Fall Meeting 2016 Minutes

AGS-Wisconsin Fall Meeting

The inaugural meeting of the Wisconsin Chapter for the Association of Gravestone Studies kicked off at the beautiful Milwaukee Public Library in downtown Milwaukee on a bright, but chilly Saturday afternoon. Attending the meeting were representatives from Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Illinois Chapter, Milwaukee, and Madison. The agenda was brief, but set the tone for the Chapter in the coming months:

  • Introductions
  • Expectations and Goal Setting
  • Presentation by Dr. Norman Sullivan

As a new Chapter, there will be an adjustment period in which we find our purpose and rhythm. With this, there will come mistakes—the first being I did not take attendance, nor write down names.  I truly regret this because the one person’s who name I did not catch came as a representative for a society that disbanded in 2006. The Wisconsin State Old Cemetery Society recorded 60% of Wisconsin’s cemeteries starting in the 1970’s, and they were put on microfilm by the Church of Latter Day Saints. The records should be available at the Milwaukee Public Library, although they would not be digitized.

In discussing the goals and expectations for our Chapter, I explicitly stated that I want to facilitate what members want from the Chapter, but first laid out what I envisioned. I want us to provide an outlet for presenting research, but also contribute to generating data and research. So while we can host speakers and offer tours and enjoy come coffee over cemetery chats, I would also like us to be recording cemeteries and doing something with the data we gather—whether it is to bring attention to preservation issues or give our data over to some genealogical database. I would also like us to go over the old records previously mentioned and see what we can do about digitizing them and making them more widely available.

This vision sounded agreeable to all those present and no one had anything to add. I welcome any additional thoughts.

Laurel Mellien was in attendance, who recently published History and Stories of the McHenry County Cemeteries. She has proven to be our contact for the greater AGS world and has put us in contact with Illinois and Ohio and gave us some insight into what we can expect from the National meeting next summer.

Immediate action included spending the winter brainstorming projects and presenters and having a Spring Meeting in March.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Dr. Norman Sullivan of Marquette University entitled The Cemeteries of Wisconsin’s Holy Land: Evidence of New and Changing Live for German Immigrants and their Posterity. Dr. Sullivan and myself have been recording cemeteries in the Holy Land region southeast of Lake Winnebago. The first European settlers there came over through chain migration from Rhenish Prussia. Their lives can be gleaned from the cemeteries in the Holy Land: demographic pattern, cultural values, religious expressions, rates of acculturation and language attenuation etc. can all be read on the stones. This presentation looked at the potential of the area for further studies by providing case examples of iconography use at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Dotyville and language attenuation by gender at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in St. Cloud.

And there we have the minutes for the 2016 Fall Meeting of Wisconsin Chapter for the Association of Gravestone Studies. For any comments or edits to these minutes, please contact me, (Erin Hastings) as ags.wisconsin@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.


The Cemeteries of Wisconsin’s Holy Land.png


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