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Speakers Bureau

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press authors are a unique and diverse group of people from all walks of life, from an arborist, to a women's studies director to a folk storyteller.

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press Speakers Bureau represents an exciting opportunity for one or more of our authors to speak in your community. Invite a historian to your organization's next event and you'll hear from some of the state's foremost authorities on Wisconsin history, including:


Speaker Jessie Garcia discusses her book, "My Life with the Green & Gold"
  • Agriculture and Farming Life
  • Architecture and Historic Preservation
  • Archaeology
  • Cooking and Food History
  • Education and Young Readers
  • Environment, Nature, Outdoors and Gardening
  • Health
  • Immigration
  • Native American History
  • Sports and Recreation
  • War History
  • Wisconsin People, Places and Culture

Our authors travel statewide to speak at local historical societies, public libraries and other community venues. Many of our speakers require a fee, and all appreciate mileage reimbursement, so please keep this in mind as you are planning your event. Also note that a few authors live out of state.

For more information on the Wisconsin Historical Society Press Speakers Bureau, contact the Press by email or 608-264-6465.

Speakers List

Terese Allen, a former chef and author of several books on Wisconsin's food traditions, including her most recent Society Press book The Flavor of Wisconsin: An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State (co-author), is a food columnist for Madison's "Isthmus" newspaper. She is a former contributing editor of "Wisconsin Trails" magazine, Terese is also food editor for Organic Valley, the country's largest organic farmers' cooperative.

Topic: Cooking and Food History


R. Bruce Allison, author of Every Root an Anchor: Wisconsin's Famous and Historic Trees and If Trees Could Talk: Stories About Wisconsin Trees, is an arborist in Madison, Wisconsin. He holds a master's of science in forestry and a Ph.D. in land resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Topic: Environment and Nature


Jerry Apps, author of more than 40 non-fiction books, including many with the Society Press, including his most recent: The Quiet Season: Remembering Country Winters and Limping through Life: A Farm Boy's Polio Memoir, Old Farm: A History, Garden Wisdom: Lessons Learned from 60 Years of Gardening, Horse-Drawn Days-A Century of Farming with Horses, and Ringlingville USA: The Stupendous Story of Seven Siblings and Their Stunning Circus Success. Apps is a former county extension agent and a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He is also the subject of two Wisconsin Public Television documentaries.

Topics: Agriculture and Farming Life, Environment and Nature, Health (Polio)


Susan Apps-Bodilly, author of One Room Schools: Stories from the Days of 1 Room, 1 Teacher, 8 Grades, has been an elementary and middle-school teacher for more than twenty years and currently teaches second- and third-grade students. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Topics: Education, Young Readers


Milton J. Bates, author of The Bark River Chronicles: Stories from a Wisconsin Watershed, has a doctorate degree in English from University of California-Berkeley and taught at Williams College and Marquette University before retiring in 2010. He is an avid canoer and traveler.

Topic: Environment and Nature


Martha Bergland, coauthor of Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, early chronicler of plants, rocks, rivers, mounds and all things Wisconsin, taught English at Milwaukee Area Technical College. After her retirement, she studied Increase Lapham for five years. She has also written two novels and is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. Her coauthor Paul G. Hayes, a former science reporter for "The Milwaukee Journal", is also available for speaking engagements.

Topic: Environment and Nature

Bill Berry, author of Banning DDT: How Citizen Activists in Wisconsin Led the Way, worked more than 20 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor for several daily newspapers. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, he now writes about conservation and agriculture as a freelance writer. He is a columnist for the "Capital Times" newspaper in Madison.

Topic: Environment and Nature

Robert Birmingham, author and editor of many publications on Wisconsin archaeology, including his most recent Society Press books Life, Death and Archeology at Fort Blue Mounds: A Settlers' Fortification of the Black Hawk War and Aztalan: Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town, is the former Wisconsin State Archaeologist (1989-2004) at the Wisconsin Historical Society. He teaches anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.

Topic: Archaeology


Kathy Borkowski is Director of Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Borkowski and other staff members are available to speak about the Society Press as well as about book publishing.

Topics: Publishing, Wisconsin Historical Society Press


Marcia C. Carmichael, author of Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin's Early Settlers, is the historical gardener at the 576-acre Old World Wisconsin, the largest of the Wisconsin Historical Society's living history museums, where she exercises her passion for historical accuracy and enjoys the research as much as the design, creation, and nurturing of the museum's heritage gardens. She also leads tours of the site's gardens on weekends.

Topic: Gardening


Shelia Cohen, author of Society Press Badger Biographies on Gaylord Nelson: Champion for our Earth and Mai Ya's Long Journey, is a former English as a Second Language teacher. She served on the Board of Directors of the United Refugee Services of Wisconsin and works as a freelance writer.

Topics: Environment and Nature, Immigration (Hmong)


Carl Corey, author and photographer of For Love and Money: Portraits of Wisconsin Family Businesses and Tavern League: Portraits of Wisconsin Bars, worked as an advertising still photographer and now works as a documentary photographer. His work is exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, as well in numerous private and public collections. He has won more than 100 photography awards from such groups and publications as the New York Art Directors Club, "Communication Arts", Bessies, Addys, and Gold Lions.

Topics: Wisconsin Culture, Photography


Jim Draeger, co-author of Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin's Historic Bars & Breweries and Fill 'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations, has worked in the field of historic preservation and architecture at the Wisconsin Historical Society for more than 20 years. From roadside architecture to Northwoods resorts, Jim celebrates the importance of ordinary buildings to our daily lives through his research, writing, and lectures. He is the State Historic Preservation Officer at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Coauthor Mark Speltz is also available for speaking engagements.

Topics: Architecture, Historic Preservation


Michael Edmonds, editor of Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader and author of Out of the Northwoods: The Many Lives of Paul Bunyan, is Deputy Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library-Archives Division. He presents about many of the Society's collections — including the Freedom Summer and Quiner Civil War Letters Collections (featured in the Society Press book This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home)

Topics: Wisconsin Folklore, Civil Rights History (Freedom Summer), War History (Civil War)


Terry Frei, author of Third Down and a War to Go, is the son of 1942 Badgers guard Jerry Frei, a decorated WWII P-38 fighter pilot. After his father's death, he set out to learn about the men in the team picture that hung in a place of honor in his father's den. He is a reporter and columnist for ESPN.com and "The Denver Post." He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Topic: Sports and Recreation, War History (World War II)

Jessie Garcia, author of My Life with the Green & Gold: Tales from 20 Years of Sportscasting, was one of the first female TV sportscasters in the Midwest. She has covered Wisconsin teams for more than 20 years, including at WISC-TV in Madison and at WTMJ in Milwaukee, where she hosted The Mike McCarthy Show. She also teaches journalism at Carroll University in Waukesha.

Topics: Sports and Recreation


John Gurda, author of Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee's Past, has authored 19 books on the history of Milwaukee-area neighborhoods, industries, and places of worship. A Milwaukee-born writer and historian, he wrote "The Making of Milwaukee", which became an Emmy-winning Milwaukee Public Television documentary series based on the book. He is also a local history columnist for the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel".

Topics: Milwaukee History and Culture


Richard Carlton Haney, author of 'When is Daddy Coming Home?' An American Family During World War II, is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He earned his Ph.D. in history from UW-Madison and later graduated from West Point's post-doctoral military history program and the Army's National Security Seminar at Carlisle Barracks.

Topic: War History (World War II)


Nicholas Hoffman, coauthor of Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, is the curator of the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has written history articles for the Wisconsin Magazine of History. An avid cyclist, he has a master's in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Co-author Jesse Gant, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is also available to speak on this topic. Gant is currently a fellow at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Topic: Sports and Recreation, Bicycling History

Erika Janik, author of A Short History of Wisconsin and Odd Wisconsin: Amusing, Perplexing, and Unlikely Stories of Wisconsin's Past, is the producer of "Wisconsin Life" radio program for Wisconsin Public Radio and has written for "Midwest Living", "MyMidwest", "Wisconsin Trails", the "Wisconsin State Journal", "Wisconsin Magazine of History", and "The Onion".

Topics: Wisconsin History and People, Wisconsin Culture


Ed Janus, author of Creating Dairyland: How Caring for Cows Saved Our Soil, Created Our Landscape, Brought Prosperity to Our State, and Still Shapes Our Way of Life in Wisconsin, spent two years as a dairy farmer in Crawford County, Wisconsin, where he fell in love with cows, fields, barns, and farmers. In 2007, he created a series of audio profiles of today's dairy farmers and cheesemakers for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. He also founded the Wisconsin Dairy History Project.

Topic: Agriculture

Tom Jones, coauthor of People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942, is an assistant professor of photography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his work may be found in the National Museum of the American Indian and the Chazen Museum of Art. His coauthor Mike Schmudlach is also available for speaking engagements. Schmudlach serves on the Wisconsin Historical Society's Board of Curators and has a lifelong relationship with the Ho-Chunk.

Topic: Native Peoples of Wisconsin, Native American History


Jonathan Kasparek, author of Fighting Son: A Biography of Philip F. La Follette, and co-author of Wisconsin History Highlights: Delving into the Past, served as a researcher and editor for the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Max Kade Institute and the Wisconsin State Capitol historic structure report project. He received his master's degree and Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Wisconsin and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.

Topics: Wisconsin People, Politics


Kathleen Schmitt Kline, coauthor of People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin's Love Affair with an Ancient Fish,is an outreach coordinator at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. She earned a B.A. in biology and English from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and an M.S. in life sciences communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her coauthors Ronald M. Bruch, a Natural Resources Region Team Supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Resources and the lead sturgeon biologist for the Lake Winnebago system, and Frederick P. Binkowski, senior scientist at the Wisconsin Great Lakes WATER Institute and the aquaculture advisory services specialist with the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, may also be available to speak on this subject.

Topics: Outdoors, Fishing (Sturgeon)


Scott Knickelbine, author of The Great Peshtigo Fire: Stories and Science from America's Deadliest Firestorm, a book for young readers, has authored more than 30 nonfiction books for young people, including a series on environmental disasters.

Topics: Environment and Nature


Michael Leannah, author of Something for Everyone: Memories of Lauerman Brothers Department Store, taught in Milwaukee and Sheboygan public schools and has published children stories in magazines in the United States and Australia. He has also written award-winning radio plays. Leannah grew up in Marinette, Wisconsin, within walking distance of Lauermans Department Store.

Topic: Wisconsin Culture


Patty Loew, Ph.D., author of Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, 2nd Edition and Native People of Wisconsin, is an assistant professor in the Department of Life Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a producer for WHA-TV (PBS), a co-host of "In Wisconsin" on Wisconsin Public Television, and is an award-winning documentary producer. Loew is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.

Topic: Native Peoples of Wisconsin, Native American History


Bill Matthias, author of Monster Fire at Minong, studied forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became the superintendent of Northwood School District in Minong in 1975. He is a charter member of the Wascott Volunteer Fire Department.

Topic: Forest Management


Dennis McCann, author of This Superior Place: Stories of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands and Badger Boneyards: The Eternal Rest of the Story, is a freelance writer based in Bayfield, Wisconsin. A University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism graduate, he joined the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 1983 as farm writer and state rover. He is now a freelance writer.

Topic: Wisconsin History and People, Wisconsin Culture

Ron McCrea, author of Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Home of Love and Loss, is a prize-winning journalist and former Alicia Patterson Fellow who worked on the news desks of "New York Newsday", "San Jose Mercury News", "Washington Post", "Washington Star", the "Boston Globe", and "Capital Times" in Madison, Wisconsin, where he served for a decade as city editor. He appears in the E! Entertainment Network's documentary "Mysteries and Scandals: Frank Lloyd Wright" and the BBC's "Frank Lloyd Wright: Murder, Myth and Modernism," and wrote the script for "The Making of Monona Terrace: Frank Lloyd Wright's Last Public Building". He was the communications director for Wisconsin Governor Tony Earl.

Topics: Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright


Marnie Mamminga, author of Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts (also available as an audio book) is a freelance writer and columnist who has vacationed every summer of her life on Big Spider Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she earned a master's degree in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has published articles in the "Chicago Tribune", "Reader's Digest", the "Christian Science Monitor", "Lake Superior Magazine", and "Chicken Soup for the Soul". She lives near Chicago, Illinois.

Topic: Sports and Recreation


Susan Mikos, author of Poles in Wisconsin, one in the Society Press's People of Wisconsin Series, is an historic preservation consultant and has been active in several Polish cultural organizations, including the Polish Center of Wisconsin and Polanki, the Polish Women's Cultural Club of Milwaukee.

Topic: Immigration (Poles)


William Povletich, author of Green Bay Packers: Trials, Triumphs and Tradition and Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak, is an award-winning television producer and producer of Milwaukee Public Television's documentary A Braves New World. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, he has written about the Milwaukee the Packers, Surfing in Wisconsin, the Braves and Liberace for the "Wisconsin Magazine of History" and is the 2009 recipient of the William Best Hesseltine Award. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Topics: Sports and Recreation, Wisconsin People

Karyn Saemann, author of Electa Quinney: Stockbridge Teacher, a biography for young readers in the Society Press's Badger Biographies Series,is a former newspaper reporter and editor who works as a freelance writer and reviewer.

Topics: Native American History, Wisconsin People, Young Readers


Craig Schreiner, author and photographer of One Small Farm: Photographs of a Wisconsin Way of Life, grew up on a farm in rural northwestern Illinois. He began photographing the Lamberty farm and family while working as a "Wisconsin State Journal" staff photographer. He now works as a photographer in the marketing and media relations office at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and teaches photojournalism at Madison Area Technical College in Madison.

Topics: Agriculture, Photography


Lee Somerville, author of Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening, is a landscape historian and master gardener. Originally from Liverpool, England, her home for the past 35 years has been northeastern Wisconsin. Between 1985 and 2001, Somerville was a volunteer at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay, where she helped develop garden and landscape plans and organized volunteers to maintain those gardens. She earned a master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research she completed for her thesis on 19th-century Wisconsin garden history served as the basis for this book.

Topic: Gardening


Mark Speltz, co-author of Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin's Historic Bars & Breweries and Fill 'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations, is a senior historian at American Girl. He earned a master's degree in public history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He previously worked as an independent researcher on exhibits for museums, including the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and has written several articles for the "Wisconsin Magazine of History". His coauthor Jim Draeger is also available for speaking engagements.

Topics: Architecture, Wisconsin Places


Stuart Stotts, author of Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights, Luis Fairchild: Civil War Hero, and Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers, all books for young readers in the Society Press's Badger Biographies Series, is a songwriter, storyteller, and author. He performs throughout the Midwest.

Topics: Wisconsin People, Young Readers


Ken and Barb Wardius, coauthors of Wisconsin Lighthouses: A Photographic and Historical Guide, Revised Edition, travel nationally as sought-after lighthouse lecturers and belong to many organizations dedicated to lighthouse preservation.

Topics: Architecture, Historic Preservation


Robert Willging, author of On the Hunt: The History of Deer Hunting in Wisconsin and History Afield: Stories from the Golden Age of Wisconsin Sporting Life, is a freelance outdoors writer whose work has appeared in such publications as "Boundary Waters Journal", "Deer and Deer Hunting", "High Country News", "Wisconsin Natural Resources" and "Wisconsin Outdoor News". A wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he is an ardent sportsman.

Topics: Outdoors, Hunting


John Zimm, editor of This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home, drew research for this book from Civil War letters in the Wisconsin Historical Society's famous Quiner Collection. Zimm received a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press since 2002. His articles for the Wisconsin Magazine of History include "On to Montezuma's Halls: The Story of Alexander Conze" and "Wisconsin's Historic Windmills".

Topic: War History (Civil War)

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