Don’t throw it out!

Retired Chicago Tribune reporter Bill Mullen, who attended UWL from 1963-65, dropped off meeting minutes from the early years of the Circle K Club. The materials will be preserved by Murphy Library’s Special Collections.

Retired Chicago Tribune reporter Bill Mullen, who attended UWL from 1963-65, dropped off meeting minutes from the early years of the Circle K Club. The materials will be preserved by Murphy Library’s Special Collections.

Historical information about UWL can be donated to Special Collections

The hard-covered, tattered notebook’s first entry dates from March 6, 1963. That’s the day of the first business meeting of the university’s Circle K Club. And thanks to an alum, that history will be retained for generations to come.

Bill Mullen, who attended UWL from 1963-65, was the charter secretary of the organization. The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune reporter returned to campus in May to drop off the notes he penned 54 years earlier.

The minutes of the Circle K Club’s first two years will forever be preserved in UWL’s Murphy Library Special Collections Department.

The library unit collects, preserves and provides access to materials, many of which are historic, that require special handling and care, says Laura Godden, ’07. Along with university archives, the types of records housed in that section of Murphy Library include: rare books; regional and Wisconsin history books; fine-press publications; maps; oral history recordings and transcripts; and a large historic photograph collection.

They also preserve local history material related to La Crosse and the four surrounding counties for the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of the statewide Area Research Center network. Special Collections provides access to many county-level government records, as well as primary source manuscript collections that contain diaries, letters, business ledgers, newsletters, committee minutes, and various other historic documents. Faculty and students from a variety of academic disciplines, as well as community members, use the unit’s resources for all sorts of research and creative projects.

Godden, the historian in Special Collections, says donations make up a substantial portion of their holdings and help to make the archive more extensive and inclusive.

“Donations are incredibly invaluable to Special Collections,” Godden explains. “Every day we work to provide acquisitioned items with a safe home where they will be valued and appreciated for years to come. Donors get the satisfaction of knowing that their altruistic act ensures the long-term preservation of the material and also makes it publicly accessible to researchers.”

Godden notes that prior to Mullen’s donation of Circle K minutes, only short excerpts from the yearbook, some mentions in the Racquet student newspaper, and a single photo were the main sources of information about the student organization at our university.

“The donated notebook with minutes dating from the organization’s founding helps to build a more complete and nuanced record,” she notes.

Some of the collections are put online, providing a worldwide audience. See information and find out more about Special Collections at:


Recent donations to UWL’s Murphy Library Special Collections

These photos of the historic Gundersen Cottage in the Pettibone Island neighborhood helped the property gain historical recognition. The photos came from an album donated to Murphy Library Special Collections by retired local historian Helen Brieske.

  • Helen Brieske, a retired local historian who now lives in Colorado, donated several old photo albums. Among the images are rare 1930s and ’40s pictures of homes on and near La Crosse’s Pettibone Island. The donation helped one of the remaining homes, the Gundersen Cottage, gain acceptance to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • With the Student Union opening, several university units donated historic materials rediscovered while moving out of Cartwright Center. Among them: framed and autographed posters of visiting from the Distinguished Lecture Series. The speakers include: Amy Tan, James Earl Jones, Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Sherman Alexie, Hunter “Patch” Adams, Arun Gandhi and B.D. Wong.
  • Local historian Bob Taunt, on behalf of the Company B Civil War Reenactors, recently donated copies of historically significant Civil War photos connected to Company B of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, which made up part of the famed Iron Bridge.
  • Alumni donated a 1931 student directory and materials gathered for master’s thesis research related to UWL Professor Emma Lou Wilder. Recently processed, those materials now appear in the library catalog.