University of Wisconsin
Chalmer Davee Library
410 S. 3rd St.
River Falls, Wisconsin
River Falls Area Research Center
The Wisconsin Historical Society began a network of these centers in 1962, starting with locations in River Falls and Eau Claire. They were meant to bring history closer to the people, as sort of a grass roots mission. Other states have copied the concept, with the generic term regional archival network serving as a describer, but none have been as successful as Wisconsin’s. The success has been due to a strong commitment to the public by the society and the center; the willingness of the history faculty and other faculty on the campuses to use the materials; and the uniqueness of being able to transfer collections between the centers themselves and the society in a special interlibrary loan system. The early forerunner to the ARC Network was when in 1951 the society developed the Regional Depository System to store local/county governmental records and other historical materials at various state college campuses, other college campuses, and other public institutions. A handful of these depositories were actually opened in the 1950’s, including one at River Falls. However, these regional depositories ended up really being dead storage for bulky collections, such as tax rolls. So, the need was evident in the early 1960’s to either revitalize the program with additional materials, such as manuscripts, or to scrap the program. Also, with many state colleges nearing their centennial anniversaries, it had become apparent that these colleges needed to have their historical materials preserved much better. Thus, the revitalization occurred with the birth of the ARC Network. Each ARC specializes in a particular area of the state. The ARC at River Falls collects materials that document Northwestern Wisconsin, which includes the counties of Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix. It also documents the history of the university. Washburn County also used to be covered by this ARC, but with the opening of the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland in the late 1990’s, Washburn was transferred to that ARC. The River Falls ARC does still has some materials such as newspapers, books, and maps that document Washburn County. Within the university archives (UWRF Series 35), the past correspondence, subject files, and other important papers relating to the River Falls ARC are kept. The ARC at River Falls was at one time staffed by both a director and an archivist. In 1980, the positions merged into one, with the title director being used after that to describe the person who ran the department. In approximately 2003, due to UW System statewide job titles, the title of the department head changed from director to archivist.
Burnett County, Wisconsin ; Pierce County, Wisconsin ; Polk County, Wisconsin ; St. Croix County, Wisconsin