The WHS’s mission is to connect people to the past by collecting, preserving, and sharing stories. By providing a powerful connection to the past, the Society encourages everyone to learn from earlier generations. The WHS shares its staff, collections, and services in ways that captivate and respect its diverse audiences.
The Society’s programs include a major national research and genealogical library and archives that include the largest North American History collection in the United States; a network of 12 historic sites and museums throughout Wisconsin that attract over 300,000 visitors annually; a statewide historic preservation program that produced over $250 million in construction and 4,551 jobs in 2016 through the Society’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit programs; and a statewide program of publications, school services and local history that includes over 400 history-related programs annually.
The Society is a state agency, membership organization and public, nonprofit institution. As a state agency, the WHS’s state funding and permanent positon authority is set by the legislature through the state budget process. The WHS, however, is unique from other state agencies in several ways. First, it is governed by a Board of Curators, which appoints the Society’s director. Second, the WHS has statutory authority to contract with private, 501(c)(3) organizations. Third, a significant percentage of the WHS’s budget (approximately 41%) is supported by gifts, grants, and earned income.
The Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society is the chief executive officer for the organization and is appointed by the 36-member governing Board of Curators. The Director has full authority and accountability for the judicious management of the Society, including its collections and interpretive programs as well as its financial and human resources. She/he will interact with the Board’s Chair and Executive Committee on a regular basis to review progress toward achieving stated goals and objectives and, in general, will keep members of the Board informed.
The future Society Director must have a passion for history and be its champion everywhere. The new director’s qualities must enhance the Director’s position, burnish the Society’s reputation and enhance the Society’s legacy to Wisconsin and to the nation.
Candidates for the position of Director should (1) possess personal strength and purpose to aggressively lead a complex organization, yet delegate with trust; (2) respect, honor and inspire donors and staff; (3) maximize government and citizen support and participation; and (4) continue to hold high the Society's national prestige and influence.
For more information about the Wisconsin Historical Society, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.