Category: Collections

Recent projects

Archives student assistants Colby Lewis ’17 and Emma Lipkin ’19 have been busy over the past several months with some exciting projects. Here are the highlights:

Milk glass vase from the Artifact Collection, circa 1900
  • Emma inventoried and photographed more than 300 artifacts (3-D objects) associated with Lawrence history. These range from t-shirts to trophies to items that are more difficult to classify
  • Colby completed an extensive research project on the history of religious and spiritual life at Lawrence and designed a display to share this history for the dedication of Sabin House. The display is still on view in the group room on the second floor of the house.
  • Emma digitized a number of written transcripts of Commencement addresses, dating from 1926 to 1974.
  • Colby transcribed a series of letters written by Henry Colman (class of 1857) and his brother Elihu Colman (class of 1865) to their parents. These letters provide a unique view into student life during Lawrence’s early years.
One of five posters on the history of religious and spiritual life at Lawrence by Colby Lewis ’17

This is not to mention a bunch of other tasks that are not as exciting to read about but equally important for Archives operations (advanced paperclip removal, data entry, CD processing, and so on.) Thanks to both Emma and Colby for all of their work!

Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts

MDC-OBJ-040This post comes from Kasie Janssen ’12, intrepid Archives volunteer:

After hours of assigning call numbers, cataloging, photographing, and re-housing, the collection of Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts have been processed.  You may have seen several of these artifacts on display in the Milwaukee-Downer room of the library, but the remainder being stored in the Archives is extensive and diverse.  The items span the school’s history, starting in 1895 to the consolidation with Lawrence in 1964: class jackets, beanies (which may one day make a come-back as a fashion staple around campus), a Hat Hunt toothbrush, and the yellow class’s “Foink” to name a few.

The completion of this project not only enhances the organization and use of space in the archives, but the accessibility will grow exponentially.  The artifact descriptions and images are now available to be viewed and researched in our online collections database, allowing students and alumni access to these pieces.

Milwaukee-Downer College collections fully processed

Milwaukee-Downer College aisle, LU Archives
Milwaukee-Downer College aisle, LU Archives

We’ve been working hard on our Milwaukee-Downer College records and manuscript collections in the Archives since last spring. As of this week, all of these collections have been fully processed! What does this mean? Close to a full aisle of material (almost 200 boxes, plus 300 bound volumes) documenting the administration, operations, faculty, curriculum, student life, and alumnae of Milwaukee-Downer College, a leading Midwestern women’s college from 1895 to 1964 and a proud part of Lawrence University’s heritage. Archives staff and students have arranged and re-housed the collections and written collection guides to enhance access:

Milwaukee-Downer College Records, 1848-2008 – the largest subset of the collections, containing records that were transferred to Lawrence with the consolidation in 1964 as well as records documenting alumnae activities since the consolidation

Milwaukee-Downer College People Files, 1850-1964 – files documenting people associated with Milwaukee-Downer College

Milwaukee-Downer College Subject Files, 1886-1964 – files documenting subjects associated with Milwaukee-Downer College, including athletics, campus buildings, and student activities

Milwaukee-Downer College Manuscripts – all of the collections of personal papers or scrapbooks that have been donated to the Archives by alumnae and others since the consolidation

All of these materials are open for research (except where noted otherwise in the guides). To spend some quality time with them, stop in during our open hours (M-F, 1-5pm). We’re thrilled to have such a large and rich body of materials accessible for anyone who wants to learn more about Milwaukee-Downer.

But we’re not resting on our laurels: a guide to the Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts is underway, and a digital collection of the student newspaper from 1945 to 1964 will be available in the next few months.


Collection preview: Milwaukee-Downer College Records

When Lawrence consolidated with Milwaukee-Downer College in 1964, a subset of the College records came to Lawrence. The University lacked a designated Archives at the time, so the administration opted to transfer only those records that were necessary for ensuring a smooth transition. The Board of Trustees of Milwaukee-Downer College donated the remainder of the College records to the Wisconsin Historical Society. This collection, 53 cubic feet of materials, is housed and available for research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Archives.

The records from Milwaukee-Downer that were transferred to Lawrence eventually made their way to the Archives. Over time, these records have been supplemented by many generous donations of scrapbooks, papers, photographs, and memorabilia from Milwaukee-Downer alumnae. The collections as a whole represent an essential corollary to the records held by the Wisconsin Historical Society. They richly document the history of a pioneering women’s college in the Midwest, its operations, its traditions, and the life of its faculty, staff, students, and alumnae.

Here in the Archives, we have recently started processing our Milwaukee-Downer College collections, physically organizing and cataloging their contents to enhance their accessibility. We hope and are on track to complete the project within a year. So far, we’ve inventoried a full run of Board of Trustees minutes, 1895 to 1964; annual reports of the Presidents, Deans, and Registrar; and an extensive series of bulletins. From the latter, here’s a sneak peek – a bulletin on “A Student’s Eye View” at Milwaukee-Downer from February, 1961.

Materials from these collections, even the unprocessed portions, are still available for use. But the collection will be much more accessible once processing is completed. Stay tuned for updates!

A new home for our digital collections

Just about a year ago, we introduced Archon, a database for searching and browsing descriptions of our collections. Since that time we have added descriptions for over 100 collections, including manuscripts, scrapbooks, audiovisual collections, and records from a variety of campus departments and offices.

Now, Archon is also the home for digitized content from collections in the Archives. Over 1,000 images of photographs, letters, Artist Series programs, and other materials are available for searching and browsing. New materials selected from our collections will be periodically added to Archon as they are digitized.

We also have some exciting new digital collections available in Lux. A service of the library, Lux is the digital home for preserving and providing access to the scholarly and creative works of the Lawrence community. Archives collections in Lux currently include recent course catalogs; a selection of yearbooks; oral histories with faculty, staff, and alumni; and a wide date range of Lawrentian issues (with more to come).

If you’re looking for something to do over the long winter break (or the long Thanksgiving weekend), spend some time exploring these great historical resources!

New collection guides

As summer draws to a close, we hope you have all enjoyed a good balance of productivity and fun. This summer has certainly been a productive one in the Archives! We have processed several new collections that are open for research.

Dancers in front of Carnegie Library, undated

Colman Family Collection, 1853-1988: materials related to several members of the Colman family, including Henry Root Colman, Henry Colman, and Lucinda Darling Colman. The bulk of the collection consists of Lucinda Darling Colman’s handwritten “Memory Pictures,” written between 1923 and 1930.

Concert and Recital Programs, 1902-2012: programs from Conservatory of Music concerts and recitals, including faculty, student, and guest solo recitals as well as ensemble programs

Dean of Men, Dean of Women, and Dean of Students Records, 1926-2005: records including correspondence, memoranda, and reports pertaining to the administration of student affairs

Library Buildings Collection, 1905-2001: materials documenting the planning, construction, and renovation of library buildings at Lawrence

University Audio Recordings, 1947-2007, and University Video Recordings, 1926-2012: recordings in analog, magnetic, and digital formats documenting events such as Commencement ceremonies, lecture series, reunions, news broadcasts, Conservatory programs, and more

WLFM Radio Station Records, 1954-2005: records including Board of Control materials, correspondence and reports of station managers and directors, program schedules, and other materials related to the management of the station

We also have some other projects in the works, including a new home for our digital collections. So keep an eye out for further news as we move into the fall!

Scrapbooks in the Archives

Ida Mary White Jones (class of 1900) scrapbook, back cover

Our intrepid student workers Sam Smith and Amelia Anderson have recently finished processing a collection of over 50 scrapbooks housed in the Archives. The vast majority of these scrapbooks were created by Lawrence alumni to document their student years. Many of the scrapbook creators went about this task very meticulously, providing detailed notes and captions to accompany all materials. With dates ranging from 1853 to 1989, the scrapbooks provide our most comprehensive documentation of life at Lawrence from students’ perspectives.

The most common materials in the scrapbooks are photographs, newspaper clippings, dance cards, letters and cards, Conservatory and Theatre programs, and fraternity and sorority memorabilia. But matchbooks, pressed flowers, and the occasional bite of wedding cake also make appearances.

Each one of these scrapbooks is described in our collections database, and all of them are open for research use. If any of these scrapbook descriptions pique your curiosity, stop by the Archives any weekday from 1 to 5 (or 1 to 4 during the summer) to sit down and page through them – just don’t eat the cake.

Presidential candidates at Lawrence

J.F.K. speaks in Riverview Lounge, March 11, 1960

The Archives recently received a reference question about the history of presidential candidate visits to Lawrence. After the announcement of G.O.P. candidate Mitt Romney’s appearance at LU tomorrow afternoon, we thought we’d share what we turned up (with the important caveat that this was not an exhaustive search, so there may be several missing from this list):

  • Wendell Willkie visited Lawrence on March 21, 1944
  • John F. Kennedy visited on March 11, 1960, and spoke in Riverview Lounge
  • Eugene McCarthy visited on March 15, 1968
  • Henry Jackson visited on February 23, 1972
  • Joan Mondale (campaigning for Walter) visited on October 24, 1984, and spoke in Riverview Lounge
  • George Bush visited on March 29, 1988 and spoke in the Chapel
  • John Kerry visited on October 15, 2004 and spoke in front of Alexander Gym

Many other candidates have visited the Fox Cities area over the years, and Lawrence students have often participated through coverage in the Lawrentian, protests, and showings of support. The Archives has photographs and newspaper articles related to all of the above visits – if you’re curious, stop by any weekday afternoon to take a look.

Collection Feature: Department of Occupational Therapy at Milwaukee-Downer College

Carolyn Westgaard (MDC '60) helps Arthur Stewart sew leather with burnt arms, 1960

News report: A part of history saved for the ages! Although much of Milwaukee-Downer’s history is scattered, we have a great collection here at the Archives. It documents the organization at M-D C. of one of the first Occupational Therapy programs in the country. Much of the collection is comprised of photos, which advertise the achievements and daily tasks of M-D occupational therapy graduates around the world. Some of the more interesting photos reveal the work of therapists in Ireland during the war; there might have been a shortage of everything else besides occupational therapists and their crafts! Crafts, such as weaving, metal work, puppetry, etc., were the main activities which a therapist would have learned and taught. These crafts were meant to help a patient in recovery by entertaining him and exercising his muscles. The scope of patients for a therapist varied from sick children to wounded soldiers. Occupational therapy, which was a field dominated by women, became so popular at M-D C. that even Roosevelt commented on the school’s success at training therapists. And by 1944, the O.T. program had earned a contract with the War Department of the U.S. government! Although few know of the extensive work of occupational therapists, this collection shows just how prominent a role M-D C. played in national and international events from 1919 to 1963.

Note: This post was written by Archives intern, Laura Scholten ’13, who processed the MDC Department of Occupational Therapy Records this term. View the finding aid for more information or check out Laura’s display on the first floor of the library!

New collection guides available

In our ongoing efforts to describe a higher percentage of the Archives’ holdings, we’ve recently added some new finding aids to our collections database:

Classes Records, 1857-2011: records documenting Lawrence University classes, including Commencement materials, alumni correspondence, photographs, class directories and retrospective directories developed for reunions.

Commencement Records, 1850-2011: records  include programs and announcements from Commencement ceremonies and other academic exhibitions, correspondence, citations of awards and honorary degrees, planning documents, and photographs.

Conservatory of Music Artist Series and Jazz Series Collection, 1908-2011: includes season announcements and programs for the  Artist Series and Jazz Series, from 1908 to the present. Some photographs are also included.

Convocations Collection, 1880-2012: includes convocation programs, articles, photographs, and the text of matriculation convocation speeches.

Great Midwest Trivia Collection, 1966-2011: includes photographs, newspaper articles, and other publicity concerning the contests from 1966 to the present, as well as the original copies of all questions asked from 1991 to the present. Team lists, posters, tee-shirts, scripts, and audio recordings of selected broadcasts are also included.

Reunion Records, 1876-2011:  includes programs, correspondence, and photographs from reunions dating back to 1876.

All of these collections are open for research – stop by the Archives any weekday afternoon from 1-5 to check them out!