“The history of the City of Milwaukee has always been my history, even if I didn’t discover this in earnest until I was in graduate school.” – Krista Grensavitch
Dr. Krista Grensavitch has worn many hats with the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee over the years. She initially joined EMKE as a fact checker over the summer of 2015, and has since contributed to the project in many other ways. Krista first completed her BA in Classical Studies at Carthage College, followed by an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies at UW-Milwaukee, and, as of yesterday, completed her PhD in History at UW-Milwaukee. Her dissertation explored the intersections of feminist pedagogy, material culture theory, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. In addition to her studies and work with EMKE, Krista has lectured in the Women’s and Gender Studies department; was appointed as one of six Tennessen Scholars by UWM’s Center for 21st Century Studies for 2018-2019; and has contributed to Wisconsin 101: Our History in Objects, a collaborative public history project created through a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison History Department, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life program.
After her time as a fact checker, Krista became a Research Assistant for the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee. She worked as the project’s photo editor, a role that had her collaborating with the Milwaukee County Historical Society to develop a system for identifying and requesting images for use in the digital edition. Krista has also held the role of author, writing more than a dozen entries. Many of Krista’s entries are about municipalities in Washington County where much of her family has lived for several generations. Krista asserts that this work helped produce a greater connection to her own family history in the area. “My work for and with EMKE brought me to the fields of Public and Urban History, Digital Humanities, and—most importantly—to a greater sense of my own identity, as contextualized by the history of the urban area I live in,” she says.
The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee will complete its first phase with the digital publication of approximately 700 entries in the early fall of 2019. Krista has continued on with EMKE to help develop the next phase of the project, building new tools and resources for students and teachers. Krista’s scholarly expertise on creative pedagogy and object lessons has significantly helped EMKE design learning activities to bolster local history curricula in area high schools and colleges.
Krista describes her experience with the project as personally transformative, deepening her relationship with Milwaukee’s history. “EMKE has allowed me to historically contextualize so much of my family’s experience,” she says. “It has helped me to understand my own sense of self (living in the city) and that I am a product of people who lived, worked, and moved as historical actors in the Milwaukee area.” EMKE hopes its next phases will help other students and residents share in Krista’s experience—deepening their own relationships with Milwaukee’s history.