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Highlights Archives

Jim Widmer's 'Spirit of Rural Wisconsin: Part I'


Fog blankets the town of Theresa, Wicsonsin, on a summer evening in 1969
WHI 88529

As a young man, Jim Widmer could see that Wisconsin's rural landscape of rolling hills dotted with family farms was under pressure from agricultural industrialization, automobiles, and suburbanization. Traditional rural culture was shifting as mass media broadcast urban ways into farmhouses and modern roads connected farmers, markets, tourists and the countryside.

Widmer decided to chronicle how such changes might affect his own home town of Theresa (population 461 in 1950). He used a Twin Lens Automatic Rolleiflex, considered by professional photographers to be one of the finest cameras ever made. He printed 11-by-14 enlargements on Agfa Brovira papers, and bound these into large sets of albums. In 2011 he donated a set of the albums containing more than 1,400 prints to the Wisconsin Historical Society, from which this online gallery is drawn.


:: Posted May 28, 2013

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