Goose Island Ramblers Documentation Project Collection, 1990-1991



Storytellers Stuart Stotts and Elizabeth Matson of Madison, Wisconsin, under the auspices of Common Arts, Inc., of Madison, developed the project, wrote the grants, interviewed storytellers, transcribed the tapes, presented a program on their work in Mineral Point, Wis., and published The Bookcase Ghost (Mt. Horeb, Wis.: Midwest Traditions, 1996). James P. Leary served as their adviser under the Wisconsin Humanities Council grant, training them in documentary methods, assisting in evaluating their findings, participating in the Mineral Point program, and acting as the Wisconsin Folk Museum liaison.

Project History

Stotts and Matson developed this project to improve their local repertoires by documenting ghost story tellers in Dane and Iowa counties in Southwestern Wisconsin. They first concentrated on Dane County tellers in 1991 and received grant funds from the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. During this phase of the project Stotts and Matson did not tape-record the stories they heard, mainly at ghost-storytelling events in Dane County. With funds from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Stotts and Matson next expanded into Iowa County, recording stories from six individuals and a group of teens in 1992. They selectively transcribed these sound recordings, generating 40 pages, plus 2 typed pages of stories provided by Lorena Goldsworthy. They presented some of these stories in a "Supernatural Legends of Southwestern Wisconsin" program at the Mineral Point Civic Center on October 8, 1992. Sponsored by the Mineral Point Library and Common Arts, Inc., the program also featured a talk about legendry by the team's adviser, James P. Leary. In The Bookcase Ghost, Stotts and Matson adapted and published versions of six tape-recorded stories. They also included stories from the Van Antwerp Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and from narrators in Madison, McFarland, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Tomahawk, and Waunakee, Wisconsin. Two stories credited to Colette Koltes of Waunakee were localized in the Sparta and Richland Center areas.