In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments

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CSUMC0035-CG (local)
1986 - 1992 (Inclusive dates)

Ethnographic documentation (circa 1987-1989) used by the Cedarburg Cultural Center (Cedarburg, Wis.) to organize a traveling exhibition (1990-1991) focused on two dozen Wisconsin folk musical instruments, their makers, and represented varied ethnic and musical traditions (e.g., lumberjack, Woodland Indian, Norwegian, Puerto Rican, Hmong); consisting of manuscript materials, audio recordings, graphic materials, and 1 artifact.

Creator and/or Contributor
Cedarburg Cultural Center (creator), Robert Thomas Teske (creator), James P. Leary (interviewer), Lewis Koch (photographer)
Administrative/Biographical History Element

The Cedarburg Cultural Center received funding from the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board for the development of an exhibition relating to Wisconsin musical traditions: “In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments” (1990-1991) focused on two dozen Wisconsin folk musical instruments, their makers, and the represented ethnic and musical traditions (e.g., lumberjack, Woodland Indian, Norwegian, Puerto Rican, Hmong). Fieldwork with folk musical instrument makers conducted by folklorist James P. Leary and photographer Lewis Koch resulted in a research essay and photographic images that were used in the exhibition and in the exhibition catalogue. Thomas Vennum Jr. of the Smithsonian Institution, Nancy Lurie of the Milwaukee Public Museum, and Cecil Negron of the Social Development Commission in Milwaukee acted as advisers to the project, as did staff at institutions including the State Historical Museum and the State Historical Society in Madison, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Wisconsin Folk Museum (Mount Horeb, Wis.), the Rusk County Historical Society (Ladysmith, Wis.), and Vesterheim (Decorah, Iowa).  These institutions also loaned objects and photographs for the exhibit.
Cedarburg Cultural Center director Robert T. Teske developed the exhibition and oversaw its implementation, as well as exhibition-related events, school tours, and a concert series. After opening in Cedarburg in Spring 1990, the exhibition traveled to the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University in Appleton, the Wisconsin State Historical Museum in Madison, New Visions Gallery in Marshfield, and finally to the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, where it ended its tour at the end of October 1991.

Scope and Content Note
The collection is arranged in four series: Manuscript Materials, Sound Recordings, Graphic Materials, and Artifacts.

Manuscript Materials consist of Administrative Files and Research Files that document the process of mounting a museum exhibition, from grant writing and subsequent reports to funders, field research with artists, negotiations with other cultural institutions such as granting agencies, other museums, and schools; technical aspects of exhibit installation and publication production, event planning, publicity for the exhibition and related special events, and the logistics of coordinating a traveling exhibition of fragile musical  instruments.
Sound Recordings consist of audio cassette recordings of interviews James P. Leary conducted with thirteen musical instrument makers (recorded October-December 1989) and one tape of musical performances at the Cedarburg Cultural Center using instruments similar to those in the exhibition.
Graphic Materials consist mainly of 35 mm color slides, as well as color (3x3 to 3x4) and black-and-white (5x7 and 4x5) photographs, black-and-white negatives, 4x5 internegatives, and contact sheets, a 4x5 color copy negative, and a 4x5 color copy transparency. Several images from 35 mm color slides and black-and-white photographs taken by Lewis Koch appear in the exhibition catalogue of the same name which the Cedarburg Cultural Center published in 1990. Also included are black-and-white prints and negatives by James P. Leary.

The Artifact is an [Ojibwa] embroidered patch that reads, “WA SWA Goning T.R.A.I.L.S.” from a youth drum group led by Joseph Ackley of Lac du Flambeau. Ackley also made the drum for the group.

Custodial History

This collection is one of three related to exhibitions created by the Cedarburg Cultural Center (Cedarburg, Wisconsin) under Robert T. Teske’s tenure as director (1987-1998). Since Teske’s departure from the Center in the late 1990s, the collections remained in basement storage until they were transferred to the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC) in 2012. Two folders of grant materials relating to this exhibition were among Teske’s administrative materials, and deemed to be part of this collection at the time of transfer to CSUMC’s care. A deposit agreement between CSUMC and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives is planned, but not yet formalized.

Conditions Governing Access

Contact records custodians for access information.

Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
432 East Campus Mall, Room 332
Madison, WI 53706
Web site:

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Consult the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures for information on use restrictions.

17 (folders (manuscript materials))
13 (audiocassettes)
478 (35 mm color slides)
28 (color prints (26 3x3 to 3x4, 1 4x5, and 1 3 1/2x5))
18 (Polaroid prints (3.5 x 4.25))
27 (black-and-white prints (2 8x10, 24 5x7, and 1 4x5))
1 (sheet black-and-white negatives)
10 (contact sheets (black-and-white))
5 (4x5 black-and-white internegatives)
1 (4x5 color copy negative)
1 (4x5 color copy transparency)
1 (artifact)
English (Languages)
Spanish (Languages)
Other Subject Headings
Folk art (Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH))
Folk music (Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH))
Folk artists (Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH))
Musical instruments (Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH))
Musical instrument makers (Ethnographic Thesaurus (ET))
Geographic Coverage
Wisconsin (state) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Dane (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Dunn (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Menominee (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Milwaukee (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Oneida (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Ozaukee (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Rusk (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Sheboygan (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Vilas (county) (Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names)
Preferred Citation
Please consult the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures for guidelines. CSUMC's archiving team suggests the following citation form when using direct quotes from a person documented: [Name of person documented]. [Date]. [Tape/video/other]-recorded interview by [Fieldworker name]. [Place interviewed]. [Name of collection/project]. [Repository, city, state]. When using a specific image: [Identify subject matter/people in caption]. Photo/image by [Photographer/fieldworker name]. [Date]. Courtesy of [repository]. To quote fieldworker, follow bibliographical style.
Related Entities:
Cedarburg Cultural Center (creator)
Robert Thomas Teske (creator)
James P. Leary (interviewer)
Lewis Koch (photographer)
Bouzouki by Epaminontas Bourantas, 1989. Photograph by Lewis Koch.

Objects in this Collection