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The travel writings of Anna Birge and her daughter Anna, known to many as Nan, are our first additions to the William B. Cairns of American Women writers, 1650-1940 digital collection. The Cairns Collection is located in UW-Madison Libraries Special Collections and was begun in 1979 with an endowment provided by the estate of William B. Cairns, a pioneer in the study and teaching of American literature on the Madison campus at the turn of the century. The collection is made up of both well known and unknown women writers. Fiction and non fiction, diaries and books, mix to offer a diverse view of social and cultural history, material culture, education, autobiography and life writing and of course women's studies. Learn more here: http://memorial.library.wisc.edu/collections/cairns.html#a

Anna Birge was from Madison and wife of the Edward A. Birge of Birge Hall (so named in 1950 replacing "Botany Hall" as the name). She and her daughter traveled through Europe in the 1908 and then 1910 and recorded their trips in 4 volumes that were privately published. The diaries include colorful descriptions of locations and people as well as give a glimpse into the lives of (wealthy) American women at the turn of the past century. Themes of motherhood, health, and leisure activities are noteworthy.


Gaylord Nelson at podium

Born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, a tiny town 60 miles from the Minnesota border, is any wonder that Gaylord Nelson, former governor and senator, founded Earth Day? Inspired by President Kennedy’s 1962 national conservation tour and anti-war teach-ins, Nelson thought, “Why not have a nationwide teach-in on the environment?” And that simple idea is now celebrating its 45th year.Read, in Nelson’s own words, “The Genesis of Earth Day," published in the Fall 1998 Wisconsin Academy Review.

In his role as Governor (1959-1963), Nelson, a graduate of the UW-Madison Law school, worked with the Board of Regents to lead the University. You can explore Nelson's thoughts and positions on higher education in the University Communications Library Collection which contains releases written by University Communications staff. And, of course, his work and the state of the State during his time as governor are documented in the Wisconsin Blue Books.

Gaylord Nelson walking


Journey To Wisconsin

April 2015 marks the 20th celebration of National Poetry Month here in the United States. If you need a little inspiration or just a quick poetical fix, the UW Digital Collections can help! While we don't have a collection devoted exclusively to poetry, at least a couple of poetry-rich resources are available.

On the more professional side, the Parallel Press publishes a handful of poetry titles each year. Featured poets tend to have a regional connection and have generally been recipients of multiple awards and distinctions. The newest titles are available in print, but appear in the digital collections a year or two after publication. Browse the series Parallel Press Chapbooks.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine

In addition, you'll find student literary magazines that contain a mix of short stories and poetry. As one might expect from student work, the writing can be uneven and perhaps a bit less polished, but often compelling nonetheless. The Wisconsin Literary Magazine showcases Madison students' writings from 1903 to 1929, while contemporary student work can be found in The Windy Hill Review, which has been published by the UW–Waukesha Literary Club for over three decades. Publications from 1979 up to 2012 are available in the Digital Collections.


Ada Deer

In celebration of International Women's Day (March 8), the UW System Office of the Gender & Women's Studies announced the launch of the Wisconsin Women Making History website: http://womeninwisconsin.org! For the past three years, they've worked with their partners to create a site that celebrates the legacy of Wisconsin women leaders, innovators, and scholars.

In celebration of the launch of this excellent resource, we've put together links to archival images in UWDCC featuring some of the women leaders from the Government & Politics category in Wisconsin Women Making History.

Shirley Abrahamson in UWDCC

Carrie Chapman Catt in UWDCC

Kathryn Clarenbach in UWDCC

Ada Deer in UWDCC

Jessie Jack Hooper in UWDCC

Golda Meir in UWDCC

Donna Shalala in UWDCC


Why yes, that is horror in her eyesHave you ever considered celebrating St. Patrick's Day by participating in a beard growing contest? Beginning in 1912, that's exactly what students in the UW College of Engineering did. The contest originally began to determine who would play St. Patrick during the traditional Spring Celebration.

There were seven characteristics one's beard could be judged upon: most Lincolnesque, longest, best all-around, best color, puniest, heaviest, and curliest. The Badger Beauties (that's another blog post) participated by bringing out the rulers and assisting in the beard judging process.


Gypsy Rose Lee

In Wisconsin’s Historic Natural Resources Photos collection you'll find images like this one, of Vaudeville entertainer "Gypsy" Rose Lee holding a musky she caught in Pine Lake, Iron County in 1946. She is featured along with several other recognizable folks who were "caught" fishing in Wisconsin, including baseball great Ted Williams, former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the perpetually smoking journalist Edward R. Murrow. The collection is the first 500 of what will eventually be 2,200 black and white photos from the 1930s to the 1970s, showing Wisconsinites (and others) enjoying and working to protect the state's natural resources.

See the whole collection: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.DNRPhotos


WEM Logo

Are floods, tornados, and tire fires your thing? The new Wisconsin Emergency Management Images and Historic Materials contains images taken by emergency management officials in the aftermath of numerous disasters that have hit Wisconsin. Particularly signficant are images of the 1996 Oakfield tornado a F5 with estimated wind speeds of 265 mph. There were no fatalities in this event, but the damage amounted to $39.5 million in public/private property, and $900,000 in crop losses.

Also included in the collection are remarkable photographs of the 1965 Monroe tornado, which was just one event in the 12 hour rash of Midwest tornados known as the Palm Sunday outbreak.

The materials are a photographic record of the meteorological and climatological history of Wisconsin and offer an understanding of how natural disasters, and the efforts to mitigate their impacts, have transformed Wisconsin’s landscape and built environment over time. They also illustrate changes in emergency preparedness and response practices over time and the materials capture an important piece of Wisconsin history—traumatic events that triggered massive public response and recovery efforts and changed Wisconsin communities.

See the whole collection: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.WEMArchive

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