Helene Stratman-Thomas collection, 1823-1979,  (bulk bulk 1940-1960)


Helene Stratman-Thomas was a UW-Madison music teacher and collector of Wisconsin musical folklore. She was born on May 13, 1896. After completing high school, Helene taught school in Monticello and Brooklyn before earning a business degree from University of Wisconsin–Madison. She worked at an investment firm in Minneapolis for about eight years, and then returned to Madison to complete her B.A. and M.A. degrees in music. In 1930, she was hired at UW to teach music theory, conduct the women’s chorus, and work as the business manager for the Pro Arte string quartet. In 1940 professor Leland Coon asked her to head the Wisconsin Folk Music Project, an effort co-sponsored by the Library of Congress and the University of Wisconsin to record music from the state’s diverse population. In the years after gathering the recordings, Stratman-Thomas recounted her trips in a radio series on Wisconsin Public Radio and gave lectures on folk music throughout the state. In the fall of 1948, Stratman-Thomas married A.J. (Pat) Blotz. Stratman-Thomas worked as a music teacher at UW-Madison until she retired in 1961. She died Jan. 11, 1973 at the age of 76.

Helene’s parents were Helena Emma Stratman and Warren H. Thomas, a local grocer and businessman. Her paternal uncle was Edward Shepherd Thomas, a musician, bandleader, and composer. She had one brother, Warren K. Stratman-Thomas, a renowned malarial research pharmacologist.