Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Wisconsin Historical Society Calendars, 45 Years of Scenery and Culture - Image Gallery Essay

Wisconsin Historical Society Calendars, 45 Years of Scenery and Cultur | Wisconsin Historical Society

 

Dealer Announcement Show, February 23, 1990

 

From 1948 to 1992, the Wisconsin Historical Society published an annual calendar that depicted the many facets of life in Wisconsin. Throughout the 45 years, the theme, cost, name, images, and publications specifications of the calendar changed.

EnlargePhotograph of the 1948 Society calendar cover page

Photograph of the 1948 Society calendar cover page

Calendar Themes

  • 1948: the first calendar published in 1948 was created to commemorate 100 years of statehood and was titled, "The Wisconsin Calendar, Centennial Edition, 1948".
  • 1949: the second calendar, 1949, commemorated the Centennial Year of the University of Wisconsin.
  • 1952-1956: the themes of the calendars during these years were centered on photos from the “Wisconsin Now" photography competitions.
  • 1973: the calendar's theme this year was the 300th anniversary of the exploration of the Fox, Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.
  • 1975-1978: a special 12 page section was added to the calendars during these years, each with a theme that featured Wisconsin Historical Society photographic collections.
  • 1979-1987: many themes were depicted during this time frame.  Some of those were flags, politics, food industry, signs & symbols, news and mainstream Wisconsin.
  • 1988-1992: black and white images were taken wholly from the Iconography Collection at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and featured a theme.
EnlargeStacks of cheese, One of the twelve photographs included in the Society's first calendar, 1948

Stacks of cheese

One of the twelve photographs included in the Society's first calendar, 1948 View the original source document: WHI 143324

Calendar Names and Cost

The name of the calendar changed 18 times. In 1975, "The State Historical Society of Wisconsin" was added to the name "Wisconsin Calendar", perhaps to avoid confusion with other Wisconsin themed calendars.

Originally $1.00, including a mailable box, the price of the calendars did not change until 1970. Starting in 1970, the cost rose to $1.25, and then increased another 25 cents in 1976. Between 1977 and 1992, the price rose from $2.50 to $6.95.

Many organizations purchased the calendars in bulk for fundraising purposes. A quantity discount was offered depending on the number of calendars ordered. In 1970, the maximum discount on bulk orders was 50% for an order of 1000 or more.

Calendar Images

EnlargeParlor Interior of Herman Amberg Preus's Parsonage. The image appeared in the "Americans at Home" section of the 1975 Wisconsin Historical Calendar.

Parlor Interior of Herman Amberg Preus's Parsonage

The image appeared in the "Americans at Home" section of the 1975 Wisconsin Historical Calendar. View the original source document: WHI 27218

The photographs featured in the calendars were selected from many different sources. The first three calendars used images from many State organizations that focused on Conservation, Agriculture and Education, also included were, museums, newspapers and 10 individual photographers. The fourth calendar published images created exclusively by William Wollin, owner of William Wollin Studio.

In 1952, the calendar began showcasing images from the Annual Photographic Competition named "Wisconsin Today" sponsored by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The purpose of this competition was to add to the Society's collection of photographs representing various aspects of life in Wisconsin. Some of the entries came from photography clubs around the state. Judges for the competition included Paul Vanderbilt, Curator of Visual Materials for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and Harry Lichter, Curator of Collections for the Society's Museum. The competition was held from 1950 until 1955. After the competition was over, more images from these contests were selected for publication in later calendars.

EnlargeDutton and Wheeler's Iceboat. The image appeared in the January section of the 1990 Wisconsin Historical Calendar.

Dutton and Wheeler's Iceboat

The image appeared in the January section of the 1990 Wisconsin Historical Calendar. View the original source document: WHI 60498

Starting in 1957, photographers were invited to submit prints and slides for inclusion. Letters were sent to photographers, inviting them to submit contemporary images to appear alongside black and white photos chosen from the Society's Iconography Collection. Photographers contacted included all that submitted during the preceding three years, those who sent inquiries that year, newspaper photography departments and journalism schools. News releases were also sent to all state newspapers asking photographers to submit prints and slides.

The black and white images for the last 5 calendars, 1988-1992, were selected from the Society's Iconography Collection by staff from the Editorial and Iconography departments. At this time, color photos were eliminated. An essay about that year's theme appeared in the front of the calendar, with notes about selected photographers.

Calendar Publishing Specifications

EnlargeJessie Turvill Thwaites Picking Flowers. The image appeared in the August section of the 1992 Wisconsin Historical Calendar.

Jessie Turvill Thwaites Picking Flowers

Jessie Turville Thwaites, wife of Reuben Gold Thwaites, picks wildflowers. The image appeared in the August section of the 1992 Wisconsin Historical Calendar. View the original source document: WHI 60789

All of the calendars followed the datebook/day planner format. The first three calendars included Wisconsin dates of interest as well as holidays. The first four calendars changed design styles, paper and type of comb binding. All the calendars had plastic comb or metal spiral binding.

The first two calendars were printed in dark green ink and in 1950 the halftones were printed in black, continuing throughout until the last five calendars, which were 2-color duotones of black and white images. In 1951 the covers were printed in process color, and in 1954 color images were added to the bodies. There were no process color images in the bodies of the last 5 calendars.

The size changed several times. The width changed three times, from 5.375in, 5.875in to 6in wide, and the height changed twice from 7.625in to 8.125in high. The number of one- or two-color images is more than 2,000 and the number of four-color images is approximately 600. Currently about 820 black and white images (roughly 33%) are scanned.

The proliferation and mass production of other calendars prompted the Society to discontinue the calendar in 1992.

Visit the Gallery