Founder’s Day – Whitewater Normal School makes a “Good Start”

Whitewater Register
Old Main

Tuesday, April 21, 1868, marked the opening day for the Whitewater State Normal School (now UW-Whitewater). Charles Brockway, one of the school’s first students, recalled about the experience: “It was a bright, beautiful, April day…when the formal opening of the school took place. The sound of the hammer was still echoing through the halls and the workmen rested from their labors, while the citizens of the village and the students who on the morrow would meet to begin the active work of the school, gathered in the Assembly Room [of Old Main] to listen to the inaugural address of President Arey” (Salisbury, p.40) Oliver Arey’s speech reflected on the importance of education, the progress of institutions of learning in the country, and the history and value of normal schools. The glee class sang a dedicatory song written by Mrs. H.E.G. Arey, teacher of English literature, French, and drawing. President Allen from the Platteville Normal School and President Chadbourne from the University of Wisconsin were also on hand to congratulate the new school.

Started as a school to educate teachers, the school offered two areas of study, the normal department and the model or training school. The model school gave teachers-in-training the opportunity to educate the children of Whitewater. President Salisbury said the school provided “academic facilities to the local community, which felt itself entitled to such privileges by reason of the bonus it had given to secure the location of the school”(Salisbury, p. 14). Students in the normal department followed a three year program of study. Like many normal schools, classes in the normal department were free if students pledged to teach in the state after graduation. Below is an image of the register student signed stating that they would teach in the state after graduation. The top names on the left and right column are two of the six students who were in the first graduating class in 1870.

Teacher Register

Many things have changed over the last one-hundred fifty-two years, but Charles Brockman’s words about education at UW-Whitewater still ring true: “Day by day, here a little, and there a little, the mind opens, the faculties expand, the powers increase, the ability grows, and the world and life are better” (Salisbury, p. 41).

Salisbury, Albert. Historical Sketches of the First Quarter-century of the State Normal School at Whitewater, Wisconsin : With a Catalogue of Its Graduates and a Record of Their Work, 1868-1893. Madison, Wis.: Tracy, Gibbs, 1893.

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Money Smart Week 2020 — Part I

Do you know what your credit score is? Or how to improve it? What do you need to know about a 401(k) or a Roth IRA?

,Your money or your life Book Cover

And yes, I’m talking to YOU, students! While financial topics might seem like amorphous topics that you can figure out years from now when you’re settled into a good job, the truth is that the financial decisions you make right now can have an oversize impact on your life for years to come!

Andersen Library can help you make sure those financial decisions are smart ones. While nobody here (including me) is a financial advisor, we can provide you with resources to educate yourself and make smart decisions. Here are a few resources:

Total money makeover Book Cover

Last week during Money Smart Week 2020, I co-hosted a webinar called Ask a Financial Expert. You can view the recording here. Three local campus experts shared their expertise, somewhat geared toward staff but I think students can benefit greatly too:

9 steps to financial freedom Book Cover
  • Emily Calhoun, from UW Credit Union, talked about the credit score’s importance and how to improve it. If you want to know more about your own credit score, contact Emily to do a free, private, one-on-one, no-obligation credit score review with her!
  • Mark Gmach, a finance lecturer on campus, shared information about investing and savings for long term goals. Did you know, students, that if you start saving an average of $100 a week at age 25 or so, you could become a millionaire by age 65? Yes, really!
    Get more information on managing your own finances through reading some great books from the library by financial advice gurus like Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, or Robert Kiyosaki. Each of them have plenty of free advice on their websites, too. Or check out one of the books linked from the images in this post.
  • Paul Nylen, an accountant and tax lawyer, shared information about wills, trusts, and estate planning. While that may seem far off to some students, you can still learn something about the basics now.

Come back in a few days for Part II of this post!

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My first book of haiku poems (New stuff Tuesday)

My first book of haiku poems book cover

This beautiful book of haiku poems is just what I needed in these current strange times! Maybe you need it, too?

The poems in this book are all originals by Japanese haiku masters. The fully bilingual book actually prints the Japanese in characters and in Romanized script, as well as in English of course. Since they are in translation, the English versions do not always follow the “5 syllables – 7 syllables – 5 syllables” rule that we probably all remember imitating in elementary school, but they are none the less beautiful and touching for that.

A poem like this one:
Just being alive
the poppy flower
and I.

seems especially appropriate in this season, as spring bursts to life by the day and the human activity normally seen at this time is muted. But that stillness also brings some opportunity for reflection that we might otherwise miss. Perhaps you can find the same satisfaction and even joy as the poet suggests, just in being alive with a flower in your backyard?

Since it’s rather difficult for any of our readers to browse through the lovely images which are half the appeal of a book like this one, check out the publisher’s page for a peek at some of the fantastical, magical illustrations that accompany the text. And remember, while the library’s closed, you can still request to check out this or any other item! Use the Drive-Up Library Pick Up link on the library home page.

My first book of haiku poems: A picture, a poem, and a dream
translated by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, illustrated by Tracy Gallup
New Arrivals Island, 2nd Floor
E My

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From the Desk of Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

Book cover image of Water Dancer

Water Dancer – Ta-Nehisi Coates

One in a series of reviews contributed by Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

“A door had opened. The land had folded like fabric. Conduction, Conduction, Conduction.” To read The Water Dancer, you must unleash your ability to be tethered. You have to escape former notions of the Underground Railroad and Harriett Tubman and move into the realm of the magical, mystical, and the macabre. You can no longer be shackled to a forgone conclusion and must simply give into conduction. “That is conduction. The many stories, the many bridges, the way over the river.”

Hiram Walker, the main character, begins the tale as his mother is taken away and he has to find another home in which to live. Hiram is a slave with nothing more than a memory mostly of his mother as a beautiful woman doing a water-dance with a jug propped upon her head. His mother was the mistress of the master and Hiram is the master’s son.  With a resemblance of the master, he is brought into the main house as the caretaker of his half-brother, the legitimate, White, heir of the Virginian Lockless Plantation.

Hiram is notably intelligent, has a savant-type memory of the mundane, but little memory of his own history which is the key to a power that he does not entirely understand. As he learns to use this power, he will escape, be abducted, transplanted, and transformed as he journeys across America. It will also force him to confront his memories and truths about slavery and his life.

Through harrowing experiences and the tutelage from the magical and mythical Harriet Tubman, Hiram is taught to understand his power of conduction.  Conduction is the power to teleport through memory and water connectivity groups of people from one place to another.  As Hiram conjures his powers, he reflects, “I just sat there watching her in this silence. I felt that she looked different as though the very texture of her story had somehow been etched into her face. The summoning of a story, the water, and the object that made memory real as brick: that was Conduction.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates is exceptional at reimaging the Antebellum South from that of the history books.  He categorized his characters as the:

  • The Tasked – The slaves who are tasked to work the land either in the fields or in the house.
  • The Quality – The slave owners or gentry that live the quality life of pomp, pageantry, and puffery.
  • The Lows – The Whites who oversee the slaves. They have no financial power, but simply positional power over the slaves and much disenfranchised resentment toward the Quality.
  • The Freedmen – Those slaves who have been granted freedom that still live in the South.  In some cases they are better-off than the Lows and are vehemently hated by the Lows.
  • Ryland Men – A posse of Lows that capture runaway Tasked, harass the Freedmen, and are the Quality’s hired whipping men (punishment providers for the Tasked).
  • The Coffin – Natchez, Mississippi is the deep South where slaves are sold into hard labor and is view as a death sentence.  There is little hope of escape, conduction, or reunion after being sent to the Coffin.  Only the most powerful and skillful conductors can extract a slave from the Coffin.

The are many aspects of the book that I enjoyed, the most moving part of The Water Dancer was not Hiram’s escape, return to the South, or escape of the people he loves, but the revisionist history or better yet the reimagined history. How Coates weaves in the legendary story of Harriett Tubman and her spiritual powers of conduction gives testament to why she was also called Moses.  Like the parting of the Red Sea, Coates captures Harriett Tubman as a water weaver that blend story, prayer, and hope into a tele-portable passage to freedom.  The Water Dancer consists of the shared, remembered, and the retold stories of “heroes who did not live in books, but in our talk; an entire world of our own, hidden away in memory.” This collective memory is also part of the power needed to achieve conduction (Quinn, 2019).

Reference: Annalisa Quin (2019). National Public Radio Book Review

Find other works by Ta-Nehisi Coates available from UW-Whitewater Andersen, Lenox and other Libraries. Spring 2020: Yes! You may borrow this book! Use the Drive-Up Library Pick Up link on the library home page.

Learn more about Ta-Nehisi Coates at his official website.

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What Not to Believe About the Coronavirus

A massive river of information about the novel coronavirus flows through social media and the internet. Some days I almost feel swamped by it. And it isn’t slowing down. It can be hard to tell what story is accurate and what is full of baloney (fish?). It could take hours or even days to wade through enough information to figure out the truth about a particular story. Checking with a reliable website like CNN or NPR is a good start news and also for double-checking what you’ve read or watched elsewhere. Following guidelines for evaluating internet resources will help you analyze news stories. Luckily, there are websites out there that have already done some evaluating and fact checking for you. Check out this guide for How to Avoid Misinformation about COVID- 19/Coronavirus. It includes a list of known sources of misinformation on the coronavirus and COVID-19, as well as a list of specific sources of good information. Lastly, don’t miss the column of misinformation trackers, where you can type in or browse for your “fact” and see how real it is.

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The Wisconsin Capitol (New Stuff Tuesday)

The Wisconsin Capitol Book Cover

The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People
by Michael Edmonds
New Arrivals Island, 2nd Floor
F589 .M18 E46 2017

When I first moved to Wisconsin I noticed that the State Capitol building in Madison offered free tours. We had family visiting from out-of-state so it was the perfect time to do something touristy. The tour was a lot more fascinating than I had expected – and the building itself was impressive. The docent shared fascinating facts about the architecture and materials (the marble comes from all over the world). Since the legislature was not in session, we got to sit in both chambers.

Michael Edmonds delves into the history of our state along with the history of the building. He’s an expert in Wisconsin lore and has written several other books about Wisconsin history and folklore.

If you haven’t visited Wisconsin’s first state capitol, it is worth a trip out to Belmont. Although the building is rustic, it is an important piece of Wisconsin’s past. And its setting in southwest Wisconsin is lovely.

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Welcome Back, Warhawks!

We miss you, Warhawks! But the Library staff is still available to help you with your research. You may reach us by phone, live chat or email — or schedule an appointment with a librarian on the Library web site.

The Libraries are also offering a pick-up service for equipment (including laptops), books and media.

Hope you “see you” soon!

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Looking for something a bit different? Try a little armchair nature appreciation via‘s streaming nature cams! There’s quite a variety from which to choose, including farm sanctuaries (sheep barn!), ocean/underwater views, cats, dogs, bird cams, and even a “zen cam” category. Some of these might be perfect for meditation, although I wouldn’t choose the honey bee or alligator feeds for that! Many are live feeds, but there also are some highlights from live feeds.


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National Emergency Library (New Stuff Tuesday)

National Emergency Library (Internet Archive)

Internet Archive logo

In response to library across the world closing their physical locations, The Internet Archive is making available 1.4 million books to meet people’s needs. The bulk of this collection was already available through the Internet Archive. What is unique is they are removing waitlists in order to provide access to everyone without wait. This collection will be available worldwide until the end of June or when the United States declares the covid-19 emergency is over. According to Internet Archive, this collection “supports emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed.”

For more info about this collection, check out The Internet Archive’s FAQ.

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From the Desk of Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

Book cover image of The New Kid

The New Kid Jerry Craft

Review contributed by Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

As a former elementary teacher, I truly enjoyed teaching reading. My dissertation was a study about bibliotherapy which is how to help students choose and read books to help them heal. I so enjoyed children’s literature that my work as an elementary teacher educator focused on literacy development and the use of children’s literature to increase self-esteem, reading achievement, and reading attitude. I had many successes with reluctant readers if I could find the right book for the right person.

The New Kid is the right book that would be ideal for reluctant readers since it is a graphic novel written and illustrated by the main character, Jordan Banks. This unique approach to storytelling will captivate reluctant readers especially if they are middle-school aged males of color, but also anyone else who would enjoy a celebratory adolescent adventure. The New Kid also won the 2020 Newbery Award, the most prestigious award for children’s literature, and the 2020 Coretta Scott King Award, the most outstanding book written by African-American authors for children and young adults.

The New Kid is the first graphic novel to be chosen as a Newbery Award winner and vividly illustrates the tale of Jordan Banks. As Jordan enters middle school, a Black boy from Washington Heights, he takes his readers through the day-to-day reality of his mostly White prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate tale of race, class, micro-aggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

As Jordan navigates his new life in the school that is several bus rides away from his current school, he must learn to adapt and adopt to practices that are foreign to him such as playing soccer, friends who actually travel on Spring Break, and teachers as well as classmates who say things that are micro-aggressive and unconsciously biased. One such incident is when a teacher constantly calls Jordan’s friend who is a Black young man by his wrong name because the teacher was remembering another Black young man from a class she had before. Another incident is when everyone just assumes Jordan is good at sports when all he really enjoys doing is writing and drawing in his sketch pad. Other incidents include White administrators mistaking a veteran Black teacher for the football coach, and White classmates parroting African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) to make themselves sound cool. This school story stands out as a robust, contemporary depiction of a preteen navigating sometimes hostile spaces yet staying true to himself thanks to friends, family, and art.

One reviewer stated, “Jerry Craft, the author, skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable” (Kirkus Reviews, 2018)

The story does a nice job of having readers question the relationships between characters, no matter their race or ethnicity, and inspires thoughts about equity, diversity, and inclusion. Jordan learns how to adapt, adopt, and assert as he makes a variety of friends from different races, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds. The story, as a graphic novel, showcases the themes and issues in a way that mere words would not have captured. The images propel the story along in ways that highlights the nuances and amplifies the instances.

Reference: New Kid. (2018). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from

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