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



Details about Events and Classes can be found here.

2nd Friday Lecture Series

Sponsored by the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table and Iron Brigade Association

Friday, December 14, 2018; Noon
War is Hell: Sherman’s March to the Sea

Presented by Bruce Allardice. Many Southerners, at the time and later, labeled William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” as a war crime, with Sherman singled out as the Civil War’s criminal. Certainly General Sherman was the war’s prime exponent of “hard war,” a war in which civilian lives and property were targeted in the hopes that would break southern morale and infrastructure. Sherman’s own “Make Georgia Howl” rhetoric fueled this image. But is the image correct? Did Sherman’s practice match his eliminationist rhetoric? More importantly, did Sherman’s army violate any recognized usage of war at the time, or was its often destructive path marked by out-of-the-ordinary atrocities? Professor Allardice reviews the facts of the March, and considers how it has been treated in history.

Friday, January 11, 2019; Noon
PTSD and the Civil War Soldier

Presented by Greg Burek, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Burek studies the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and case histories of Civil War veterans to see if they exhibited similar symptoms of PTSD. The program is designed to increase understanding of the symptoms of PTSD and how patients cope with this disease. He also discusses the onset of what was at the time called Soldier’s Heart along with case histories and treatment of the disease during the nineteenth century.


Friday, February 8, 2019; Noon
Fighting Slavery in Chicago – Abolitionists, the Law of Slavery, and Lincoln

Presented by Tom Campbell. Based on eight years of research, Mr. Campbell’s program traces the activities of some Chicagoans who ran the underground railroad, established abolitionist newspapers, organized political parties, and helped get Abraham Lincoln elected president. His talk also examines Lincoln’s position on slavery and the steps he took to abolish it.


Friday, March 8, 2019; Noon
Caroline Quarlls – My Independence Day

Performance by Shannon Sloan Spice. In 1842, Caroline Quarlls, a 16 year old St. Louis slave, made the choice to run away from her master’s home. With slave catchers in pursuit, she fled to Milwaukee where she was helped by local citizens on a journey to Canada and to freedom. Years later, after the end of the Civil War, Caroline received a letter from Lyman Goodnow, the man who escorted her along the Underground Railroad to Canada. During this performance, you will meet Caroline, and hear her account of her journey as she answers the first of Mr. Goodnow’s letters to her.


Spark! at the Civil War Museum

Third Friday of every month; 2pm-3pm


Spark! is a monthly program for individuals in early to mid-stages of memory loss and their caregivers. Participants are engaged in lively conversations, storytelling, interactive exhibit experiences, object handling, and other multi-sensory activities. Space is limited, so reservations are required. 262-653-4423 or




Upcoming Spark! Dates and Topics

December 21: Holiday Tea Learn how to set a table for tea service, complete a holiday craft and sip tea while listening to holiday music.

January 18: Victorian Spa Day Beat the winter blues by making Victorian bath products. Learn the process of making soap and create your own signature tea blend.

February 15: Family History The Civil War Museum has a lot of family stories within the gallery. Learn about important Upper Midwest family stories, then create your own family stories.

March 15: Civil War Soldier Life as a Civil War soldier was incredibly hard. Handle artifacts and explore the exhibit to learn about what they carried, ate, and how they lived.


Kindness Week: The Healing Power of Kindness

January 18-26, 2019

The complete Kindness Week schedule of activities and events can be found on the Kenosha Coalition for Dismantling Racism Facebook page. Sponsored by the Coalition for Dismantling Racism, Kenosha United School District, the LaFave Family Fund of the Kenosha Community Foundation.

King Cotton
Friday, January 18, 2019; Noon

Explore the role of cotton and slavery within the Southern economy through a hands-on classroom experience, paying particular attention to why slaves were used in a plantation economic system, what type of work slaves did, and how they could rebel against their owners. Learn about the importance of cotton and the role of slavery in America in the years before the Civil War. Using a facilitated, interactive scenario-based activity, students will leave the program with an understanding of what really happened on the Underground Railroad.

Civil War Museum Educators Doug Dammann and Jenn Edginton adapted this adult audience version of King Cotton from a program designed for 4th and 5th grade students.

Black Badgers in “White” Regiments
Saturday, January 19, 2019; Noon

Presented by Jeff Kannel. When the Civil War began, African American men from Wisconsin were prohibited from serving in the state militia or federal army. By war’s end, hundreds had served in the U. S. Colored Troops, many hundreds more had worked as employees of Wisconsin regiments and officers, and a few dozen had served as enlisted soldiers in the same Wisconsin Infantry Regiments which had earlier barred them from joining. One of them was Cornelius Butler of Kenosha. Two others served by hiding their African ancestry, and one of them rose to the rank of colonel. Hear the stories of the service of these men who served more than 75 years before the US military was officially integrated.

African American Civilians and the Gettysburg Campaign

Saturday, February 2, 2019; 1pm

Presented by Steve Acker. The history surrounding the name Gettysburg has been woven into the fabric of American history. For three days in 1863, two great armies fought to create their own definition of America. This program will add another layer to that rich history by sharing the story of the African American at Gettysburg. From the beginnings of the town, the story of Gettysburg has also been the story of free and runaway African Americans living barely ten miles from the Mason Dixon line and a slave holding population dedicating to subjugating a people. Using powerful images and personal stories we will learn about Mag Palm, Basil Biggs, the Underground Railway, a fraternity party coming to the rescue of a half-starved runaway, and much more.

African American Read In: Celebrating African American Literature

Saturday, February 9, 2019; 1pm | Location: Kenosha Public Museum

Adult and youth readers from our community lend their voices to poetry, essays, short stories, and children’s books by African American authors. This year’s program also features a performance by Chicago storyteller Alice Collins.

Ms. Collins was a principal, administrator and teacher in Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years. She is a storyteller and author. “Through storytelling I spark laughter, enjoyment, cultural awareness, understanding and self discovery.”

This is the 30th year of the “National African American Read In” an event sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and its Black Caucus. Each year communities across the country are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month.

Civil War Medical Weekend: To care for him who shall have borne the battle

Saturday, February 16, 2019; 10am-4pm and Sunday, February 17, 2019; 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 the Museum. Participate in a medical inspection for new recruits and role play as a sick soldier during a the camp’s sick call demonstration. The Corps will also demonstrate a variety of surgical techniques including bullet removal, brain surgery, and amputation.

Dr. Sarah Ann Chadwick
Saturday, February 16; 1pm
Presented by Trevor Steinbach. Meet Dr. Sarah Ann Chadwick, the first female surgeon and assistant surgeon of the Civil War. Hear of the difficulties and hardships Dr. Chadwick encountered as a woman surgeon at Cario, Illinois, and after the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee. Even after the Civil War, it took the intervention of the President of the United States for Dr. Chadwick to obtain a veteran’s pension.

Forgotten Warriors: The Forgotten Role of Native Americans in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan Regiments
Sunday, February 17; 1pm
Presented by Lance Herdegen. The service of American Indians who fought with Civil War regiments from the Upper Middle West is all but lost to history. Yet, many members of the Great Lakes tribes served with regiments from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.  Uncover the evidence and stories such as a company of Ojibwe from Minnesota who fought against Nathan Bedford Forrest and Moses Ladd an American Indian scout for General Sherman.

Sunday SPARK!

Sunday, February 24, 2019; Noon-1:30pm

SPARK! is a program for individuals in early to mid-stages of memory loss and their caregivers. If you cannot make SPARK! during the week, join us for quarterly weekend SPARK! Programs. Participants are engaged in lively conversations, storytelling, interactive exhibit experiences, object handling, and other multi-sensory activities. Space is limited, so reservations are required. 262-653-4423 or at

Life on the Home Front: Play games, guess the gadgets and get a short tour of our exhibit to learn about life on the home front during the Civil War.

Immigrant Stories of the Civil War

Tuesday, March 5, 2019; 7pm

Presented by Doug Dammann and Jenn Edginton. In conjunction with the Kenosha Public Library’s Big Read Program, this lecture tells the personal stories of well known, and not so well known, Union soldiers who were born outside the United States and immigrated to the country before the Civil War. Some of the places these men were from just might surprise you.

Free copies of the Big Read book, Into the Beautiful North, will be available at the Civil War Museum front desk.

Home Front Seminar

Saturday, March 16, 2019; Registration: 8:30am-9:30am; Programs Begin at 9:30am | $55 ($40 FOM) includes all programs, Museum admission, catered lunch | Register Here

The Civil War Museum’s annual Home Front Seminar highlights topics and talks pertaining to the non-military and social history aspects of the Civil War period.

More about the Home Front Seminar presentations:

John Brown’s Children and the Long Reach of the Civil War. Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, History Department, Eastern Illinois University. The talk will cover the participation of Brown’s children in the antislavery movement and the coming of the war as well as their lives after Brown’s execution in 1859, when they lived with his notoriety. The last Brown child, Annie, died in 1926, and she and her seven  siblings long grappled with what Brown’s activism had meant and how it and the war should be, and were being, remembered by the broader American public.

Wisconsin Farms to Factories. Dan Hess, Old World Wisconsin. In the years leading up to the Civil War to the years following, Wisconsin saw vast changes in its agricultural and manufacturing industries. What were these changes, what caused them, and what did this mean for the people of Wisconsin?  Mr. Hess is the guest experience manager of Historic Trades at Old World Wisconsin of the Wisconsin Historical Society. As the manager of its Historic Trades program Mr. Hess researches, practices, and teaches people the history and practical skills of historic blacksmithing, leatherwork and woodworking. His education includes studying history, anthropology and museum studies at Luther College and historical administration at Eastern Illinois University.

Cardomania! The Rise and Fall of the Carte de Visite in Civil War America. Ronald Coddington, editor and publisher, Military Images Magazine. The Civil War generation was the first to grow up with photography. This transformative medium made it possible for Americans from all walks of life to preserve their own likeness, a privilege once reserved only for the wealthy. During photography’s early years, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes ruled the portrait world. Then, on the eve of the Civil War, a curious new format landed in America—the carte de visite. After hostilities began, hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers and sailors posed for their likenesses. Countless millions of photographs were produced. Significant numbers of these most intimate and personal artifacts survive today. Some are finding a place among the iconic images of the war. Join Mr. Coddington, author of four books of collected Civil War portraits and editor and publisher of Military Images Magazine, as he tells the story of the rise and fall of the carte de visite—and what became of them.