Collecting Agricultural Oral Histories In Wisconsin

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller learns about The People Remember, an oral history project collecting the stories of Wisconsin people in agriculture.

Featured in this Show

  • Oral History Project Collects, Preserves Stories Of Wisconsin Farmers

    Agricultural life in Wisconsin is a big part of the state’s history and culture. Behind each farm are families and individuals with stories and memories to share — a history that audio journalist and writer Ed Janus is working to collect and preserve.

    Janus’ mission began when he was interviewing farmers both young and old for his book, “Creating Dairyland.” During that project, he said he had a realization.

    “It really struck me that so many of these insights, stories, and personalities were disappearing … I wanted to get those, and I wanted to communicate those in the voices of the actual people,” Janus said.

    While “Creating Dairyland” shared stories through written text, Janus wanted to take it a step further and record interviews with Wisconsin farm people. The result is The People Remember oral history project, which Janus now directs.

    One of the project’s goals, Janus said, is to share a sense of “agricultural humanity.” He said that each individual interviewed isn’t only interesting for their knowledge of rural life, but for their unique perspectives and life experiences as well.

    “Many of them are truly interesting in their own right, whether they are farmers or not,” he said. “And they ought to be honored by being a part of history.”

    Added Janus: “The variety of human beings out there must not be lost.”

    One of the memorable people that Janus has interviewed is Loretta “Dimp” McGlynn, who is now 93 years old. She was born on a farm in the town of Ithaca in Richland County.

    “This is a woman you wish you could bottle and freeze and have on-store for the rest of your life. She’s really wonderful,” Janus said.

    There are audio clips of Dimp talking about a wide range of topicsincluding faith, keeping calves, farm-made beer, and being honored at age 90 as “Richland County Farm Woman of the Year”​on The People Remember website.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Ed Janus Guest