HMI's Oral History Project
Past board members Ruth Doyle and Hallie Lou Blum led a series of summer workshops to instruct people on how to conduct oral histories. Those tapes languished for 20 years but are now transcribed. The interviewers include Hallie Lou Blum McCabe,
Lorraine Orchard and Julia Schwenn.
Our current fact-checking project is to clarify words, spellings, addresses and provide biographical information for places, people and businesses mentioned in the interviews. A 90-minute training session shows you the basic resources available at the Madison Public Library and Wisconsin Historical Society Library to use for fact checking.
Vera Browne, East Side News
Esther Carswell, Toepfer family
Marjorie Mosel Chapleau, UW librarian, assigned
David Couper, former police chief
Dorothy R. Daggett and George Extrom, Taychopera History, 2001 Jrnl
Anna Mae Davis, attorney, assigned
Edward Durkin, past fire chief
Ruth Anne Piper Dykman, restauranteur
Joyce Erdman, former Shorewood Hills politician, assigned
Alice E. Felt, Rentschler Floral
Otto Festge, former mayor
Edith Sinaiko Frank
Lowell Frautschi, assigned
Walter Frautschi, philanthropist
Helen Kayser, 2001 Jrnl
Betty Gay Kurtneacker
Beatrice Lambert, assigned
Betty MacDonald, open housing, 2003 Jrnl
James McDonald, engineer, assigned
L.J. Markwardt, Forest Products Lab
Louise Marston, WSJ society editor, 2001 newsletter
Eleanore Brown McGowan
John McGrath, open housing, 2003 Jrnl
Bert Miller, engineer
Lucile Miller, African-American family, assigned
Lillian Moehlman, librarian
David Mollenhoff, historian
Mildred and Elizabeth Morgan, Fourth Ward
Ruth Chase Noland, University Heights
Gordon Orr, Jr., 2001 Jrnl, architect, HMI
Robert R. "Bud" Paunack, assigned
Walter Plaenert, South Madison
Ellis Potter, architect, assigned
Karver Puestow, UW doctor, assigned
Alma Runge, UW librarian, assigned
John Shaw, Brown's Book Store
Ann Simley, Norwegian, principal
Gordon Sinykin, attorney, Progressive movement
Betty Walker Smith, city alder, assigned
William Bradford Smith
Paul Soglin, mayor
Myron Stevens, Alice Meloche and Adeline Steffon, life-long memories
Hazel Shivers Taliaferro, African-American family
Carol Toussaint, assigned
Alice Palmer Washington, artist
Peg Modie Watrous, Hobbins family
Florence Whitefield and Gertrude Bremer
Emilie Wiedenbeck, author, assigned
Gertrude Knowlton Wilson
Glenn Miller Wise, woman politician
Delma Donald Woodburn, Dane County Historical Society
James Wright, fair housing, 2003 Jrnl
Florence Zmudzinski, relocated 'Bush resident, assigned
Julia Bogholt discusses the "forging of the new Democratic Party in Wisconsin in the 1940s and 1950s." Activities included getting like-minded thinkers into elective office, developing the patronage system, and fundraising for political races.
Dorothy R. Daggett and George Extrom share their first-hand information and insight on the relationship between the Taychopera Foundation and Historic Madison; the former was interested in preservation, while HMI was interested in history.
Joyce Erdman (three tapes) speaks of the Madison League of Women Voters, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and her roles as Shorewood Hills village board president, membership of the UW Board of Regents, and the creation of the UW System.
Edith Sinaiko Frank was raised in the Greenbush neighborhood on Emerald Street. Her mother was active in working for women's suffrage and safe Fourth of July events. Edit returned to Madison after her husband's death and talks of her own civic involvement.
Lowell Frautschi speaks of his family roots and his civic involvement with the United Hospital Fund of Dane County, a railroad underpass for West Washington Avenue, merchants' concerns about parking limitations on the square and State Street, Monona Terrace, the youth hostel movement, and the Rotary Club.
Walter Frautschi speaks of the family businesses. These include furniture and undertaking, Madison Fuel Company, a telephone company, and a printing establishment. One of the family homes was on Canal Street. He details his European travels and courtship of his wife and stresses the central role of the YMCA to youth of his generation.
Helen Kayser speaks of life in their enormous house, today the Yahara House on Gorham Street. Her father was a one-term mayor and lumberman. She spent most of her professional life as Dean of Women Studies at the UW.
Betty Gay Kurtneacker speaks of her ancestors, including her great-grandfather, Matthew Gay. Madison's first "tall building" was the Gay building on Carroll Street. Her mother's family were the Holts.
Beatrice Walker Lambert began her law career in the 1920s. She served at the state Public Service Commission, the state Attorney General's office, and Labor Relations Board. She tried dozens of cases before the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts.
Betty MacDonald speaks on passing the Open Housing ordinance in 1963. She was secretary of the Mayor's Commission on Human Rights at the time. She recounts the "high drama" of getting the ordinance passed.
L.J. Markwardt spent most of his professional life at Forest Products Lab, doing research work. During World Wars I and II, they also did "war work" projects. He was asked to assist in identifying the sawmill source of the wooden ladder used in the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.
Louise Marston speaks of being the society editor at the Wisconsin State Journal. She speaks of adult attire and how the changes of dress were not for the better. The lack of hats in particular bears witness to "one of the fashion tragedies of our lifetime." She was a member of the Madison Club.
Eleanor Brown McGowan grew up on Gilman Street, a member of the Brown and Storer families. She recalls the 1904 Capitol fire, finishing school in Italy, and school at the UW and Milwaukee Downer College.
John McGrath arrived in Madison in 1947 to join the staff of the Progressive Magazine. Efforts in other states led him to investigate the conditions of African-Americans in the city. As a member of the Tuesday Night Committee of the Mayor's Commission on Human Rights, he was a key participant in passing Madison's Equal Opportunities and Open Housing ordinances.
Lucile Miller was the eldest daughter of one of Madison's early African-American families. The family was involved with St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Progressives, and the LaFollettes. She speaks of her mother's strong feeling of self-respect.
David Mollenhoff was asked to offer guidance to future oral history interviewers for topics of interest in 50-100 years. He cites: the "texture of daily life," the context of local history, public policies, and values.
Ruth Chase Noland speaks of life in University Heights, mentioning the omnipresent windmills. Her family moved there in 1908. She attempts to name other neighbors. She speaks enthusiastically of cultural events, including her famliy's long-time membership in the University Heights Poetry Club.
Vito Paratore recalls life in Greenbush's Sicilian-Albanian community. He speaks passionately about the neighborhood revitalization program, which "destroyed the neighborhood" and "killed everyone's soul for a while."
Robert R. Paunack speaks of his father's family and work as Madison stone masons and builders in the middle and late 19th century. His family lived in Wingra Park and Westmorland as he was growing up. He went on to speak of his career in banking and his hope that downtown Madison will return to its role as Madison's "center of activity."
Walter Plaenert spent most of his life living in the Park Street area. His father's business furnished sand to the city's contractors. Two projects included rebuilding the capitol and constructing Central High School. He was a city alder for nine years.
Robert Prideaux was an alder during the Vietnam War years and describes being on State Street during the riots. He was involved in ensuring neighborhood safety related to the Dane County airport and MATC's later relocation near the airport.
Karver Puestow speaks of the history and philosophy behind developing the University Hospital. He also covers "revolutionary changes" in the practice of medicine due to Medicare, Medicaid, and health maintenance organizations.
John Shaw (3 tapes) grew up in Wingra Park. His school life introduced him to some of the prejudices of Madison life. He began working for Brown's Book Store and the University Book Store. He speaks of the State Street mall development and Vietnam's campus disruptions.
Ann Simley spoke in her 100th year. She spins an engaging and informative tale of her pioneer Norwegian life. She did graduate work in the UW speech department while teaching at Hamline University in St. Paul. One of her students was Lester Mondale, brother of Walter Mondale.
Gordon Sinykin was present at the birth of the Wisconsin Progressive Party. He speaks of his connections with the LaFollette family. His family worked hard to survive poverty. He became an attorney and modestly outlines his list of community services.
William Bradford Smith speaks of growing up in Madison. An attorney, he was very interested in legislative reapportionment during his years on the City Council. He was an active member of the Republican party and was proud of his work for the First Congregational church.
Paul Soglin speaks of coming to Madison to attend the UW, his early employment, and his early political activity, including the Dow Chemical demonstration during the 1960s. He speaks of being mayor and the construction of the Civic Center.
Myron Stevens speaks with life-long Madisonians Alice "Patty" Meloche and Adeline Steffon. They provide general reminiscences about early local families, Frank Lloyd Wright, and insider information on the construction of buildings such as the Memorial Union, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Tenney Building.
Hazel Shivers Taliaferro speaks of growing up in Greenbush and her jobs. She worked at the UW cancer registry, Board of Health's vital records department, and State Division of Health. Her father was one of the African-Americans who migrated to Vernon County after the Civil War. Her mother was an East German. Hazel recalls "finding out about race" at Longfellow School.
Carol Toussaint speaks of her community activism. This includes work with the Community Foundation, League of Women Voters, the Rotary, a national utility's women's conference, and serving on Governor Schreiber's cabinet. She came to Madison from Rusk County.
Harvey Waddell offers a detailed travelogue through south Madison in the 1920s. He speaks glowingly of Franklin Elementary School and happy Saturday afternoons at the Pastime theater. He also recalls ball games and construction of a high-adventure ice track.
Richard Wagner provides a tutorial on the philosophical bases of historic preservation. He emphasizes "preserving something because it is historic versus preserving something because it is pretty and from the past" and looking at "physical remains" as well as seeking out the "historical fabric." He relates these thoughts to the Madison Landmarks Commission, to Historic Madison, and to the Trust for Historic Preservation.
Peg Modie Watrous moved to Gilman Street from Williston, ND at the age of four. Her father served as the first dentist with the Jackson Clinic. Childhood delights included watching for the man to turn on the gas street lights and monitoring the man and horse who delivered milk. The family later moved to Spooner Street. She describes picnics at Hoyt Park, looking at sheep grazing, not Hilldale. She assisted in Gaylord Nelson's office during his years as governor.
Florence Whitefield and Gertrude Bremer are sisters who grew up on Williamson Street. Their grandfather was a stonecutter who helped build Madison's original post office. Their father ran the old Northwestern Hotel, but later moved in with his parents where he ran a grocery store and accommodated boarders. They witnessed the capitol fire and tell of other memories over the years.
Emilie Wiedenbeck's father was one of the owners of Wiedenbeck-Dobelin. She speaks of her mother's side of the family, the Steinles and their business efforts. She mentions in passing that she is the author of several children's books.
Glenn Miller Wise was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Kohler. She served for several years on the city's Parks Commission and served on Republican platform committees for several conventions. She was a UW economics student under many pre-eminent professors, including John R. Commons.
Delma Donald Woodburn moved here with her family in 1902. Her father was a member of the state legislature until 1912, when he became Secretary of State. They lived at 211 N. Prospect. As an adult, she assisted the WI Friends of Our Native Landscape, the WI Roadside Council, the Dane County Historical Society, and the Madison Civics Club. She managed three farms which led to membership in the City Farmers Club; this later grew into the Dane County Historical Society.
James C. Wright speaks on the 20th anniversary of the city's fair housing ordinance. He speaks of the power of the Martin Luther King demonstration in Washington, D.C. and how Madison used it as a springboard to improving life here. He helped draft the ordinance and then served as the first director of the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission which was charged with enforcing it.
Florence Zmudzinski speaks of her work with the Madison Redevelopment Authority during the Brittingham and Triangle projects. As relocation officer, she sought to "find safe, decent, and sanitary housing that each individual or family could afford." The Greenbush neighborhood contained aged, poor, minorities, and students.