Friday, May 9, 2008

While conducting Reasearch @ UWM...

Creating this media archive has been an invaluable experience for me. I have learned a lot about resources that are available on our campus at UWM. As a student of history, I enjoyed spending hours in our Archives, The American Geological Society, and Special collections. This blog entry is a brief essay on how students and Milwaukee residents can learn more about the community we serve and live in. Hopefully, I will show how much academic assets are at our disposal right here in UWM’s Golda Meir Library.
Special Collections is located on the 4th floor of our library. It houses rare and fragile materials that are relevant to many things, including but not exclusive to Milwaukee’s history. First edition books and photographs from all over the world are housed here for students’ perusal. There, we were able to collect some photographs showing what the Milwaukee Zoo was like when it was still in Washington Park. In our film, we used colorful postcards, dating back to 1905. It was quite easy to include these image sin our film. We simply took digital photographs of the postcards, and dragged/dropped the images into our imovie software for film editing.
UWM is the only place on the planet that has an American Geographical Society. Formerly housed in Mew York City, AGS moved to the 3rd floor of UWM’s library in the 1970’s. It is the largest collection of maps in the world. Our group was able to use AGS to trace the growth of Washington Park and the emergence of the highway system in Milwaukee. We did not use the images, however AGS does scan maps and put them on compact discs to use in digital media.
While researching, I spent the most time in the Archives room. On the second floor of the library, approaching the computer lab, there is a small room that is filled with amazing archival resources about Milwaukee. Research Universities like UW Madison have archives of more national or even global topics. However, at our university students and the community will find volumes upon volumes of Milwaukee’s history. Housing only primary sources, those form the period in subject, archival material can help all of us Milwaukeeans learn more about the past of ourselves, our neighbors and our city as a whole. We found newspaper clippings and were then able to find the actual newspaper on microfiche in our library’s basement. The movers and the shakers of Milwaukee’s history often send their memoirs and all of their documents form their lives to our Archives. We found minutes from a Zoological Society Meeting that was given to UWM by the estate of a former director.
There are materials like this for countless subjects in the Archives. It simply takes the know-how to find what you’re looking to research, and our Archives will surely have something of interest. I hope that any student of history, or anyone wanting or needing to learn more about things that have happened in our city over time, will remember that the archives are so valuable and take advantage of these resources on campus. The best way that I have found is go to the Library website, look at the bottom, for “Finding Aids,” and enter you’re desired search. Make a note of the citation and subject and then go into archives and parse through Milwaukee’s history at your disposal.

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