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National Watermelon Day

According to our calendar it's National Watermelon Day! Although we are not sure the historical significance of this day, we love watermelons and today seems like a beautiful day to celebrate them!

Did you know that there is a National Watermelon Championship? This image on the left is from our UW-Madison Archives from the days when the National Watermelon Seed Spitting Championship was held in Madison. The girl on the right is the National Watermelon Queen, I wonder how she got that title? This collection also has images of participants in the Watermelon Seed Spitting Championship.

Everyone loves watermelon, even animals! On the right is an image from our PrimateImages: National History Collection, showing a couple of Rhesus monkeys eating a watermelon. They have a very interesting way of eating this watermelon, but hey, why not just dig right in!

Did you know that a watermelon is 90% water, but that doesn't stop them from tasting delicious! It's a beautiful day outside for a picnic, so don't forget the watermelon! Happy National Watermelon Day everyone!


The Puzzle Jug

We recently added new images to one of our highly used collections, the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture. In particular we added 52 new images to the Chipstone Ceramics Database. For those who are not familiar with the collection, the Chipstone Ceramics collection contains over 270 pieces of ceramic work dating from the 17th to early 19th century.

The image on the left features one of the new ceramic pieces in the collection. This puzzle jug is a very unique piece with a fun historical background. The puzzle jug is a communal drinking vessel that is passed from mouth to mouth as part of an 18th Century English drinking game. The name "puzzle" comes from the way in which the drinker would have to find a way to drink from the jug without spilling on himself. The only way to safely drink from this jug is to cover up everything except one of the spouts and a hidden hole on the handle. Not only is this piece fun, but creating it requires a large amount of skill.

Our Chipstone Ceramics image collection contains tons of pieces with these interesting backgrounds. We encourage you to browse the collection and learn a little something about the history of the objects that we live with everyday.


Women's Athletics Scrapbook

altToday we wanted to share with you a new collection, the Women's Athletics Scrapbook. This collection features pages from a scrapbook exclusively highlighting the history of women's athletics at the UW. The scrapbook has approximately 100 pages of images with multiple images on each page. I have included close ups of some of the pages for you to get a feel for the type of content in the book.

altThe top image features pictures from what looks like a May Pole dance. The images show groups of dancers together along with single and group action shots. As you can see in the close up the images are clustered together and many have been ripped around the edges to allow for more images to fit on each page.

The second image contains posed shots of female athletes. These images show just some of the options for women's athletics that this book highlights.

This collection contains interesting images from UW's history. Women's athletics have come a long way, and this collection follows that history. Browse through this collection when you have some time, you won't be disappointed.


You've Got Mail

altDid you know that on this day in history the United States established the postal system? An no, that doesn't include email. In 1775, congress established the postal system and appointed Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. To celebrate this day we are looking at images of some early post offices around WI.

altOn the top left is an image of the first federally owned post office in Kenosha, WI. According to the record, the image was taken shortly after the building was built sometime between 1912 and 1914. Today this land holds the second federally owned post office. The new building is much larger and is a landmark in the downtown area.

This second image is from the early days of the post in Two Rivers, WI. This image shows an early parcel post truck delivering packages in the 1920s. The building on the left is identified as the post office in the image record.

The creation of the postal service is a turning point in United States history and the history of communication. Today when we want to send something we can just email it. But when was the last time you send something in the mail? Next time you are emailing a friend, maybe drop them a letter in the mail instead.


That's one small step for man...

alt...One giant leap for mankind. Forty-two years ago Neil Armstrong said these words as he stepped off Apollo 11 and onto the moon. Apollo 11, along with its team members, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, became the first space flight that put humans on the moon on July 20,1969.

To celebrate this historic day of science and space exploration, we are highlighting our History of Science and Technology collection. This collection bring together writing about scientific research at UW-Madison and rare and unique titles about science and technology. In the past we have highlighted certain titles such as the Bestiary and works of Luther Burbank, but today we will highlight specifically the sub-collection of Nature articles.

This collection of Nature provides a context to what scientists were developing and exploring at the end of the nineteenth century. The collection contains articles up to 100 years before Apollo 11 ever landed on the moon! Help us celebrate this historic event and let's all dive into science!


Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

Today we are celebrating Nelson Mandela's birthday with a look at images from our Africa Focus collection.

Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and the former President of South Africa. On his birthday, we thought we would highlight images surrounding the 1994 elections. These were the first multi-racial elections to be held in South Africa. The African National Congress won the vote and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black President.

On the left is an image of the South African Newspaper, The Sowetan. The headline, "IFP for poll," refers to Buthelezi's Inkatha Party. This paper was published on April 20th, 1994, just 6 days before the election, as seen at the top left corner of the paper. This is one of five images from our Africa Focus collection showing the 1994 elections.

The image on the lower right is also from this series. It shows a sample ballot from the elections. The African National Congress is 12th from the top with a small image of Mandela next to the black, green and yellow symbol.

This election is a great part of South African history, as is Nelson Mandela. The African Focus collection has more images surrounding the elections and the events leading up to them. Please take a moment to look through the images and help us celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday.

Happy Birthday!


Archival Innovation

altWe want to give a shout out to the UW-Madison Department of Geography, the State Cartographer's Office, and members of our UWDCC team for being awarded the 2011 Governor's Award for Archival Innovation for their collaborative effort on the Baldwin-funded project, "Changing Landscapes of Wisconsin."

Our team members scanned over 38,000 aerial photos from the 1930s and 1940s, which were kept by the Robinson Map Library. The images cover the entire state and can give us an idea of what our state looked like before much of the construction we see today.

The State Cartographer's Office then made the images available on an innovative and interactive geographic interface, the WHAIFinder. Above is an image of the finished project. We hope that you will take time to explore the WHAIFinder and congratulate all of these teams on their great work.


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