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A "Kenosha Lost Industry": The Pirsch Company

Nash, the American Motor Company, The Rambler. Solar lamps, wagon works and underwear. Starting in the 1850s, Kenosha, situated on the banks of Lake Michigan, became the home to various and varied industries. Over the years, the city became a major manufacturing center intertwined with regional, national and international economies. One relatively unknown industry was the Pirsch Company, maker of fire engines and fire fighting apparatus. Founded in 1857 by Nicholas Pirsch, the company provided the city of Kenosha with its very first motorized fire engine around 1910. By 1970, Pirsch was the leading producing of fire fighting equipment in the United States, but increasing competition led the company's bankruptcy in 1987.

Motorized Engine Pirsch Engine in Action

Learn more about the Pirsch Company as well as dozens of other companies from Kenosha's industrial past in Kenosha's Lost Industries: Photographs and Corporate Materials, 1850s-1990s.


 Pirsch Company Brochure 



Democrat Printing Company


Cover of Democrat Printing Specimen BookMany Madisonians are familiar with the distinct cursive logo or perhaps the starkly angled building on Fordem Avenue of Webcrafters, the long established, family-owned printing company on Madison's near Northeast side. But, what many may not know is that Webcrafters was a spin-off of the Democrat Printing Company which itself can trace its roots to one of Madison's earliest newspapers, indeed the city's first daily newspaper, The Madison Democrat.


The newspaper was sold to the Wisconsin State Journal in 1921, but the printing business continued. Within the Silver Buckle Press collection  you can see a small sample of the type of work the Democrat Printing Co. performed. The 1940 Specimen book was meant to advertise the range and quality of type the printer had to offer. From Bondoni Monder to Futura Bold, the Democrat Printing Co. could meet the printing needs of any number of customers. In the company's own words, the specimen book was hoped to be, "an important and useful working tool for customers and friends of "the Democrat."

Explore the Democrat Printing Company Specimen book, just a small bit of printing and Madison history, online. And, read more about the Madison Democrat in Roland Strand's Story of The Democratavailable for check out through the UW Libraries.


Archives of Archaeology



Ancient technologies, like phones mounted to the wall or floppy discs, are often important steps in the advancement of knowledge and understanding. They can, though briefly, be the height of popularity and transform the way we go about our life. Microcards were none of these things, though it might have been. Intended to make it easier (especially for libraries) to store large amounts of information, the microcard was invented in the mid-1940s and reached peak use within the next 15 years. Soon, microcards were eclipsed by microfiche and eventually, digitization and the Internet.

The Society for American Archaeologists took a chance on the short lived technology and published 39 volumes of the Archives of Archaeology on microcard. This publication, made up of 29 archaelogical reports, has been long neglected since so few people have ever heard of microcard, let alone have access to a reader. With the hard work of Professor Joe Tiffany at the UW-La Crosse as well as libarians Anita Evans and Bill Doering at the UW-La Crosse Murphy, the publication is now fully searchable and online. The series was edited by the late David A. Baerreis, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Through the digitization of Archives of Archaeology, scholars can now easily learn about tools, housing, trade goods and more of the peoples of such diverse geographic locations as Iowa, California, Mexico and Belize (then known as British Honduras).



Badger Trailblazer at the Olympics

The Big Ten is no stranger to Olympic success. One of the greatest Olympians of all time, Jesse Owens, the "Buckeye Bullet" competed for Ohio State and broke three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten outdoor track championships in 1935. Owens, of course, went on to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals and securing his name in Olympics history.

Jesse Owens crossing the finishing line

Less well known, but remarkably important is George Poage, former track star at the University of Wisconsin, first African American to run for the Badgers, first African American Big Ten conference champion (in two events, the 440-yard dash and the 220-yard hurdles), and the first African American athlete to medal in the Olympics. 

The 1904 Olympics were held in St. Louis in conjunction with the World's Fair and UW athletes performed strongly for team USA. Emil Breitkreutz took home a bronze in the 800 meters, Frank Waller took home two silver medals in the the men's 400 meters and the 400 meter hurdles, but it was George Poage who etched his name into the history books, winning his two bronze medals in the 220-yard and 440-yard hurdles. George Poage with the 1903 Track team

Despite his great success in the 1904 Olympics, George Poage faced tremendous challenges as an African American at the turn of the 20th century. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Poage taught English and coached sports teams in St. Louis, farmed in Minnesota and then moved to Chicago where he worked for the postal service for 30 years. In 1998, George Poage was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Learn more about  George Poage at the UW Badgers Offical Site and the UW-Madison Collection.





New Nash Collection


oil painting of three howler monkeys in treesThe UW Digital Collections is no stranger to primate images. A fan and staff favorite, PrimateImages: Natural History Collection has over 2,000 images of various primates, in captivity and in the wild, showing behaviors, expressions, and more. Our newest collection shows primates and their behaviors through illustrations and in art, reflecting scientific study (and imagination) as well as popular culture. The Nash Collection of Primates in Art and Illustrations has examples dating to 1250 BC to more modern illustrations from the 20th century. The Nash Collection is a collaboration between Stephen Nash, Scientific Illustrator and Adjunct Associate Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, who compiled images for the collection, and staff of the Lawrence Jacobsen Library at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin, who added descriptions and metadata for each image.

Enjoy the new additions, but be careful when you start browsing this collection, you might find it very hard to stop.Funerary papyrus from Deir el-Medina c. 1250 B.C.


June is National Dairy Month

As June Dairy Month Goes, So Goes the Nation.

The first June Dairy Month in Wisconsin was celebrated back in 1939. Modeled after National Milk Month, Dairy Month was intended to showcase the national dairy industry, always important to Wisconsin, in the face of drastic milk surpluses and plummeting milk prices. Early June Dairy Months included grocery displays, newspaper advertisements, and radio "milk talks" spots (donated by stations like WTMJ and WISN). In 1944, the concerns of the dairy industry had changed dramatically. June Dairy Month during the war years promoted dairy and the dairyman as "vital to victory" and worked to "portray the supreme effort being put into winning the ward by they dairy industry."

By 1950, June Dairy Month was promoting June as the month in which "when Nature's bounty is most abundant and our dairy herds achieve their greatest and best production" and science was used to back up health claims. Students experimented with white rats and milk to show the healthful qualities of milk. The experiments were supported and and sponsored by the Dairy Council.

Read more about June Dairy Month in past issues of the Milwaukee Milk Producer and other historic publications in the State of Wisconsin Collection


New Glarus and Green County Local History

Here is a wonderful new addition to our collections. This collection of New Glarus and Green Country Local History was made possible by the 2011 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant.

In 1845 emigrants from the canton of Glarus in Switzerland, leaving their homeland because of dire economic conditions, established a colony in southern Wisconsin and named it New Glarus. Over the following years, more Swiss from various cantons settled in New Glarus and other areas of Green County.  Throughout its history, the community has nurtured its Swiss cultural heritage. Today, the people of New Glarus maintain a high level of interest in the village’s origins, history, and family lineages, and continue to honor its heritage through festivals, historical museums, and the preservation of buildings, historical artifacts, and genealogical information.

This collection focuses primarily on the first 100 years of New Glarus’s history. It includes narratives about the settlement and early history of the village, family records from the first church in New Glarus, tax rolls of the Town of New Glarus, old maps and plat books of Green County, the first yearbook of the New Glarus High School, and photographs of individuals and families, school groups, community organizations, events, street scenes, businesses, and agriculture. The New Glarus Public Library, the New Glarus Historical Society, and the Swiss United Church of Christ of New Glarus have collaborated to make available to the public these selected materials documenting the history of New Glarus and the surrounding area.

This collection and many more can be found on our website as part of our State of Wisconsin Collection.


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