Fox Footprints: local history

The Appleton Public Library is very interested in preserving local history and collecting our shared stories. Here you will find unique photos and stories, updates on our projects and information on our programs in local history and researching your family history. If you have a great photo or story, let us know!   -Diana

Appleton Then and Now

Have you ever wondered what downtown Appleton looked like in the old days, or fondly remember a favorite store that no longer exists?

Appleton Then and Now, a presentation by Scott Mahnke, will answer some of your questions with photos of original buildings and what has replaced them. Scott is a senior electrical engineer with McMahon Associates Engineers and Architects. He enjoys American history, especially the Civil War era, and is a Licensed Battlefield Guide.

The free program will be held in Lower Level Meeting Room C on Thursday, October 30, from 6:00-7:30. Join us to learn more about Appleton.

Steampunk Saturday

Looking for something unique to do?  Drop by Steampunk Saturday--October 18, 2014 from 12:00 to 4:30 in the Lower Level of the Appleton Public Library.  There will be two different sessions starting at noon and again at 2:30.  Each will feature a presentation in Room A/B/C about Steampunk culture or dress, as well as Steampunk Adventure RPG demos in room D (gaming spaces limited). 

A costume contest with Steampunk prizes will take place from 2:00-2:30, so wear your best Victorian or Steampunk outfit complete with goggles, hat or whatever you can create, but leave your Steampunk six-shooters at home.  Be there by 1:45 to sign up for the contest.  Prizes will be awarded for the best and most inventive costumes.

During the afternoon you will be able to construct a Mustache Monacle, stamp a Steampunk Stone Tile, and create a fascinator for your hair or a medal for your costume.  Door prizes, from Steampunk books to Mustache Mania to a Steampunk Gaming Kit, will be awarded at the end of the day (need not be present to win).

A Stone of Hope

A Stone of Hopeis now at the Appleton Public Library. Created by the History Museum at the Castle, this exhibit illustrates Black history in the Fox Cities from the 1700s to the present using illustrated panels and a kiosk with stories told by local residents.  Visit the main floor of the Appleton Public Library to view until September 14, when this pop-up exhibit moves to the next venue.


If this display inspires you to research your own family history, please continue upstairs to the Wisconsin Collection.  There you will find local histories, city directories and other materials on people who lived in this area.  The Appleton Public Library also has databases and indexes that will help you find information on your old house, newspaper articles from the Appleton Post-Crescent, and much more.


Fireworks, picnics and cookbooks

Independence Day always makes me think of picnics, fireworks and family as we celebrate the beginning of our nation.  One way to combine those is to make a delicious dish to share during these events.

Located on the second floor of the library, The Wisconsin collection provides a variety of materials—everything from local history to local and state documents to cookbooks.  Yes, cookbooks!

Currently some of our older local cookbooks are highlighted in a display behind the antique desk.  Over the years various organizations have published compilations of recipes from their members, for example the Post-Crescent or the Foxy Ladies.

Some of the more unusual or older items need to stay in the library, but we do have a variety of local and regional cookbooks that you can check out.  Browse the ones on the desk or check the shelves at WI 641.5.

 Farm Recipes and Food Secrets from the Norske Nook

Two of my favorites are Farm Recipes and Food Secrets from the Norske Nook by Helen Myhre with Mona Vold, and the award-winning The Flavor of Wisconsin:  An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State by Harva Hachten and Terese Allen.

The Flavor of Wisconsin

Sanborn maps!

Have you discovered the terrific collection of historical maps available through the Wisconsin Historical Society yet?  Among others, it includes a large collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  They are meticulously detailed snapshots focused on the business district of an area.  Originally created to help insurance agents determine the degree of fire hazard associated with a particular property, they are now a goldmine for researchers and historians.  These maps include physical characteristics of each building, including size, building materials, windows and doors.  They document street names, property boundaries, fire hydrants, water and gas mains and the names of most public buildings, churches and companies.  Rivers, canals, railroad corridors and similar features are also noted.  Some maps also include large portions of residential areas, where individual homes are recorded with as much precision as large factories.   We are fortunate enough to have copies of the 1883, 1886, 1891, 1895, 1901, 1911 and 1924 Sanborn maps in our collection here at the library, but now you can peruse most of these online as well.  Check it out!

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