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Highlights Archives

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

The Widmer fish-fry crew and their server, Amy at far right, seated inside the Jail House Restaurant in West Bend, May 14, 1999 (WHI Image ID 90765)
WHI 90765

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. This unique online gallery draws from that collection and documents 13 years of the Widmer family and friends attending more than 450 traditional Wisconsin Friday-night fish frys.

:: Posted July 25, 2013

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