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Turkey Racers, 1919

Beginning in 1902, fleet of foot Badgers competed in the Turkey Race, a long distance run annually held the day before Thanksgiving. What were the runners competing for? Pride? Certainly, but also a bevy of avian prizes. Oh, and they were live. First place – a live Turkey (obviously) Second place – a live goose, third place a live chicken, and fourth place earned an egg. Yes, an egg.

Starting in 1920, winners’ names were carved on the Elsom Trophy, named after Dr. J.C. Elsom, professor of physical education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as well as the school’s first basketball coach. Courses were about two miles long. The 1914 Badger Yearbook reports that the route was, “Across Lower Campus; down State Street to the Square; north on Mifflin Street to the Post office; Wisconsin Avenue to Langdon Street; down to the Gymnasium, finishing in front of the Gym.”

Coach Elsom

We’re not sure when this traditions ended, but the last time it’s mentioned in the Badger Yearbook is 1934.


New Dominy Craftsmen Collection.

Three generations of the Dominy family of East Hampton, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York functioned as craftsmen from ca. 1760 to ca. 1850. Nathaniel Dominy IV (1737-1812) was a woodworker and metalworker producing tall case clocks, furniture, and repairing thousands of pocket watches. His son, Nathaniel Dominy V (1770-1852) practiced all forms of woodworking. His activity included work as a furniture joiner, millwright, house carpenter, cooper, and supplier of agricultural tools to farmers in East Hampton township – Sag Harbor to Montauk. Nathaniel V’s son, Felix Dominy (1800-1868) was trained to be a clock and watchmaker. He worked primarily as a maker of tall case clocks and repairer of pocket watches over a short time span of ca. 1815 to 1828 when technological unemployment forced him to forego craft activity and take a job as keeper of the Fire Island lighthouse.

Direct descendants of the Dominy craftsmen kept together and preserved the craftsmen’s shop equipment, tools, and manuscript material on their original site until 1946 thus preserving the only complete record of craftsmen working in colonial America and the New Republic.

The Dominy Craftsmen Collection will contain a revised and enlarged digital edition of With Hammer in Hand by Charles F. Hummel; the extensive collection of Dominy family manuscript material in the Joseph Downs Manuscript and Printed Ephemera Collection, Winterthur Library, Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware; a video-taped lecture about the Dominy craftsmen; and a brief description of books owned by the craftsmen and members of their families.

Explore the entire collection at: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Dominy


In celebration of the end of the semester and the rapidly approaching holidays, we are highlighting the holiday themed sheet music found in the Americana Collection. Housed in the Mills Music Library Special Collections, the Americana Collection contains sheet music published as early as the late 18th century. The collection brings together a variety of music genres with American imprints.

While the Americana Collection contains many holiday classics such as “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” and “Jingle Bells,” it also holds a few lesser-known titles. If you would like to explore holiday music outside the staples of the genre, this collection is a great place to start. The Americana Collection includes winter polkas and other songs that you will not hear on the radio this holiday season. Get into the holiday spirit and rediscover old holiday favorites from the Americana Collection as well as from the other excellent collections found in the Mills Music Library.



altThe Mount Horeb Area History collection documents and depicts the early 20th century in Mount Horeb, WI. The collection is comprised of family memoirs, and books. Read about early life in Mount Horeb, when, "As long as you had a fire in the stove, the water was hot" or learn about early immigrants to the area. Special attention should also be paid to three rare photographs of John F. Kennedy campaigning in Mount Horeb in 1960.

The UWDC also features a collection documenting the WWII Veterans of Mount Horeb. Some of these color pictures, an uncommon find during the war, are surprisingly similar to images you would find on social networking platform Instagram. This collection represents a comprehensive historical documentation of Mount Horeb resident's direct participation in World War II.

Both collections were funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants which provide financial support for public libraries to digitize and make their local library resources available online.




Radioactive book coverThis year’s Go Big Read book, Radioactive by Lauren Redniss, tells the story of Marie and Pierre Curie, a European couple responsible for discovering the atomic properties of radioactivity. The couple won a Nobel Prize in physics and Marie went on to win another in chemistry as she continued her research after Pierre passed away. The Curies’ discovery gave way to the nuclear technology we embrace today in the realms of energy production, medicine and warfare. Author Lauren Redniss will be speaking about the book at Union South at 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 15.

Although Marie Curie never ventured to the UW campus, the Daily Cardinal and Wisconsin Alumnus publication covered the story of Madame Curie coming to America. She was invited to the White House by President Harding to receive a $100,000 gram of radium. The gift was made possible by donations from thousands of American women and in part by the University of Wisconsin with a contribution of $147.50. Before she went to Washington, D.C. Curie appeared at Carnegie Hall to be honored for her scientific advancements. She was greeted by the largest assemblage of college women in the U.S. to date.

Marie Curie conducted all of her work far before scientists were aware of the damaging effects caused by radioactive isotopes. She regularly carried these elements in her pocket, conducted research in a shed, and never used protective gear that is now standard in nuclear and radioactive research. Even her possessions are untouchable, including her cookbook and papers from the 1890s.

More info on Radioactive, the Go Big Read program, and an evening with Lauren Redniss.


Today marks the 84th birthday for one of the UW-Madison’s most meaningful landmarks.  1928 saw the doors of the Memorial Union open for the first time and it has remained a communal campus resource for students, faculty and staff since that day.  There is perhaps no spot on campus that for students, alumni and community members means UW more than the Memorial Union.

Here’s a (very) brief timeline highlighting events at the Union over the decades:

Pre-union period
UW President Charles Van Hise originally prompted the construction of a Union building in 1904 with a purpose of providing for “the communal life of instructors and students in work, in play, and in social relations.” In 1921, the Memorial Union Building Committee sent a pamphlet to alumni and other potential donor constituents to sell the concept of a student Union. A piece of Union fundraising propaganda from November 1921 boasts the proposed amenities, including the now famous terrace, accommodating eateries, and a theater with professional stage equipment.
Construction/Early years
The building cornerstone, laid in 1927, contains the University’s military service record, a list of Union donors and another of Gold Star Honor Roll recipients. Exactly 84 years ago today, the Memorial Union opened its doors, dedicated to the men and women of UW who served in America’s wars. UW President Glenn Frank (1925-1937) said the Union serves as a living room for the home of learning that is our great university.
The Board of Regents approved the sale of 3.2 beer on campus in 1933, making the Memorial Union the first Union to serve beer at a public university. The German beer hall-themed Rathskeller (German: bar below street level), almost entirely unchanged since its construction, was originally a ‘men’s club.’ Commonly dubbed the ‘Rath,’ this ground-level area of the Memorial Union continues to be a popular social space for UW students.
Phase 1 of the Memorial Union Reinvestment Project began this past summer, focusing restoration efforts on the west wing and 5th floor of the building (below). The Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD), comprised of students, plans events in multiple disciplines and media.
The Union is one of Wisconsin’s finest traditions and will likely have a large presence on campus for another 84 years to come. Happy Birthday, Memorial Union. See more images and read more history in the UW-Madison Collection.

Early Dorm Living

South Hall

The first classes at the UW Madison were held in the winter of 1849 and with an class of only 17 students, dormitories were not a pressing need. But, by just the next year, the Board of Regents had approved plans for the construction of the first dorms on campus, simply called North Hall (1851) and South Hall (1855). The units had outdoor privies and students had to bring water in from a nearby well, but they did have furnaces, which were so bad at heating the buildings that they were done away with within years, leaving the heating to fireplaces. There were no RAs, no sophisticated mechanisms for collecting fees and managing furniture. Those duties actually fell to the Dean of Faculty and Vice-Chancellor, John Sterling.

Once women were admitted to the University, South Hall became exclusively, though briefly dedicated to their housing; women were moved to the obviously named Ladies Hall in 1874. Ladies Hall was renamed Chadbourne Hall in 1901 for largely two reasons. First, Chancellor Paul Chadbourne had acquired the lot for the UW, but more interestingly, E.A. Birge thought, "it was only fair that Dr. Chadbourne's contumacy regarding coeducation should be punished by attaching his name to a building which turned out [to be] one of the main supports of coeducation." So, for those out there counting, Chadbourne Hall was the first (and perhaps only) dorm named to spite and honor the same man.Chancellor Paul Chadbourne

More early dorm history can be found in Barry Teicher's A History of Housing at the University of Wisconsin and there are pictures and postcards of dorm life throughout the UW Madison Collection.





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