The Wisconsin Idea is a big one, and while it means many things to many people, a core principle is sharing our campus expertise with the larger Wisconsin community. Since taking over as Oral History Program lead in June 2007, Troy Reeves has done just that.
The Oral History Project at UW-Madison got its start in 1971 interviewing emeritus professors about their research. In the past 40 years the goals of the program have expanded considerably: faculty, staff, students, and everyone else on campus have a story to tell. Those stories now amount to over 4,000 hours of recorded interviews, and growing!
Collections within the program include:
The U.S. Forest Products Lab Centennial Collection – documents the experiences of current and former employees to balance healthy forests with forest-based economies
The Arboretum Collection – encompassing interviews related to the Arboretum, including Civilian Conservation Corps members who worked there in the 1930s
Women in Science and Engineering – records the efforts of women working in science, engineering, mathematics, and medical fields beginning in the 1920s
Badger Village – recalls the experiences of those who lived in the Badger Village, where married veterans and their families were housed from 1946 to 1951
UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association Strike of 1970 – preserves the experiences of participants and onlookers in the contentious political clash on campus
The Supplementary Tape Collection – collects and preserves recordings of all types related to the UW-Madison and individuals within it
In 2010, The Oral History Program marked the 40th anniversary of the Sterling Hall bombing with a booth in Memorial Library where Wisconsinites could share their memories of the traumatic day and its aftermath. Excerpts of these interviews are available to anyone online: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/UW/UW-idx?type=browse&scope=UW.SterlingBomb
Troy is a multi-tasker: along with the UW Archives Oral History Program, he leads the campus and community LGBT Oral History Project. He also uses his experience and expertise to train folks at oral history workshops held throughout the state as part of history and library conferences, and leads annual Wisconsin Oral History Day colloquiums—held in Madison, Eau Claire, and Milwaukee.
If you’re looking for a living, breathing example of the Wisconsin Idea in action, Troy’s your man!