Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

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Oldest Wisconsin Academic Libraries

Posted by Larry Nix
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in WLA 125
Determining the date that an academic library was established is somewhat of a challenge. Technically, a library is established when the responsible institutional governing board takes a specific action to do so.  However, such a specific action in regard to academic libraries is often lacking, and academic libraries sometimes use the date of establishment of the overall academic institution for the date of their establishment. Added to the confusion is the definition of what constitutes a library.  Is it merely a collection of books or something more substantial. In 1850 the Smithsonian Institution undertook a major survey of libraries in the United States. For Wisconsin only two academic libraries responded to that survey.  One of these was the Beloit College Library which reported that “the libraries connected with the college now amount to over 1,000 volumes, and arrangements are made which will insure their progressive increase.”  The other was the Library of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The American Library Directory which is published annually asks each library to indicate the year it was was founded. The Colonel Robert H. Morse Library of Beloit College indicates that it was founded in 1849.  The Todd Wehr Memorial Library of Carroll College in Waukesha indicates that it was founded in 1846 which is the date that the College was founded. The General Library System & Memorial Library of the University of Wisconsin at Madison indicates that it was founded in 1850.  The Seeley G. Mudd Library of Lawrence University in Appleton indicates that it was also founded in 1850.  Access to early academic libraries was often extremely limited and sometimes actually denied to undergraduates.  The librarian was usually a junior faculty member who was assigned the responsibility but had limited training as a librarian.
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Wisconsin's Early Seminary Libraries

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Monday, March 15, 2010
in Postcards

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Two of Wisconsin's oldest libraries are connected to seminaries that date back to the 1840s. The Nashotah House Library is part of the  Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary that was founded in 1842. It is pictured in the first postcard shown above. It is located in Nashotah, Wisconsin which is off of I-94 25 miles west of Milwaukee. The Salzmann Library is affiliated with the St. Francis de Sales Seminary, a Catholic seminary, located in St. Francis, Wisconsin which was founded in 1845. The Salzmann Library, shown in the second postcard, serves a larger community which include anyone who works or volunteers at the parishes, schools, and ministries in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.


Northland College Library

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, January 05, 2010
in Academic libraries

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The images above are from the dedication program for a new library building for Northland College in Ashland on June 14, 1941. The Jean Nicolet Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) played a large role in funding the building which was a replica of "Wakefield", the birthplace of George Washington. George C. Allez, Director of the Wisconsin Library School (now the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison), gave the dedication address. The inside the brochure reads in part: "On a hilltop campus, yesterday a part of America's advancing frontier, today at the center of the teeming North American continent, is dedicated this day a new Wakefield, replica of the birthplace of the Father of His Country, sponsored by the women descendents of the gallant men who fought for freedom in the New World." The current Northland College library is the Dexter Library which is located in a more modern facility. The 1941 building is now used by the College for the admissions department.


Lawrence Bookplates

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Thursday, April 02, 2009
in Library artifacts


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Two bookplates from libraries of Lawrence University are shown above.  The first is for the Samuel Appleton Library which was a 1963 addition to the Carnegie Library which was razed to make way for the Seely G. Mudd Library which opened in 1976. Samuel Appleton was the person for who the City of Appleton is named for. The second bookplate is for the John Herbert Farley Memorial Library of Lawrence College.  This is probably a book collection within the library not an actual library building.  According to Pete Gilbert, Lawrence University became Lawrence College in 1908 and then changed back to Lawrence University in 1964 when it merged with Milwaukee-Downer College. So the bookplates dates to before 1964. Bookplates are collected by a number of collectors. I have a collection of library bookplates, but not many from Wisconsin libraries. I would love to add more to the Wisconsin Library Memorabilia collection. Hint hint. 


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  • Al Lederer says #
    Larry Nix, I have some questions about the obtainment of land for the Milwaukee Public Library in 1886. Can you email me so I can ...

Milwaukee-Downer College

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Monday, February 02, 2009
in Academic libraries

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Milwaukee-Downer College, one of Wisconsin's historic colleges, ceased to exist as a separate institution in 1964 when it became part of Lawrence University. Milwaukee-Downer College was created in 1895 when Milwaukee Female College (founded in 1851) merged with Downer College (founded as Wisconsin Female College in 1855). The former campus of Milwaukee-Downer College along with the Chapman Memorial Library building was sold to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1964.  The Lawrence University webpage for Milwaukee-Downer College is located here.


The former Chapman Memorial Library building of Milwaukee-Downer College is now Chapman Hall on the UW-Milwaukee campus and houses administrative offices. The library was built in 1937 from the bequest of Alice Greenwood Chapman,a graduate of Milwaukee Female College. The Teakwood Room in the library was moved to the Lawrence University campus along with library's rare book collection which is now housed in the Milwaukee-Downer Room of the Seeley G. Mudd Library.


Digital images of Milwaukee-Downer College including the Chapman Memorial Library are included in the Lawrence University Archives which are located here. The postcard image of the Reference Room of Chapman Memorial Library at the top of this page is part of Larry T. Nix's postcard collection. 



pc-wi-downer2-72.jpgThis postcard was mailed in 1907 and shows an interior view of the library building which preceded the Chapman Memorial Library. 


Carthage College Lincoln Connection

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Saturday, January 24, 2009
in Academic libraries

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The nation is celebrating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth this year. Wisconsin has a number of connections to Abraham Lincoln including those of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Carthage College was founded in 1847 as the Literary and Theological Institute of the Lutheran Church of the Far West.  After a series of name changes it became Carthage College when it moved to Carthage, Illinois in 1870. It relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1962. Abraham Lincoln served as a Trustee of the College in 1860-61 and sent his oldest son Robert Todd to the Preparatory Department of the College when the college was located in Springfiled, Illinois. The special envelope above was created when the "A Nation of Readers" stamp was issued in October of 1984. 


A high point in the recent history of the college was the dedication of the Hedberg Library on October 18, 2002. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington gave the dedicatory address. The Hedberg Library at Carthage College was the 2004 Wisconsin Library Association Library of the Year.


Anne Morris Boyd and UW-Whitewater

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, January 13, 2009
in Academic libraries
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Today (January 13, 2009) is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Anne Morris Boyd (1884-1969) who served as Librarian of the State Normal School at Whitewater (now the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater) from 1913 to 1917.  Boyd served on the faculty of the University of Illinois Library School from 1918 to 1949 and was an authority and an advocate for government publications.  She was the author of the landmark publication United States Government Publications As Sources of Information for Libraries, and served as President of the Association of American Library Schools. She is listed in the Dictionary of American Library Biography.The postcard of the interior of the library shown above was mailed on Sept. 30, 1912, one year before the arrival of Boyd. More about Boyd can be found here.  


The State Normal School which was founded in 1868 became the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1971.  The University Library at UW-Whitewater is a far different library today than when Boyd was librarian. A set of Flickr photographs of Willie the mascot at the University Library can be found here. A history of the Anderson Library Building at UW-Whitewater is located here.


Death of a Library

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, January 06, 2009
in Academic libraries
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Postcard depicting Whitford Memorial Hall which housed the Milton College Library from 1906 to 1967. It is now a retail store.


 


 


 


 


 On May 15, 1982 a Wisconsin college library along with the college it was part of died. The death of the college was announced to the staff and faculty in the library. The doors of the library were closed and the building in which it was located and the collection of books were transferred to other entities. Staff were only able to retrieve their posessions under supervision.


The college was Milton College in Milton, Wisconsin.  The library was the the Shaw Memorial Library. Milton College dated back to the Milton Academy which was established in 1844, and was one of the oldest continuously operating colleges in Wisconsin. The Shaw Memorial Library building was completed in 1967. Prior to that time the library was located in Whitford Memorial Hall from 1906 to 1967, and before that in Main Hall. Both the Whitford Hall building and the Main Hall building are still in existence and are part of a historical district in Milton.


The Shaw Memorial Library building was acquired by and now houses the Milton Public Library. The library's collection was sold as a unit to a college in Milwaukee.


Links related to Milton College and its libraries:


Milton College Preservation Society
http://www.miltoncollege.org/


Library History
http://www.miltoncollege.org/hist07.htm


Whitford Memorial Hall
http://www.miltoncollege.org/hist09.htm


Newspaper article on closing of the college
http://www.gazetteextra.com/milton062407.asp


Whole Earth Review article by Barbara Rubin Hudson, Spring 1988


Beginnings of the UW-Milwaukee Libraries

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, December 09, 2008
in Academic libraries
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The UW-Milwaukee Libraries had their beginning as the Library of the State Normal School in Milwaukee which began in 1885. This postcard was mailed on July 12, 1926. At the time Delia Ovitz was the Librarian. She served in this capacity from 1901 to 1944. A list of all the directors of the UW-Milwaukee Libraries and their predecessors is here. In 1955, the state legislature approved a merger of Wisconsin State College, Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Extension Center of the University of Wisconsin to form the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee. The new institution opened its doors in 1956. A timeline for the development of UW-Milwaukee can be found here.
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  • Sarah Kropp says #
    I was interested in seeing this article, as my great aunt was Dehlia Ovitz-- In addition, I am now a Library Media Specialist in M...

UW-Madison Library Pre-1900

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Monday, October 13, 2008
in Postcards
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In 1999 the United States Postal Service issued a pre-stamped postal card depicting an 1879 rendering of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to help celebrate the university's 150th anniversary. The stamp image on the postal card helps tell the history of the University of Wisconsin Library up to 1900.  The University of Wisconsin Library was founded in July, 1850 with the appointment of H. A. Tenney as Librarian.  Tenney had previously been designated as Curator of the Unitversity's Cabinet, a collection of specimens. The first home of the library was North Hall (the building at the top right of the stamp image) which opened in 1851. The library moved into South Hall (the building at the top left of the stamp image) when it was completed in 1855. It moved into College Hall (later Main Hall and now Bascom Hall; the building at the top center of the stamp image) in 1859. At the time of the move it had a collection of about 3,000 volumes.

In 1879 the library moved into Library Hall (now Music Hall, the building at the bottom left of the stamp image) with a collection of around 9,000 volumes. It stayed in this location unil 1900 when it moved to the new State Historical Society of Wisconsin building. It's collection had grown to 75,000 bound volumes by the time it made this move.

The postcard below depicts Library Hall which is now Music Hall. More about this building can be found here.

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Carnegie Was Also Academic

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, August 26, 2008
in Carnegie libraries

Andrew Carnegie is noted for his gifts for the construction of public library buildings. However, he also gave gifts to help build 108 academic libraries in the United States. In addition to the Carnegie grants for 63 public library buildings in Wisconsin, there were two academic institutions that received Carnegie grants for library buildings - Beloit College and Lawrence University. The Lawrence University Carnegie building was razed in 1974, but the Beloit College Carnegie building still survives. In 1962 it became home to the Pettibone Center for World Affairs. Check out the "Carnegie Libraries" link on the right to find out more about Carnegie library buildings in Wisconsin.


Postcard showing the Lawrence University Carnegie Library Building



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Postcard showing the Beloit College Carnegie Libray Building


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


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