2013: Our year in review

Recollection Wisconsin: 2013 by the numbers

2013 was an exciting year for the Recollection Wisconsin program (formerly Wisconsin Heritage Online). In February, we launched our brand-new website, along with the new Recollection Wisconsin name and identity. The new site and identity embody the updated mission and goals we developed in 2012 in conversation with members and experts around the state: 1) to offer a home base for researchers, students, browsers, enthusiasts, and other audiences interested in Wisconsin history and culture to discover, explore, and connect and 2) to create a dynamic, visually intriguing interface that calls attention to the rich and diverse resources made available online by our partners. Most of our work in 2013 has centered on sharing our new identity and developing compelling content for the new site.

A big thanks goes out to all of the organizations and individuals who contributed content to our site, attended our presentations, provided feedback on the website redesign, or otherwise participated in our collaborative initiative. Our work couldn’t happen without the engagement of our wonderful community members around the state.

New content
In 2013, we added approximately 10,000 new records, bringing the total number of individual resources available through the recollectionwisconsin.org search portal to 130,956. This count includes content from new contributors as well as existing partners. Notable materials added in 2013 include:

  1. Ashland Historical Society Museum – photographs documenting the last surviving ore dock in the Chequamegon Bay, torn down in 2012-2013 as well as images of local people and places
  2. Brodhead Historical Society – Online Image Archive
  3. Chippewa Valley Museum – Eau Claire Area Historical Photographs – more than 1,100 images depicting life in the Eau Claire area in the 19th and 20th centuries
  4. College of Menominee Nation – Joseph F. Preloznik Papers on Menominee Termination and Restoration
  5. Grant County Historical Society – photographs depicting life in Grant County, including rare images from Pleasant Ridge, an early African-American settlement in southwest Wisconsin
  6. Kewaunee Public Library – Kewaunee Ships of War – images of the shipbuilding industry in Kewaunee during World War II
  7. Langlade County Historical Society – Civil War letters of Frances Deleglise; photographs illustrating the logging industry and railroads in northwoods Wisconsin
  8. Middleton Area Historical Society – postcard collection
  9. Mount Mary College – yearbooks from Wisconsin’s oldest four-year women’s college, 1930-1995
  10. New Berlin Historical Society – images of alfalfa production at Cornfalfa Farms, Waukesha County
  11. Ripon College – photographs of the college men’s and women’s basketball teams, 1907-1980s
  12. St. Norbert College – yearbooks and college catalogs, 1902-1926
  13. UW-Madison Archives – materials documenting Camp Gallistella, the summer tent colony on the UW-Madison campus, 1912-1962
  14. Wisconsin Department of Transportation Library – Badger Highways magazine, 1925-1929
  15. Wisconsin Historical Society – Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from cities throughout the state


Presentations and workshops
We presented conference sessions and workshops at the annual statewide conferences of several professional organizations as well as one national conference. Many of these sessions were developed in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society, building on the digital preservation training that Emily Pfotenhauer (WiLS/Recollection Wisconsin) and Sarah Grimm (WHS) have received from the Library of Congress’ Digital Preservation Outreach and Education program.

  1. WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association)
  2. WAPL (Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries)
  3. WAAL (Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians)
  4. Webinar for Wisconsin Historical Society mini-grant applicants
  5. Webinar for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant applicants
  6. WiLSWorld
  7. Workshops for Wisconsin Local History and Historic Preservation annual conference
  8. Workshop for WLA (Wisconsin Library Association) annual conference
  9. “Wisco Histo: Using Tumblr to Inspire Personal Connections to History” – demonstration for Museums and the Web conference, Portland, Oregon


Work with students
Recollection Wisconsin hosted and mentored three graduate students from the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison in 2013. Yiwen Wang created two video tutorials – how to search the recollectionwisconsin.org portal and how to assign titles to historic photographs. Rachel Thompson evaluated the effectiveness of our social media outreach efforts and developed an in-depth plan for using social media and tracking its impact. Jody Bembinster worked with the Grant County Historical Society to create catalog records for their collection of historic photographs and with the Langlade County Historical Society to update subject headings in the metadata for logging photographs.

UW-Madison Material Culture Program director and Art History faculty member Ann Smart Martin, Summer Service Learner Laura Sevelis, and Recollection Wisconsin Program Manager Emily Pfotenhauer at the Oregon Area Historical Society.

UW-Madison Material Culture Program director and Art History faculty member Ann Smart Martin, Summer Service Learner Laura Sevelis, and Recollection Wisconsin Program Manager Emily Pfotenhauer at the Oregon Area Historical Society.

2013 was the third summer in a row in which we partnered with the Material Culture Program at UW-Madison to place undergraduate student interns with local historical societies and museums, where they helped staff and volunteers with object cataloging, storage assessment, research, and other activities. These summer service learners were supported by a grant from the Caxambas Foundation. Local hosts in 2013 were Hawks Inn Museum in Delafield, the Koshkonong Prairie Historical Society in Cambridge, and the Oregon Area Historical Society. One summer service learner also worked directly with Recollection Wisconsin to develop online exhibits as well as guidelines and resources for K-12 educators.


Awards
In July 2013, Recollection Wisconsin was recognized on a national level with an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. Recollection Wisconsin was one of six Wisconsin projects, programs, and people to receive a Leadership in History award this year, a record number of winners for the state.


Outreach through social media
Our audience on the social media platform Tumblr continued to grow by leaps and bounds in 2013. Our Tumblr blog, Wisco Histo, currently attracts nearly 96,000 followers. Trevor Owens, Digital Archivist for the Library of Congress, commended our use of Tumblr to illustrate his concept of a “doing less more often” digital strategy for libraries and museums in his keynote address to the Connecticut Forum on Digital Initiatives.

What’s next in 2014?

Outreach to K-12 teachers and students
In 2013, we drafted a set of guidelines and activities to help K-12 teachers incorporate primary sources available through Recollection Wisconsin into their classrooms. These guidelines and classroom exercises are directly tied to the national-level Common Core State Standards for teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies. The guidelines will be mounted on the website and vetted by educators in early 2014. We will promote the new guidelines at the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies statewide conference in March 2014.

Regional partnerships
We are actively building our relationship with Minitex, the library consortium that co-sponsors the Minnesota Digital Library. In 2013 we worked with Minitex to launch the Upper Midwest Digital Creators and Curators Google Group, a discussion group for librarians, archivists, and museum staff working with digital content in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. WiLS and Minitex plan to co-host a conference for this audience in Minneapolis in late summer 2014. And we’re coordinating with Minitex and the Minnesota Digital Library to cross-promote historic photographs from our collections on social media.

Exploring participation in the DPLA
The Digital Public Library of America is a new and rapidly growing effort to bring together “the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and make them freely available to the world.” In 2013, various stakeholders in Wisconsin met with representatives from the DPLA to explore opportunities for participation in this national initiative. In 2014, we will continue to work towards participation in the DPLA as a means to bring more visibility to the unique digital collections made available by Wisconsin’s cultural heritage organizations.


Image credit: September 1952. Photo by Don Krohn for the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. South Wood County Historical Corporation.

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