November 2011 Newsletter

November, 2011                                                                               Volume 9, No. 2


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

7:00 p.m.

Place:  University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Area Research Center

            Andersen Library, UWW campus

Where to park:  You can find parking in the lot off of Prairie Street just north of Main Street for no charge. 

How to get there:  If you enter the Andersen Library from the main entrance off of Main Street, just go into the library, take a left past the main desk toward the back of the room.  You will see a sign for the Archives.  We will have someone there to direct you.

If you enter from the lower level coming from the parking lot, just take the stairs up to the lobby and follow the above directions. 



Archivist Karen Weston of the UWW Archives and Area Research Center will be giving a program about the local history collections in the ARC.  This is largely a “hidden treasure” of local history material that was collected by the Wisconsin Historical Society and housed locally on the UWW campus.  The material is all related to Walworth, Jefferson, and Rock Counties and is of interest to anyone researching local history and genealogy. 


For example, a few of the interesting collections to be highlighted on the tour include Civil War diaries, the memoir of Lucien Caswell, 19th century politician from Fort Atkinson, and papers related to the James Manufacturing Company, a manufacturing of agricultural-related products in Fort.  One of the collections in the ARC  include old plat books, a must-see for anyone looking at rural buildings.  They also have tax assessor’s rolls for all three counties, important in the research of homes. 


Karen is also an expert genealogist and can discuss how material at the ARC can help in this type of research.  She has been a staff member at the Andersen Library since 1985 and has been the University Archivist for the past 17 years.  She has a master’s degree in American History from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in Library Science from CaseWesternUniversity. 


It is little known that the Area Research Centers of the Wisconsin Historical Society even exist.  In an effort to make collections more usable to local citizens, the historical society formed Area Research Centers at out-state college campuses to house local history collections and records.  Each area research center has collections from nearby counties.  They are wonderful resources to find local history materials. 



Unexpected New Delay in Depot Restoration

Complexities and delays in the Depot restoration project continue to amaze me and I now have a new obstacle to report, this one the most unexpected of all.  The recent bidding process resulted in only two bids received and both came in significantly over the project budget.  Everyone working behind the scenes on the restoration was surprised.  This train that is the Depot Restoration Project seems determined not to arrive on time!


Representatives of the Historical Society, the City of Whitewater and Isthmus Architecture met in early October to chart a new pathway forward.  Our solution is to rebid the work in early January of 2012 (a good time to bid projects) with various parts of the project offered as bid alternatives.  Everyone is unanimous in preserving the core integrity of the restoration but we need flexibility in drawing back the scope of the work.  When new bids are received, the committee will have the ability to select from individually priced project components from a menu of bid alternatives.  Work should begin in very early spring.  Our new goal is to celebrate the project’s completion during Fourth of July festivities, actually a great time for an open house with so many people already down by the lakefront.


The Society remains grateful to everyone in the community who supported the fundraising campaign with general contributions or the purchase of a commemorative brick.  This project will come to an end and the results will be spectacular.  I can promise you that much. 



In keeping with the restoration of the depot and the reinstallation of our collections, the Board of Directors has approved several new initiatives that will be coordinated by our board member, Communications Professor Linda Robinson.  Linda will be coordinating several efforts with other faculty and students from UWW.  First on the list are two contests.  The first is to design a new Whitewater Historical Society logo.  Society members will work with a class of students in the Art Department to create an up-dated logo for the society.  The students will also come up with a depot image suitable for a kid’s coloring contest. 


Other projects that will be undertaken in conjunction with students and faculty in the Communications Department include the design of a web site.  Probably no one will argue that the society is in need of a web site.  In this way we can better communicate with members and others and provide Whitewater history information to the public over the internet. We will also be working on a public relations plan and a video that can be posted on our web site. 

 Any one of our members who would like to assist in these projects, please contact Ellen Penwell to volunteer at 262-203-6529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  The board would welcome anyone helping on these projects. 



The end of the year is rapidly approaching and January will be here before you know it.  We have an exciting program planned for our January meeting—Marcia Carmichael, Old World Wisconsin’s historic gardener, will speak about her historic gardening book Putting Down Roots.


The society is also coming into a new membership year.  This year, we have developed a new membership brochure and will be instituting our new membership levels.  While the old $1.00 a year membership fee was a good idea to make membership available to all, the reality is that we need to have more consistent income on an annual basis.  We will have a broad range of membership levels that should be affordable for all. 


Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to all!!


Whitewater Historical Society

Carol Cartwright

W7646 Hackett Rd.

Whitewater, WI  53190