The new Manitowish Waters Historical Society has had a busy summer and as we near the conclusion of our first year as an organization I would like to update you on our progress. Early this year we needed to focus on the legal requirements of becoming a formal historical society, later in the summer our focus shifted to developing our identity and community outreach. With board elections set for January we are excited about the prospects for our 2nd year.
After a series of organizational meetings last summer and fall the Manitowish Waters Historical Society began to formally take shape. After electing the first board and officers we established the By Laws of the Manitowish Waters Historical Society. Next, we were accepted as an affiliated member of the Wisconsin Historical Society and now enjoy the support of a large network of historical societies. In late September, the Manitowish Waters Historical Society gained its 501c3 status from the IRS and now can offer members and supporters the same benefits as other nonprofit groups. By the end of the year we will purchase the archival software recommended by the Wisconsin Historic Society so we can properly document the historic resources that define our community. With many of the legal/organizational requirements completed this year we are excited to do the important business of documenting and sharing the history of the Manitowish Waters area.
Establishing the new historical society required the development of a logo that captured our community’s heritage. Fortunately, John McFarland was able to take our ideas and create an awesome image of an Ojibwa paddling a canoe along the small island on Manitowish Lake. The logo uses an iconic vista of Manitowish Waters and transports the context back 150 years when the region was defined by the Ojibwa village on Manitowish Lake. The Manitowish Waters Historical Society is further developing its identity with the development of a webpage. In the next few months you can find our historical society site under construction on the web at MWHistory.org. Logistically, the young Manitowish Waters Historical Society operates out of the MW Library with the fantastic support of board member Janelle Kohl and her excellent staff.
Several community outreach activities received positive reviews. Collaborating with the chamber of commerce created the perfect venue for two well attended Chamber After 5 events on “Manitowish Waters as an Historic Regional Hub” and the first of a 3 part series on “Historic Mysteries of Manitowish Waters”. At the 4th of July and Cran-a-rama events the historical society had booths that made great connections and discoveries. The historical society also sold some maps and post cards unique to the Manitowish Waters area which were a terrific hit. Historical society board members donated critical computer and recording technology that facilitated capturing the oral history from many longtime residents and digitizing much of the Voss family photo collections. A cranberry display and a celebration of the Manitowish Waters cranberry legacy was facilitated by the historical society and Koller Library. Finally, the historical society is developing a family outreach model called MW Sense of Place. The Manitowish Waters Historical Society have workshops to help interested family members digitally chronical and preserve their “Place” or story in Manitowish Waters.
For many decades several Manitowish Waters residents have chronicled our history and have made enormous contributions preserving critical resources and stories. We want to celebrate these historians by formally recognizing their contributions and legacy. Personally, I believe the formal development of our historical society will add dramatically to the community. In our 2nd year, we will build greater capacity to reach our long term goals and hopefully gain enthusiastic members who wish to advance our mission.