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Grants help old maps go digital

There’s a certain historic charm to the one-room schoolhouse of your parent’s or grandparent’s stories. One of a series of old, cloth maps digitally reproduced recently by the Calumet County Historical Society can show you just where the county’s one-room schools were located.

old classroom

Calumet County one-room school.

Maybe you’d like to track 19th century grain prices or check the boundaries of the growing zones across the U.S.  They have digitally reproduced charts from the Wisconsin Agriculturalist to give you that information.

It’s all part of work supported by a combined $1,150 in grants from the Zarnoth Family Fund and the Allen and Karen Schuette Heritage Fund within the Chilton Area Community Foundation, a regional affiliate of the Community Foundation.

Historical society board member Jeanne Keuler said it all started when a group was working at the museum one weekend and got to talking about several large maps that were thumbtacked to the wall.

“We just felt like they were starting to deteriorate,” she said. She checked with the Wisconsin Historical Society, who recommended they get digital copies made of the maps for display and keep the real maps protected in a special plastic covering.

Board member Debbie Barany said the digital copies were going to cost $700 per map going through a Madison printer recommended by the state Historical Society. The small, volunteer group couldn’t handle that, until they secured the grants and found a local printer willing to do it at a fraction of the cost.

The agricultural charts also diagram the various cuts of meat on livestock animals and track the price of hay and grain in the early 1900s.

“It was just too cool not to protect,” board member Mike Pichee said. “It’s just fascinating.”

In addition, a $2,000 grant from the  CACF’s Community Fund is paying for digital conversion of the historical society’s records and labels for its more than 10,000 artifacts. The old, handwritten labels from 55 years ago are fading to the point that you can’t read the description or the name of the person who donated the artifact, Barany said. The priority is to get digital records completed for all new donations that come in and go back to document older materials as volunteer manpower is available.

“We’re like a lot of organizations, we’re limited by manpower,” Pichee added.

The digital materials have not been put online yet, though that is in the plans.

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