top of page
Young particpant studies a book object on display.

Holding & Sharing Ideas

The most brilliant minds of the past--scientists, musicians, historians, mathematicians, poets--were caught up in many different kinds of thought problems. But all of them, arriving at some insight that might be remembered and celebrated for centuries to come, confronted the same important question:
How do I convert my idea into something I can hold in my hands and share with others?

Holding History collaborates with world-class experts as we challenge students to notice how cultural knowledge was, is and will be recorded, passed along, and preserved. How ideas in our heads become objects in the world. But engaging students in hands-on learning is only half of our mission.


Holding History is committed to actively mentoring and guiding undergraduate and graduate students (with majors ranging from English to Astrophysics), so most of our activities are what we call “mentoring-driven public humanities” programs. As students learn about the history of recorded ideas, we also train them to communicate what they know to public audiences. 


Holding History thrives on the kind of intergenerational conversations that happen when college students take up the responsibility to initiate and engage in bookish conversations with community members. At its core, the HH program is the Wisconsin Idea in action. 

Support for Holding History is provided by a generous grant from the Friends of UW-Madison Libraries


What & Where

A 61172.jpg

Free, Public Events: 
Hands-on Sessions in the Archives

UW-Madison students show you their favorite archival objects & invite you to turn the pages of centuries-old books

Free, Public Events: 
Hands-on Bookmaking Sessions

Make paper, print with a letterpress, stitch a binding


Student Events

Hands-on training & active mentoring  help students learn how to share their ideas with a broader audience

Digital Projects & Events

Original online content, including a podcast, plus short, HH-produced videos about book history and book making.

bottom of page