Events and Publications

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Visiting Scholar, Eliana Chavkin (U. of MN), discusses her research:
A PARADOX OF MEMORY: Memorial Union & UW-Madison’s War Dead

Pedestrians walk past the exterior of the Memorial Union at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Thursday, June 27, 2024
11:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
Memorial Student Union
800 Langdon Street, Room TBD

Free and open to the public; space is limited
Boxes lunches provided with R.S.V.P. by June 24

Hosted in partnership with the George L. Mosse Program in History

Chavkin’s dissertation project tells the story of America’s World War I memorials, which proliferated across the country in the years between the First and Second World Wars. She says, “In 1928, the University of Wisconsin-Madison dedicated Memorial Union to its students who had fallen in World War I and in the earlier wars of the United States. This in and itself was not unusual: memorial unions were dedicated in the 1920s on campuses across the country. What was unusual, however, was der Rathskeller, the German beer hall in the center of the building. Most of the men honored on the walls of Memorial Union had died fighting Germany. How exactly did the University square these two conflicted messages?” While in Madison, Chavkin will review oral history interviews with Porter Butts (longtime director of the Wisconsin Union) in the UW Archives to reveal the origins of the union idea and how that idea was made reality. She will also review student and local newspaper coverage of the event in the Wisconsin Historical Society Library’s holdings to see how the public responded to the Union’s dedication.

An empty Der Rathskeller within UW-Madison’s Memorial Student Union

Friends Fall 2024 Book Sale
October 16-19, 2024
Memorial Library, Room 116

Prices fall daily – come early for the best selection; come later for the best prices!

  • Wednesday, October 16
    Preview Sale:  4:00-8:00 P.M. ($5 entry)
  • Thursday & Friday, October 17 & 18
    Regular Sale: 10:30 A.M.-7:00 P.M. (no entry fee)
  • Saturday, October 19
    Bag Sale: 9:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M. ($5 per bag)
    Bring your own grocery bag or purchase one for $1
    From 1:05-2:00 p.m. all remaining items are FREE

This semiannual sale is organized by the Friends to help to support public events and lectures, priorities identified by the Vice Provost, special purchases and preservation of library materials, and grants for the visiting scholar program. We accept donations for upcoming sales on a continual basis. The sale is free (except the preview sale) and open to the public.

Chasing the Stars: How the Astronomers of Observatory Hill Transformed Our Understanding of the Universe

Tuesday, October 29, 2024
James Lattis, Director of UW Space Place, UW-Madison Astronomy Dept. & Author with
Kelly Tyrrell, UW-Madison Director of Media Relations and Strategic Communications and Author
5:00-6:00 P.M. Presentation and Q&A
6:00-7:00 P.M. Reception and book signing
Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium, 816 State Street
Chasing the Stars traces the history of the University of Wisconsin’s Washburn Observatory. Using sources including UW Archives and the Wisconsin Historical Society, this book reveals some of the world’s most cutting-edge astronomical inventions were born at the observatory and demonstrates the crucial role Wisconsin astronomers played in the development of modern astrophysics and space astronomy.

This event will be recorded but not livestreamed. Register for event reminder and link to recording available after the event:

JAMES LATTIS holds a PhD in History of Science from the UW–Madison. An author, professor, and frequent public speaker, Lattis specializes in early modern astronomy and the history of Wisconsin astronomy. Lattis has directed UW Space Place since its founding, helps manage the historic Washburn Observatory, and consults widely for the media.

KELLY TYRRELL started out as a cellular and molecular biologist before becoming a science writer. Her work has given her a front-row seat to many astronomical innovations, including a 2017 visit to the Southern African Large Telescope. Today, Tyrrell oversees media relations for UW–Madison and is an editor for the science journalism nonprofit, The Open Notebook.

We strive to ensure our events are inclusive and welcoming for all participants. If you need an accommodation, please contact

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For additional information about the Friends of the UW–Madison Libraries, contact:

Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries
330H Memorial Library
728 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 265-2505
Friends Contact Form