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References for the BUS-eum

2007 | 2006

References from the 2010-2011 BUS-eum 3 tour

April Krause [pcmuseum@roxboro.net] Director, Person County Museum of History, Roxboro NC wrote:

We took these pictures during our showing of your traveling exhibit on Friday Sept. 3, 2010.  Thank you so much for bringing that wonderful exhibit to our area. It was very well received and we hope that should your company bring a different bus this way that you will please let us know as we would love to have you back again. Mr. Kellman was such a pleasure to work with!

Beth McGinn [beth1011@msn.com] American Legion Aux. Unit 28, Millsboro DE wrote:

I just wanted to thank you and Irving for bringing the bus to the American Legion on Wednesday, Oct. 6th.  Irving was wonderful!  And the people who toured the exhibit were quite impressed with the display.  You both did a fantastic job arranging this on such short notice and we really appreciated it.  Because the Post was so busy that night with the State Candidates, I didn't have the time to truly thank Irving before he left but I wanted to let him know how his exhibit was received.  If any of your exhibits are in the area again, please let me know.

Jeremy Robbins [jrobbins@oakwoodfriends.org] Oakwood Friends School, Poughkeepsie NY wrote:

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the work you've done to offer a truly remarkable experience to our students. Irving is more than a competent presenter and tour guide; he's an engaging storyteller and a good guy.  It has been a pleasure to make his acquaintance, and I was very moved by the gift he made to me of a copy of Out of Hitler's Reach.


References from the 2007 BUS-eum tours

Andelson, Jonathan ANDELSON@Grinnell.EDU wrote

I think your bus museum's visit to Grinnell was a success. At least 400 people saw/heard something of the information, and that seems pretty good. The exhibit itself is well-crafted and arresting. The panel seemed to go very well (what I was able to see of it), and others who spoke to me thought so, too. Thank you for making Grinnell part of your tour. I don't envy your schedule while you're on the road. Good luck with the rest of the tour. I'm sure the weather will improve.

Rebecca Spika<spika@racinelib.lib.wi.us> Programming/Public Relations, Racine Public Library:

In spite of blustery winds and chilling weather we had a great turnout for yesterday's exhibit. We really appreciated Michael's enthusiasm and graciousness. What a unique way to disseminate some very important and timely historical information! We look forward to having your mobile museum back in the future. Please let know how much we enjoyed his visit and the exhibit.
Thanks, again!

Jane Henze <jhenze@scls.lib.wi.us> Adult Services, DeForest Area Public Library:

The BUS-eum visit to DeForest was great. I was happy with the good attendance for this event--both for the exhibit and the Community Conversation. It's amazing how much information is offered in the small space on the bus. Michael was a wonderful host and resource person.

I heard many positive comments about this event from those who attended. As one of the first visitors stepped off the bus, I asked if she enjoyed the exhibit. Her face got very serious and she snapped, "I did not!". My mind immediately started racing about what horrible thing could have happened on the bus to make her give this negative answer! She continued, "I did not enjoy it. It was upsetting to see, but I learned a lot." After that I didn't use the word "enjoy" when helping them off the bus and asking about their thoughts.

Thanks again for coming and bringing this important bit of history to our community.

References from the 2006 BUS-eum 2 tours

Bridget Christenson <b.christenson@wrlsweb.org> of Mauston’s Hatch Public Library wrote:

I wanted to thank you again for bringing this important exhibit to our town. I am pleased with the attendance and feel honored to have brought a little knowledge/understanding about German-American civilian internment to the Mauston community. Those 105 in attendance learned much. As an educated person I learned SO much from the exhibit: thank you. I never knew how much I did not know about US internment. I was pleased with the results: the exhibit was very meaningful.

Honestly, the mechanics of the tour, the set up, the pre- and post-correspondence—I think you have down. I think years of experience has shown you what works and doesn’t and I have no criticism, constructive or otherwise, in regard to the exhibit.

Thank you again and safe travels,


Donna Deuster <villageclerk@sturtevant-wi.gov> of Sturtevant Town Hall wrote:

I would like to tell you about the wonderful feed-back I received the rest of the week for those who had the opportunity to visit your exhibit. The books I purchased helped people find answers to questions they hadn’t thought of until they had gotten home. I always sent them out with your web-site address so their search for reasons and answers could continue.

We would welcome the return of any program you may be traveling with in the future and with more advance notice would certainly combine a related interactive community program with it.

If you hadn’t been able to come to the Village I would certainly have been traveling to another site to take part in your most enlightening information.

Thank you for your dedication and interest in human freedoms!

Linda Marcussen <lmarcuss@kenosha.lib.wi.us> of Kenosha Public Library wrote:

I hope you were pleased by the turnout here in Kenosha. We certainly were. I’ve been comparing notes with other employees who have interacted with (or overheard) visitors to the exhibit. One comment heard again and again was “I had no idea this happened—and in Wisconsin, yet.” Some people were struck by the similarity between the German-American experience and what’s happening right now. Another unexpected, but welcome, outcome of the exhibit was that Northside issued many new library cards! The exhibit had drawn people to the building for the first time. And, the books we set out about the topic were snapped up immediately.

As far as suggestions to improve the planning process, it would have been helpful to have all of the nuts-and-bolts details explained at the time of our first conversation. While I think everything turned out to be satisfactory, knowing more at the very beginning might have my end of the process go more smoothly. In any case, thanks for bringing the BUS-eum to Kenosha. It’s unlikely that we would have learned about this important episode in our country’s history if you had not come. Best of luck to you on the rest of the tour.

Linda Marcussen

David Brostrom <dbrostro@waukesha.lib.wi.us> of the Waukesha Public Library wrote:
 Hosting the BUS-eum 2 on April 1st at the Waukesha Public Library was a unique and rewarding experience! The feedback from our customers was very positive. The majority of our visitors were astounded at learning that Waukesha County residents who were German-American citizens were interned for months or years in the 1940s, sometimes right in our “backyard”!   Our area veterans group called the Military Order of the Purple Heart eagerly supported this project financially, plus they helped customers while on the bus. Our Friends of the Library group was a primary financial supporter also, contributing more than $300 to our BUS-eum 2 initiative. I was concerned about finding the monies to pay for this program but in the end it was fairly easy convincing groups to offer their support. I’m convinced this was because of the special nature of the BUS-eum’s topic. Next time, I would start working on event details earlier, and perhaps directly involve other county veterans organizations in the planning process.   Touring an actual retrofitted bus was a memorable experience for visitors, especially since it was such an unusual venue for learning about United States history. Because people are used to more conventional museums, the BUS-eum 2 was extremely effective. Plus, the displays were professionally presented, attractive, informative and plentiful.   The movie and videos in the bus were topnotch, too. People of all ages sat down or stood up to listen and view those audio-visuals. A-V types of products (and any “visuals” for that matter) are very popular with younger kids, too, and that was quite evident at the Waukesha BUS-eum 2 stop.   Perhaps adding interactive audio-visual displays, like colorful touch screens that provide information about WWII and internment history would also add to the overall allure of the exhibits. (I recently experienced a large number of these hands-on units, within various cultural and historical displays at the new Native-American Museum, in Washington DC. Like powerful magnets, they were a “big hit” with grade school-aged youngsters, who excitedly played and learned with these computer-generated products!)   Next time, I would definitely opt for sponsoring a humanities discussion, so that we could dive deeper into “the whys, hows, and will it ever happen agains”. I’m pleased that you are willing to personally coordinate or facilitate those types of engaging forums.  All things considered, you did a fine job promoting the intricacies of American history and the shocking nature of the specific internment topics! I’m certain that many of our Waukesha customers will be reading these books that you sold to our reference staff after the event. I’m pleased we now have those tomes in our regular non-fiction collection, so that students and other researchers can access them in the future. Thank you for your incredible dedication to spreading these fascinating historical stories, and for making a worthwhile visit to the Waukesha Public Library with BUS-eum 2. I’ll always remember the thrill of seeing the large BUS-eum rounding the street corner, heading toward our public library!  Sincerely,
David Brostrom

Jack Fry <Fry@menashalibrary.org> of Menasha Public Library wrote:

I was quite pleased with the way things went with the HS students. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with teacher Bill Sepnafski, but I think he thought it a worthwhile expedition for his kids.  I was also quite pleased with the “community conversation.” The reactor panelists made thoughtful comments. You chipped in where appropriate--mostly with information and clarification. And the rest of the audience for the most part “got into it.” One member of the audience I think summed up the session by indicating that regardless of point of view or opinion, it is critical for citizens to continually attempt to keep aware of government actions.  Thanks for coming. It was a stimulating day.  Jack

Donna Stelter <Donna.Stelter@doc.state.wi.us> of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections wrote:

I have taken some time to talk with inmates and staff since your visit. Many had wished that they had had more time to view the items. So, the next time we will schedule for a little longer visit. Many commented that they learned a lot and were very pleased with the project overall. What will be the topic for next year? Thanks for coming. It was very informative.


Donna Stelter

Nancy Ashmore <nashmore@swls.org> of Prairie du Chien Public Library wrote:

We had many good responses to the exhibit, and I know that it has sparked many discussions such as the impromptu one at my book club last week. I hope that it has done the same at the school. Having the bus at the High School for a few hours worked very well, I thought; I need to work harder to get the other schools involved. I’m not sure what it would take.

You are doing a truly marvelous thing here; I hope that you will be an inspiration to other organizations that could bring history to the people!

Nancy Ashmore

Stephanie Hanus <Hanus@ci.brookfield.wi.us> of Brookfield Public Library wrote:

The BUS-eum tour at the Brookfield Public Library was successful. Of those that went through, many seemed to have had some kind of reaction, which varied from surprise that the internment had happened at all, to a more personal reaction from memories or experiences they had had.

Overall I think the setup of the exhibit was good. It allowed people to spend as much or as little time as they would like. The only thing that I could think to change would be if you could somehow make the bus handicapped accessible.

Thank you for sharing the exhibit with us. I know many of our patrons, and staff, learned about a period of history that we would not have heard about otherwise.


DarlaEngwall <Darla.Engwall@uwsp.edu> of Plover Public Library wrote:

Actually, I thought it all went well. I was very pleased with the turnout, even if the local newspaper and TV stations were not as cooperative as I would like them to be. I got a lot of positive feedback from those who attended, and had a few people show up the next day wanting to see it.

If I could change anything, I would probably book a longer time slot so the schools could take advantage of it. And it would have been nice if we could have had a better parking space. All things considered however, I was very pleased with everything.

Thanks again!

Darla Engwall

Mary Adler <madler@marshfieldlibrary.org> of Marshfield Public Library wrote:

We had almost all very positive remarks about the Buseum-2 visit. A few people “missed the bus” because of the time on the TRACES website listing the later Tuesday time slot, rather than starting at 9 a.m. as you so kindly did for us. One lady called later to say we were making America look bad and she didn’t think it was right. But, again we did receive very positive feedback on the whole.



Linda Belknap < belknap.linda@als.lib.wi.us > of Janeville’s Hedberg Public Library wrote:

I think in general the Janesville audience would fall under the category of “visibly moved.” Those with some German heritage were particularly engaged. Some viewer reactions I heard:
-A man who went through the bus with three middle/high-school age students was very concerned and said he is sad that the government attitude toward individual civil liberties has not changed a lot since that time.
-Two of the men who attended both the exhibit and the community conversation thanked me separately for hosting the bus. Both found the content timely, troubling and very important.
-A staff member who grew up near Sparta and attended the exhibit and program with her friend left me this note: “Thank you for bringing the TRACES bus and program. Neither Myrna nor I had ever heard of the German-American internment.”

My thoughts about the experience:
-The TRACES office does a good job of getting info out at all stages. Some of it necessarily has to be of a group, form-letter nature, but I also received individual communications promptly by email and phone when appropriate.
-If it would be possible to set up the tour dates farther ahead, some of your suggestions for publicity would be more do-able. In particular, our schools plan their field trips months ahead of time. By the time we received our tour date, it was too late to approach the schools with the field trip suggestion.
-I spent a lot of time on the initial speakers-panel idea for our related program but didn’t find anyone who felt knowledgeable enough to sit in the “expert” chair. Although the more informal, unstructured conversation we ended up having was perhaps riskier, I think other hosts and their communities might be more comfortable with it. Hosts would probably still want to contact key people whom they know are interested in civil liberties, history ,etc. to encourage their attendance, but that wouldn’t be as daunting as the highly-academic approach your guidelines suggest. Many of our community members are just regular folks who do care about the past, present and future.
-I was thrilled (and relieved) at the large Janesville turnout. Catching the interest of the local daily newspaper for an article with photos after the visit was also a plus. To me, this shows how important libraries continue to be in the lives of citizens, serving an educational and community role even beyond the already-valuable traditional one of providing books and other materials for a miniscule portion of the local tax bill.

Thanks, and good luck!

Linda Belknap < belknap.linda@als.lib.wi.us > later added:

Hello, fellow BUS-eum 2 hosts:
 Michael asked me to tell you a little about our program related to the  BUS-eum 2 stop here in Janesville this week.
I initially tried to organize a panel of speakers. Although people  (civil libertarians, history professors, community activists) were  interested in the topic and wanted to know more, no one felt  knowledgeable enough to sit up front at a table. So I changed it from a  panel to an informal community conversation with no particular agenda  and no speakers. This was kinda risky but it worked out fine. We had 16  people attend. (250 visitors to the bus.) I set the chairs up in a  semi-circle and encouraged at least first names on nametags to add to  the friendly feel. I set up coffee, tea and cookies. We were fortunate  to have a staff member from Senator Russ Feingold’s Madison office on hand to  briefly share an update on the senator’s efforts to introduce federal  legislation recognizing the government’s role in the internments. So, I  just did a brief welcome and introduced her. When she finished, I just invited people to share  and they did! Our participants were very willing to share both personal  tales of relatives affected and viewpoints about civil liberties, the  justification for the government to compromise same in times of crisis,  etc. Four of the people I had initially invited to be speakers ended up  coming and contributing, so the end result was much the same as I had  envisioned. So as not to intimidate people, Michael sat in the back of  the room and let the conversation flow for 40 minutes before adding a  few comments. I tried hard not to worry about filling every second with  talk, and I think that relaxed atmosphere helped people feel at ease.   That’s about it. Good luck!  Linda Belknap Adult Program Coordinator Hedberg Public Library 316 S. Main St. Janesville, WI 53545 phone (608) 758-6591 fax (608) 758-6583

Don La Coss <lacoss.dona@uwlax.edu> of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse wrote:

I was very pleased with how everything went on 4/23, and I enjoyed my conversations with visitors at the exhibition, and with some of my students in class this last week.  For future university hosts of the BUS-eum, I’m torn about having done a Sunday visit. On one hand, Michael found a great place on campus to set up on a late-Sunday morning--lots of foot traffic as students wandered between dorms, cafeteria and the gym. But, I wonder if a weekday visit would have drawn more people... there would be more students wandering around, to be sure, but most would have been rushing to their next classes, so it may or may not have translated into a bigger draw.   The only certain advantage to a weekday visit would have been putting together an on-campus panel discussion of some sort. But again, that does not necessarily guarantee more BUS-eum visitors. As it was Sunday, we may have drawn more folks in for a spontaneous visit with signs on the nearby main streets to lure people from the community onto campus.  Finally, if I were to do it all over again, I would have re-doubled my publicity efforts and tried to do something more than sending out press releases to the local media and hanging posters. After all, it’s an effort to get people interested in history under the best of circumstances and the subject of this particular BUS-eum tour was powerful enough to frighten away the more timid newspaper and radio news editors.

Mary Lent <m.lent@wrlsweb.org> of Black River Falls Public Library wrote:

The people I have talked to who saw the exhibit were quite surprised that this took place in our country. They pretty much knew that German prisoners of war were in the area in World War II but they were not aware of the internment of German-American civilians, or that the internment of some lasted for two years after the war. It was a good learning tool.  You know I was disappointed in the turn out but I have turned it into a positive thing. If the veterans had not sponsored your visit and you had not come, the newspaper would not have a big spread on the subject in this week’s paper. I will send you a copy of the article. I think this follow-up story will reach many people who did not come to the exhibit and therefore enlighten them on the subject. When I think about it perhaps a very detailed article of the exhibit after the exhibit would reach more people than actually came to the exhibit. I can put a positive spin on most things I guess. You came and people learned.  Mary

Sanny Oberhauser <oberhau@dotnet.com> of Clintonville Public Library wrote:

It was an exhibit that brought knowledge of a part of our history that few people know of--and when they/we learn of it we are astounded and disappointed. Since your visit here, I’ve been around the state at conferences, etc., and talked quite a bit about your exhibit and the  internment of German/Americans. To a person, no one had heard of it. As you may recall, we had a high school girl on our panel who had done quite a bit of reading before appearing with us. Furthermore, she studied the exhibit and listened to the discussion. When I asked her near the end of our panel discussion for her reactions and what she’d been writing, she said something like it really disappointed her to learn this about our government--she will no longer trust what she hears and reads. This experience will forevermore affect the kind of citizen she’ll become.

As to Sen. Feingold’s attempt to introduce a bill that would force our government to recognize this internment, I just called his office and again talked with Katy, who saw your exhibit in Janesville. I addressed questions about his bill and the ability of an anonymous Senator to block a bill. She took my questions and will get back to me. That fact is almost as upsetting as the internment! If I learn anything of interest, I’ll write you. This has been a rambling message--you made me aware of something that is very troubling.

Today I drove over to Appleton for a convocation at Lawrence University to hear Salman Rushdie. He’s an amazing guy--witty, but ended his hour-long lecture with an appeal. He’d talked earlier about “lines” in our society, and that in the mid-sixties, when he went to college, activists began to cross the lines, to question the authorities. He said it is up to the artists to cross the lines--others will fight to keep them within the lines, but the writers and other artists must cross them. My mind went back to your exhibit and our conversation and the two events had similar messages. It was an honor to hear someone who has crossed so many lines. And, you  certainly are one who is willing to cross and question the lines that are drawn. Keep it up!

I hope your tour continues to go well,


RoseMarie Barber <rmbarber@ameritech.net> of Milwaukee’s Turner Hall wrote:

I think what amazed me most was the fact that people said “I didn’t know this happened” From what I saw the Germans seem to accept the fact they were in these camps and tried to make it home and make the best of a bad situation. I felt especially bad for the people who had worked their land for 25 years only to have to give it up and were never given any compensation. I hope you can bring the bus to German Fest. The next time you may want to pin down schools, making definite arrangements for student groups. Germans are too proud to grovel. Tuesday there were all these talk shows about the illegal aliens. If I had been better able to talk (I have a cold) I’d have liked to have called in and told them about what happened to the Germans. Everyone thinks they are a victim nowadays. I saw the article in the Journal yesterday; it should have been longer.

Good Luck on the rest of your tour, Rose Marie

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