Waupun Historical Society Reopens Online Collection

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WAUPUN — The Waupun Historical Society announced last Thursday they have reopened their online catalog after several years of being offline, offering a newly reorganized archive for public viewing

The online catalog serves as an online library of historical documents, photographs, and a list of thousands of artifacts kept and displayed at the Waupun Heritage Museum. 

“Hey, Waupun! After a few years of sorting, cleaning, and re-cataloging, we are happy to have portions of our collection back online for the public to view!” the Society said in a Facebook post. “We are still working to reorganize and digitize our collection, so there are thousands more to come!”

Most of the museum’s collection could previously be found online but was taken down as part of the Society’s bid to reorganize the collection. 

The Waupun Historical Society started using a collections management software called PastPerfect in the late 90s, which was one of the first software of its kind. The primary function of the software was cataloging where items were in a museum collection, as well as offering an online publication which allowed anyone with an internet access to search the collection.

“One great thing about Waupun is that we were probably one of the earliest museums of our size to start digitizing our collection,” said Zac Dickhut, who serves as president of the Historical Society board.

“One downside is that our all-volunteer organization never had the resources to effectively and consistently maintain the collection of 10,000 to 15,000 objects,” he said.

While Waupun was an early adopter of the online catalog, it was unable to complete and maintain a perfect record of everything in the museums. Due to the volunteer nature of the organization, staff changed often and items were often moved without updating the catalog. 

On top of this, it was during this time that the Historical Society expanded to the former Christian Elementary School on McKinley Street, and later moved out when the building was demolished for the new Senior/Community Center

This complicated the process to the point that the entire collection needed to be manually re-cataloged. After about twenty years of being online, the Waupun PastPerfect online catalog was taken offline for reorganization. 

During the process of recataloging the collection, the members of the Historical Society considered moving to a more modern CSM which would offer more efficient recordkeeping than PastPerfect. Ultimately the Society Board voted earlier this year to move to a new software called “CatalogIt,” which was designed for museums with smaller collections. 

“For the last few years, our organization has sought to inventory our collection ahead of the transfer,” Dickhut said. “Kyle Clark has digitized all our old donation forms and taking pictures and scans of artifacts associated with each donation.”

“Now that we’ve transferred over, phase two will be to reconstruct the catalog dating all the way back to the first collection that started in the basement of the Carnegie Library in 1905,” he said. “This process will likely be complete by early spring. Phase three will be cleaning up the existing entries. So there’s much to do, and most of it is pretty simple, so even an hour or two of volunteering here and there will be a tremendous help. I’m motivated by the fact that I already see people sharing and learning from the digital collection.”

The collection currently offers a total of 4,960 entries, including historical papers, newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, and artifacts.

The Waupun Heritage Museum is located at 22 S. Madison St. and open Wednesdays from 3:30PM to 7PM and Saturdays 10AM to 2PM

Waupun Historical Society CatalogIt main page.