Archives hold historic treasuresSome people may wonder what the University Archives and Area Research Center holds. Others may not even know it exists inside the lower level of the UW-River Falls Chalmer Davee Library.
By: By Debbie Griffin, Hudson Star-Observer
Some people may wonder what the University Archives and Area Research Center holds. Others may not even know it exists inside the lower level of the UW-River Falls Chalmer Davee Library.
Anyone unfamiliar with the center will get a chance to see and learn about it at a grand opening of the new facility later this month (see related sidebar).
Interim Archivist Tim Ericson describes some of the content stored in the archives, which, at the end of November, moved into its fourth and final new home.
The center contains community- and university-related records and manuscripts that include journals, diaries, church records, letters and other documents from all towns within the center’s four-county area. Ericson says not all records for every town are there, but at least some from each.
The archives hold a comprehensive collection of community newspapers on microfilm — “nearly everything,” says Ericson. People might come there to look at old census or local government records, to read through one of the self-serve history books, or to request to view something from the secure storage in the back.
Stories from the past
Ericson has seen many interesting items.
For example, he marveled at a book from the 1936 Olympics containing information and pasted-in photos about legendary track and field competitor Jesse Owens. Also among the historic records and documents: A huge two-volume Gutenberg Bible, an uncommon Wisconsin history book, a book by Kinnickinnic humorist Bill Nye and a prize-winning photo exhibit of the Normal School.
He’s seen different types of photo technology from the 1850s to the 1890s, including hand tinting, hologram, stencil and tin.
Within the secure storage lies Ku Klux Klan propaganda pertaining to Catholics and Jews, as well as one of the organization’s uniform robes and hoods.
Walk right in
“Nobody leaves with anything,” smiles Ericson about the archives’ policy. “A lot of people come in and they just use the books,” he said.
People can also request to view or research items in the reading room. If needed, visitors can also use a copier and the microfilm reader.
A grand opening is scheduled 3-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26. Go to Room 170 on the lower level of the Chalmer Davee Library . The event will include refreshments, tours, and a ribbon cutting ceremony.