Thursday, March 28, 2013

A New Home for State and Local History Online

The Recollection Wisconsin program brings together more than 120,000 historical resources from across the state and provides new opportunities to discover and share community history.

What did Mineral Point’s High Street look like in the 1870s? How did a Milwaukee magazine help lead the American craze for bicycling in the 1890s? Which stars performed at the Northernaire Resort in Three Lakes in the 1950s? The answers can be found on the newly redesigned website of Recollection Wisconsin, the collaborative statewide digital program formerly known as Wisconsin Heritage Online. provides Wisconsin residents and audiences worldwide with free access to history resources from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and historical societies across the state. Students, teachers, family history researchers and the general public can use the website to explore more than 120,000 historic photographs, postcards, maps, letters, diaries, articles, books, artifacts, oral histories and other materials from dozens of Wisconsin communities.

[Image]This site is a place for more than just viewing digital resources. Visitors are also invited to contribute their own memories, images, knowledge and comments through a variety of social features. These new features, which incorporate social media tools including Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr, are central to the updated vision of the program: to create opportunities for audiences to discover personal connections to the past.

Since 2005, the program has offered training and guidelines for Wisconsin libraries, archives, museums and historical societies to share their collections online and has provided the technology to bring together these disparate digital collections in a single search portal. With the new website, Recollection Wisconsin expands on its original mission to improve access to Wisconsin’s cultural heritage by establishing a dedicated online space to foster understanding of and appreciation for community history.

New features visitors can find on include:

Share a story. Recollection Wisconsin has partnered with Wisconsin Life, an audio essay series on Wisconsin Public Radio that celebrates what makes Wisconsin unique, to collect and share stories contributed by visitors. 

 Stories from Wisconsin collections. This ongoing series provides a closer look at small slices of state and local history, told through photographs and documents from participating organizations. Topics covered so far include deer hunting, grand hotels, home economics education, early bicycling culture and Welsh settlers in Wisconsin.

 Browse by category or on a map. A user-friendly browse interface enables visitors to explore collections by subject categories, such as cranberries, music or World War I, or by types of materials, such as plat maps or scrapbooks. Visitors can also use an interactive map to locate digital collections in or near their hometowns or other locations of interest.