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About the Collection

About the Wisconsin Pioneer Experience The Wisconsin Pioneer Experience is a digital collection of diaries, letters, reminiscences, speeches and other writings of people who settled and built Wisconsin during the 19th century. The project has been made available through the partnership of the Council of University of Wisconsin Libraries (CUWL) and the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS).

The historic papers included in the Wisconsin Pioneer Experience were drawn from the collections of the Area Research Centers (ARC), as well as the headquarters of the Wisconsin Historical Society. The ARC system is a joint venture of the WHS and CUWL member libraries designed to collect, preserve and place historic and important archives relating to Wisconsin in repositories located within the communities where those records originated. There is an ARC located in each four-year UW system school (except Superior) and WHS owned institutions in Ashland (the Northern Great Lakes Center) and the Superior Public Library, providing convenient access to many of the state's greatest historical treasures. Today, through digitization technology and the Internet, selected historic papers of the WHS and CUWL member libraries are more accessible than ever.

For the Wisconsin Pioneer Experience, the archivists of the ARCs selected numerous collections representative of the various corners of Wisconsin and Wisconsin's pioneer history. Through these documents, students and non-students alike can learn about life in the early days of the Badger State from the words of those who lived it.

Archival collections can take numerous forms and there are many examples of them within the Wisconsin Pioneer Experience. Original records, such as diaries and letters, are often handwritten while some created later-- reminiscences and speeches-might be typed. Transcriptions and translations are records often created later by different individuals in attempt to make hand-written, historic records easier to understand.

Whenever both a handwritten original and a typed transcribed version were available, the project scanned both versions. Images of the transcribed text were converted into electronic text through optical character recognition software. The electronic text can be searched and read by switching to the electronic text version in the page-turning software used to access the document. The process of OCR does produce some unavoidable mistakes when transforming a scanned document into electronic text. No editing was made to the electronic text, therefore the original should always be consulted before citing the text.

In most cases, each collection was digitized in its entirety; however, at times the digitized selections are only a portion of a larger collection. This is explained, when applicable, in the collection's introductory abstract.

Photographs courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Grant County Historical Society.