The Grant County Historical Society maintains two locations in southwest Wisconsin: the Cunningham Museum in Lancaster and the Mitchell-Rountree Stone Cottage in Platteville. They’ve also made many items from their extensive photo archives available online in a variety of ways — on Facebook, on their own website, and now through Recollection Wisconsin.
Volunteer Dennis Wilson has dedicated many hours to selecting and scanning intriguing and important photographs from the Society’s collections, and 150 of these photos can now be discovered in Recollection Wisconsin. The images are an eclectic bunch, documenting communities around Grant County — Boscobel, Cassville, Cuba City, Fennimore, Hazel Green, Lancaster, Platteville and more — from the 1860s to the 1960s. Some of the most significant photos in the collection come from Pleasant Ridge, a community established by former African-American slaves in 1848. Another important group is a series of formal portraits of local leaders, added to a “centennial box” in Lancaster in 1876 which was reopened in 1976 for the United States bicentennial.
This past winter, the Society received some help with this ongoing project from Jody Bembinster, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison. Jody uploaded scanned photographs and created detailed metadata — the descriptive information that makes these photos searchable and useful for researchers.
We asked Jody to say a few words about her experience working on this project:
The collection was such an interesting range of subjects and events from so many different eras – portraits and street scenes, music and sports, industry and agriculture – plus there were even a few familiar figures unexpectedly thrown into the mix: Gene Autry posing with Joe Greer’s family, and JFK and Jackie on the campaign trail in Lancaster. It was fascinating to experience the history of the region through indivual moments in time, and to gradually see how the images fit together to tell the larger story of a community. I was really glad to have been able to work with such a diverse collection of images, and I feel that has helped me gain a much greater understanding of the metadata creation process.