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MADISON — Gypsy Rose Lee holding a musky. General Dwight D. Eisenhower fishing. Aldo Leopold addressing the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. Gov. Warren Knowles coyote hunting. Boston Red Sox baseball star Ted Williams handling a tame deer.
These are among the photos included in “Wisconsin’s Historic Natural Resources Photos,” a subset of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections that went live on the Internet this month.
The collection is the first 500 of what will eventually be 2,200 black and white photos from the 1930s to the 1970s, showing Wisconsinites enjoying and working to protect the state’s natural resources. They show state parks, forests and wildlife areas; anglers, campers, canoeists, hunters and picnickers; black bears, pheasants, jacksnipe, smelt and white-tailed deer; the wardens, biologists and foresters who helped conserve them, and much more.
“These photos are treasures that should be shared with the public,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Just like old family photos, for years they’ve been stashed in the basement of the State Natural Resources Building waiting for somebody to put them in an album. This project makes them a click away to anybody who wants to see them.”
The project is a partnership between the UW Digital Collections Center and the Department of Natural Resources. DNR staff selects photos from the more than 10,000 historical photos housed in the central office headquarters, and prepare the metadata associated with each photo. UW staff and student workers then digitize, format and index the photos before posting them to the website.
“I especially like the one of Mrs. Taylor showing off her musky,” laughed Stepp. “She’s all decked out in her hat and high heels holding a 50-inch musky she caught. I guess things were a bit more formal in 1934 than they are now.”
Aside from their historical value, they show how life and places in Wisconsin have changed, and in some cases, how they have stayed the same.
Photos are being digitized in batches of 500 over the next year or so. The project is scheduled for completion by May 2016. All photos are public records and available free of charge to copy and redistribute in any medium or format for any purpose, even commercially. They are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License. That means if someone uses them, they must credit “Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources” and if they remix, transform or build upon the material, they may not distribute the modified material.
The images area available on the UW Digital Collections Center website at uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/WI/DNRPhotos