 1/2x14 drawings Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
2 VHS recordings Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
Electronic Media
6 3.5-inch diskettes Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures


“Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration,” focused on the role of folk art in the lives of Wisconsin residents 150 years after statehood, looking at artistic traditions as a link to ethnic heritage and as an evolving process, adapting to contemporary materials, technologies, influences, and audiences. Janet C. Gilmore (maritime/riverine traditions), James P. Leary (logging), and Ruth Olson (Northwest Wisconsin and ginseng cultivation) performed field research and wrote catalogue essays, while Lewis Koch was the primary photographer. Robert T. Teske, Janet Gilmore, James P. Leary, Thomas Vennum Jr. of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife Programs, and Richard March of the Wisconsin Arts Board served on the Festival Curatorial Team. Folklorist Anne Pryor documented a number of the artists involved, focusing on children's folklore and religious expressive traditions. Terese Allen examined the state's foodways, Gina Grumke focused on Wisconsin taverns as a cultural and community site, and Peter Roller researched African American musical traditions in southeastern Wisconsin. Judy Benade of the Wisconsin Arts Board, Barbara Lau, and Mai Zong Vue served as consultants and contacts for various folk traditions. Daniel Mayer served as exhibition designer.

The Cedarburg Cultural Center published an accompanying catalogue in conjunction with the Wisconsin Folklife Festival in 1997. After opening at the Cedarburg Cultural Center from December 1997 to March 1998, the exhibition traveled to the Neville Public Museum of Brown County in Green Bay, the State Historical Museum in Madison, and the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, its final stop in February 1999. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission, and the Wisconsin Folklife Festival provided financial support for the exhibition.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is arranged in four series: Manuscript Materials, Sound Recordings, Graphic Materials, and Electronic Media.

Folklore fieldwork documents practitioners of ethnic traditions in the state, various influences on artistic and cultural traditions, and current practices and future directions. Of the three Cedarburg Cultural Center collections, documentation of public presentation of folklore field research is most fully documented in the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial collection, and includes correspondence with the exhibit designer and fabricators, exhibit schematic drawings, floor plans, display case specifics, and multiple versions of the exhibit script, label signage, and catalogue copy.

Manuscript Materials consist of Administrative Files and Research Materials that document ethnographic research for and administration of the Sesquicentennial folk arts exhibition. Administrative Files include personnel contracts (fieldwork, photography, and exhibition services, and a catalogue essay agreement); documentation and correspondence with featured folk artists; planning meeting and budget records; correspondence with exhibit fabricators; exhibit design, script and label copy, and catalogue materials and mock ups. Research Materials include field reports, audio, photo, and slide logs, and artist consent forms.

Sound Recordings consist of 9 audiocassette recordings of interviews with folk artists Elda Schiesser, interviewed by Janet C. Gilmore; and Norman Seamonson, Stephanie Lemke, and Monroe Johnson, interviewed by Anne Pryor.

Graphic Materials consist mainly of 35 mm color slides shot by Lewis Koch, documenting folk artists, folk art works, and the process of creating those works. Some of the materials included here were originally made for an earlier Cedarburg Cultural Center exhibition, “Passed to the Present: Folk Arts Along Wisconsin's Ethnic Settlement Trail.” Researchers should check the Graphic Materials series of that collection for additional images of these artists. Also included are slides by James P. Leary, Janet C. Gilmore, prints used in the exhibition, other photo documentation used for the catalogue or exhibition related materials, floor plans, display case specifications, and 2 VHS videorecordings, one celebrating the diversity the exhibition showcases, and the other a sponsor thank-you video.

Electronic Media consists of 6 3 1/2-inch floppy discs, with electronic copies of catalogue essays by James P. Leary and Ruth Olson, Robert T. Teske's catalogue essay and introduction, artist biographies, exhibition checklists, quotations by folk artists, and True Type Font files.

Related Material

In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments Project Collection (CSUMC0035-CG)

Passed to the Present: Folk Arts Along Wisconsin's Ethnic Settlement Trail Project Collection (CSUMC0036-CG)

Key Subjects

  • African Americans
  • Armenian Americans
  • Belgian Americans
  • Czech Americans
  • Danish Americans
  • Dutch Americans
  • French Americans
  • French-Canadian Americans
  • German Americans
  • German-Swiss Americans
  • Greek Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Hmong Americans
  • Ho-Chunk Indians
  • Italian Americans
  • Latvian Americans
  • Luxembourg Americans
  • Menominee Indians
  • Norwegian Americans
  • Ojibwa Indians
  • Oneida Indians
  • Polish Americans
  • Slovak Americans
  • Slovenian Americans
  • Ukrainian Americans
  • Woodland Indians


  • English language


  • Baked products
  • Bakers
  • Basket makers
  • Basket making
  • Canoes and canoeing
  • Cheesemaking
  • Corn husk dolls
  • Decorative painting
  • Decoys
  • Deer hunting
  • Drums (Musical instruments)
  • Egg decoration
  • Embroidery
  • Ethnic costume
  • Fingerwoven yarn sashes
  • Fishing lures
  • Folk art
  • Folk artists
  • Folk dance
  • Folk music
  • Hunting
  • Indian blankets
  • Knitting
  • Lace and lace making
  • Musical instruments
  • Musical instrument makers
  • Needlework
  • Needleworkers
  • Piñatas
  • Paper art
  • Religious symbolism
  • Rosemaling
  • Rugs
  • Quilting
  • Quiltmakers
  • Shoemakers
  • Snowshoes and snowshoeing
  • Storytellers
  • Storytelling
  • Wisconsin
  • Wood-carving

This collection is one of three related to exhibits created by the Cedarburg Cultural Center (Cedarburg, Wisconsin) under Robert T. Teske's tenure as director (1987-1998). Since Teske's departure from the Center in the late 1990s, the collections remained in basement storage until they were transferred to the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC) in 2012. Two folders of grant materials relating to this exhibit were among Teske's administrative materials, and deemed to be part of this collection at the time of transfer to CSUMC's care. A deposit agreement between CSUMC and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives is planned, but not yet formalized.


Contact records custodians for access information.

Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
432 East Campus Mall, Room 332
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Web site: http://csumc.wisc.edu

Consult the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures for information on use restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Please consult the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures for guidelines. CSUMC's archiving team suggests the following citation form when using direct quotes from a person documented: [Name of person documented]. [Date]. [Tape/video/other]-recorded interview by [Fieldworker name]. [Place interviewed]. [Name of collection/project]. [Repository, city, state]. When using a specific image: [Identify subject matter/people in caption]. Photo/image by [Photographer/fieldworker name]. [Date]. Courtesy of [repository]. To quote fieldworker, follow bibliographical style.

Collection Inventory and Description
Series: I. Manuscript Materials.
Subseries: Administrative Files
Box   1
Folder   1
Note: Contracts, correspondence.
Box   1
Folder   2
Agendas and Budgets
Box   1
Folder   3
Master List of Artists
Box   1
Folder   4
Participant Letters
Exhibit Companies
Box   1
Folder   5
Box   1
Folder   6
Display Craft
Box   1
Folder   7
Great Big Pictures
Box   1
Folder   8
Hale, T.J.
Box   1
Folder   9
Script Samples, 1995-1997
Box   1
Folder   10
Exhibit Script
Note: Including exhibition outline, list of objects, related correspondence.
Box   1
Folder   11-17
Note: Including annotated copies by James P. Leary, Janet C. Gilmore, and Robert T. Teske?
Box   1
Folder   18-24
Label signage
Note: Many versions.
Box   1
Folder   25
Photograph Lists
Box   1
Folder   26-27
Photocopies of Exhibit Images
Exhibit Design
Flat Box   1
Schematics (8.5x14)
Flat Box   1
Floor Plans (18x24)
Note: 4 CCC, 3 touring sites.
Box   1
Folder   28-29
Exhibit Binder
Note: Includes images, text, floor plan.
Box   1
Folder   30
School Tours, 1998
Box   1
Folder   31
Exhibit Publicity
Note: Brochure and opening invitation.
Box   1
Folder   32-33
Box   1
Folder   34
Box   1
Folder   35
Photograph Lists
Box   1
Folder   36
Acknowledgements, quotations
Box   1
Folder   37-40
Essays (Teske, Olson, Gilmore, Leary)
Box   2
Folder   1
Exhibition Checklists
Box   2
Folder   2-3
Artist Biographies
Flat Box   1
Cover Proofs
Subseries: Research Files
Box   2
Folder   4-5
Field Reports, 1996-1997
Note: By Ruth Olson, Anne Pryor, Janet Gilmore, James P. Leary, Terese Allen, Gina Grumke, and Barbara Lau. Includes audio logs and consent forms (Pryor), and photo index (Leary).
Box   2
Folder   6
Elda Schiesser
Note: Field report and log by Janet C. Gilmore; notecards with reproduction of Scherenschnitte.
Box   2
Folder   7
Photograph and Slide Logs, Consent Forms
Box   2
Folder   8
Research Articles
Box   2
Folder   9
Photocopied Images
Note: From State Historical Society of Wisconsin and Monroe Cheese Days.
Series: II. Sound Recordings.
Anne Pryor Interviews
Box   3
Folder   1-3
Norman Seamonson, Norwegian woodcarver, Stoughton, Wisconsin, 1997 April 10
Box   3
Folder   4
Monroe Johnson, Norwegian woodcarver, Cashton, Wisconsin, 1997 April 28
Box   3
Folder   5-6
Stephanie Lemke, Croatian egg decorator, Mazomanie, Wisconsin, 1997 May 2
Janet C. Gilmore Interview
Box   3
Folder   7-9
Elda Schiesser, Scherenschnitter, New Glarus, Wisconsin, 1997 May 21
Series: III. Graphic Materials.
Flat Box   1
Exhibit Images
Note: 17 color and 14 black-and-white prints; assorted sizes.
Flat Box   1
Display Case Specifications
Note: 2 comb-bound booklets, 4 sets drawings (8.5x14).
Binder   1-3
35 mm color slides
Note: Mostly by Lewis Koch; also includes slides by James P. Leary, Janet C. Gilmore, and slides of exhibition.
Binder   3
35 mm black-and-white negatives by Leary and Gilmore
Binder   3
35 mm color negatives of exhibition
Box   4
4x5 color and black-and-white internegatives
Binder   4
Physical Description: Black-and-white and color 8x10s, color 4x6s and 3.5x5s. 
Note: Mostly by Lewis Koch; also includes prints by James P. Leary, Janet C. Gilmore, copies of historic photographs, and prints of exhibition objects.
Folder   1
Contact Sheets (Lewis Koch)
Series: IV. Electronic Media.
Catalogue essays, 1997
Diskette   1-2
James P. Leary
Diskette   3
Ruth Olson
Diskette   4
CC text, 1997
Note: RTF files: acknowledgements, artist bios, Robert T. Teske essay, exhibition checklists.
Diskette   5
Folk Art, Wisconsin Folk Art Quotes, 1997
Note: Catalogue introduction by Robert T. Teske, folk artist quotes, font files.
Diskette   6
Unlabeled, circa 1997
Note: Includes creditpnl.fh7 and font files.