January 2010 Newsletter

January, 2010                                                                       Volume 7, No. 3


HISTORY DAY, Wednesday, Jan. 27



Wednesday, January 27 is our normal meeting date.  On that same evening, students at the Whitewater High School will be presenting their projects for History Day.  So, instead of a regular meeting, we urge all members of the Whitewater Historical Society to come to this event.  Come any time between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. to see the great displays the students have put together on this year’s topic:



National History Day began a number of years ago as a way to promote history education.  For the past few years, Greg Stewart, history teacher at the WhitewaterHigh School, along with his colleagues, have had students participate in this event.  Students must use the year’s theme in their projects and there are several levels of competition.  On Wednesday evening, the students will show their projects at the high school (multi-purpose room).  A number of projects will be selected for regional competition.  Projects that make it past regional competition will compete at the state level, and finally, the elite projects will go to the national competition in WashingtonD.C.  Last year over 150 Whitewater students participated in history day and four students made it all the way to WashingtonD.C. 


The students have several options for their projects.  But, they all must be based on good research, especially research into primary sources, those not found in textbooks or general web sites on the internet.  They need to research their topic in books, newspapers, specific web sites, and/or materials in libraries.  The purpose of history day is to get students to understand how to be a historian and how to apply what they find to their projects.  Projects range from written and photographic displays to producing a video to oral presentations. 


At last March’s historical society meeting, you might remember that the four students going to Nationals presented the two winning projects to our group.  One was a highly professional short documentary and one was an oral presentation about Alfred Lunt, with the student acting as Lunt.  They were exciting and original works. So, I hope that you will take this opportunity to go to History Day instead of our regular meeting and see some of the fine work done by Whitewater students.


Depot Museum News

Some members may be wondering what is happening at the depot in regard to the restoration, since there has been no activity at the depot yet.  Through no fault of the historical society, there have been some delays.  Because the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is administrating the grant, and they have been very busy administrating federal stimulus money, they have been the source of most of the delay.  First, it took over six months for them to get a contract to the city to even start the ball rolling.  Second, it took about another six months for them to approve the selection of the architectural firm and contract.  Right now, the architectural firm is reviewing the contract for the work and we hope to get the planning started soon.  If all goes well, we may be able to reopen the depot museum some time next fall, not too far behind schedule. 


In the meantime, the board of directors have been fund-raising and our “buy a brick” campaign has been moving along.  But, we still have not filled the sidewalk.  Society members will be at various events with the buy a brick brochures and will continue to fund-raise.  Our next event is at Freeze Fest, where we will be passing out brick brochures and selling raffle tickets for the wonderful quilt that was donated to us.  We will have the quilt on display at several locations in the near future, including Freeze Fest.


If you have not done so . . . 



Our brick campaign is ongoing and orders for bricks have been coming in, but we still have many spaces to fill and if you have not purchased a brick, you are still able to do so.  If you have—tell your friends.  Remember, you don’t have to put your name on a brick—although you certainly can, as we appreciate all our donors.  But, if you would like, you can buy a brick for a historic figure or organization or even a business. 


You may pick up your BUY A BRICK! brochures at city hall, the library, the banks and from any board members.  A $100 donation will purchase a 4” x 8” brick.  A $250 donation will purchase an 8” x 8” brick.  Bricks will be laid at the close of the restoration project in 2010 or spring of 2011.  They will appear in the walkway leading from the fountain to the depot on Whitewater Street, the most prominent place on the grounds.  


Quilt Raffle

The society will be begin to sell raffle tickets for the quilt donated by the quilter’s guild.  All proceeds will go to our restoration fund.  We will post a photograph in newspapers and on the Banner and will be at various events to sell tickets.  The quilt will also be in some public places.  Come into the depot at Freeze Fest and buy your tickets!


Planning our “New Look” Museum

One of the most important tasks the board has to do is to plan exhibits for the depot when it reopens.  This is an opportunity to give the museum a “new look,” one that updates displays and provides more information to the public.  All our artifacts have stories, both specific to Whitewater and in general American history.  We want to tell these stories in a permanent exhibit as well as rotating exhibits. 


The board has begun meeting to work on what our permanent exhibit will look like and how it will best illustrate Whitewater’s History.  We want to tell the story of Whitewater through our artifacts and photographs, and we want to do it in a way that will be interesting to everyone.  Here are the themes we will be using to guide us in this process. 

                                    Native Peoples and Landscape (Pre-1836)

The Pioneer Era (1836-1850)

The Maturing Village (1850-1870)

The Civil War Era (1860’s)

The Industrial Era (1870-1900)

The Commercial-Agricultural Era (1900-1940)

The World War II Era (1940s)

The University Era (1950-1975)

Contemporary Whitewater (1975—Present)


All of these themes will make up the new look museum.  For example, the industrial era can be represented by photos and drawings of the Esterly Harvesting Machine Factory, the Winchester and Partridge Manufacturing Company, and others.  Our Esterly artifacts and Winchester and Partridge seeder can illustrate what these companies produced.  We can use some of our other artifacts; such as photos, clothing, dishes, and utensils to portray home life in Whitewater during that era.  We can show how the downtown changed due to the prosperity of that era.  We can show how Whitewater changed physically during that time and display photos showing the growth of the Normal School.  All of this takes planning, and the board will continue with this project all through the restoration period.  


Membership month—moved to march

January is usually membership month when the newsletter encloses forms for everyone to send in their annual dues and contributions to keep the newsletter going and pay our bills (heating/air conditioning, insurance, etc.)  Unfortunately, the membership secretary (your newsletter editor) was unable to get the forms and envelopes together for this newsletter.  So, your March newsletter will contain membership materials.  Thanks for your patience!


Ruth Engebretsen Dorr Exhibit

For the month of February, the project that our intern, Jenny Kalvaitis, presented at the November meeting, will be on display in one of the exhibit cases at the public library.  If you did not get a chance to hear Jenny’s presentation, come to see the exhibit at the library.  If you did hear the presentation, come again to remember Ruth Dorr and her role in Whitewater History.



W7646 Hackett Rd.

Whitewater, WI  53190