Annual Meeting Sunday, April 22
The Fitchburg Historical Society had its annual meeting April 22. At the meeting, 4 board members, Rich Eggleston, Kay Phistry, Catherine Schneider and Allan Tereba were each reelected to another 3-year term. Adrianne Imilkowski presented a short background presentation on the 1918 influenza pandemic and Professor Mary Hayney (picture at right) from the UW Pharmacy School presented the keynote address on how influenza virus works, how it caused the 1918 pandemic and how we are dealing with influenza virus today. The meeting had over 50 people and generated a large number of thoughtful questions.
At our board meeting Saturday, April 7, our collections advisor Elizabeth Leith and her six students, Megan Bernards, Kelsey Breen, Virginia Fetzer, Jackson Rohde, Onah Rongstad and Caroline Schlingsong presented a progress report on our project to digitize our substantial obituary collection and obtain other genealogical information on people associated with Fitchburg. The students should finish scanning over a thousand obituaries by April 13 and will continue to gather information from these obituaries for inclusion in our FHS FileMaker Pro Database and on our website. This project was funded in part by a grant-in-aid from Wisconsin Historical Foundation, Inc., administered by Wisconsin Council for Local History, Inc. The students are volunteering as a service learning course project. Before the meeting the students discussed the preservation and restoration of wall murals such as our Village of Fitchburg mural in the Fitchburg Room.
A Spring Check-up On Our Collections
This spring, several students from the University of Wisconsin did a “Preservation Review” of our Collections. It was a learning experience for them, and an opportunity to review our archival procedures. After receiving their report in May we have been working in our basement storage area of the Fitchburg Public Library to make sure that items stored there are in archival quality containers, and that items close to the floor are in waterproof containers in the event of water damage.
Other suggestions are in the process of being implemented including the backup of our Collection Records and organizational documentation in multiple secure places. Our mini grant will provide the funds for an external hard drive to assist in this process.
Our Photographic Collection has undergone a real transformation this past year, and will continue to be emphasized as we implement our digitization process, another facet of the Preservation Review. The Obituary area receives constant updates and a list of available obituaries is on our Website. In addition, various articles are added regularly to our paper files, and a careful digital and paper inventory is kept of all our Collections.
Many hours have been put into updating the archives, and the report from the U.W. students was both useful and encouraging.
FHS Hosts Networking Meeting
On September 23 the Fitchburg Historical Society hosted the renewal of the Dane County Historical Society networking meetings. Presentations discussed the development of Websites and Facebook and highlighted the roles they play in interacting with the public. The Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Council for Local History also presented updates. Many of the more than 30 participants took advantage of the time devoted to personal interactions between the local historical societies.
Grand Army of the Republic Flag Holder
In 1987 the Oak Cemetery Association, which had been formed in 1853, was left with only two aging members. With no prospects of acquiring new members the cemetery was turned over to the City of Fitchburg. The cemetery was closed to new burials and the Parks Department took over the chore of mowing and keeping the cemetery neat and orderly. They also took responsibility of placing flags at the veterans’ graves each Memorial Day. During the original clean-up process they found a broken and rusted remains of a Grand Army of the Republic flag holder. With no knowledge of whose grave this was from they turned it over to the Fitchburg Historical Society. The relic has been sandblasted and is now kept in the archives. The words over the center pictorial read: Grand Army of the Republic, and below: 1861 Veteran 1866.
F. H. S. Board of Directors Honor Plaque
A special plaque to honor members who served so faithfully on the F.H.S. Board of Directors in the past, and have now passed on, can be viewed in a prominent place on the large desk in the Fitchburg Room of the Library. A number of the members listed were Charter Members, and are noted as such.
Map of Cultural Resources in Fitchburg
Come and see a beautiful 2 ft x 3 ft map of the “Cultural Resources of Fitchburg” prepared by the Fitchburg Planning and Zoning Commission in September of 2008, and recently framed and hung in the Fitchburg Room of the Library by the Fitchburg Historical Society. The map includes places on the National Register of Historic Places, other historic buildings, and historic schoolhouses. It also shows locations of a lead mine, stone quarries, Indian camps and trails, and a Mound group.
This well done Fitchburg Cultural Resource Map is a “must see” for anyone interested in the history of this growing community.