The Neenah Historical Society has a variety of educational offerings available.  We welcome school groups, home schoolers, Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, adult education groups, and anyone else who is interested in history.  No group is too small! We strive to develop programs that are adaptable to a wide range of learning levels and support educational goals.  When scheduling a museum visit or other program, please consider the following:

  • Reservations are required for all programs.
  • Please bring one chaperone for every eight school age students.
  • If your group is larger than 10 participants, please schedule your visit at least two weeks prior to the program date to allow staff to arrange volunteer help.
  • It is preferable to schedule groups larger than 30 participants during warmer weather as our indoor space is limited.  We have a large outdoor area available for picnic lunches and other activities.

For questions about our programs or to schedule a tour or workshop for your group, read on to learn about our educational programs. Next, take a moment to complete our Program Inquiry Form below or call us at 920-729-0244 to help us create a great educational experience for you and your group.


Museum Tours

Tours of the Hiram Smith Octagon House exhibitions are always free. Exhibition tours are led by Neenah Historical Society staff and volunteer docents and the amount of time spent in the galleries depends on the age of the tour participants.  We are able to include hands-on experiences or allow for a more self guided experience if desired. Are you curious about the inner workings of the Neenah Historical Society? We are happy to include a visit to the Ward House to learn about our research library and what we do to share Neenah's history.


History Connects Workshop series

The History Connects Workshop Series was designed to offer a focused exploration of a particular aspect of life in Neenah's earlier years.  The workshops strive to connect aspects of a participant's modern life to comparable historic subject matter, strengthen connections in our community, and encourage connections to other ways of thinking.  Each workshop runs approximately 90 minutes and includes hands-on activities that stimulate different learning styles. Workshops are free for school and youth groups.  Group size is dependent on the age and learning level of participants but we are flexible and will help you determine the best structure for your group.

History's Mysteries: Detecting our Past

Using historic photographs of Neenah, participants use their observation skills to solve "mysteries"in the photographs.  After investigating the photograph thoroughly, they are able to then explore an evidence packet that offers supporting information, answering their questions and solving the mystery.  Partnering with the Neenah Historical Society for this program is the Neenah Police Department who join the program to discuss the commonalities of crime scene investigation and historical research.  This workshop encourages skills of observation to learn about the past using primary source material.

Serving Up History: Discovering Our History in Cookbooks and Recipes

In 1908, the women of the First Presbyterian Church in Neenah compiled a cookbook of their favorite recipes. These recipes offer up a glimpse into the homes of these women and a very different kind of family heirloom.  Participants will learn the stories of the women, and about food and food preparation of the early 20th century by cooking up (and sampling) a recipe from the 1908 cookbook. We also examine cooking artifacts from the Neenah Historical Society's collection to better understand the differences and similarities between how food was prepared 100 years ago and today.

Going to Town: The History of How we get Where We're Going

Before the automobile became a necessary every day tool, early Neenah residents utilized a great variety of transportation methods.  Schedule permitting, we arrange for horses and those who care for them to join us onsite to discuss horse care and how important horses were in Neenah's early decades.  In addition, this workshop explores trains, bicycles, steamships, trolleys, and, of course, foot travel - all of which were readily available in Neenah in the late 1800s into the 1900s.

Keeping it Clean: The History of Hygiene in Neenah

Kimberly Clark is one of Neenah's innovative companies that was built along the Fox River in the second half of the 19th century.  In this workshop we discuss hygiene practices throughout time,  and how Kimberly Clark's products  changed the world and helped to "keep it clean." We also examine hygiene related artifacts from the Neenah Historical Society's collection.  Hands-on activities conclude this workshop with trying your hand at traditional laundry techniques, and a melt and pour soap making project.

Clothing or Costume: Looking back at clothing style & Function through the decades

From bustles to bowler hats, clothing and style has evolved drastically over time.... Or has it?  This workshop explores how fashion and functionality influence how we dress, how the Jersild knitting factory influenced Neenah style, and how the processes of clothing construction and care has not only changed, but has changed us.  In addition, we explore the extensive Neenah Historical Society clothing collection, try hand stitchery techniques to better understand the efforts women took ensuring their families were well dressed, and make a take away craft that connects our modern concepts of "Fancy Dress" to the fashions of the past.


Traveling History Trunks

Our four Traveling History Trunks are filled with items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which students are allowed to handle and examine to get a different kind of historical education.  The trunks encourage students to be treasure hunters and history detectives as they learn about a life that can be both foreign and familiar at the same time.  Each trunk has a different theme (school, toys, household items, and personal items) and are available for teachers to check out and explore with their students, or if you would rather, we are happy to bring the trunks to your classroom and lead the conversation. Our Traveling History Trunks are made possible through the support of the Rhoades Foundation of Neenah.


Everyone Loves a Field Trip!

Who says that field trips are only for students?  We welcome all lifelong learners who wish to explore what the Neenah Historical Society has to offer.  Adult social clubs, family reunions, bus tours - we are happy to offer all our educational programming to all groups.