You never know when inspiration might strike. For Mark Tully, it came in 1969 during a family tour of Gettysburg, Washington D.C., and other U.S. historic sites. The trip was unforgettable in many ways, yet it was the costumed interpreters and restored sites at Colonial Williamsburg that spoke to his young imagination. Nearly five decades later, the power of history coming to life through reenactment still influences Tully and his Continuing Education course, “Wisconsin History—From Discovery to Statehood.”
In the course, Tully invites learners in the Baraboo Sauk County area to travel through time and explore the vast history of Wisconsin. Spanning nearly 10,000 years, the three course session discusses pre-history and early indigenous people plus the arrival of Europeans and the early fur trade. Along with his carefully crafted reenactment costumes, Tully tells the story of Wisconsin through the art, tools, and materials of those who lived it.
“I use a combination of slides showing period artwork, maps, and photographs of artifacts and surviving historic sites, as well as reproductions and actual artifacts of tools, clothing, and weapons to bring the various topics we cover to life,” Tully said. “Seeing a picture of a trade kettle is great, but holding it in your hands and feeling its heft and imagining the meals that might have been prepared in it over the past 200 years or so offers a much more engaging experience.”
Tully also strives to cater each session of the class to the interests of those enrolled. “I try to be flexible and I tell the attendees several times during the series of presentations that I’d rather explore what they want to learn about, so the series is a little different each time I present it and it really is of interest to just about anyone.”
Beyond the people that shaped Wisconsin, Tully also pays tribute to the land with an emphasis on the Baraboo Hills and the Driftless Area. Learning about the spectacular scenery, rich historical traditions, and outstanding community spirit of the region inspired him to share his stories and UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County has proved the perfect venue to do so.
“The Baraboo Sauk County Campus has been an important part of the community for over 50 years and Continuing Education is a great program for people who want to stay interested and engaged—and learn something new” Tully said. “It has been a privilege to be able to do my presentations through this program.”
Registration for Tully’s upcoming winter 2020 class, “Wisconsin History: From Discovery to Statehood,” will be available starting December 11. For questions on registering, contact Ellen Klima at 608 355 5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.