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William J. Meuer Photoart Collection

William J. Meuer on a 1918 auto trip to Northern Wisconsin.

William J. Meuer Photoart Collection

May Fete was a 'rite of spring' ritual featuring outdoor dancing and frolicking widely attended by university students and 'townies', as well. This one was taken in 1914.

William J. Meuer Photoart Collection

The 'bag rush' or 'class rush' was an annual competition between the freshman and sophomore classes held in the mall area in front of what is now Memorial Library. Unfortunately, the older students would sneak onto the 'playing field' beforehand and water down the frosh side of the field, thereby gaining a considerable advantage in the event. This one taken in 1914.

The William J. Meuer Photoart Collection is an outstanding visual history of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its surrounding community. The collection was compiled by renowned local photographer William J. Meuer who with his brother, Roman, opened the Meuer Photoart House on State Street in 1916. Dating from 1888 to 1935, 25 large bound albums contain nearly 27,000 individual prints. Some are copies of photographs from other sources but the vast majority are originals taken by Mr. Meuer and, occasionally, other photographers.

The albums were essentially catalogs, with the prints affixed to both sides of heavy duty paper stock which could be handled frequently by patrons of the Photoart House. Customers from the university, the local business community, and the general public enjoyed browsing through the collection and ordering copies of interesting images they could share with friends and family. University students, in particular, avidly paged through the albums hoping to find themselves in the camera’s eye. It’s no surprise that in an era when photography in the upper Midwest was still a rather exotic commodity, the Meuers’ photo duplication business did a brisk trade. And, in the teens and twenties when picture postcards were popular, an ample supply of some of the more interesting images was always available at the counter for quick sale to regular customers, visitors and tourists.

The vast majority of the images in the collection relate to the University. Hundreds of portraits of faculty and administrators are featured, including Charles Van Hise, Glenn Frank, E.B. Fred, Charles Sumner Slichter, John R. Commons, George Sellery, Edward Birge, Benny Snow and many other prominent individuals. Lectures and other academic functions of faculty and staff, as well as their social events and town and gown activities are documented. All aspects of UW student life are depicted, including dramatic and musical programs, and intercollegiate, intramural and informal sporting events and recreational activities. An entire album is devoted to the junior proms held in the state capitol during the 1920s. Photographs of other campus traditions including May Fete, Bag Rush, Venetian Nights, Homecoming Bonfire, The Pipe of Peace Ceremony, and The Engineers’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade, appear throughout the collection. The intercollegiate sports portion is extensive, with many individual portraits of student athletes and action shots of track and field events, and football, basketball and baseball contests. Recreational activities such as skiing, skating, sailing and swimming are covered. Commencement and honorary degree ceremonies were a popular regular feature. Celebrity students and alumni represented include Charles Lindbergh, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlins, Fred Bickle a.k.a. Frederic March, Arlie Mucks Sr. and many others. Campus buildings and scenery are beautifully illustrated, sometimes with large prints that entirely cover both facing album pages. At times these larger prints are ‘framed’ by original artwork and graphic designs with stylized decorative lettering. Visits to campus by U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson were photographed, and many state politicians including Senator Robert M. Lafollette, and most of Wisconsin’s governors from the era appear attending university sponsored political events and exercises. Madison street scenes and structures and State of Wisconsin buildings are also featured, including historic views of the various state capitols in the city. There are also a few images of rural scenery and events from around the state. William Meuer, himself, appears in one of these images, which recorded his 1918 automobile trip through the forests of Northern Wisconsin with Noble Clark of the College of Agriculture and another friend.

It is very rare to find such an extensive catalog of images from this era devoted primarily to life in a large American public university and its surrounding community. As nearly all of the original glass negatives from the collection are lost, it is imperative that we meet the challenge of preserving this wonderful historical resource for future generations. The University Archives and the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center are proud to present the first eight albums of The William J. Meuer Photoart Collection in digital form. We intend to make every effort to continue this project and hope to eventually digitize the entire collection.


About the Collection

Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government The UWDCC currently provides access to two important works by noted philosopher and educator Alexander Meiklejohn. Meiklejohn was, among other things, the founder and director of the Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he pursued his vision of exploring innovative (and sometimes radical) approaches to teaching and learning. The two works included here are: Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government which was published in 1948 and The Experimental College which was published in 1932.


About the Collection

The Center for Limnology is a research facility affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Center for Limnology was established in July 1982 to plan, conduct, and facilitate inland freshwater research. The Center grew out of almost one hundred years of limnology at the University initiated by E.A. Birge and Chancey Juday, who founded limnology in North America through extensive descriptive and comparative studies. Our roots were further developed by Arthur D. Hasler, who led the way in experimental limnology and facilitated four decades of aquatic studies at Wisconsin. Our present program builds on these approaches and has expanded to include long-term studies, synthesis, modeling, Great Lakes research, and application to resource management and environmental issues.

This image collection is a depiction of three generations of limnological research in Wisconsin. The collection mainly focuses on the important pioneers of limnology, Dr. Edward A. Birge, Chancey Juday and Arthur D. Hasler, research laboratories, and field equipment. A significant portion of the 125 images are from the photo archives of the Center for Limnology Library. Additional photos of historical significance were obtained by permission from the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.

Copyright Information

Original photographic images included in the History of Limnology at the University of Wisconsin are held by the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS). Contact WHS archives staff, at the location below, for information related to copyright or permission to reproduce or use these digital images.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Visual Materials Collections
816 State St. Madison, WI 53706

All responsibility for questions of copyright and invasion of privacy shall be assumed by the image user. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyright material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted works. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the user may be liable for copyright infringement.

The Wisconsin Historical Society reserves the right to refuse permission to reproduce if, in its judgment, fulfillment would involve violation of the copyright law. Whenever possible, the Wisconsin Historical Society provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records, finding aids, and donor records. The Society provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the patron.


About the Collection

University of Wisconsin Hoofers Club

The scrapbooks in this collection were created by members of Hoofers to document their organization. Through photographs, newsletters, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia, the scrapbooks detail the group’s outings and activities from the 1930s through the early 1960s.

Long a part of the unique atmosphere of the UW-Madison campus, Hoofers has grown to become one of the largest student outdoor recreation organizations in the country. The idea for Hoofers originated in the late 1920s, during a series of camping trips taken by Memorial Union Director Porter Butts and professor Harold “Doc” Bradley. In 1931, the two men collaborated with several UW students to make Hoofers a reality.

Hoofers was conceived of as a means of promoting outdoor recreation by providing access to a wide variety of activities. The early focus of the group was primarily on skiing, but they also sponsored hiking, camping, biking, and canoeing. Although it is a student organization, Hoofers membership has always been open to the larger community.

Over the years, the clubs and activities sponsored by Hoofers have changed numerous times. Currently, Hoofers has approximately 2,200 members in six clubs: Sailing, Ski and Snowboard, Riding, Mountaineering, Outing, and SCUBA.

For more information on Hoofers, visit their website: http://www.hoofers.org/

Or view a timeline of early Hoofers history at: http://archives.library.wisc.edu/uw-archives/exhibits/hoofers/index.html



About the Collection

There have been many histories written of the University of Wisconsin and its schools, colleges, and departments. The University is fortunate to have a major, scholarly 4 volume history covering 1848 to 1971. The first two volumes, covering 1848-1925, were written by Merle Curti and Vernon Carstensen and basically defined the genre of university histories. The second two volumes (1925-1945, 1945-1971) were written by E. David Cronon and John W. Jenkins.


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