According to a history written by Jack Burke, managing editor of UW’s News Service from 1965-1977, two UW professors created the first UW-Madison monthly news periodical back in 1870. Further efforts by professors at the turn of the 20th century led Helen Patterson Hyde, a UW journalism professor from 1923-1958, to propose that Wisconsin was actually the first state university to establish a news service. During the 1930s and 1940s the office was called by turns “Press Bureau,” “Information Service,” and “News Service,” before it settled on “University of Wisconsin News Service” in 1945. By 1973 its official title was “University of Wisconsin-Madison News and Publications Service,” and as the office’s scope expanded further, became the “Office of News and Public Affairs” in 1984. Since 2000 the office has been known as University Communications.
Located in the basement of Bascom Hall, the University Communications Library has served the research needs of University Communications staff members since 1948. The library’s main collection consists of about 10,000 files of news clippings about the people, departments, buildings, and subjects that make the University of Wisconsin-Madison what it is today. University Communications publications and press releases comprise a significant part of this collection, especially during the early years of its existence. The library also has perhaps the only collection of newsletters and publications produced by offices and departments all over the UW-Madison campus. A graduate project assistant in the School of Library and Information Studies works twenty hours per week to tend the files and answer reference queries about the university’s history.
In an effort to get the word out about this hidden treasure, we have begun working with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center to develop a virtual collection accessible to everyone online. Due to potential copyright issues, only releases written by University Communications staff members are available digitally. The original paper files at the University Communications Library also contain clippings of related stories published in newspapers around the state, the nation, and sometimes the world. These files range in size from one sheet of paper to several inches thick. For more information about specific people or subjects, please contact the University Communications Librarian at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 608-262-8280, or visit the web site at http://www.library.wisc.edu/news/.
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