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Highlights Archives

Wisconsin Historical Images Reaches Milestone

This H.H. Bennett image, mounted on a stereo card for 3-D viewing in a stereopticon, depicts Old Abe, the Wisconsin mascot eagle of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, perched outdoors on a stars-and-stripes shield beside a cannon
WHI 75095

In May the Wisconsin Historical Society's online database of images, Wisconsin Historical Images (WHI), surpassed the milestone of 50,000 images. One of the recently added images, shown here, depicts Old Abe, the Wisconsin war eagle mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, perched outdoors on a stars-and-stripes shield beside a cannon. Photographer H.H. Bennett mounted the image on a stereo card for 3-D viewing in a stereopticon, devices found in the parlors of nearly every middle- and upper-class home in the late 19th century. This is one of many Civil War-era images the Society will add to the online collection in commemoration of the upcoming sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

The Most Popular Place to Spend Time on the Society's Website

The database has proved to be a public success through its presence on the Internet, quickly becoming the most popular place to spend time on the Society's website. Our intent in offering these images to the public online was to increase public awareness of our visual collections and to support the collections through increased revenue generated by sales of reproductions and licensing of images. In 2001 staff selected approximately 200 images for cataloging, scanning and mounting on the Society's website to serve as a pilot project for future digital initiatives and the generation of income. The goal was to introduce web users to lesser-known images and collections as well as to showcase the "greatest hits."

Organizing the Online Image Collection by Topic

Some of the new and ongoing projects of WHI include mounting images by Wisconsin State Journal photographer Arthur Vinje, the original negatives of the Albertype Company, McCormick-International Harvester, Charles Van Schaick's Ho-Chunk Indians, and the Wisconsin Place File. Users can search all these images online by subject, location and creator. Eventually these projects will become stand-alone galleries on the website. Furthermore, galleries provide a narrative context and historical background for all of the images that constitute a collection. We currently have 64 galleries available online that begin to highlight the breadth of material in the collections.

Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Too

To promote use of these materials we have recently implemented a variety of social media marketing tools including Facebook, Flickr and a Twitter feed. Please explore these new tools to further familiarize yourself with our exceptional collections.

Thanks to the staff, students and a large group of volunteers who scan and catalog images for inclusion in this valuable public online resource, we have reached this milestone. And thank you to the public for recognizing the importance of these materials. This support helps us to continue to add new images to the collection.

On to 100,000!

:: Posted June 1, 2010

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