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Doing Eau Claire History in the Digital Age: Problems and Opportunities for the Working Historian Fo


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Title: Doing Eau Claire History in the Digital Age: Problems and Opportunities for the Working Historian Fo

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

My 2005 book on Stockbridge-Munsee history
Amazon.coms subject tracings James W Oberly
(Author) Key Phrases allotment selections,
lands herein ceded, second draft constitution,
United States, Indian Party, Citizens Party
(more...)   No customer reviews yet. Be the
WorldCats subject tracings Oberly, James
Warren, 1954- 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?
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.

My last seminar paper (for which I took an
incomplete) but hope to finish for
publicationA Population History of Eau Claire,
  • U.S. population historyas organized into
    discrete periods by demographic historians
  • 1840-1900, the fertility transition from high
    birth rates to low birth rates
  • 1880-1920, the mortality revolution from a high
    death rates to low death rates
  • 1845-1924 and 1965ongoing, high rates of
    international migration to the U.S.

Question how does Eau Claires population
history fit into this national framework?
Heres how I organize Eau Claires population
City of Men, 1856-1900
City of Children, 1900-1970
City of Women, 1970-ongoing
City of (young) Men, 1856-1900
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,
1872-1881 Frequency Percent Valid
Percent Cumulative Percent Valid
ADULTERY 2 .3 .3 .3
ANIMALCR 1 .2 .2 .5 ARSON 4 .6 .6 1.1
ASSAULT 276 43.3 43.3 44.4 BROTHEL 6 .9 .9 45.
3 BURGLARY 8 1.3 1.3 46.6
CONTEMPT 7 1.1 1.1 47.8 DR-NL 3 .5 .5 48.3
FORGERY 4 .6 .6 48.9 FORNICATE 6 .9 .9 49.8
FRAUD 6 .9 .9 50.8 GAMBLING 1 .2 .2 50.9
HUNTING 3 .5 .5 51.4 JUVDELIN 5 .8 .8 52.2
LARCENY 119 18.7 18.7 70.8 OBSCENITY 3 .5 .5 7
1.3 PATERNIT 6 .9 .9 72.3 PERJURY 1 .2 .2 72
.4 RAPE(ATT 5 .8 .8 73.2 RESIST 4 .6 .6 73.8
RIOT 2 .3 .3 74.1 SEDUCTIO 1 .2 .2 74.3
SELLNL/I 1 .2 .2 74.5 SERVING 21 3.3 3.3 77.7
SUNDAY 56 8.8 8.8 86.5 THREAT 13 2.0 2.0 88.
6 VAGRANCY 57 8.9 8.9 97.5
VANDALISM 12 1.9 1.9 99.4 WEAPON 3 .5 .5 100.0

Total 638 100.0 100.0
19th Century Eau Claire a more extreme imbalance
of men to women than the state.
and did not reach parity until 1910.
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 Europewhy?

Immigrant Eau Claire (Adults--City only)
Another big question How did Eau Claire fit into
the national history of the Mortality
Revolution between 1880 and 1920?
  • 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
  • Im mainly working with Civil War veterans
    life-time health histories.

Eau Claires Civil War Veterans and Widows of
but what about before 1907?
What I use now from the WHSonline
  • Civil War soldiers index
  • Vital Statistics Indexes
  • Wisc. Public Documents
  • Wisc. Local Newspaper Collection

What Id like to have access to, online, from the
--WNI database, but not at 15 per
search! --Full-text searching of local newspaper
articles --Digitization of pre-1907 vital
Eau Claire in 1872are there any sites to
interpret from the first phase of the citys
The Grand Ave. bridge and the old courthouse
Some of the most important sites are under water
Phase II--City of Children, 1900-1970
Research issues for the City of Children phase
of Eau Claire history, 1900-1970
  • 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

What sites are there to interpret for the 2nd
phase of Eau Claire history?
City of Women, 1970--onward
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
  • How did the gender gap in age grow in Eau Claire
    among the elderly?

How to interpret Eau Claire State (later, UWEC)
as a historic site?
Women students at UWEC, 1966-1980
and what about elderly, female Eau Claire today?