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The history, the people and the stories of the Upper Midwest



Details about Events and Classes can be found here.

Second Friday Lecture Series

This free series is sponsored by the Milwaukee Civil War Roundtable and Iron Brigade Association.

african americans in civil warFriday, December 9, 2016; Noon
Make Way for Liberty: Wisconsin African Americans in the Civil War

Hundreds of African American Civil War soldiers served representing Wisconsin, and many of them lived in the state before and after the war. Relative to the total number of Badgers who served in the Civil War, African Americans were few but they made up significant numbers of soldiers in at least five regiments of the United States Colored Infantry. They served in several artillery regiments and in the most famous black regiments, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts. Their pre- and post-war lives in rural communities, small towns, and cities form an enlightening story of acceptance and respect for their service but rejection and discrimination based on their race.

civil war corps commandFriday, January 13, 2017; Noon
Civil War Corps Command: A Study in Leadership

Presented by Rob Girardi. Corps commanders in the Civil War were the senior generals working directly with army commanders and were the ones chosen to replace commanders when necessary. A number of the war’s most important generals served as corps commanders, some capably, others not. This talk will discuss the nature of corps command and rate some of the more prominent generals in that capacity.

student civil war adventuresFriday, February 10; Noon
Where Soldiers Fought and Slaves Slept: Civil War Student Adventures

Presented by Chris Lese and students from Marquette University High School.
Mr. Lese, and his students have been taking immersive Civil War trips for the past several years. They met interesting people, stayed in unique locations, and had outstanding Civil War adventures. This program by Mr. Lese and his students will describe these trips and might give you some ideas for a Civil War adventure of your own.

USS MerrimackFriday, March 10, 2017; Noon
The Luck of the Merrimack

Presented by David Noe. It’s a well-known fact that sailors believe in either a lucky or unlucky ship. This being the case then the USS Merrimack, and later as the CSS Virginia, had plenty of luck, both good and bad. Twice in her relatively short life bad luck resulted in her sinking at the hands of her own crew. See how both good luck and bad luck played an important part in the ship’s life and how more or less of either could have changed history as we know it.

The Emancipation to the March on Washington: The Big Steps Toward Citizenship

march on washingtonSaturday, December 10, 2016; 2pm

Presented by Dr. Christopher Reed of Roosevelt University of Chicago

The tortuous road to the recognition of full human rights, accompanied by the enjoyment of citizenship rights and privileges proceeded through various stages. The first phase involved emancipation from bondage, which represented the end of the beginning of the struggle for freedom. Subsequently, the pursuit of equality of opportunity in employment, fair wages, housing, and education began.

Then, intermediate steps aimed at improvement in the quality of life followed with southern enfranchisement and subsequent disfranchisement; southern peonage and northward migration; and lastly, northern adjustment by African Americans to living in a state of quasi-freedom.

The mid-twentieth century witnessed the concluding phase in the movement aimed at achieving full citizenship. The March on Washington in 1963 stood as a high point in the struggle in pursuit of equality of opportunity. This event preceded the passage by the U.S. Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 exhibit and programs are presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The tour of the traveling exhibitions is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

I Have a Dream Speech and Discussion

I have a dream speechThursday, January 12, 2017; Noon-1pm

This program, in conjunction with the Changing America exhibit, will be a viewing of and discussion on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 I Have a Dream speech. This program, led by Museum educators, will showcase the speech and a roundtable discussion on the impact it had on the community. This program kicks of “Kindness Week” in Kenosha. See for a complete list of events.


Emancipation: Conspiracy, Politics, or Providence?

emancipationSaturday, January 14, 2017; 2pm

Presented by James M. Cornelius, Ph.D curator, Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Illinois.

In light of Lincoln’s comment in February, 1861 that he was “accidentally” elected president, and his obligation in March 1861 to forward a pro-slavery Thirteenth Amendment to the states for consideration, how can we conclude what forces actually led to his Emancipation policy only 15 months later? Lincoln himself was not above believing that “conspiracy” was sometimes at work in Washington; yet he was also a consummate and subtle leader of opinion, while personally believing in providence. This talk will weigh and balance those historical forces. This program is offered in conjunction with the Changing America exhibit.

Mercy Street, Season 2 Sneak Preview

Mercy street previewWednesday, January 18, 2017 | Doors open at 6pm; program begins at 7pm

Join the Civil War Museum and Milwaukee Public Television as we preview Season 2 of Mercy Street. Dr. Gordon Dammann, founder of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and historical consultant for Mercy Street, will provide historical context for the preview. Also in attendance will be medical reenactors from the 17th Medical Corps who will provide demonstrations of different aspects of Civil War medical care and techniques.



sparkFriday, January 20, Feburary 17, and March 17, 2017; 2pm-3pm

Spark! is a monthly free program for individuals in early to mid stages of memory loss and their care givers. The program engages participants in lively conversations, storytelling, interactive exhibit experiences, object handling, and other multi-sensory activities.

Space is limited so registrations are required. To register, contact Carolyn Wheeler or Jenn Edginton at 262-653-4141 or for more information or to register.

January 20 – Animals in the Civil War
February 17 – A soldier’s kit
March 17 – Soldiers of WWI and the Civil War

The Origins of the First World War: Europe 1914

origins of World War 1Sunday, January 29, 2017; 1pm

Presented by Dr. Laura Gellott, professor of history, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
When the United States joined “The Great War” in 1917, the conflict had already been raging since August 1914. This talk will examine the long-term causes of World War I: nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the entangling alliance system between the Great Powers. It will also look at the immediate causes of the war, beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary on June 28, 1914, culminating in mutual declarations of war across the continent. This presentation is in conjunction with the From Civil War to Great War exhibit.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Birthday Celebration

Lincolns birthdaySunday, February 12, 2017; Noon-3pm

Help us celebrate the 208th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln, as portrayed by Mr. George Buss, will speak to the crowd and deliver his famous Gettysburg Address at 1pm. Children of all ages can participate in Lincoln related crafts, games, and stories and sample some of the president’s favorite refreshments.


Ambrose Armitage’s Diary

Saturday, February 18, 2017; 1:30pm

Mrs. Rita Dow will discuss soldier Ambrose Armitage who was with the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. He was in the color guard of the famous “Abe the War Eagle Regiment.” Her first person interpretation is from the point of view of Ambrose’s sister, Fanny Armitage. She will use original experiences listed in Ambrose’s diary and letters home.

Civil War Medical Weekend

medical weekendSaturday, February 20, 2017; 10am-4pm
Sunday, February 21, 2017; Noon-4pm

Join the Museum for a weekend of living history, programs, and exhibits commemorating the role of physicians, nurses, and caregivers during the Civil War. Surgeons and nurses of the 17th Corps Medical Staff will set up camp inside where they will demonstrate a variety of surgical techniques including bullet removal, brain surgery, and amputation. Participate in a medical inspection for new recruits and role play as a sick soldier during the camp’s sick call demonstration.

The Civil War Expo and Nineteenth Century Makers Day

Saturday, March 11, 2017; 11am-3pm

Watch demonstrations and buy goods from metal smiths, beekeepers, and other modern makers influenced by trades and crafts of the past. Plus visit with living history, heritage groups, and Civil War Round Tables from around the Midwest who present samples of their programming and have informational tables set up throughout the Museum.