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“Doing Eau Claire History in the Digital Age: Problems and Opportunities for the Working Historian” * For presentation to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

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Presentation on theme: "“Doing Eau Claire History in the Digital Age: Problems and Opportunities for the Working Historian” * For presentation to the Wisconsin Historical Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Doing Eau Claire History in the Digital Age: Problems and Opportunities for the Working Historian” * For presentation to the Wisconsin Historical Society Sites Retreat Feb. 19, 2008 by Jim Oberly Dept. of History and American Indian Studies Program Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire *…and some thoughts about interpreting Eau Claire sites….

2 My background: a “historial genealogist” and/or a “genealogical historian” Both of my books have taken up national issues or problems in U.S. history and tried to study them at the community level  Sixty Million Acres (1990) studied individual-level geographical mobility among veterans of the War of 1812  Nation of Statesmen (2005) studied inter-generational politics within an American Indian community, the Stockbridge-Munsees of Shawano County

3 Amazon.com’s subject tracings: James W OberlyJames W Oberly (Author) Key Phrases: allotment selections, lands herein ceded, second draft constitution, United States, Indian Party, Citizens Party (more...) allotment selectionslands herein ceded second draft constitutionUnited States Indian PartyCitizens Partymore... No customer reviews yet. Be the first. Be the first. WorldCat’s subject tracings: Oberly, James Warren, Subject(s): Stockbridge and Munsee Tribe of Indians – Politics and government.Mohegan Indians – Politics and government.Indians of North America --Wisconsin --Politics and government. Political culture --Wisconsin --History. Question: who did a Better job of subject Cataloguing? My 2005 book on Stockbridge-Munsee history

4 Teaching History 489 at UWEC I work with UWEC students on their senior theses in History 489, almost always on Wisconsin history topics Past History 489 authors published in the *Wisc. Magazine of History*: Mary Ellen Stolder and Bonnie Ripp. I try to write an article-length seminar paper each time I teach the class, taking an issue or problem in U.S. history and studying Eau Claire in that light.

5 My last seminar paper (for which I took an “incomplete”) but hope to finish for publication…”A Population History of Eau Claire, ” U.S. population history—as organized into discrete periods by demographic historians  , the fertility transition from high birth rates to low birth rates  , the “mortality revolution” from a high death rates to low death rates  and 1965—ongoing, high rates of international migration to the U.S. Question: how does Eau Claire’s population history fit into this national framework?

6 Here’s how I organize Eau Claire’s population history…. City of Men, City of Children, City of Women, 1970-ongoing

7 City of (young) Men,

8 Imagine the type of society characterized by a “City of (young) Men” as Eau Claire was in the second half of the 19th century… Felony Charges, City of Eau Claire, FrequencyPercentValid PercentCumulative Percent Valid ADULTERY ANIMALCR ARSON ASSAULT BROTHEL BURGLARY CONTEMPT DR-NL FORGERY FORNICATE FRAUD GAMBLING HUNTING JUVDELIN LARCENY OBSCENITY PATERNIT PERJURY RAPE(ATT RESIST RIOT SEDUCTIO SELLNL/I SERVING SUNDAY THREAT VAGRANCY VANDALISM WEAPON Total

9 19 th Century Eau Claire a more extreme imbalance of men to women than the state…. …and did not reach parity until 1910….

10 The Immigration boom…. Was intense in Eau Claire up through 1880… …but ended well before national immigration restrictions in the 1920s Eau Claire after 1900 attracted very few immigrants from Eastern or Southern Europe—why?

11 Immigrant Eau Claire (Adults--City only) Category/Year Total adult population1,5604,241 6,520 Adult population born in the U.S. 60.2%51.7% 45.4% Adult population born outside the U.S. 39.8%48.3% 54.6% Number of adults born in Canada (French and English- speaking) Number of adults born in Ireland Number of adults born in German-speaking nations Number of adults born in Norway ,231

12 Research Issues:  Calculating the crude and age/sex-adjusted death rates for Eau Claire before 1907  Estimating life expectancies at birth and at different age points  Public health measures and combating infectious diseases I’m mainly working with Civil War veterans life- time health histories…. Another big question: How did Eau Claire fit into the national history of the “Mortality Revolution” between 1880 and 1920?

13 Eau Claire’s Civil War Veterans and Widows of 1890 City WardDisabled Vets Widows Assorted Causes of Disability 1 st 28 3“Rheumatism,” “chronic diahrrea,” “heart disease,” “gunshot wound,” “dyspepsia,” “367 days in Andersonville Prison,” “forefinger shot at Fair Oaks” 2 nd 36 2“Asthma,” “rupture,” “malaria,” “scurvy,” “blind,” “piles,” “varicose veins,” “partial loss of great toe” 3 rd 42 8“Measles,” “nervous affliction,” “general debility,” “horse fell on leg,” “paralysis,” “wounded by saber” 4 th 45 9“Hernia,” “bronchitits,” “catarrah” 5 th 53 5“Kidney disease,” “nose,” “bowel trouble,” “deafness,” “dysentery” 6 th 22 4“Sunstroke at Vicksburg,” “malarial poisoning” 7 th 47 7“Cough,” “rheumatism,” “diahrrea” 8 th 15 3“Fever,” “agues,” “prisoner at Andersonville Prison for 8 months” Totals28544

14 …but what about before 1907?

15 What I use now from the WHS…online Civil War soldiers index Vital Statistics Indexes… Wisc. Public Documents Wisc. Local Newspaper Collection What I’d like to have access to, online, from the WHS… --WNI database, but not at $15 per search! --Full-text searching of local newspaper articles --Digitization of pre-1907 vital statistics

16 Eau Claire in 1872…are there any sites to interpret from the first phase of the city’s history?

17 The Grand Ave. bridge and the old courthouse…

18 Some of the most important sites are under water…

19 Phase II--City of Children,

20 Research issues for the “City of Children” phase of Eau Claire history, Placement and construction of schools and parks; housing patterns; recruitment of teachers; PTAs, youth sports, etc. What I use from WHS…. School Board minutes Building Department records Parks Department records

21 What sites are there to interpret for the 2 nd phase of Eau Claire history?

22 City of Women, onward

23 Research issues for “City of Women” phase of Eau Claire history, 1970-onward Why did the University grow so quickly and in the manner it did, increasingly attractive to women students How did the gender gap in age grow in Eau Claire among the elderly?

24 How to interpret Eau Claire State (later, UWEC) as a historic site? …and what about elderly, female Eau Claire today? Women students at UWEC,


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