New assistant town historian promises not to let facts get in the way of her work
Move over, history: Dana Bartoletti is at the wheel, and the past will never be the same.
The 24 year-old has been hired as Green Lakeâ€™s assistant town historian to cover longtime historian Joanie Beckweathersâ€™s indefinite leave of absence. Beckweathers took a visiting scholar position at Appleton State University last month â€œso I can talk about important history, not Mrs. Loser and her collection of cups.â€
Visitors to the Green Lake Historical Museum have immediately noticed Bartolettiâ€™s welcoming, enthusiastic attitude toward our local history.
â€œOk, like this is really interesting you guys, this is a piece of leather that somebody wore in the 1800â€™s,â€ she explains to a class from nearby Redell Middle School. â€œOh God, donâ€™t touch it, Iâ€™ll get in so much trouble. Thatâ€™s disgusting! Ok, there, now look.â€ The students look a little sleepy, but later Bartoletti is elated when she talks about the presentation. â€œI really reached â€˜em, yâ€™know? Like that leather thing. I mean, think about itâ€¦ leather pants! History is so relevant, even today.â€
Bartoletti earned her history degree at Pacific Coast State Community College under the tutelage of Dr. Jorge Browning, who once lost a prestigious tenured Ivy League teaching position for publishing a paper which said that seedless fruit ended the Cold War. â€œWho? Oh, that old professor guy,â€ said Bartoletti of her mentor. â€œHis classes were in the morning, so I didnâ€™t always go.â€ Her senior thesis covered the history of her schoolâ€™s sorority chapters, â€œbut I told them I wasnâ€™t gonna hand it in on time cause I was just way too stressed, and they were fine with that. Cause what are they gonna do, mark me down? No way.â€
When Bartoletti was hired, the town council told her that their two major goals were to better represent women and minorities in town history, and to get Green Lake citizens more interested in their local history. Bartoletti says the first goal â€œreally doesnâ€™t have anything to do with history, so I was like â€˜forget it.â€™â€ As for the second goal, she has gotten more public involvement in the museum by starting a Civil War reenactment group. â€œThey meet on Monday nights. The Southern guys have actually seceded from the United States and formed their own state. We had six federal agents here with search warrants at the last meeting. They wrecked a bunch of antique settler furniture. It was exciting.â€
More recently the museum opened an exhibit entitled â€œThe Wacky 80’s And The Video Games My Brother Played Back Then.â€ â€œDana doesn’t always tell us what she’s doing with the museum,â€ said town councilor Martin Brown, â€œbut then it sounds like we wouldn’t always want to know.â€
Bartolettiâ€™s future plans for the museum include â€œclearing out all the pictures of these weird old people, cause I donâ€™t really have my own place right now, and I need a place to put all my stuff til I find one.â€ Green Lakers can only hope that Dana Bartoletti’s tenure at the museum, like the leather pants she treasures, will soon fade into history.