The next History Speaks On the Air will feature Brett Barker presenting “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: American Politics at Its Best (and Worst)” at 2 p.m. Oct. 17.

These talks will be live-streamed to the Marathon County Historical Society Facebook page and YouTube Channel and made available online afterward as well.

In 1858, two political giants met in a series of seven debates across Illinois. In this presidential year, Professor Brett Barker will examine these debates in an attempt to explain why they represent both the best and worst aspects of the American political tradition. Harken back to a time when politicians spoke without notes or “handlers” and held crowds mesmerized for three hours, yet could also engage in mud-slinging and race-baiting in pursuit of political office. Learn how much (and how little) has changed over the last century and a half.

Barker is chairman of the history and international studies department at UW-Stevens Point and has taught at the Wausau campus since 2002. He is also a member of the Marathon County Historical Society Board of Directors. His research centers on the Midwest during the Civil War. 

Interested patrons may register by 5 p.m. Oct. 15 for a reminder email with the direct link to view the talk by sending an email to with “History Speaks reminder” in the subject line. It is not necessary to register to view the live presentation.

For more information, call the Marathon County Historical Society at 715-842-5750 and leave a message, or email