Menasha is located at the mouth of the Fox River on the north end of Lake Winnebago. Menasha, with settlers as early as 1835, became a village in 1849 and was incorporated as a city in 1874. Mrs. Doty, wife of Judge James Doty, used the Indian word Menasha, meaning The Island, to name the site. The city became a center for wooden ware industries using water power provided by the river. The Menasha Wooden Ware Company became known as the world’s largest producer of turned wooden ware products. In 1871, the Wisconsin Central Railway was established here. In later years, companies switched from wood products to paper manufacturing.
The materials chosen for this collection represent a variety of life in Menasha dating from approximately 1880 to 1950. The collection contains texts highlighting the early history of the city, including the Menasha City Charter of 1891 and the first Menasha High School yearbook of 1916. Also of value is the collection of photographs depicting the people and places within the community.
In 2014, the Neenah Public Library and Menasha Public Library collaborated to expand their digital collections to include new material that complemented the existing resources. The cornerstone of this addition is an extensive oral history project conducted in the 1970s by UW-Fox Valley professor Michael O’Brien. Professor O’Brien interviewed residents from a wide range of backgrounds and created an important resource on life in the Neenah-Menasha area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Print resources added to the collection expand the geographic coverage to include a work on the Town of Menasha, an area that borders the cities of Neenah and Menasha with its own distinct history and identity. The additional material will also provide information on an important institution shared by the two communities: the Boys and Girls Brigade. Find these materials in the Neenah Menasha Local History Collection.
This project was funded, in part, through a 2007 and 2014 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant. This grant provided 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 https://dpi.wi.gov/pld/lsta.
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