The Whitewater Historical Society has an extensive collection of 19th and 20th century artifacts of local and general historical interest. Of special interest is the collection of pioneer-era artifacts that were donated by the public in 1907 and housed for many years in the Log Cabin on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus. In the 1960s, the university no longer wished to maintain these artifacts, so they were donated to the Whitewater Historical Society and served as a foundation collection for the depot museum. They consist of pioneer-era household items, such as furniture, spinning wheels, textiles, dishes, and much more.
Other artifacts include 19th and 20th century furniture and household items, a large collection of women’s and children’s clothing, tools, bottles, books, toys, quilts, university and school memorabilia, and military uniforms. The society also has a large collection of manuscript materials including record books, church history pamphlets, items from local businesses, city directories, telephone directories, maps, and much more. All of these items will be used to help interpret Whitewater history in the museum.
One of the society’s most important artifacts is a large seeder manufactured by the Esterly Manufacturing Company of Whitewater, the city’s largest industry in the nineteenth century. This large piece of agricultural equipment was donated to the society decades ago, but spent many years at Stonefield Village Historic Site. A few years ago, the society successfully retrieved this artifact and moved it back to Whitewater where it will be on display beginning in the spring of 2013. The society also has a small seeder manufactured by the second largest industry in Whitewater in the 1800s, the Winchester and Partridge Manufacturing Company, known for their agricultural equipment and for making the noted “Whitewater Wagon.”