Ada James and the Wisconsin Woman’s Suffrage Movement
Call Number/Collection Title: Wis Mss OP/ Ada James Papers and Correspondence
Citation: James, Ada Papers and Correspondence. 1912-1920. UW Digital Collections, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin. Accessed October 15, 2019. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.AJames. UW Madison Special collections, area research center, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
Location: UW Madison Special Collections, Area Research Center, Madison, Wisconsin.
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:
- First put the term “Ada James Papers and Correspondence” into the search engine of your choosing.
- Next, click on the link titled “Ada James Papers” from the U-W Digital Collections.
- Once on the site, click on the link that says “browse the collection.”
- This will take you directly to the online collection.
- I recommend that you bookmark this page, so Ada’s papers are readily available to you.
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:
- Ask your teacher to email the head archivist of your local Area Research Center (ARC).
- The call number of the collection is “Wis Mss OP.”
- Have your teacher ask the archivist to have boxes 18, 19, 20, and 24 sent to the Area Research Center where you will have to go to conduct your research.
- After just a few days, the boxes will be waiting for you in the Area Research Center.
Creating a Unified Suffrage Movement
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?
The Old Ways of Suffrage Organization
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.
Taking Steps Towards Radicalism
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.
The Shift to Radical Thought
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.
Clashing Ideals in Wisconsin
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.
Growing Support for Radicalization
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.
The Eyes of Suffragettes Fall on Washington D.C.
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.
The Final Push to Ratify the 19th Amendment
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
The Sons of Abraham Congregation was a local Jewish community that began in La Crosse in the 1900s and continued until the 1980s. The entire collection is 2 boxes, with most of the folders filled with bank and cash flow records. This FFA, however, will explore only the Dedication Booklet section (box 2 folder 7) and the Miscellaneous Papers section (box 2 folder 1).
The Dedication booklet is filled with information about the history of La Crosse’s Jewish community, the overarching message of B’nai B’rith (Buh-NAY Buh-REETH), a national Jewish service organization, and, most importantly, the role American Jews played in World War II. The booklet is divided into sections covering topics such as blessings, the history of the local Jewish community in La Crosse, and even the building plans of the synagogue; but, all sections eventually connect back to war efforts—at home and abroad—which will be the main point of discussion throughout this FFA.
Dedication Booklet (Box 2, Folder 7)
The Dedication booklet features several separate documents within its 80 total pages. These documents include messages from local Rabbis and religious leaders, information about building the synagogue, and the history of the Jewish community in La Crosse. The pages below are out of order because the history portion gives a solid background for the rest of the booklet. The pages with advertisements from local businesses are not listed. These are fun to look at but are not important to the narrative developed below.
The first page of the “History of La Crosse Jewish Community to 1948” is an in-depth description of how Jews came to La Crosse and settled in this area beginning in 1845. Look for the names of the first Jews to come to the La Crosse area and the impact that they made on the rest of the community. Also, explore the evolution of the religion in the area—specifically how the name of the congregation changes in reaction to a different group of people coming to the region. Another interesting thing to keep an eye out for is the gender of the leaders, keep this in mind as you read the rest of the booklet. Pages 32 and 33 describe the migration of Orthodox Jews into the area and the role of Jews in WWII. Be on the lookout for the types of support provided by Jewish women and Jewish men both locally and abroad. How were they honored for their work?
“The History of B’nai B’rith” discusses the moral code that the Sons of Abraham follow. B’nai B’rith, which means “Sons of the Covenant” or “Children of the Covenant,” is the world’s oldest Jewish service organization, dedicated to the relief and empowerment of Jewish communities around the world. As you read, take note of what their code means and how it was practiced. B’nai B’rith is responsible for the creation of many different committees dedicated to combating all forms of anti-Semitism, prejudice against Jews specifically. Look for information about the Anti-Defamation League. To further understand the code mentioned previously, look for who it was created by and what they do.
The last document in the collection is “The Jewish Women’s League.” The league was formed by Jewish women in order to be active in this time of crisis. The document discusses how the league would provide “kosher goodies” to soldiers stationed at nearby Fort McCoy. After reading, think about what the author mentions in terms of post-war efforts from the women of the league.
This document is titled “We Dedicate Our Synagogue.” It was written by Rabbi Morris Gordon, who was the Rabbi for a synagogue in Minneapolis before he came to La Crosse. He discusses how the goal for the Sons of Abraham should be to create a “House of Learning.” Look for how Rabbi Gordon emphasizes what the synagogue will need to do to become a modern Jewish society. Hint: The time period is the late 1940s. What major event just happened during this time period?
The next page has another message from a Rabbi. Titled “Building a House of God for the Future of Israel” it was written by Rabbi Abraham H. Album. It tells a story of Babylonians raiding the city of Jerusalem. Look for the connection made between the Kohanim (Jewish Priests) and the current state of the European Jewish community. Also look for who the author suggests should lead the way for the world’s Jewish community.
The message on page 15 is from the Bishop of the Catholic Church in La Crosse. He is very progressive when it comes to the unification of the two churches. He praises the Jewish community by saying that the construction of their synagogue has led to not only the “brightening” of the La Crosse community, but the country as well. Look for how the Bishop criticizes the recent Supreme Court ruling dealing with public schools. Think about what this criticism means in terms of the modernization of the Jewish community in La Crosse. Think back to what you read on page 4.
Miscellaneous Papers (Box 2, Folder 1)
The miscellaneous papers section is largely a collection of receipts and membership forms to the synagogue, but hidden within is a story of political, economic, and social involvement of Jews during WWII. There is also a large amount of information about the origins of the Jewish community. Many papers are also written in Hebrew with an English translation. Despite this section containing a bunch of random receipts, there are a few documents worth noting.
The Universal Yeshivah of Jerusalem (A Central Academy for Higher Jewish Learning)
This document can be easily distinguished by its large print with the words “Universal Yeshivah of Jerusalem” across the top. It has no listed author, only that it was from the Academy of Higher Jewish Learning in New York. Like many others in the folder, the document asks for donations from the Synagogue. Half of the document is written in Hebrew script and the other half is printed in English. The Hebrew script is common in these miscellaneous papers; however, they usually are accompanied by some sort of English translation. In this document look for why the author calls for donations.
Untitled Holiday Service Document
Find a 4-page untitled document that looks like it could have been used as a program for a holiday service at the Synagogue (basic white paper with typewriter style text). It lists the names of the members of the church in order to thank them for their support and wish them a happy New Year. It also has a few songs listed on it that were sung in both Hebrew and English. On the third page of the document, the paper discusses proper dignity within the Synagogue and how to conduct oneself while at a service. Explore the rules section to see how Jewish women were treated at the time.
United Charity Institutions of Jerusalem
This is the smallest document in the folder. It’s a little red note card from the United Charity Institutions of Jerusalem. Once again it is asking for donations, but uses some interesting rhetoric to do so. The slip mentions that if you do not donate, you will forsake your family because they donated in the past. Take note of why these organizations are desperate for donations based on the time period.
Reviewed By: Devin Fichter
PL Icon #33, Goodell Collection, Record #4544, Collection M980004.
> Call Number/Title: Platteville Mss D, Peter L. Scanlan Papers
> Citation: Peter L. Scanlan Papers, Area Research Center, Southwest Wisconsin Room, Elton S. Karrmann Library, University of Wisconsin Platteville, Wisconsin
The real name of this collection is the Peter L. Scanlan Papers because all of the papers in it belonged to him. Scanlan was a member of the State Historical Society and became a curator and vice-president for the society. His daughter, Marian Scanlan, is the focus of this finding aid. Marian was Peter’s only daughter. She was well educated and attended multiple schools including the University of Wisconsin, which was very rare for women during the 1910s.
She volunteered in Washington D.C. during World War I, then became an English teacher. Marian started teaching in 1918 and worked until her death in 1943. She worked at a few smaller schools before she took a position as an English teacher at Washington High School in Milwaukee. During her summers off she went on many trips. She was also an author who published some of her poetry and her own book about Prairie Du Chien. Marian was a religious person and a lot of her views and beliefs can be seen through her poetry.
This finding aid will look at her biographies, various trips, works of poetry, and the praise she received from colleagues and friends. By looking at this information you will see that Marian lived a full and eventful life, was a successful writer, a dedicated teacher, and an independent woman.
The whole Peter Scanlan Papers collection contains eleven boxes, but his FFA focuses on just box 11, folder 3. Once in the archives ask for the Peter L. Scanlan Papers, box 11. To make the archives staff’s search easier, tell them the call number too (Platteville Mss D). Once you receive this box look for folder 3 which is titled, “Marian Scanlan: Correspondence, biography, poetry.” All the documents in this finding aid will be found in this folder. The “titles” of the documents listed below are actually the first line, the date (if given), or the real title of the work. The folder will look intimidating at first, but you don’t have to read all of it! If you follow the list of documents below you will only have to read a few to discover an independent woman.
Read these documents to get a sense of Scanlan’s life and personality.
“My father is two men…” (first line)
This document is 5 pages long and should be stapled together. It is a biography of Peter Scanlan written by Marian. Read this biography to get a sense of how Marian sees herself as a part of her father’s life.
“Marian Diner’s [Driver’s] School” 1934-5 (real title)
This document gives a detailed history of Marian’s life. It includes the schools she attended and when. Throughout she also writes about different details of her life. For example, in the beginning she writes about her best friend Margaret. Read this document to see her successes, leadership skills, and kindness as a person.
“Just at the height of her usefulness…”(first line)
This is a 10-page biography written by somebody else about Marian’s life. Read all of this if you would like, but if you want to know more about her character and successes focus on just the first four pages. Pay close attention to the sections about her travels.
Marian owned her own car and took many trips out west when “highways” were not fully paved. She took many trips with family and friends. Read below to discover more!
“TRIPS” (real title)
This document lists all the trips Marian went on in chronological order. Pay attention to the time of year that she went. How do you think her job as a teacher affected her travel calendar?
“In vacation 1922” (first line)
This document also lists Marian’s trips, but it also lists who she went with. It shows that her trips were big life events. Pay attention to the places she goes, and notice who she goes with.
For more details about these trips look at the document that starts with “Just at the height of her usefulness…”. This document goes through specific things she does on many of the trips listed above.
Throughout this folder are various notes of praise for Marian. In the biographies you will discover she was an author. A lot of the notes in this folder are to congratulate her on her book.
July 16, 1943 (date)
This document is praise from her colleges and friends. Read it to get a better look at how people saw her, felt about her, and what her public image was like. As you read keep track of how often the words brilliant and devoted appear!
“Potter Plaque” (real title)
This document was written after Marian’s death. Take note of the praise and kind words written by her colleagues and students.
Throughout the folder are various pieces of poetry written by Marian. Many poems have a focus on religious ideas but, there is also a focus on nature and the natural beauty of things. Below are a few poems that are notable.
“The newest styles are often old,” (first line)
This is an untitled poem about different fashion trends through different eras. This poem considers Egypt, Greece, Rome, and more!
“Goodbye” (real title)
This one considers using goodbye instead of goodnight. Read to discover why.
“Orphan” (real title)
To get a real understanding of Marian’s feelings toward her mother’s death, read this poem and the biographies from the biography section of this FFA.
Reviewed by: Emily Johnson
> Location: Platteville Mss BE; PH Platteville Mss BE; Audio 1657A, Kathryn Morrison Papers, 1974-1990
> Citation: Kathryn Morrison Papers, 1974-1990, Southwest Wisconsin Room, University of Wisconsin Platteville, Platteville, Wisconsin
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.
Personal Letters from Families
Box 7 Folder 14
The 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.
Morrison’s Government Work
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 5
This 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 Area Research Center (ARC)
> Location: Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse
> Citations: La Crosse Business and Professional Women’s Club Records, 1916-1992. La Crosse Mss BK. Wisconsin Historical Society. Housed at Special Collections and Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Gerber, Inga. Interview by Corey Golla. April 10, 1992. Sound Recording. Oral History Collection. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Oral History Program. Housed at University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
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!
Box 2 Folder 8
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.
Box 1 Folder 3
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.
Box 5 Folder 10
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
> Location: Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse
> Citation: Sharon Ryan and Sally Avercamp to City of La Crosse, 1981. La Crosse County Women’s Political Caucus 1971-1982. Area Research Center, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The La Crosse County Women’s Political Caucus (LCWPC) operated in the La Crosse area from 1973-1981. Their goals included encouraging women to run for elected offices, providing information about campaigns, and educating female candidates on issues on the campaign trail. They also sought to provide the public with more information about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and held a forum about Affirmative Action. The women in the Caucus offered services for feminist candidates that they had sought out to run for office. Members would babysit, help make phone calls, or provide coffee for the candidates. The Caucus put a lot of energy into recruiting women and advocating on behalf of the ERA. Along with the ERA the women would write to state congressmen to discuss various legislation that applied to women in Wisconsin. The Caucus held workshops for women interested in getting into politics, and even marched in the Maple Leaf Parade dressed as women from various eras!
This collection is made up of fifteen folders, housed in one box. This FFA, however, follows the folders that describe what the LCWPC feminists (people who believe the sexes should be treated equally) were most passionate about, how they interacted with the La Crosse community, and how they operated as a group. It follows a story about La Crosse women in a movement, known as second-wave of feminism, which was a major turning point for women across the United States. Selected below are a few folders that will help give a better understanding of what this group did to benefit the condition of women.
The LWCPC operated similarly to other branches all over Wisconsin and the US. Look at the bylaws (rules and guidelines for how the organization will be run) in this folder and notice the description of the group and what their goals as an organization were. Read this to get a sense of how women’s organizations worked.
This folder contains newspaper clippings that are about the La Crosse County Caucus. There is an article about Sharon Imes, “First Woman Alderman: ‘Not a Feminist.’” What does she say about the Caucus and her stance on feminism? Pay attention to articles about elections and ask yourself how many women there were compared to men. How are they described (mothers, teachers, wives, or other roles)? How are the men described? Pay attention to the demographics to get a better idea of who was involved in the organization. In other words, how many working, middle, or upper-class women were there in the Caucus? What about Caucasian, African American, Asian American, or Hispanic members?
This is the biggest folder in the collection and is devoted to correspondence. There are also random things like an issue about membership fees with the organization’s head in Madison, and registration to walk in the Maple Leaf Parade in 1975. It’s fun to see what the women were doing, and how they interacted and viewed their La Crosse community. It’s not necessary to read the entire folder but leaf through to find something interesting. For example, there is a flyer describing the frustration wives felt about being listed in the phonebook under their husband’s names.
This folder is completely dedicated to the Equal Rights Amendment. Look for notes about frequently asked questions and answers about the ERA, along with information the women probably used to discuss the amendment with the public. Much of the debate about the ERA was centered on how women’s traditional roles would change as wives and mothers. Pay attention to how the women in this organization felt the ERA would address this.
This folder contains correspondence with contemporary state congressmen. Most frequently they contacted local politicians, Virgil Roberts and Paul Offner. Some of the letters to Roberts and Offner are about tax reform, but others tackle real issues surrounding anti-rape laws and abortion rights. There is one letter to Governor Wallace of Alabama to advocate for the ratification of the ERA in his state. Pay attention to the language the women use, is it polite or assertive and how do the men respond?
Reviewed by: Katelyn Rigotti
No Date. No Negative. University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Photograph Collection, UWL: Activities-Music. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, La Crosse, WI.
> Location: University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Area Research Center
> Citation: Leaping La Crosse News, 1979-2007. Murphy Library Digital Collections. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
This Friendly Finding Aid is on Leaping La Crosse News, a monthly newsletter for the lesbian community in La Crosse that ran from 1980-2007. Although the focus of this newsletter is the lesbian community, it also addresses issues important to the whole LGBTQ community in La Crosse as well. One of the great things about this collection is that it is all accessible online! (Directions to find the online collection are listed below.)
Jill Davey was the original founder of the newsletter which was initially called NLFO News, which stood for “National Lesbian Feminist Organization.” Out of the total 317 monthly newsletters in this collection, 15 are called NLFO News. Beginning in September 1981, the newsletter was renamed Leaping La Crosse News.
La Crosse’s lesbian community used Leaping La Crosse News to learn about all kinds of news and social events not only in the La Crosse area but throughout the United States as well. The newsletters’ articles were designed to strengthen the lesbian community by making previously unknown or hard-to-find information accessible. It was safe, positive, and encouraging during a time when many gay people were afraid to be honest about their sexuality.
This finding aid will focus on women’s music and the importance it had in helping the lesbian community comfortably be themselves and bond. If music isn’t your thing, there are a number of different narratives available. Simply pick a topic that interests you.
Newsletters containing the phrase “music festivals” appear below. They include descriptions of specific music festivals, interviews with women’s music artists, first hand experiences attending music festivals, and more! The following are sorted into four categories: 1) Local Music Events; 2) National Music Events; 3) Individual artist Insights; and 4) Impact on the Gay and Lesbian Community. Online the issues are organized by year, month, and date. The year is always listed first, the month second, and the date last. For example, 1982-11-01 would be November 1st, 1982.
Local Music Events
See how local places in La Crosse, like UW-L, held women’s music performances, which allowed for the local lesbian community to come together. Also, see the bottom of page one to read a potluck advertisement. This was another way that the gay community bonded and came together in a safe and fun fashion.
There is an entire page on Gayle Marie, who played at an event at UW-L. Notice how big of a deal it was having a women’s music performance come to La Crosse to promote the lesbian community.
National Music Events
This addition of the newsletter describes what the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is about and where it takes place. (Notice that the word men is removed from the spelling of womyn.) In the third paragraph see how the directions show a genuine care and concern for each other. This all promotes a sense of togetherness in the lesbian community.
1991-05-01 (Volume: 11 Issue: 5)
Take a look at how the newsletter is promoting the National Women’s Music Festival by listing events other than just live stage performances. The newsletter recognized music festivals as a way for lesbians to connect with other lesbians in the community in a safe and social setting.
1992-09-01 (Volume: 12 Issue: 9)
This is a two-page review of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival from a woman who was actually in attendance! Notice the intimate and emotional connections the women have while at the music festival. The sense of community and togetherness really comes out in this newsletter.
1993-05-01 (Volume: 13 Issue: 5)
In the right column, see how large the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is and its range of events. The whole goal of music festivals is to promote togetherness within the lesbian community and they are showing just that in this section of the newsletter.
1996-06-01 (Volume: 16 Issue: 6)
Notice in the third paragraph the attendance and the size of the music grounds for the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. This goes to show how large the music festivals were and the impact music festivals had on the lesbian community.
Individual artist Insights
Here is an article on “Musica Femina” a women’s music duo of Kristen Aspen and Janna MacAuslan. Read the whole page to get a peek at who they are and their role in women’s music. Here you get a bit more depth into the importance of women’s music.
Read the whole page to get a glimpse of how two musicians think they impact the lesbian community.
Impact on the Gay and Lesbian Community
Take a look at the first three paragraphs. See how they mention what the early newsletter was like and how the new newsletter, “I Know You Know: Lesbian Views and News”, is put together. This newsletter is sharing a new magazine with its followers to hopefully further grow the gay community.
Read the first four paragraphs to discover a problem with the women’s music industry. Artists don’t know how to spread their music broadly while keeping their message to the lesbian community alive. The lesbian community wants to reach as many people as possible, but at the same time want to keep their message their own.
This newsletter shows the struggles women’s music artists had to go through during this time in history. Most of the newsletters touch on the positives, but this newsletter is a reminder of the difficulties gay communities faced in the 1980s.
1991-01-01 (Volume: 11 Issue: 1)
Read the short paragraph and notice how cool it was having an almanac on gay and lesbian events. We are seeing the gay community become more comfortable.
1999-06-01 (Volume: 19 Issue: 6)
The promotion of “After Stonewall” on PBS is being talked about. Notice the significance Stonewall still had in the gay community nearly 30 some years later. What happened at the Stonewall Bar in New York City in 1969 was one turning point in gay rights.
Reviewed by: Jack Smalley
> Location: University of Wisconsin – La Crosse Area Research Center
> Oral histories referenced in this collection:
Women’s sewing group. Interviewed Ge Vang. 2001. Transcript. La Crosse Area Research Center, Murphy Library, La Crosse, WI.
Koua Vang. Interview by Ge Vang. 2000. Transcript. La Crosse Area Research Center, Murphy Library, La Crosse, WI.
Romain Lor Vang. Interview by Ge Vang. 2000. Transcript, La Crosse Area Research Center, Murphy Library, La Crosse, WI.
This collection is made up of three interviews: 1) a women’s sewing group, 2) Koua Vang, and 3) Romain Lor Vang. It’s part of a larger collection of Hmong oral history interviews by Ge Vang. The Hmong are an ethnic group that can be found in Southeast Asia. Today many Hmong live in the United States because of the Vietnam War. During the 1960s, the Hmong were recruited by United States military to fight secretly for us. We lost the war, and the Hmong had to flee. Between 1975 and 1980, over 42,000 Hmong political refugees resettled in the United States. Today, Wisconsin has a significant Hmong population, some of whom can be found right here in La Crosse! These interviews discuss the daily lives and struggles of Hmong Americans, especially the differences between the old ways and the new. Ge asks a lot of questions about the survival of Hmong culture in the United States.
The collection consists of three folders that each contain a separate typed and easy-to-read transcript for each interview. There are also audio recording CDs that are included with each transcript that you can listen to and follow along with the transcript!
NOTE: Ge Vang conducts all of the interviews. He is not closely related to Koua and Romain Vang.
Women’s Sewing Group
In the interview with the women’s sewing group, Ge Vang talked with a group of Hmong women some related as sister-in-laws, aunts, and mother-in-laws. The group discussed their family and lives in Wisconsin, living in the U.S. as members of the Hmong community. Children are a topic throughout the interview. They are becoming Americanized and what many of the women consider rebellious. The women are very concerned because they want to preserve the Hmong culture and identity. Their children however seem uninterested. The children’s rebellious behavior and their disinterest in traditional culture shows the growing differences between the Hmong parents and their Americanized children. Ge Vang’s interview with the women’s sewing group is 15 pages long. Also, the transcript of the women’s sewing club abruptly ends mid-interview for unknown reasons!
Pages 1-7: The group of women introduce themselves and discuss the future as they see it. They talk a lot about raising children in America, and their kids’ assimilation to U.S. culture.
Pages 7-11: The women address dating and marriage in the community, and how it is different in America. They also talk about their children’s education.
Pages 12-14: The women discuss how they discipline their children and household rules.
The second transcript is an interview with Koua Vang. Ge and Koua discuss Koua’s early memories of life in Southeast Asia before moving to the United States, and his adjustment to life in La Crosse. Koua and Ge talk a lot about living in the Hmong community, and how Koua faced challenges balancing life as a Hmong man and living in the United States. Toward the end of the interview Koua confesses he believes that eventually the Hmong language and culture will disappear in the United States because the younger generations will not learn traditional practices and language, and because of the clash between the U.S. and Hmong culture. The transcript of Koua Vang’s interview with Ge Vang is 22 pages long. This transcript’s questions and answers have been translated into English from Hmong!
Pages 1-7: Koua introduces himself and discusses his early childhood, including a few memories of escaping into Thailand! Ge and Koua also discuss the difficulties of coming to the U.S.
Pages 7-10: Koua talks about his wife and son, and his marriage. He also talks about college and his career goals.
Pages 11-15: Koua and Ge discuss traditional Hmong practices and modernity, as well as his own self-identity as a Hmong person. He also brings up his thoughts on his clan and family.
Pages 15-22: Ge and Koua address gender roles and equality in the Hmong community, as well as the future of the Hmong culture.
Romain Lor Vang
The final transcript of this collection is an interview with Romain Vang. Romain, who was a college student at the time of the interview, recounts memories of his childhood in the United States and Southeast Asia. Throughout much of the interview, Ge and Romain talk about Romain and his family moving to the United States. They also discuss some the conflicts that resulted from the differences between the U.S. and the Hmong community. Romain confesses that he doesn’t think that the Hmong culture will last in America, and that it will eventually disappear in the coming generations. Romain Lor Vang’s transcript is 28 pages long.
Pages 1-4: Romain Vang introduces himself and talks about being born in Laos. He also talks a little bit about life in Thailand in the refugee camps, and moving to the United States when he was eleven. (Take Note: This means that Romain could remember life in Southeast Asia and what it was like to adjust to life in the U.S.)
Pages 4-10: Romain tells about school and dating in America, and problems such as racism. He also discusses getting a job while in high school.
Pages 10-14: Romain compares Hmong culture to American culture, and how these differences can sometimes cause trouble! He also talks about his family’s clan in Eau Claire.
Pages 14-20: These pages cover Romain’s college and career goals. Ge and Romain also examine the future of Hmong culture in the United States, including religion.
Pages 21-28: Romain examines the generation gap in Hmong culture and his relationship with his parents. The two also discuss family relationships and marriage.
Reviewed by: Ashley Schwartz
Murphy’s Area Research Center (ARC)
> Location: Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin La Crosse
> CITATION: see within summary
This collection was put together for the FFA. It is actually ten different manuscript collections, each with their own title and call number. Together all these different sources tell a story about the LaX Rubber Mills . . . and a lot more!
This collection contains two vertical files on the La Crosse Rubber Mills Co. and LaCrosse Footwear, Inc., six oral history transcripts of people who worked for the La Crosse Rubber Mills Co. and LaCrosse Footwear, Inc., and two booklets published by the Rubber Mills Co. that explain the manufacture of rubber. The two booklets have very unusual names: “Caoutchouc,” published in 1915 (31-pages), and “Caoutchouc II” published in 1925 (39-pages). Don’t be turned off by the name. These booklets are very interesting and informative. They are also filled with pictures of the factory and the production process.
The La Crosse Rubber Mills Co. opened in 1896 in La Crosse and moved to Portland, Oregon in 2001. They imported rubber from Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America for making rubber products, mostly footwear. Though they were a small company, they were unique and grew to be one of the largest employers in La Crosse. This collection not only tells the story of a factory, but brings to light ways La Crosse was connected to other areas in the world because of manufacturing. It also tells the story of unions, strikes, and the exploitation of workers in La Crosse.
All the parts in this collection work very well together. For example, many of the people interviewed in the oral histories talk about the same subject, thus providing a number of viewpoints on the same topic. Likewise, the booklets give background and images to some of the things discussed in the oral histories. Lastly, the vertical files have a wide range of information about everything covered in both the oral histories and the booklets. Each part of this collection is strong, but together it’s even stronger!
PLEASE NOTE: The La Crosse Rubber Mills Co. changed its name to LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. in 1986.
CITATION FOR LACROSSE FOOTWEAR: La Crosse Businesses Vertical File: LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. (1896- present). Special Collections, Murphy Library,University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
CITATION FOR RUBBER MILLS: La Crosse Businesses Vertical File: La Crosse Rubber Mills (1896-present). Special Collections, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
PLEASE NOTE: The citation for documents in the vertical files changes depending on what is used. For example, a newspaper article would be cited differently than a pamphlet. Look at a Chicago Style citation guide or ask a librarian or teacher how to cite your specific source.
The two vertical files are very similar. They have many newspaper articles, pamphlets, programs, newsletters, and advertisements that explain the history and the people working for the Rubber Mills and/or LaCrosse Footwear. Most articles date back to the 1970s, but there are some from before that as well.
One of the oldest newspaper articles is from 1887. It describes the factory when it was quite small and also tells about the imported rubber the factory used. Other articles talk about workers’ strikes, the company’s name change, and the company’s move to Oregon. There is also an issue from a newsletter called “LRM Footwear Footnotes” with an interview of a woman who started working in the Rubber Mills in 1907!
Oral History Transcripts
CITATIONS FOR ORAL HISTORIES
Bill Larkin, interviewed by Sandra Molzhon, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 8 April 1997.
Jerry Larkin, interviewed by Herbert Tancil, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 22 April 1997.
Donna Lemke, interviewed by Margaret Larson, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 17 November 1994.
Richard Morkwed, interviewed by Sandra Molzhon, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 1 April 1997.
George Schneider, interviewed by Dan Freudenburg, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 19 March 1997.
Herman Tietz, interviewed by Howard Fredericks, UW-L Oral History Program, UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center, 20 June and 25 July 1972.
The oral histories are interviews with people who worked at the Rubber Mills. Some people worked at the Mills for only a few years, while others worked there their entire life. These interviews cover topics like: unions, working conditions in the factory, pay, child labor, women in the workplace, family relationships, the Depression, the economy, and war. Some interviews focus on the Rubber Mills for only a few pages, while others talk about it for the entire interview.
Bill Larkin worked as a supervisor for various departments in the Rubber Mills. He worked for the company from 1961 to 1996. The entire interview is about the Rubber Mills.
Pages 1-10 Mr. Larkin talks a lot about work and his work experience. In particular, he discusses how he got his job at the mill, and his family and co-workers. (Some of his co-workers are also family.) On pages 8-9 he mentions women in the factory.
Pages 10-13 cover Larkin’s first day on the job and the smell of rubber. Amazing!
Pages 13-21 Larkin addresses wages and the Mill owners. The Funk family was one of the Mill’s founders and also one of the wealthiest families in La Crosse. On pages 14-15, he describes working with rubber.
Pages 21-22 discuss unions.
Pages 22-25 Larkin talks about how World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm affected the Rubber Mills.
Pages 25-31 Larkin reviews the relationship between the company and the community, the company’s name change, and he gives his opinion on why La Crosse Footwear had the success it did.
Jerry Larkin worked as a chief engineer at the plant. He worked there from 1933 to 1976. The entire interview is about the Rubber Mills.
Pages 2-10 hit a wide range of topics, from politics and the Great Depression, to fellow mill workers, wages, and Tuberculosis! These are just a few of the subjects, therefore, for anyone interested in an overview of mill-related topics, these pages may be just the ticket. Also in this section, it is interesting to note that Jerry Larkin talks about his first day on the job. Bill Larkin’s oral history discusses the same topic, which may make for some enlightening comparisons or connections.
Pages 10-15 talk more about what his job was like, including having to take work home. In addition, Mr. Larkin discusses what he enjoyed about the job, unions, and how wars affected the company.
Pages 15-20 largely cover the mill’s relationship with La Crosse, the company’s growth, and his brothers’ jobs. However, on a completely unrelated topic, Larkin also provides insight into college sports!
Pages 20-29 also cover a lot of topics, including Larkin’s boss, Prohibition, changes made at the factory, and the Great Depression.
Donna Lemke worked on the assembly line and talks about what work was like as a woman. She worked there in the winter of 1947-1948 after graduating high school. Pages 9-16 cover the Rubber Mills.
Pages 9-13 Lemke talks about getting hired and what it was like to work at the mill, including how she dressed. In particular she discusses some of the dangers related to mill work and her memory of the factory’s smell. (She specifically notes the smell of the rubber cement.) Two other topics of note from this section are lay offs and the mill’s production during the wars.
Pages 14-16 discuss workers’ wages and more about getting laid off.
Richard Morkwed did not work on the factory floor. He worked in the billing department, the purchasing department, and later became the Vice President of Distribution. He worked at the company from 1948 to 1992. The entire interview is about the Rubber Mills.
Page 2-11 cover his history with the factory, including his first day on the job. Mr. Morkwed explains some of the different work duties related to the factory, and just like in Jerry Larkin’s interview, he talks about taking work home.
Pages 11-15 cover a number of different topics, but most notably, workplace atmosphere, layoffs, and the mill’s transfer to a new owner.
Pages 15-20 cover some very interesting topics, including, unions, the Korean War, buying rubber and cotton, the U.S.’s dependence on synthetic rubber during WWII, and company innovation. This part of the interview pairs nicely with the “Cauotchouc” booklets because they talk about the history of the La Crosse Rubber Mills where the factory got the rubber for making its shoes. Just a hint, it didn’t come from Wisconsin!
George Schneider bought the company in 1982 and became Chairman of the Board. The entire interview is about the company.
Pages 2-6 discuss how Schneider became involved with the company, product changes that happened during his watch, and his philosophy about the the mill.
Pages 6-11 comment on other factories that competed with the La Crosse factory, and innovative changes made.
On pages 11-15 Mr. Schneider talks about hist relationship with workers. These pages also discuss strikes. Remember Schneider was the mill’s owner, so his perspective is important to keep in mind.
Pages 15-20 cover the mill’s role in the community, places Schneider traveled on business trips, and his vision for the company.
Herman Tietz worked in the factory from 1906 to 1908 making shoes. Only pages 31-38 cover the Rubber Mills. The rest of the interview is about other topics.
On pages 31-33 Mr. Tietz describes what the Rubber Mills looked like way back in 1903. He talks about what his job was like, and also his wages.
Pages 33-36 covers how shoes were made, and again, the smell of the rubber is brought up. (See also Donna Lemke and Bill Larkin.) Mr. Tietz goes further on this subject and describes the lack of ventilation in the factory.
Pages 36-38 discuss unions, working conditions,and his brother’s fallout with management.
CITATION FOR BOOKLETS
La Crosse Rubber Mills Company. “Caoutchouc: The Manufacture of Rubber Footwear: An Illustrated Story of Rubber from its Growth to the Finished Product.” La Crosse, WI: La Crosse Rubber Mills Company, 1915.
La Crosse Rubber Mills Company. “Caoutchouc II: The Manufacture of Rubber Footwear: An Illustrated Story of Rubber from its Growth to the Finished Product.” La Crosse, WI: La Crosse Rubber Mills Company, 1925.
The two booklets “Caoutchouc” (1915) and “Caoutchouc II” (1925) are very similar. Indeed, the second one is just an updated version of the first. Both explain where the factory’s rubber came from, how it was produced, and the products manufactured. Also, both have pictures to go with the text. Reading these booklets will help establish the context needed to better understand the La Crosse Rubber Mills.
PLEASE NOTE: The Rubber Mills published these booklets for their own purposes, and can be considered corporate propaganda. Think about this while reading the words and looking at the pictures too.
“Caoutchouc: The Manufacture of Rubber Footwear, An Illustrated Story of Rubber from its growth to the finished Product,” (1915) is 31-pages long.
Pages 3-10 go through the history of rubber, where it came from, and how rubber manufacturing was invented. These pages are very interesting because they show that over 100 years ago La Crosse had connections with places you may have never thought possible.
Pages 11-26 discuss rubber manufacturing. These pages also have many photographs of workers in the factory, which along with the text, provides a kind of virtual tour of the rubber mills!
Pages 27-29 tour the administrative offices and give a conclusion to the booklet.
Pages 30-31 has pictures of different shoe styles made by the company.
“Cauotchouc II: The Manufacture of Rubber Footwear, An Illustrated Story of Rubber from its growth to the finished Product,” (1925) is 39-pages long. It is longer than the first one because it has more information and a more complete tour of the factory buildings with additional pictures. Inside the front cover is also a flyer stating the purpose of the publication of this booklet.
Pages 3-5 give a history of rubber and where rubber came from. (Remember that this booklet is very similar to the first!)
Pages 6-7 explains the “vulcanization” of rubber.
Pages 8-10 discuss where rubber comes from. In particular, this book looks at rubber from wild rubber trees vs. plantations.
Pages 11-26 covers rubber manufacturing and footwear production. There are many photos and it feels like a tour through the factory.
Pages 27-30 give a brief history of the Rubber Mills, its founders, and company growth. There are also pictures of the founders and illustrations showing factory changes over the years.
Pages 31-34 give a description of the administrative offices with photos.
Page 35 shows product distribution throughout the world.
Pages 36-39 has pictures of different styles of shoes made by the company and gives a conclusion to the booklet.
Reviewed by: Jennifer DeRocher
Murphy’s Area Research Center (ARC)
> Location: Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin La Crosse
> Citation: Wisconsin Extension Homemakers Council Oral History Project: The Impact of Her Spirit. Manuscripts. La Crosse Area Research Center, Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
The real title of this collection is the Wisconsin Extension Homemakers Council (WEHC). From 1920-1960 the WEHC was a volunteer organization for women that organized social, educational, and community development activities. The homemakers held frequent meetings, cooking lessons, and a range of other volunteer activities. They greatly valued volunteerism and education. These women worked with other organizations, such as the YMCA and the Children’s Home in La Crosse, and supported each other during the Great Depression and World War II by learning how to ration items and create budgets. This collection tells the stories of thirteen women – members of the WEHC – who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the changing roles of women in society. This box includes women from places such as Onalaska, Holmen, and Sparta.
This is a primary source collection of oral history interviews of local women who were members of the WEHC. They are separated into fourteen folders. Each folder includes one interview of a Wisconsin woman. All of the interviews are typed, double spaced, and have very wide margins. Easy reading! The interviews vary in length, but none are very long. The collection also includes two small books that contain pictures and recipes.
Folder 1 is the only folder that does not include an interview. This folder has five documents, including a pamphlet with pictures of the councils, a description of the WEHC, a guide that lists questions used in the interviews, an advertisement for the WEHC, and a project from one of the homemakers. This project is a mini-drama written by Betty Epstein, whose interview is found in Folder 5.
Folder 2 is the account of Helen Basset, a farmer’s wife. Basset described her community work with the council. For example, Basset was part of the Indian Mission. The mission worked to dress Native American children in “clean and suitable” clothing. This interview is 14 pages.
Folder 3 describes the life of Joanne Dach from Viroqua, Wisconsin. Dach described charities that her chapter of the WEHC took part in. For example, she discussed food pantry donations and raising money for Haiti. Dach also described the challenges faced by women who attended college and worked full time jobs. This interview is 12 pages.
Folder 4 includes the story of Dott Dobbs, from Ontario, Wisconsin. Alongside her farm duties, Dobbs described the volunteer work and roles of the WEHC. The council assisted with the local 4-H club and supported community members in need. For example, her council provided aid to families that were impacted by house fires and unexpected deaths. This interview is 12 pages.
Folder 5 presents the story of Elisabeth (Betty) Epstein, from Jackson County. Unlike the other women in this collection, Epstein had a college degree. She described her work in the offices of army camps during World War II, and like Joanne Dach (folder 3), Epstein discussed gender roles. At one point Epstein described her community as a “man’s world” based on the opposition her council faced over railroad crossings. This interview is 12 pages.
Folder 6 is the narrative of Marion Fauska from Onalaska, Wisconsin. Fauska described her educational experiences attending a six week course in order to become a teacher. This folder also includes discussion about the Great Depression and World War II. Fauska provides the perspective of a young bride who could not afford a honeymoon and how she was encouraged to work due to a shortage of teachers during the war. This interview is 35 pages.
Folder 7 describes the life of Mae Flaig from Sparta, Wisconsin. She was part of the WEHC, a Leadership Development Committee, and the 4-H Club. Flaig experienced the economic challenges and the shifting gender roles of women during the Great Depression and World War II. For example, Flaig noted that women became increasingly interested in political activity. This interview is 59 pages.
Folder 8 contains the interview of Leila Halverson, a farmer from Holmen, Wisconsin. She discussed lessons given by the Homemakers Association. These lessons included dressmaking and food preservation. Halverson also described food substitutes and how even in birthday cakes sugar had to be rationed during World War II. This interview is 5 pages.
Folder 9 holds the account of Dolores Kenyon, from Sparta, Wisconsin. After her marriage in 1943, Kenyon’s husband left to fight in World War II. She described women’s shifting roles, such as non-domestic work and financial planning. Kenyon was a volunteer with 4-H and the “Association for Retarded Citizens” (people with cognitive needs) in 1958. Small portions of this interview are hand written. This interview is 16 pages.
Folder 10 holds the interview of Effie Knudson, from West Salem, Wisconsin. Knudson was involved with the YMCA and the Children’s Home in La Crosse. Knudson described the Great Depression in an account about rationing sugar. She also discussed World War II and Victory Gardens. This interview is 16 pages.
Folder 11 contains the story of Josephine Sullivan Nixon. Nixon’s father served in the Civil War between 1863 and 1865, being discharged after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The interview also gives an account of what life was like during the Great Depression, including meat rationing and flour substitutes. This interview is 31 pages.
Folder 12 belongs to Alice Nuttleman from Onalaska, Wisconsin. Nuttleman described the lessons that the council taught, such as bread making and sewing. She also described growing gardens, picking berries, and rationing sugar during the Great Depression. This interview is 12 pages.
Folder 13 describes the life of Margaret O’Rourke, a mother of twelve from Monroe, Wisconsin. She discussed sugar stamps, gas stamps and the difficulty of getting new tires during World War II. O’Rourke also described the Women’s Movement and gender roles during the war. For example, O’Rourke stated that men took part in more domestic duties in comparison to previous years. This interview is 39 pages.
Folder 14 contains an interview from Elsie Roberts, who discussed the Great Depression. Roberts described a shortage of money and food stamps. This interview is 14 pages.
Reviewed by: Krystle Thomas