Neenah, a city of 25,000, is a part of the Fox Cities and located in east-central Wisconsin, on the northwest shore of Lake Winnebago. Originally known as Winnebago Rapids, Neenah was incorporated as a village in 1856 and had a population of 1,296 in 1860. Thanks in part to its location on the Fox River, in the mid-1800’s Neenah attracted flourmills and the lumber industry. By the 1870’s paper mills began to take over the industrial landscape of the area and has continued to play an important role in the city’s economy.
The Neenah Public Library’s digital collection presents the history of Neenah primarily from the early 1800’s to the 1950’s. The two Neenah histories highlight the development and important events of Neenah from pre-settlement to the late 1950’s. The city directories provide valuable information to genealogists, while the searchable photograph collection captures life in the Neenah area from the mid-1800’s to the 1950’s. Neenah’s digital collection will be of use to local historians, students, genealogists, and anyone interested in the history of Neenah!
For further sources on Neenah and Winnebago County see:
Neenah Public Library Genealogy and Local History Links
Oshkosh Atlases and Histories-UWDC Wisconsin Collection
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Area Research Center
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- History of Neenah, Illustrated by G. A. Cunningham (1878).Written by the editor of the Neenah Gazette, this title is a self-described “brief sketch of earlyday Neenah history.” The “History of Neenah” covers the settlement and development of Neenah in the early to late nineteenth century, includes a section on “Neenah in the Rebellion,” a city directory of every male over 21, a business directory, and a history of churches in Neenah.
- A History of Neenah by S. F. Shattuck (1958).
- Index to Shattuck History of Neenah, 1878-1958 and a summary of earlier years by Terry A. Nyman (1979).Compiled by S. F. Shattuck in collaboration with the Neenah Historical Society. This work is divided into two parts. Part I highlights and evaluates significant developments and events of Neenah, decade by decade, from the 1840’s to the 1950’s. Part II describes individual service and manufacturing businesses, church history, social organizations, city government, Theda Clark Hospital, and local schools. The Neenah Historical Society generously granted permission to provide this work digitally.
- Memories of Doty Island: a link between two cities edited by Winifred Anderson Pawlowski (1999).An informal history of Doty Island primarily before World War II. The book highlights the settlement of the island, the history of churches and schools, business and industrial development, and more. Doty Island is divided between the cities of Neenah and Menasha.
- Neenah Historical and Architectural Survey Project: Intensive Survey Report by Peter Adams (1982).The survey was prepared in 1982, and its purpose was to compile a list of districts and individual properties within Neenah that were potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The survey studied 1,087 properties within the City of Neenah. Included in the survey report is a brief history of Neenah, short biographies of prominent citizens, the history of various residential and commercial districts, and background information on selected properties.
- The Parks of Neenah: an historical interpretation by William E. Dunwiddie (1993).A history of the origins and development of parks in the City of Neenah
- Valley of the Lower Fox: historical, descriptive, picturesque/Art Publishing Company (1887).An informal history of the Lower Fox Valley including a collection of photographs mainly from the late nineteenth century of the Fox Valley region from Neenah to DePere.
- Art Work of the Fox River Valley by Deborah Beaumont Martin (1902).A collection of turn of the century photographs primarily of the Lower Fox River Valley from Neenah to Green Bay. An informal history of the region with some background information on local communities is also included.
- Windows of worship: stained glass windows in the churches of Neenah and Menasha: a photo album by Philip Munroe (2002).Color photographs of the stained glass windows of the churches of Neenah and Menasha. Some background information is included for most of the churches.
- History of the Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club of Neenah, Wisconsin: an account yacht racing on Lake Winnebago from 1859 to 1957 by James C. Kimberly (1957).A history of the club and yacht racing on Lake Winnebago including photographs and race results.
- Centennial story, 1848-1948: program, history, letters, and tributes/First Presbyterian Church (1948).
- First Presbyterian Church, Neenah, Wisconsin, 1848-1998; 150 years of mission and ministry/First Presbyterian Church (1999).
- The Council Tree/Neenah High School (1920).The yearbook for the Neenah High School class of 1920. The yearbook includes faculty and senior photographs, and group photographs of the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes.
- The Cub: the Neenah High School annual/Neenah High School (1926).
- The Cub: the Neenah High School annual/Neenah High School (1928).
- Soil Survey of Winnebago County, Wisconsin (1932).
- Neenah and Menasha Water Power Co. Fox and Wisconsin Improvement Co. letter to the Secretary of War, relative to storage of water in Lake Winnebago, complete history of the Neenah Dam. Its private ownership and rights/Crescent Printing House (1900).
- 25 Years of Basketball at Neenah High School Under Ole Jorgensen, 1926-1951
- Sterling’s Neenah, Wis. Directory, 1920-21.
- Sterling’s Menasha, Wis. Directory, 1920-21.
- Wright’s Neenah City Directory, 1924.
- Wright’s Menasha City Directory, 1924.
- Zabel’s rural route directory of Winnebago County, 1928.
- Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin community directory, 1928.
- W. H. Lightfoot Co.’s Winnebago County, Wis. Directory 1928-1929.
- Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin, city directory, 1931.
- Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin, community directory, 1934.
- Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin, community directory, 1937.
- Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin, community directory, 1939.An alphabetical directory of heads of households and other adult residents of a household. Each listing usually provides occupation and place of employment of the individual, and first name of a spouse if applicable. The directories also provide a street address directory, a business directory, a listing of local governmental departments, churches, social organizations, and clubs.
- Directory of Neenah, Menasha and Appleton exchanges/Wisconsin Telephone Company (1907).
- Neenah-Menasha telephone directory including Appleton, Greenville, and Little Chute/Wisconsin Telephone Company (1913).
- Atlas of Winnebago County, Wisconsin/W.W. Hixson & Co. (1928).Atlas of Winnebago County, Wisconsin/W.W. Hixson & Co. (1928). The atlas provides plat maps of Winnebago County, Wisconsin including property owners and the amount of acreage owned by individuals. City maps of Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Omro, and Winneconne are included.
- Local PhotographsA collection of 400 photographs of the Neenah-Menasha area, primarily from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The collection includes photographs of small businesses and industries, churches, schools, parks, downtown and neighborhood scenes, and the people of Neenah-Menasha at work and play.
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 2011 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant. The grant provided financial support to digitize and make available online 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.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.
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