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Exploring Snapshots of UWEC's Past

Ben Rueter

A year ago, if you wanted to get a look at the UW-Eau Claire’s past, you had to sort through a cabinet full of randomly assorted photos sitting out in the campus library’s reading room. Added to which inconvenience is that the photos were not organized and not preserved. “Generally they were in a pretty poor state,” said Gregory Kocken, head of UW-Eau Claire’s Special Collection and Archives department. Kocken has taken over the job of preserving these photographs for future students and community members so that they may look back in time to a different kind of university. “With the university centennial around the corner, we needed to do something to be able to better organize that collection, better describe that collection, and ultimately improve access to the collection,” Kocken said. Now the collection is organized very specifically ranging from buildings to campus events like the Winter Carnival during the 60s. (One picture of the event shows students that have created a two-story tall snow sculpture of a pirate ship.) Kocken said he’s also in the process of uploading the majority of the photos to Flickr. “It’s my hope that I can help take today’s students back in time to understand life at a different point in our university’s history and hopefully also connect with some of the alumni that remember these times,” Kocken said. Check out the photos at flickr.com/photos/uwec-archives.