Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society archives
Ada James was a woman’s suffrage leader in Wisconsin who led the Political Equality League from 1910 to 1912, and served as the executive secretary of the Wisconsin Woman’s Suffrage Association, or WWSA, from 1912 to 1915. In these leadership roles she toured around the state promoting small town grassroots suffrage organizations through speeches, leaflets, and other pro-suffrage publications. She also fought against the strong anti-suffrage presence in Wisconsin by exposing how Wisconsin breweries were using their money to bribe and win the votes of the Wisconsin legislature.
After stepping down from her leadership role in the WWSA in 1915, Ada turned her attention to more radical forms of suffrage activism like picketing the White House and civil disobedience. This was the same kind of activism used by nationally known suffragettes like Alice Paul and the members of the National Women’s Party. She supported these efforts by lobbying Wisconsin and important swing state congress members in 1917 and 1918 to vote for a national amendment to grant women the right to vote. Her lobbying was a very radical form of activism because it meant that Ada was talking directly to the congress members from each state, rather than the community in which the members served. This hard work and organizing paid off when Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the 19th amendment. This was an amazing accomplishment because the Wisconsin legislature had denied a suffrage amendment just a few years earlier in 1912.
This collection is made up of 30 boxes, but the only boxes that you will focus on are 18, 19, 20 and 24, which demonstrate the radicalization of Ada and the Wisconsin suffrage movement between 1912 and 1919. One of the best parts about this collection is that it is available online through the University of Wisconsin-Madison archives. This means that you can dive into Ada’s story at any time, whether it be at home, in your classroom, or at a library. In order to access the digital collection do the following:
Most of the letters in Ada’s collection are written in cursive, which may seem scary. However, once you start reading the collection you will get used to the cursive handwriting quickly. You will even be able to tell who wrote some of the letters just based purely off their style! By the end of your time with this project, reading the cursive will be one of the best parts of the collection because the unique handwriting of each suffragette gives the documents character, distinguishing them from type-written documents.
If you want to read, feel, and connect with the documents that Ada and other famous suffragettes like Alice Paul wrote in person, ask your teacher to get in contact with the Area Research Center found at the nearest UW campus. Interacting with the letters online is enjoyable, but there is nothing like seeing the real thing… it can even be life changing!
To get the collection do the following:
Box 18, Folder 1: January-February, 1913
In this folder pay special attention to the letters between Ada and Lutie Stearns because they are the presidents of the Political Equality League and Wisconsin Woman’s Suffrage Association. These letters also suggest a merger between the organizations. In particular find the letters all dated January 7, 1913 to Ada from Lutie Stearns, Ms. Shaw, and Crystal Benedict. These letters show support for and opposition to the merger. As you read, ask yourself what did Stearns and Ada hope to accomplish with this merger?
Box 18, Folder 3: March 26-November, 1913
Look at the pamphlets and copied letters from June 5, 1913 for examples of how the state suffrage organizations helped support and strengthen local organizations. Find the March 29, 1913 letter between Ada and Theodora Youmans, the president of the WWSA. Also, look for letters between these same women between June 4 and June 13 as well. These letters detail the logistics of the WWSA. Look for propaganda and specific details about where pro-suffrage documents are being sent and how they are used.
Box 18, Folder 2: February-March 25, 1913
This folder of details the strategies of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) by including letters that discuss sending suffragettes to represent Wisconsin at the Suffrage march in Washington D.C in March,1913. The letters between Ada and Mrs. Palma Pederson from February 1, 1913 and the meeting minutes from the joint suffrage convention on February 4, 1913 are two of the key documents in the folder. The letters dating between March 20 and March 24, 1913 are also important documents because they explain the NWSA’s tactics. Pay attention to the emphasis put on open-air speeches and suffrage education within local communities by the NWSA.
Box 18, Folder 4: Jan-May, 1915
This is a very rich folder because there are a number of important letters to find!
Again, pay attention to the letters between Ada and Theodora Youmans from January 26 through February 7, 1914 because these letters detail how the Wisconsin suffrage movement went about building a strong enough voice to propose a second state amendment before the legislature following the first one’s failure in 1912.
Find the letters between Ada and Crystal Benedict. They are dated March 14 and March 25, 1914. Benedict writes to Ada on how much public support the possible amendment has.
Lastly, look at the letter to Ada from Alice Paul from February 6, 1914 because this letter marks a shift in her perception of suffrage organization towards radically fighting for a federal amendment. Read to find what Paul considered radical and on the tactics in which Ada agreed with Paul.
Box 19, Folder 1: June-September, 1915
Find letters between Ada and Alice Paul from June 27 and June 28. Notice that there is a shift in the organizational tone.
The letters addressed to Ada from Alice Curtis all dated August 8, 1915 are also key letters as Curtis asks for Ada’s advice on how to properly organize conventions and public speaking events.
Find the letters dated between June 19 and June 25, 1915 between Ada and Theodora Youmans, who was the president of the WWSA at the time. In these letters, note what parts of Youmans’s agenda Ada supports and rejects regarding Alice Paul’s congressional union.
Box 19, Folder 2: October-December, 1915
Find the list of tactics used by suffragettes sent to Ada all from October 12, 1915. Also read a few letters from October 12, 1915. What connection do you see between the tactics used and the attitudes towards those tactics and the suffrage movement. The brochures in this folder all dated November 4, 1915 provide a key understanding into how suffrage literature was written and what they were arguing for.
Box 19, Folder 3: 1916
These letters to Ada from February 12 to February 19 detail a change in the Wisconsin Woman’s Suffrage Association (WWSA). Read these to look for the shift that occurs with Ada and the other members of the WWSA. Take note of the states that they turned their attention to.
Box 19 Folder 6: January-April, 1918
There are two important letters to find in this folder. First, find the January 10, 1918 letter between Ada and Congressmen John Shack, which demonstrates how lobbying helped gain support locally as well as nationally. Find the reason why the Congressman could not vote to pass the 19th amendment. Do you believe him? Do you think Ada believes him? Also find letters between Ada and Alice Paul all dated January 24, 1918. Note the sense of urgency between the two women. Why do you think it is present?
Reviewed by: Isaac Wegner
Photo courtesy of the Southwest Wisconsin Room, UW-Platteville
If you have ever wondered what life was like in Wisconsin during World War I, this Friendly Finding Aid is for you. It explores an exciting time in the United States’ history from the US perspective. This was a war unlike any war fought before, with effects that reached all the way into Wisconsin. This aid follows three years, 1917-1919, of newspaper articles from the Grant County Democrat. One of the great features of this collection is that all the papers you need are on microfilm. Here’s a chance to learn a new skill that all historians are familiar with. Looking through microfilm has advantages that most collections do not. Instead of searching your way through folders and struggling to read someone’s hand writing, you get to spend your time leisurely scrolling through typed newspapers that are easy to read.
This Friendly Finding Aid focuses on how World War I affected the home front in Muscoda (Mus-kuh-day), a small town in Wisconsin. Muscoda was a typical 1917 small town, therefore what went on there is likely comparable to what was happening across the country. Think of this as something historians call a “case study”: use of a single example to represent something larger. World War I had a wide range of impacts, but this FFA focuses on: food shortages, the Selective Service Act, home front support, and home front politics. Like all newspapers, the Grant County Democrat covers a wide range of topics, so while many of the articles pertain to World War I, a lot of them do not. Therefore, if the topics outlined above don’t interest you, there are others that certainly will.
It’s important to mention again that this collection of newspapers is on microfilm. Viewing microfilm is not very difficult but will require some new skills. The best way to learn how to use a microfilm reader is to have either the librarians or archivists teach you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at any time, they know the machines well! The newspapers that you will be viewing carry an almost identical format throughout 1917 and 1918. The biggest news, especially local news, is focused on the front page. This is where a lot of information about the war is displayed. The rest of the paper includes various national and global news and weekly sections such as fictional stories and advertisements. The collection is extremely interesting and helpful for learning about the impact of World War I on this small town, but is also very intriguing just to see what small town life was like one hundred years ago. As you dive into this collection, try to imagine what these experiences would have been like if you’d lived in Muscoda. Don’t just consume the details; try to use your imagination to take a journey back in time!
To use the articles featured in this FFA do the following:
1. Find the newspaper’s date
2. Locate the page number or if there is no page number, count from the title page
3. Search for the article title
All of this information is provided below.
One of the topics that is related to World War I, and is frequently mentioned throughout the collection, is food shortages. Lifestyles had to change drastically because, to ensure that there would be enough food for the troops, people at home had to eat differently. For example, families had to limit important products such as flour and sugar!
May 18, 1917: Page 2 “Women and Children to Assist in Increasing the Food Supply”
With many farmers away at war, someone has to step up and keep the farms running. Read to find out how women and children were needed to help supply the soldiers with food.
June 15, 1917: Page 6 “Things to Do Now to Assist Win War”
Before you read this article, think of some ways that you would be able to help conserve food if you were asked to do so. The article is short, but very interesting. Did your prediction match what people were being asked to do?
June 22, 1917: Page 7 “Keep Tractors Busy”
Here you can read a great article about some of the latest technology…tractors! This is interesting because during this time period tractors were still not very common. As you read, take notes of what farmers with tractors were being asked to do.
September 14, 1917: Page 7 “Feed the Fighters! Win the War!!”
Read this article to learn about a travel opportunity that helped with the home front effort.
September 21, 1917: Page 1 “Affects 7000 Hotels in State”
Read about how the food shortages are affecting hotels, restaurants, and other eating places.
November 9, 1917: Page 1 “Don’t Eat Less”
During the war, the Federal Government’s Food Administration set up regulations and gave advice for people on the home front. Read more about what they want citizens do to support the country properly.
May 17, 1918: Page 1 “Sugar Ruling for Canning Purposes in Wisconsin”
In the 1910s, many families were canning their own produce. New orders from the Food Administration changed how people could can at home. Read to see what all Americans had to do differently.
August 30, 1918: Page 4 “Wisconsin Food Administrator’s Catechism”
Read about what citizens can do to further comply with the restrictions. There is a list of directions and guidelines on how to follow the rationing of certain foods in Wisconsin.
Throughout this collection you will also learn about the Selective Service Act, which is better known as the military draft. These articles talk about things such as where and how to sign up. The newspaper published soldier’s letters so that people could read first-hand accounts. Additionally, the papers talk about the impacts of missing many young men from the area. One of the biggest problems was a shortage of farm workers.
By the way if this topic interests you, you will also want to see the FFA titled, “The Selective Service during World War I.”
May 4, 1917: Page 6 “Congress Awaits Country’s Stand on the Draft Law”
Here you can read about the process used to set up a draft law. This is a very interesting time because there had not been a military draft since the Civil War, so to have it return was a big deal.
May 11, 1917: Page 2 “Army Draft Law Now in Effect”
The bill passed and is now a law! Read to see how it will be carried out and who will be enforcing it.
June 1, 1917: Page 1 “Military Notice of Enrollment”
Read to learn about who had to enroll and the consequences of not enrolling.
September 12, 1918: Page 1 “Persons Who Must Register”
This is another article that lays out the requirements men had to follow to enroll in the draft.
By the way, another cool article on this same page is, “Airplane Passes Muscoda.” Pay attention to how the people of Muscoda freak out!
In this part of the collection, the papers focus on home front support efforts for the war. Some of the support efforts included organizing Red Cross Chapters, as well as fund raising to send local newspapers to the soldiers away from home. Patriotism and the Red Cross were very hot topics throughout the whole war and many local people were very involved.
May 25, 1917: Page 1“Muscoda To Have Red Cross Chapter” and “Great Patriotic Demonstration at Muscoda Last Friday”
The first article encourages everyone to get involved in the Red Cross Chapter that will be starting in Muscoda soon. The front page features another article describing a great soldier send-off that took place in town.
June 8, 1917: Page 1 “Red Cross Meeting”
This is a brief article, but after reading it I bet you can predict what will be happening in Muscoda.
June 15, 1917: Page 1 “The Red Cross is Calling You”
The Red Cross is starting to take shape in Muscoda. Read about what steps they will be taking to keep growing.
June 22, 1917: Page 1 “The Red Cross is Calling You. Enlist Now.”
This article features a long list of names. Imagine reading through the “Roll of Honor” for the Red Cross Society of Muscoda and not seeing your name on it. As the article says, “Don’t be a slacker.” Find out what citizens needed to do and where they needed to be so Muscoda doesn’t have any “slackers”!
August 3, 1917: Page 8 “Sheriffs are to Nab Lazy Men”
Read about what could happen to the “slackers” mentioned in the previous article.
October 5, 1917: Page 1 “The Red Cross is Still Calling You”
As the article says, “The Red Cross is calling you.” Read more about how the Red Cross in America compares to the Red Cross in other countries.
December 17, 1917: Page 1 “Buy Red Cross Xmas Seals”
With Christmas around the corner see what citizens did to support their local Red Cross and at the same time get in the holiday spirit. By the way what is a Christmas Seal?
February 8, 1918: Page 1 “Red Cross Report”
This short article describes some of the great work the Red Cross was doing.
March 22, 1918: Page 1 “Food and Money will Win the War”
Find out what buying a Liberty Bond can do for the United States. Also, as you read, try to figure out what a Liberty Bond is.
September 27, 1918: Page 1
On page one of this week’s paper you can read numerous interesting articles about what was going on in Muscoda to support the war. Choose two of the articles and see what can be learned.
November 15, 1918: Page 1
The war has ended! Read the articles on the first page to get a sense of what it was like in Muscoda when news of the war’s end arrived. Remember, Muscoda is being used as a case study. What you read happening in Muscoda likely went on in small towns all over the U.S.
The Grant County Democrat also provides a great look at what different political leaders in the United States were doing to help support the war. By examining the local news headlines and experiences of local people, a lot of perspective can be gained on what life was like back then.
February 9, 1917: Page 2 “Diplomatic Relations with Germany Broken”
Read about the diplomatic relations being broken between Germany and the U.S. What does this mean for the future of U.S. involvement in WWI?
March 9, 1917: Page 2 “German Plot Against U.S. is Revealed”
Read about a shocking and surprising twist in the war. Hint; It involves Germany, Japan, and Mexico working together against the U.S.
March 30, 1917: Page 2 “Wilson Calls Congress to Act in U-Boat Crisis”
Read about the tense situation that has been ongoing with Germany’s U-Boats (submarines) and how the United States Government is responding.
April 6, 1917: Page 1 (bottom left corner) “Signs of War”
This very interesting article talks about some things that are happening not too far from Muscoda.
April 13, 1917: Page 2 “Wilson Warns Aliens in War Proclamation”
In this article, you can read about the regulations President Wilson created for German Americans to follow. How are these Americans being treated differently?
April 20, 1917: Page 1 “A Proclamation”
If you’ve read the articles above, the big article on the front page on this date might not surprise you. Read about what’s ahead for the country.
April 27, 1917: Page 1 “Call from United States Army Captain”
This Army Captain says, “Wisconsin is not responding as it should.” Read what he says Wisconsin men need to do to show support for their country.
November 1, 1918: Page 1 “Muscoda Loses First Soldier Boy”
The first issue in November is a sad one because it brings news of the first soldier from Muscoda to die in the war effort.
Reviewed by: Tanner Williamson
Image courtesy of Murphy Library special collections, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Raymond Bice was born in 1896 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Throughout his life he held many occupations such as lumber yard owner, contractor, assemblyman, chairman of local organizations, and part-time magician! During the beginning of his political career, during the 1940s, Bice started doing radio talks on La Crosse’s station W.K.B.H. His talks are typed and address a variety of topics, such as education, mental health, highway safety, how politics work, and even beer!
In 1947, Bice proposed legislation that would set and enforce a speed limit law for rural roads in Wisconsin. He believed that the number of deaths was too high and preventable. Believe it or not, this legislation was controversial! Indeed, when Bice first tried to pass the law, it was defeated by a vote of fifty-four to thirty-eight. In 1949, the legislation did pass, and the new speed limit law called for a top daytime speed of 60 miles an hour, and a nighttime limit of 50 miles an hour. The law also placed signs on all roads. This was Bice’s most influential work as a politician, and the first speed limit Wisconsin had seen in over 20 years.
Raymond Bice was a very active member within his community. Through his radio shows he demonstrated how much he cared for public interests, and how he wanted to inform his constituents, the people he served. He used these shows, correspondence (letters), and public events to hear the opinions of the general public. When not on the radio or in office, he even put on the occasional magic show for the community!
The collection consists of four archive boxes that contain information on Raymond Bice from the years of 1946 to 1968. The boxes include an oral history, letters with community members, news clippings, and documents regarding Bice’s legislation. This Friendly Finding Aid will focus on Bice’s use of radio to create public support for passing a speed limit law in Wisconsin. The documents you’ll be using are only in three boxes and four folders! Most of the documents in the folders are typed and organized, making the collection easy to read!
The boxes that you’ll be reading are not in order, but that’s nothing to worry about! If you follow the order below, everything will make sense.
This Box contains Bice’s oral history that summarizes his personal and political life.
Folder 1: The oral history in this folder is around a fifty-page interview that includes general history, Bice’s life, and how he started his career in politics. It’s great background reading, but you don’t need to read all of it. That would take a very long time! The reading is broken up into four interview sections that each have their own page numbers. So, if you skim the booklet you’ll notice that there is more than one section labeled “Transcript of Raymond Bice.” Think of each of these as the beginning of a new chapter. Go to the last chapter and read pages four through seven. Bice talks about how his speed limit bill was only a small part of his twenty-two-year tenure on the Senate. Read this to find valuable information on why Bice was passionate about his community and the laws he made.
In box four you’ll only be using folder 10. The folder is not very big but contains important information. There are three types of documents you’ll want to read.
Folder 10: First look for a white, folded spread sheet. It shows the number of automobile accidents and deaths in Wisconsin from 1941 to 1947. The sheet also provides information on driving conditions and other circumstances that contributed to accidents. Keep in mind that it was Bice’s goal to reduce the number of deaths occurring in rural areas. By the 1940s thirty-four states had already adopted new speed limit laws and most of them had fewer fatalities per capita than Wisconsin. Speed was especially problematic in rural areas because there were fewer “educated” drivers and less enforcement to patrol the area.
The next documents to find are government documents. They are not numbered or organized by date, which may make some of them a little difficult to find. The documents will usually have an official-looking seal on them and will have a fancy signature at the bottom. These are important because they suggest that Bice was not the only government official that wanted safer speed laws. These papers are important. Read them to find out who the other people and organizations were that supported Bice’s proposition.
Last, find a greyish-white paper. The title is, “A Father Writes His Son.” It is a letter written by B. McCutcheon to his son. It is in support of Bice’s law. The letter talks about how the boy’s parents don’t feel comfortable with him driving at night or speeding. It’s emotionally appealing and personal, and is a very persuasive argument for safer roads. Do you think that this letter is real? Or was it made up to serve as propaganda? Think about this as you read.
Box two contains folders with Raymond Bice’s typed radio speeches. These speeches are numbered and cover a wide range of topics such as education, mental health, teachers, and the primary focus of this FFA, speed limit and highway safety!
You’ll be looking at Folders 26 and 27. One of Bice’s main goals as a politician was to educate his constituents. Bice’s most common radio subject was about highway safety, but it was closely followed by the importance of education. For example, speeches 10, 11, 12, 20, 39, and 40 all address the significance of a good education and teachers’ rights. Bice argues that education is important because it supplies the future with a reliable work force. If you’d like to read about education, these speeches will give you a good starting point. Bice’s radio shows addressed public concerns, and through them he tried to create a well-informed population that was able to understand and contribute to society.
Folder 26: This folder contains some of Raymond Bices typed W.K.B.H. radio speeches. These talks address statistics and how many people are being affected by speeding drivers. Bice often addressed the same issues in different speeches. Below are a few you’ll like. As you read notice how Bice uses factual evidence and emotional appeal to tell the public why they should be concerned with safer highway regulations.
• Speech numbers 5 and 21 deal with the speed limit.
• Speech 7 discusses the financial aspects of owning a car in the U.S.
• Speech 40 is titled “America on Wheels” and talks about how Americans have been safe with their use of cars.
• Speech 41 reviews facts about drivers’ licenses.
Folder 27: This folder contains statistical information on accidents that happened at the local and national scale. Statistics act as Bice’s main argument in advising the public on safer roads, and he uses them often. These radio talks also show how farmers and law enforcement agreed with a new speed limit bill for safety and security reasons.
• Speeches 42 and 46 contain information regarding the number of fatalities in car accidents as a result of speeding.
Reviewed by: Logan Gove
Image courtesy Murphy Library Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
The real name of this collection is the Earl W. Reiger Railroad Collection. It is made up of 3 archival boxes and 66 folders! Do not worry however, this aid will focus on just 8 folders from the first 2 boxes. These folders deal with common railroad hazards and issues, such as: locomotive explosions, complaints, improvements, accidents, fatalities, floods, snow and ice, and wrecks. These hazards and issues are also the titles of the folders in the collection. The documents in these folders prove that corporate greed, neglect, and carelessness led to preventable incidents involving the railroad. The boxes focus on the history of the Kickapoo Valley Railroad, which was a 52-mile rail line that connected Wauzeka to La Farge, Wisconsin. The collection was put together by Earl W. Reiger Ph.D, who was born in Wauzeka in 1912.
Most of the information in the collection is from 1878-1939. It is made up of newspaper articles, official business statements, legal documents, and first-hand accounts. The cool thing about this collection is that you can read about the same incident from different points of view and compare information found in other folders. For example, there are complaints (found in the “Complaint” folder) that warn about a dangerous situation. Nothing was done about the complaint so an incident occurred (which can be found in the “Accidents” folder).
This finding aid is organized in the same order that the folders are in the archival boxes. Notice that the folders are numbered and titled for easy finding. For each folder description there is included one example to read, but there are many more exciting ones to find on your own!
Box 1 Folder 9: This folder contains specific information on locomotive explosions. Find the document dated May 28, 1896. It tells about an explosion and why it happened. Read to see if corporate greed or neglect was a factor.
Box 2 Folder 14: This folder includes complaints about a wide variety of issues. It is a collection of published newspaper articles put together by Dr. Reiger (the man who created this collection). Keep in mind that these complaints were not written by the company. Do you think that this made the complaints unbiased?
The complaints folder is where most of the content against the railroad companies is located, so remember to always compare the information here with what you read in other folders. Find the document dated September 26, 1901. It involves kids and shows neglect by the company. Read to see what happened.
Box 2 Folder 15: This folder contains information regarding improvements to the line, stations, and the locomotives. It is really a list of statements made by the railroad, such as: “the R.R. company has started regular repair work on the Kickapoo Branch….”. However, the cool thing about this folder is that many of the statements contrast with ones made in the “Complaints” folder. For example, find the document dated April 6, 1916. Compare that document with the same topic from the complaints folder and see if they tell the same story.
Box 2 Folder 19: This folder includes information on all types of accidents that occurred on company property. There were a significant number, and a few them could have been prevented. For instance, the company reported that a child lost his leg because he was run over by a train on September 26, 1912. Compare this to a document dated July 19, 1901, that is in the “Complaints” folder.
Box 2 Folder 20: Folder 20 tells about people that died and how they died. Moving heavy transportation vehicles is a dangerous business, so every precaution should be taken to prevent injuries and fatalities. A document within this folder dated November 12, 1903, suggests that maybe not every precaution was taken.
Box 2 Folder 21: This folder gives the reader a good understanding of the weather patterns in this area and how they influenced the line. The company should consider that flooding can pose serious risk to the line and to the employees. But, in a document dated September 23, 1915, the company seems to have ignored this. Read to find out what happened.
Box 2 Folder 23: This folder tells how winter weather influenced the railway. Snow and Ice can cause serious damage and should not be taken lightly, especially when passengers are aboard. But, on the morning of February 4, 1915, the company seems to have ignored the dangers posed by the weather. Look at his document to find out what happened.
Box 2 Folder 25: This folder is a list of facts about wrecks, what caused them, and the date and time. Wrecks are extremely dangerous and expensive to clean up, so they should be prevented at all costs. When wrecks do happen, they should be cleaned up right away to prevent further damage. But the company doesn’t seem to care about these things! Read the document dated December 2, 1915, to see what happened when they didn’t do a good job.
Reviewed by: Alex Schrampfer
This collection is comprised of papers from Wisconsin’s first female Senator, Kathryn Morrison. Senator Morrison was active in a lot of issues but this FFA deals with her work on mental health rights and treatments. The whole collection has 23 boxes, 34 photos, and 7 audio recordings! The materials pertaining to mental health rights, however, are only in boxes 7 and 16. Morrison took notes and did her own research on a range of issues pertaining to mental health. Her notes are in cursive, on the margins, and all over the documents, but don’t worry, all the cursive is easy to read.
Box 7 contains letters from families asking for advice. Box 16 has government documents and rough drafts of edits to documents. They are everything from daily correspondence to proposed amendments. Wisconsin Chapter 51 legislation, the law dealing with mental health rights, is in this box along with all of her edits to it! Government documents have their own language, but again it is also easily understood and, in some documents, there is even a glossary provided!
The boxes in this collection are have a lot of folders, but there’s not a lot of information in each folder. For example, some of the folders only have 3-4 pieces of paper in them. Each folder has a title on it and a file number out of the total number of folders. For instance, in box 7, folder 14, has the title “Mental Health”, and 14/26 written on it as well. All of the folders are removable, so while they should be in numerical order they might be out of place. When taking out the folder you need, make sure that it has the correct title and number on it.
Box 7 Folder 14The title of this folder is “Mental Health.” In this folder there are letters which are great examples of the problems that families with mentally ill loved ones faced. To find the letters below look for the dates on the top. All of the letters will have a thin typewriter piece of paper stapled to them, which is Morrison’s response. Make sure to read both.
December 6, 1977: Read the handwritten letter first. It is on a small piece of paper and is in cursive, don’t worry though, it’s easy to read. The letter is from a family in Cuba City, Wisconsin who has a mentally ill person in their family. As you read notice how having a mentally ill person affected them.
February 13, 1978: This one is the longest, but still only 3 pages. As you read look for the interaction between the mentally ill and law enforcement.
April 5, 1978: The letter is on a photocopied piece of paper (this one is in cursive too, but again, easy to read). In this letter the writer talks about the issue of how expensive caring for a mentally ill person can be.
Box 7 Folder 14 Find the green pieces of paper. These are typed and deal with nursing homes and the mentally ill. Next, find a lined piece of paper. This is Morrison’s handwritten notes. It is important to read these documents first because they are an intro to the papers in Box 16 and a central issue that Morrison worked on.
Box 16 Folder 5This folder isn’t that full, but it has a lot of good information in it. The title is “Care of the Mentally Ill, Special Committee.” With these documents date is one way to find the them, but other ways will be listed below.
March 6, 1978: This is the first piece of paper to look for. It has the words “Wisconsin Legislative Assembly Chamber” in blue at the top center. As you read look for Morrison’s beginning interest in mental health.
September 19, 1978: Look for “Monroe Manor” in the top left. These papers deal with nursing homes and funding. Read them to look for possible conflicts between funding and the nursing homes. These documents go along great with the set from November (below).
November 9, 1978: These are the papers that go along with the ones from September 19. Look for a thin typewriter page with the red words “Mentally Ill” in the top right. As you read look for the same conflicts that arose in the September papers. See if you can figure out how Morrison wanted to solve these conflicts.
The New Glarus Home: These are a set of papers dedicated to the nursing home in New Glarus. They give information on a draft of a law pertaining to nursing homes and the mentally ill. During Morrison’s time it was common for the mentally ill to be living in nursing homes along with the elderly. It’s a lot to read, so if you want, just read the first page. That will give you plenty of information. If you read more look for any issues pertaining to the proposed laws.
Box 16 Folder 15
The title of this folder is “Mental Health-Chapter 51 Implementation Committee.” It has a lot of information. If you like sifting through hundreds of pages of government documents than this one is perfect for you! If not, there are two documents to focus on.
January 12, 1977: Next find the papers with “State of Wisconsin/Department of Health and Social Services” on the top. This is the Chapter 51 legislature before the amendments. Look at the key on the first page to help navigate this document. The key is a table of contents as to what’s in the legislation. Morrison dealt a lot with 51.10, 51.20, 51.61, and 51.80 so start with those. As you read this packet also look at the documents from December 1, 1976 to see the changes.
Reviewed by: Tori Holtz
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Murphy Library Area Research Center
The John E. McConnell Papers is a small, but varied collection. It consists of 4 folders, filled with letters, speeches, news clippings, and even a couple of small pictures. Thankfully, the speeches and news clippings are typed and easy to read. On the flip side, the majority of the letters are written in cursive and require a bit of detective work to read—but don’t worry, you can do it! John E. McConnell was born in 1863 in Farmington—just outside of La Crosse. He spent his teenage years in West Salem before leaving to study law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 1895-1899 McConnell served as La Crosse County District Attorney, and as a representative in the Wisconsin Legislature from 1909-1911. Throughout his life, McConnell was an active citizen—he was eager to learn from prominent political officials, important educators, and fellow lawyers. He was active in local politics, state politics, education, and law reform.
This FFA focuses on McConnell’s commitment to Progressive politics. Note that the FFA does not cover folder 4 and works backwards—first folder 3, then folder 2, and lastly folder 1. Folder 3 is filled with newspaper clippings that provide excellent insight into McConnell’s character. Start here because it will help you understand folders 2 and 3. Folder 2 is filled with typed, easy-to-read material. This background makes reading the cursive letters in folder 1 a breeze…or at least much easier.
The materials in the folders are not in a set order. Look for any dates or other eye-catching details on each piece to find specific documents. For example, in folder 2 there is a letter titled like this: July 1889, West Salem. City Attorney. This means that you will find the date, (July 1889) the city, (West Salem) and the title (City Attorney) on the first page near the top. Sometimes there are dates written in pencil on the top right-hand corner—look for these! Whenever there is a date written pencil, this FFA uses it to help you find specific documents.
This is a skinny folder, but it is full of information about John E. McConnell. Its clippings provide excellent insight into McConnell’s character. Read all of it! There are 4 total newspaper clippings: 3 different obituaries and a short article. Each obituary provides slightly different information, which gives insight into McConnell’s character. After reading this folder, would you have wanted to know John?
This folder is mainly speeches. They include graduation speeches, political speeches, and a few speeches for returning World War I veterans! They clearly show McConnell’s progressive spirit in the way he advocates for improved education, social justice, and equality. Throughout this folder, look for McConnell’s handwritten margin notes—they are a great example of his progressive mindset. If you’re curious as to what John E. McConnell looked like, look for a small business card with McConnell’s face on it. Below are selected pieces that show McConnell’s progressive thinking.
July 1889, West Salem. City Attorney
This speech focuses on the themes of state pride and patriotism. Read to see how McConnell thinks about Wisconsinites.
A legislative record is a list tracking the votes of legislative representatives. Find the quote from Charles William Eliot. He was a very prestigious man and the President of Harvard University. Eliot’s quote clearly shows McConnell’s Republican-Progressive stance.
In this speech, McConnell encourages the graduates to live a life dedicated to improving the human condition. Read this speech to find the high-minded ideals McConnell preached.
1912, Republican Standpoint (It’s in purple writing)
This campaign speech is meant to be persuasive. It gives a clear example of Republican-Progressive ideals. In it McConnell compares how progressives think in comparison to other politicians. Read to find the competing political groups McConnell references.
“Charity Workers Open Convention in Local Church”
This clipping is a newspaper reprint of a speech McConnell gave at the Wisconsin Conference of Charities. (It is no surprise to find McConnell, a Progressive, involved in this conference.) It was one goal of the Progressives to help the poor through government or community-paid programs. Read to get a sense of the Progressive movement’s concern towards the needy and less fortunate.
This folder contains a wide variety of letters. Some are personal, dating all the way back to McConnell’s college years! There are only a few personal letters, but they reveal this budding idealistic character. The selected letters below are grouped based on topic. They are: business, government efficiency, personal research, and voting.
1870, Aug 18—Cyrus W. Field
Cyrus W. Field was a leading businessman in the telegraphing industry. He was part of the committee that laid the trans-Atlantic cable, creating a faster communication between the U.S. and England. How did McConnell understand the government’s role over this new style of communication?
1883, Oct 15—Personal Letter, John A. Logan
1883, Oct 3—Purple Writing, Benjamin Harrison
1883, Nov 11—Plain Paper, John H. Reagan, Palestine, TX
1883, Nov 19—Navy Department
These four letters are grouped together because they are all responses to questions McConnell asked. In each letter McConnell is curious to know about the efficiency of debates in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. By Sending multiple letters, McConnell is trying to figure out if the government of the United States can be improved for the benefit of American citizens. Included in this group are letters from future President Benjamin Harrison and former (Civil War) Confederate Cabinet Official John H. Reagan! Read to find out what they say.
1885, Dec 12—University of Michigan
1885, Dec 1—Princeton University
1885, Dec 15—Johns Hopkins University
This group of three letters displays McConnell’s questioning nature. All of them were sent to distinguished professors from respected universities. He asks for book recommendations based on each professor’s specialized area. He also asks for their opinion on ways to improve the voting and law-making process. These letters are a clear example of Wisconsin Idea thinking! Why do you think McConnell went to these men with his questions?
1886 Jan. 9—United States Senate
Tuskegee Normal School—Booker T. Washington
McConnell sent letters to a wide range of people. Here he questions both U.S. Senators and leading African American educator, Booker T. Washington, about the right to vote. McConnell wants to know how test (reading or civics) would impact the voting process in the United States. What were the responses?
Reviewed by: Austin Schulz
This Friendly Finding Aid is on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp newspapers. (Did you know that CCC workers lived in camp settings and that these camps published their own newsletters?) This collection consists of thirteen folders covering camps in three different Western Wisconsin counties. This finding aid, however, will focus on only the newspapers in Jackson County. The Jackson County collection consists of five folders, covering the years from 1934-1937. They focus on three different CCC camps: North Bend, Lake Arbutus, and Irving. While there are only three camps, there are five newspapers listed for Jackson county. This is because the Lake Arbutus camp newspaper changed its name three times!
Beginning in 1929 the U.S. and the world fell into a deep economic depression, called the Great Depression. In 1933, unemployment was around 25 percent of the work force, or 13 to 16 million unemployed people! Desperate to help people out and keep American youth (men) out of the overcrowded labor market and also off the streets, President Franklin Roosevelt introduced the CCC. Approximately three million men would enroll by 1942. Schooling was an important part of CCC camps because, many young men at this time did not have a high school diploma and the CCC gave them a chance to learn and develop basic skills.
The folders in this collection are filled with camp newspapers that range from only a couple months to a couple years long. Since all the documents are printed newspapers, they’re much easier to read than handwritten primary sources. But be aware, because these newspapers are over eighty years old the print has faded in some spots! The newspapers cover a wide range of subjects in CCC camp life, from serious camp news, to lighthearted jokes and gossip, as well as sports news and scores. Almost every newspaper in this collection includes some sports news such as games and scores, but this finding aid will focus on education in the CCC camps.
The newspaper titles that make up this finding aid are:
• Arbutus Bugle Call
• The Bugle
• Camp Irving Newsletters
This finding aid has the papers organized by title and date beginning with the earliest newspaper available for that title. (The date for each newspaper will be given when available, but not all newspapers have dates!) Please note that most of these newspapers include the date of publication on the title page, but not always! For example, the editor of 1606 usually put the date in the center of the title page underneath the title, but the editor of Arbutus Bugle Call and The Bugle put the date of publication on the bottom of the title page. The Camp Irving Newsletters editor is not consistent. For most Camp Irving Newsletters, the date of publication will be either typed or handwritten in the upper right-hand corner of the title page. Don’t worry, although it seems confusing you will figure it out! If a newspaper in the collection places the date in an unusual location it will be noted in this finding aid.
*A note about the Camp Irving Newsletters: Be aware that the Camp Irving Newsletters are much less complete, and much less organized than the other camp newspapers. Page numbers are often not included, so look for the titles.
1 June 1934
Troop 1606 arrived at their new camp in North Bend, Jackson County just before this was published. The paper describes their new living conditions and states that the camp will soon be having educational lectures led by various professors and engineers. Look for the list of lecture topics to see what lessons the camp offered.
30 June 1934
Page through this edition and notice that the camp had an Education Advisor, a continuing lecture series, and a camp library with 300 volumes! Take a look at how the camp encouraged reading through a competition.
15 July 1934
Something to look for in this paper is the column that lists the number of men in company 1606. In addition, notice all the engineering lectures, a proposed debate team, and winter education program. Do you think these programs were popular?
30 July 1934
Read page one of this paper to see how the camp intended to use new technology such as slides and “moving pictures” into their schooling. Another column is about the arrival of new books in the camp library. Read to get a sense of how well the members of the camp knew each other. The newspaper is able to refer to people by last name and it expects that the entire camp knows who it is!
30 August 1934
Read the column on page one written by Educational Director, Edward Libowski. Take note of the emphasis being placed on getting a good education and working to achieve valuable skills while in the CCC. Page two gives the camp’s library hours and describes the new series of educational lectures.
15 September 1934
Read the column that focuses on “Education through reading.” It shows how hard the camp leaders tried to encourage reading and achieving an education. Page two lists a number of classes that will be available to the camp, including algebra, geometry, and many more! Do you think the men wanted to spend their spare time doing algebra?
15 October 1934
Page four lists new books in history, economics, and spelling available to the CCC members. This paper also states that spelling classes will be given, and encourages the camp members to attend. How popular do you think spelling class was?
30 November 1934 (Date can be found at the top of each page for this edition)
This is the second paper at their new location in Glidden, Wisconsin. The newspaper states that the Glidden camp has better living conditions than the camp at North Bend. Read all of page six. It gives great information about the debate team. It tries to encourage and convince the men that education and knowledge is power. What does this tell you about how motivated the men may have been toward schooling?
December 1934 (No day is given for this newspaper)
This is the last paper available for the 1606 company. Be sure to read page eight. Even though it is the last paper available it continues to endorse education among the company!
7 February 1935
This is the earliest paper available for the CCC camp stationed at Lake Arbutus. This issue makes several references to education. It encourages the men to “get the reading habit.”
20 April 1935
Notice that the Lake Arbutus newspaper had changed its name, but this is still the newspaper for the same company as the Arbutus Bugle Call. Page six offers information on educational news in camp and states that new books are arriving in the camp soon.
22 October 1935 (Look for the postage stamp on the title page that gives the date)
This is the first newspaper available for this camp. Right away on the second page(unnumbered) look for the column that describes the meeting about the class schedule.
31 January 1936
Notice on the first page(unnumbered) the column titled “Evening Classes to be Offered.” Once again the editor encourages participation and argues that these classes will make those who attend more employable. Do you agree?
15 February 1936
Pay close attention to the column titled “Classes Begin,” on page 106 (numbered at bottom of page). This section gives details on the classes being offered at Camp Irving. Are they similar to the other camps?
May 1936 (No day given)
This newspaper has some very interesting information on the courses being taught to CCC members. Such as “U.S. history in 20 lessons” and “World History in 12 lessons.” Be sure to read the column titled “The Classroom.” This column shows many other types of skills being taught to CCC members.
30 June 1936
This newspaper does not have a lot on education, however it includes some great information about the CCC and its function. A large part of this paper is a “Questions and Answers” section for beginner CCC members. Some of the topics covered include: wages, CCC history, and the work performed. How much did CCC members earn?
June 1937 (No day given)
Be aware that the camp has changed location to Black River Falls and that a year has passed since the last newspaper! Be sure to read the column on page nine titled “The Educated Man.” This column was written by the Educational Advisor of the camp and shows how much the camp leaders valued educational programs. What does the repeated push for classes and training tell us about education in CCC camps?
Reviewed by: Joshua Krings
La Crosse Tribune Daily, Erik. Wildlife in the La Crosse River Marsh. September 2016. Photograph. La Crosse Tribune, Article, September 2016.
In the 1980s the population of La Crosse and the surrounding area was growing, and so to deal with potential traffic issues, the La Crosse city government introduced an idea to expand the freeway into the city. In the proposal, the La Crosse River Marsh would be filled. This led to the formation of the La Crosse River Marsh Coalition (LCRMC). The LCRMC wanted to spread awareness that a landmark of La Crosse could be taken away and to get the public involved in their fight to save the river marsh from being filled. The LCRMC collection, consists of one box with twenty-two folders filled with newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, surveys, and studies. This finding aid focuses on the fight between the LCRMC and the city of La Crosse over the river marsh, and discuss the potential environmental impacts of filling the marsh. The folders that are selected for the finding aid provide a background into battle between the city of La Crosse and its marsh, as well as the public’s opinion on the matter.
The folders used in this FFA are not in numerical order. Instead they are in this order: background, environmental impact statements, LCRMC’s official position on the marsh, the city’s view, and citizens’ responses through letters to the editor.
This is good starting folder for any historian interested in or wanting to learn everything there is to know about the La Crosse River Marsh! It contains background information from 1841 to the 1990s and provides a great outline for the rest of the collection. There is a general history of the river marsh, a description of past uses of the marsh, and the feelings of the public toward it all in a stapled packet. The title to look for is the “Importance of Wetlands.”
This folder contains a single stapled report. It deals with the public mediator, whose job is to figure out what to do with the land, and if there are any laws being broken. The report outlines the loss of wetlands statewide and the need for the United States Army Corps of Engineers to approve any project. On the pages marked 131 and 132 (there are not this many pages in the folder) there is an outline of the short and long term environmental impacts of filling the marsh. Did the report decide if filling the marsh was positive or negative?
The folder contains the LCRMC pamphlets, The Egret, which were published every couple of months to update citizens on the progress of the potential highway development. The pamphlets provided news, information, and suggestions on how the citizens of La Crosse could get involved in the fight to save the area. There are not a lot (only 6 or 7) pamphlets to read, so read them all. They will reveal the campaign against the city.
Folder thirteen contains notes that were brainstorming ideas to combat the city’s plan to fill the marsh. They are handwritten notes (not in cursive!). Find the first meeting dated November, 1988 and find out what the plans were.
Folder seventeen contains a public survey done by a professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, who is affiliated with LCRMC. It includes a statement regarding the stance of the organization as well as a summary of the public’s attitudes toward the river marsh. Look for the summary at the beginning of the survey. Read to see how the LCRMC is trying to engage the public in this battle.
This folder has the City Council’s ideas on how to use the La Crosse River Marsh to expand the freeway into the city. Documents in this folder include the specific ideas that city council members have for filling the river marsh in order to get people into the center of La Crosse. The folder also includes notes from the City Council regarding the debate between easier transportation versus preservation. They discuss the benefits and setbacks of filling the marsh. Look to find the voting record of the city council members. Look to determine how closely divided the issue was.
Folder two is really fun to read because it is filled with the opinions that the people of La Crosse expressed on this issue. The folder contains La Crosse Tribune newspaper clippings about public reaction to the highway proposal along with opinions on what should be done to the river marsh. You will find letters to the editor that contain community member opinions. Do most want the marsh to be filled or left alone? The La Crosse Tribune goes through a history of their own reporting on the river marsh as well. Look for the article entitled “The Land No One Can Use.” It’s from back in the 1930s, and gives a representation of what people thought about the marsh back then.
Reviewed by: Patrick McCormick
The real title of this collection is the J. Earl Leverich Papers. Leverich was a prominent Wisconsin politician during the Great Depression, most well-known for his connection to Wisconsin’s “oleo wars.” He was one of the politicians who fought to ban oleo, a type of margarine, from being sold in Wisconsin. The collection contains 34 boxes; however, this finding aid looks at folders 7 and 8 in Box 1 of the collection. Folder 7 contains mostly newspaper clippings on the anti-oleomargarine movement. Folder 8 contains correspondence regarding oleo and the struggles the dairy industry was facing.
After the stock market crashed in 1929, people understandably began to pinch pennies, and because oleomargarine was cheaper than butter, it began to threaten the dairy industry. In the words of the dairy farmers, the oleomargarine industry is “strangulating the life of our Dairy Industry.” In 1931, Wisconsin passed a law banning oleomargarine, but Dane County Circuit Court judge, Justice Zimmerman, found the law unconstitutional. This led to dairy farmers in Wisconsin gathering together to raise money to appeal the decision. They also asserted that the Dane County Circuit Court was biased against the dairy industry and should not be permitted to rule on future dairy-related cases. If you want to read this law, go to the “See Also” section of this Friendly Finding Aid. The name of the law is Chapter 96 of the Laws of 1931.
This finding aid focuses on the battle between Wisconsin’s farmers and the courts. It pieces together the letters and articles found in the folders to make the narrative easier to follow. It also notes some of the most important people involved in this situation.
James Earl Leverich—Dairy farmer and key player in the anti-oleo movement. Most of the collection is letters to and from him, and many of the personal letters address him as Earl. He was the chairman of the Anti-Oleo Fund and Dairy War Chest, and the president of the Monroe County Co-Operative Creamery Association. He was elected as state senator in 1934, several years after the events of these folders took place.
Joseph David Beck—Congressman from 1920 until 1929. Beck sponsored bills taxing oleomargarine, as well as tackling other issues in the dairy industry. In 1931, he was appointed commissioner of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Markets. He was another big player in these events—other than Leverich himself, Beck is the person mentioned most often in these folders. In 1932, he was found in contempt of court (you’ll have to read the collection to learn all the details), but was so popular with Wisconsin dairy farmers that they all contributed to pay his $250 fine! Beck is really the “main character” of this narrative.
Albert G. Zimmerman—the judge on an important court case in the oleo wars. Zimmerman was a judge in the ninth federal circuit court and claimed to have nothing against the dairy industry. Indeed, he later stated that he was just following the precedent of a previous case. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Zimmerman had been the business partner of “Fighting Bob” La Follette, a prominent Progressive politician!
Things to Note
Here are four things to keep in mind:
1) While most of the contents of this collection are typewritten, there are some handwritten letters which can be difficult to read. You can do it!
2) Archivists try to keep the contents of each folder in chronological order, but it is easy for them to get messed up. You may find something dated from 1931 after something from 1933.
3) The contents of this collection frequently reference a court case, Jelke Co. v. Hill et al. Reading the records of this case will make this collection much easier to understand. You can find a link to this case in the “See Also” section.
4) This finding aid follows events chronologically. However, in order to do this, it bounces back and forth between Folders 7 and 8, which are both contained in Box 1. The folder number will always be in bold print, to make it easier to follow.
Folder 8 contains many letters, as well as a document signed by Leverich and other members of the Wisconsin dairy industry. They discuss working with the company Land O’ Lakes, as well as ways to better market dairy in the Midwest. Read this to look for signs that Wisconsin dairy farmers were nervous about dropping butter sales. This is corroborated by an article in the Iron River Pioneer, a town newspaper in Bayfield County. You can find this article in “See Also.”
Folder 7 contains an (undated) article from the Milwaukee Journal, titled “Beck Is Still Parading but Tune Has Changed.” The article interviews Beck about his thoughts on the influx of vegetable oils from the Philippines, and how that affects the dairy industry. Notice how people in the Philippines responded to this controversy!
Folder 8 contains records of a November 17, 1931 meeting in Monroe County. It was attended by citizens concerned about the fate of the dairy industry. See if you find any names that show up other places in the collection.
Folder 7 contains an undated newspaper clipping of an article about a protest that was being planned for December of 1931. The article is titled “Farmers Called to Hold Anti-Oleo Demonstration.”
Folder 7 also contains an article titled “Farm Parade Against ‘Oleo’ Marshalls 400.” The article was written after the protest occurred, giving details of the parade. Take note, someone brought a goat!
There is also an undated article in Folder 7, titled “Bank Deposit Bill Is Signed.” This new bill would tax oleomargarine at 6 cents a pound, and make it legal to publish lists of those who sold oleo. Why do you think it had been illegal to publish these lists? By the way, this bill is also mentioned in Folder 8, in a letter dated January 11, 1932.
Folder 8 contains a January 10, 1932 letter from a man named Holmes. He writes to Leverich and encloses a copy of a resolution that creameries near him sent out. Read this to get a sense of how strongly people felt about this controversy.
Folder 7 contains an undated newspaper clipping in which Judge Zimmerman discusses his ruling in the Jelke Co. v. Hill et al. case. The article is titled “Answers Beck Ruling Attacks.”
Folder 7 also contains an undated article about the Vernon County Guernsey Breeders Association’s plan to circulate a petition protesting Zimmerman’s decision. Notice how many different groups supported Beck.
Folder 8 contains a letter dated June 7, 1932. Leverich and several other men sent this letter, accompanied by a check, to the court to pay for Beck’s fine. These funds had been provided by many different farmers and creameries, mostly in amounts of 5 or 10 dollars. That means that many Wisconsinites had donated to help Beck! This letter proves that the Anti-Oleo Fund had been doing a lot of fundraising. If you look through the collection, you’ll find many more examples of this.
Reviewed by: Mathilda Harris
University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Area Research Center (ARC)
This is a very large collection. In fact, it contains 16 boxes and multiple folders within those boxes! But don’t worry, this FFA will primarily focus on the La Crosse Business and Professional Women’s Club’s (BPW) involvement with the Equal Rights Amendment during the mid 1950s through the mid 1970s. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was proposed in 1923, three years after the 19th Amendment which allowed women to vote. The introduction of the ERA appeared to be the next step in bringing “equal justice under law” to all citizens. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment stated that rights guaranteed by the Constitution applied equally to all persons regardless of their sex. Not until 1972, was the ERA finally passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Throughout this collection you will learn about the struggles women went through in order to get the ERA passed through Congress, especially the La Crosse BPW’s persistent actions in gaining supporters, including leading politicians.
This collection contains many handwritten and typed letters, documents from senators and politicians, and flyers about various events that took place on campus at UW-La Crosse. There are also, pamphlets about the organization and what the ERA truly entailed, and an oral history where you can listen to the voices of the Business and Professional Women’s Club members in the 1960’s! This finding aid focuses on three boxes and folders that contain the most relevant and important information in regards to BPW and their work. They are: box 2, folder 8; box 1, folder 3; and box 5, folder 10. Box 2, folder 8 is all about the history of the La Crosse Business and Professional Women’s Club, which dates back all the way to 1916. This folder will give you historical context, which is necessary for your research. That is why you will start with box 2! Box 1, folder 3, focuses on the BPW’s legislative committee. Finally, box 5, folder 10, focuses on the Equal Right’s Amendment. The documents within these boxes are typed and easy to read. If you are interested in how the La Crosse BPW was involved in getting the ERA passed by Congress and their struggles along the way, then this is the collection for you!
Find the document titled, “La Crosse Business and Professional Women’s Club: La Crosse, Wisconsin. 1916-1980 History of La Crosse BPW Club.” This packet will give you a timeline of events beginning in 1916. It contains activities, achievements, and awards. Also, find the “BPW Fact Sheet,” which contains important facts about the club. You will be able to gain a sense of the history of the BPW and how it has evolved over time with just these two documents.
This folder, contains a lot of documents relating to the process of turning the ERA into a bill ready for Congress. There are numerous letters between members of the BPW and various people of importance during this time, especially in politics. Some of the letters are written from the head of La Crosse BPW to the President of the National BPW, Osta Underwood. Others are letters between members of BPW and Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators, William Proxmire, and Gaylord Nelson. (Gaylord Nelson went on to be Governor of Wisconsin) There are also multiple letters written from the Staff Assistant of President Nixon, Barbara Franklin.
There are multiple important letters to read in this folder. They can be found by the date in the right hand corner. The earliest document is from 1942! Page through to find the 1970’s. There are many worth reading up through the early 1970’s. Please take the time to read not only these two letters below, but many others throughout this folder.
December 3, 1971
Printed at the top of the page is, “The White House.” This is a letter from Barbara Hackman Franklin, the Staff Assistant to President Nixon. Look for a quote within the letter portraying Nixon’s support for the ERA and acknowledgments towards the BPW’s contributions.
February 24, 1972
Printed at the top of the page is “United States Senate.” In it, Senator Gaylord Nelson writes to BPW President Eileen Kramer to express his support for the ERA and applaud the BPW for all of their hard work. Within the letter, Nelson explains the importance of women’s rights through a personal story. Read to find his mother’s battle with women’s rights.
Want to know what the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was all about? This is the folder you must look into. Find the booklet with the really long title, “Interpretation of the Equal Rights Amendment in Accordance with Legislative History.” Similar to a FAQ page, this booklet is filled with many questions such as, “Will the ERA affect private business or personal relationships between men and women? Will divorced women lose support rights?” Each question is followed up by answers from Congresswomen and Senators.
Also in this folder find the document, “The Directors of the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN,” which contains information on the “International Conference on The Status of Women.” This event was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse and held in the La Crosse area. Look to see how women’s rights was a global issue.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Franzen