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Chippewa Valley Museum
PO Box 1204
Eau Claire, WI 54702-1204

1204 E. Half Moon Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54703
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Every photo has a story and tells a story. Same with an object. With a little work, you can briefly sketch the life of a person. More challenging — and more important — you can make connections between people, objects and stories, to see what binds us and separates us over time and distance. Setting children on that path early, giving them a process for making connections, offers them ways to solve problems and see relationships.

History Quest, a new exhibit at the Chippewa Valley Museum, sends children and adults on a quest to discover historical differences in the ways families acquire and use food, shelter, and clothing. Along the way, they will learn how to “do” history by examining various sources related to the stories of five families in the Chippewa Valley.

There are four stops on the quest:

History Lab — a place to learn the tools of an historian

Let’s Eat — an area to explore tools of food production, cultural expressions of food, and environmental factors that create the range of food choices

At Home — a station to examine the strong connections between shelters and environment and consider what kinds of shelters create a community

All Dressed — where visitors apply their skills as historians to compare changes in clothing and learn how clothing is a form of communication.

History Quest uses the “Thinking Like a Historian” learning framework, developed by Bobbie Malone, director of the Office of School Services at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Nikki Mandell, a member of the history department at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. This framework guides students of all ages through the stations and help them discover how time, place, and culture influence family choices about our most basic human needs.

The exhibit features five families, emphasizing certain individuals in the family:

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) of the Ingalls family, a farm family on the Wisconsin frontier in the 1870s.

Anton Venski (1890-1978) of the Venski family, Polish immigrants, settling on the north side of Eau Claire in the early 1880s.

Gilbert Chapman (1909-1997) of the Chapman family. Both his mother and father were from mixed heritage families, and Gilbert learned Ojibwe traditions from his grandmother.

John Vodacek (1924-) of the Vodacek family, Czech immigrants who moved from Chicago to New Auburn, Chippewa County, during the Great Depression.

Neng Vang Lor and Jou Lor were born in nearby villages in the mountains of northern Laos in the early 1960s. As young adults, they fled with their families into the jungle in 1975, the end of the Vietnam War, to escape from Laotian government who considered the Hmong enemies of the state because of their support of the U.S. government during the Secret War. After years in refugee camps, they came to the United States in 1987, settling in Eau Claire.

History Quest includes loads of hands-on activities, everything from designing a home to picking a family menu.


Major funding for History Quest comes from the Wisconsin Humanities Council which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support from the AnnMarie Foundation, Duane and Joan Dingmann, Eau Claire Community Foundation, Cable Family Fund, Community Fund, and the John and Lela Thompson Fund.

history detective


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