The Chippewa Valley Museum offers many resources for researchers, from high school students working on National History Day projects, to college students completing class assignments, to scholars investigating our region. You'll find three broad resources below, but if you've got something more specific in mind, contact Director Carrie Ronnander or Educator, Karen Jacobson.
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES
The Glenn Curtis Smoot Library and Archives serves as a regional archive. It houses an unparalleled collection of some 60,000 books, photographs, documents, manuscripts, and other sources available for research. In partnership with the Genealogical Research Society of Eau Claire, the library also offers a special section of local genealogical resources.
All prospective library researchers must submit a Research Request Form in order to schedule an appointment. Appointments will be scheduled between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Tuesday through Friday, depending on staff availability. Fill out the Research Request Form and we will contact you within two business days to schedule your research visit. Museum members may conduct research at no additional cost. Non-museum-members will be asked to pay an hourly research fee.
Learn more about the Glenn Curtis Smoot Library and Archive
See examples of our photo collection (opens in a new window)
At CVM, interpretation begins with the search for themes that reveal the context of regional events and the nature of regional culture. The outcome of this process drives research and the development of exhibits, educational programs, publications, and media productions. The CVM collections lie at the heart of this humanities-based program. Although some items are unique or rare, their principal importance lies in their documented association with the people of the Chippewa Valley.
The CVM collections offer an unparalleled resource for understanding life in west central Wisconsin during the past two centuries. As a whole, they reflect the primary purpose of CVM: to discover, collect, preserve, and interpret the history and culture of the region.
Learn more about our curatorial collections
FOLK ARTS RESOURCES
At the Chippewa Valley Museum, we have a special interest in folklore, folkways, and the folk arts. For nearly twenty years, we have researched regional folkways as one way of understanding the distinctive character of the Chippewa Valley -- where we came from, what our traditions are -- and to see the unique blend of cultures that occurs here.
The folk arts are integrated throughout our public program. They are featured in all long-term exhibits. Paths of the People (1991) traces 300 years of Ojibwe (Chippewa) history in the region. It contains 54 folk art objects (25% of exhibit artifacts). Settlement and Survival (1992) tells of Yankees, Canadians, and Europeans who arrived in the mid-19th century lumber boom. Elements of folk culture are woven throughout the historical narrative. The 5,000-square foot Farm Life (2004) exhibit reflects recent documentation of music, foodways, textile arts and changing architecture of barns. Short-term exhibits frequently incorporate significant folk arts elements, notably the object theater Chippewa Valley Potluck (1998-2003), which received a Governor's Award for Excellence and Hmong in Eau Claire, which became a national project entitled Hmong in America (1995-96).
Several projects have received support from NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as well as state and local funding.
CVM maintains relationships with regional artists who perform, present, and teach. Rug-maker Inez Robertson, quilter Esther Bandli and musician Ralph Rubenzer appeared during the opening of Farm Life. We use audio/visual media. Ruth Olson's fieldwork on three very different family farms is the focus of Barn Stories (2002), an interactive station now installed in the Farm Life barn. Sections about rural dance halls and churches feature musical selections.
Continuing research supports our program. Folklorists Janet Gilmore and Jim Leary have advised CVM for the past 16 years. Gilmore, Leary, and folklorist Ruth Olson were principal researchers for the four-year Rural Life Documentation Initiative, an agenda of fieldwork to support the Farm Life exhibits and programs. Linguist Mark Loudon began working with CVM during the Farm Life project as we sought to increase our understanding of Amish and Mennonite culture. Gilmore led a field school in Eau Claire in May and June 2005 for UW-Madison landscape architecture students. The intensive three-week course focused on the experiences of Hmong-Americans and Amish farming people, as they adapt to pre-existing cultural landscapes. CVM staff helped orient the students to these settlements in the Eau Claire area and offer leads for working with both groups of immigrants.
Dig deeper into our folk arts resources (coming soon)
See a video series about Farm Life (coming soon)
Hear Fifties dance-hall music (coming soon)
Hear Hmong music (coming soon)