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This July 4th we will be celebrating the 239th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Take a look back to where it all began with The American Founding Period, a subset of our History Collection that highlights the individuals, events, and ideologies that shaped our country.

This collection consists of 28 sound recordings of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “University of the Air” program, which held hour-long discussions over the course of two decades with University of Wisconsin historians John Kaminski and Richard Leffler. A variety of topics are covered, such as the ratification of the Constitution, the politics and history of slavery in the early republic, the origins of the American judicial system, discussions of the Founding Fathers, and other interesting topics regarding the politics and culture of the early United States.

Explore the collection here: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/History.AmericanFounding


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan - a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the 1970s in Milwaukee, The Gay Peoples Union (GPU) was the most important gay and lesbian rights organization. The Gay Peoples Union Collection presents digital copies of primary source materials documenting GPU and Milwaukee's Gay Liberation Movement. Materials were selected from the the Gay Peoples Union Records, GPU News, and the Eldon Murray Papers collections, all held by the Division of Archives and Special Collections of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.

Taking distance from the radical politics of the New Left, GPU adopted a politically moderate approach to social change, emphasizing education and legal reform. It actively embraced mainstream and alternative media outlets in order to educate the general public about homosexuality. GPU also took a leadership role in building an infrastructure for the emerging local gay and lesbian community. It established Milwaukee's first gay and lesbian community center, operated a telephone counseling service and a venereal disease examination center, and organized a legal defense committee to assist gays and lesbians with paying for legal representation. The organization faded in importance by the early 1980s, although it continues to exist today.

This collection has been available online since 2009 but deserves a revisit each and every year: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/GPU


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.

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