The Beloit Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Beloit Historical Society (BHS) and the Beloit College Library Archives Department (BCL), has rare and historic books unique to Beloit. These include the earliest City and telephone directories; which provide historical information on residents of the state-line cities Beloit WI and South Beloit, IL, a 1928 farm directory referring to the many rural citizens, a 1940 plat book showing the changes to a more urban community, a 1942 personal remembrance of the community’s early years by one of the oldest citizens, a book of one-room schoolhouses photographs before many were torn down, and a rare copy of “Beloit in 1911”. These reflect family life and economic development in the early years of Beloit. The second largest city in Rock County was founded in 1836, incorporated in 1856, and the home of many industrial inventions.
Beloit history holds nostalgic appeal for many state-line area IL/WI residents, and there is also worldwide interest in Beloit. The number of people who trace a history back to Beloit is much larger than average for a mid-size city. This due to the Blackhawk Indian War, Beloit College with worldwide students (founded in 1846), the 1920s recruitment of southern black families from Pontotoc Mississippi in the great Up-north migration to Fairbanks Morse, being the only Wisconsin city that is home headquarters for three multi-billion dollar international companies, and being the home of the annual Beloit International Film Festival since 2006
The Beloit Local History Collection was funded, in part, through Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant in 2014. These grants provide financial support for public libraries to digitize and make available online, their local library resources. For more information about LSTA grants in Wisconsin, contact the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Division for Libraries and Technology or visit the LSTA grant Web site at http://pld.dpi.wi.gov/pld_lsta.
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