Wisconsin Dairy History

The Haugen FarmThe Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service and other individuals and organizations collaborated on the first stage of a comprehensive project to record and preserve Wisconsin’s dairy history. The Wisconsin Dairy History Project is founded on the idea that capturing the oral history and traditions associated with dairying—an industry essential to Wisconsin’s prosperity and identity—is important to preserving the historical legacy of our state. A growing collaboration of farmers, dairy industry workers, historians, students, and citizens are now engaged in an effort to preserve the voices of dairying in Wisconsin. Beginning in Central Wisconsin, the comprehensive project involves collecting the stories of dairy industry workers through audio recordings to increase public understanding and appreciation for our state’s quintessential industry and its human, historical, economic, moral and environmental importance to Wisconsin.

In the first phase of the project, volunteers recorded oral interviews at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Marathon/Wood Counties from July 12 to July 14. Interviews captured at the event were edited, transcribed, and placed on a designated website that will be accessible to the public and historians. Segments of the interviews may also be used in future Wisconsin Public Radio broadcasts.

Our collaborating partners include:

  • Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service
  • University of Wisconsin-Extension
  • Wisconsin Public Radio
  • University of Wisconsin Colleges

Funded by Marshfield Clinic, the project is ongoing, and welcomes additional collaborators and sponsors. Currently, WIPPS is in discussion with the Wisconsin State Historical Society and local historical societies, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, North Central Technical College, the Dairy State Academy, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, various UW universities and colleges, and other organizations and individuals to make the project goals a reality.

While committed to preserving the voices and stories of the past, the project will increase understanding of the present through the support of learning communities that create rich dialogue between keepers of agrarian traditions – from aging farm couples and rural bankers to crossroads cheesemakers and retired extension agents.

For the complete program of events for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, visit the site at www.wifarmtechnologydays.com.