Holding History invites your hands to hold, explore, and even take pictures of some of the most important books ever printed. At each event, participants are welcomed into one of the UW-Madison’s Special Collections Libraries where student curators and rare book experts team up to create a lively, hands-on experience with some of the oldest, most culture-shaping, most intriguing books you will ever explore.

At its core, it is the Wisconsin Idea in action: the program not only welcomes public audiences into the university’s Special Collections, but also provides a forum for training students to share their knowledge and the resources of the campus with our broader community.

Since our first keynote event in the summer of 2016, undergraduate and graduate students (with majors ranging from English to Astrophysics) have invited participants to turn the pages of dozens of rare volumes, including Shakespeare’s Second Folio and the second printing of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

In 2017, now that “The Year of Shakesepeare in Wisconsin” is over, we turn our attention to “The Nature of the Book” and our first big keynote event on April 4 with a new cohort of Student Curators.

For more pictures and related media, visit the Holding History Facebook page. For more details about the next Holding History program, visit our “Upcoming Events” page. Interested in being part of the Holding History Student Curator team? Our next scheduled recruitment is for the 2018 Student Curator cohort will begin in December 2017. We encourage interested students to attend a keynote event to learn more about the program.


Holding History is hosted by the UW-Madison’s Special Collections in Memorial Library and is offered in partnership with UW Continuing Studies and UW-Madison Libraries.

Grant supported provided by the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund, the Brittingham Fund, and the Kemper K. Knapp Fund.