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Special Collections holds approximately 50,000 photographs of inland river steamboats and river scenes, making this one of the nation's largest collections for this subject matter. Steamboat photos at Murphy Library are filed by boat name, with a corresponding paper file of basic information. Among river scene images are bridges, locks and dams, river towns, levees, boatyards, boat crews, river construction, fishing, clamming, swimming, and other river activities. Best represented in this collection are the Ohio and Mississippi River systems. View the online collection here: UW Digital Collections - UW-La Crosse Historic Steamboat Photographs.
The steamboat collection at Murphy Library would not have been possible without the generous assistance of the Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen. For over thirty years, the Sons & Daughters provided financial support to Murphy Library through the J. Mack Gamble Fund to collect various steamboat images from across the nation. The fund also covered the expenses involved in making copy negatives and prints. Murphy Library extends sincere gratitude to the Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen for their support.
A life-long La Crosse, Wisconsin, resident, Ralph DuPae spearheaded a 37-year, volunteer effort to collect steamboat photographs for Murphy Library. Throughout the years, DuPae traveled extensively and talked to numerous dealers and private collectors in search of the best steamboat images. In 2004, DuPae was a co-winner of the Wisconsin Governor's Archives Award in the archival advocacy category in honor of his efforts. The award commended DuPae for organizational leadership, public advocacy, and volunteer support of a Wisconsin archive. The nomination papers commented that DuPae's determined endeavor had resulted in a collection that is a "national resource" that "has brought recognition to [...] the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the La Crosse community." DuPae passed away on October 5, 2008.
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As a pilot project, Room 12, in the library basement, has been converted to a silent
study room. Many students ask for an environment even quieter than the library’s designated quiet
areas, so this room is intended to answer that need.
For more information on this space please see our blog. We look forward to learning how this room fulfills its intended
purpose. Please let us know how it is working for you. Send feedback on this space to
To provide more computers during the busy period at the end of the semester, the library is opening
an additional room with computers. Room 30, a computer classroom in the basement of the library,
will open during regular library hours starting December 1, 2013. Students will be able to use the desktop
computers in that room individually or in groups.
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