Camp Gallistella / Tent Colony

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Located on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin, Camp Gallistella, also known as the Tent Colony, was a temporary summer home for up to as many as 300 graduate students and their families. The colony existed between 1912 and 1962 and provided family housing in the form of camp sites and camp activities for graduate students, and their spouses and children. This unique housing practice ended in 1962 with the construction of Eagle Heights Apartments which served the same general demographic.

Through most of its existance, Albert and Eleanor Gallistel served as the Colony’s on-site supervisors. Each summer from 1919 to 1959, the Gallistels moved from their in-town home to a cottage at the east end of the Colony. Over time, the Tent Colony became known as Camp Gallistella.

Camp Gallistella organized itself much like a city. Each summer the families elected a mayor, clerk, constable, sanitary commissioner, postmaster, newspaper editor, and several alderman. Conditions were rustic, akin to camping. For many years, electricity was available in the study halls only and individual tents were lit with kerosene lamps. The camp also employed a recreation director to supervise children’s activities while parents attended class or performed campground chores.

The materials in this collection provide insight into this unique housing environment through photographs, maps, camp newsletters and other historic materials that document life at Camp Gallistella. This collection includes the following titles:

  • Camp Gallistella photo album (1950-1959) (1950-1959)
  • Camp Gallistella historic documentation (1912-1961) (1942-1961)
  • Gallistella breezes: camp newsletter (1932-1960)

Additional information about the history of Camp Gallistella:

For more information about this collection, related items held in the Archives or Camp Gallistella history, contact the UW-Madison Archives.