|I thought it might be interesting to list the books I use to research Racine history.
This book was probably the first Racine history I read, mostly because my parents bought it and it was around my house. I eventually picked it up and became fascinated. This is a great place to start with learning about Racine history.
|An English Settler in Pioneer Wisconsin
The Letters of Edwin Bottomley, 1842-1850
Milo M. Quaife, Editor
Published by the Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin, 1918
Daisy Brumsey arrived in Racine from a tiny town in Nebraska as a nineteen-year-old. She lived in boarding houses near downtown and worked in a bank on Monument Square. I found her diary on Ebay and have transcribed the whole thing. I’ve also included a section of research. For instance, I found out that Daisy lived from 1888 to 1969.Here is an excerpt from Daisy Winifred’s diary about her job at the Manufacturer’s National Bank:MARCH 20, 1909
|Racine: Growth and Change in a Wisconsin County
Nicholas C. Burckel, Editor
First printing, 1977. Second printing, 1978.
This is a must-have for the historian. With 646 pages of information, this is the book that got me hooked on Racine history.
Racine: The Belle City
|I Called It Home
Great book because of the vivid glimpses it gives of the Armenian-American neighborhood in Racine west of State Street Bridge in the 1930s and 1940s.
I just finished reading David Kherdian’s book “Finding Home,” and although I intend to read it through at least one more time, I felt the need to put up a book review because this book is good on many levels, including for people interested in Racine history.”Finding Home” is about the author’s mother, Veron, coming to America and to Racine as a “picture” bride after the Turkish massacres of Armenians in 1915 and the burning of Smyrna in 1922. Veron arrives to be the author’s father’s bride, and she gets to know the State Street and Main Street part of Racine intimately. There is a wonderful shopping sequence as she is preparing to get married that takes her up and down State Street, Main Street, and Sixth Street, finding her wedding dress and household items to start her new house with her much-older husband.David Kherdian has done an amazing job of bringing the Armenian experience of Racine in the 1920s and 1930s to life, and this book is an excellent addition to any Racine historian’s library.
|The Farmer’s Encyclopedia from 1906
This book is full of ads for Racine companies, including J.I. Case and Fish Brothers, probably because it was published by J. I. Case Plow Works.
When I bid on a 1970 Racine City Directory, I thought I was going to get something small, like my 1940 Racine phone book. But this thing is a monster — probably 3 inches thick. However, it has a lot of interesting info, including a reverse lookup for street addresses. My house, 1405 College Ave., was listed as “vacant” in this year. Now if I could only get some city directories for each previous decade …
I grew up walking and playing at the DeKoven Foundation, also called the DeKoven Center, and previously the Racine College. I loved to run around the old brick buildings, imagining what it was like to go to boarding school there. Sometimes we went there at night, and it was amazingly scary. Eventually, I got interested in the history of Racine College, and learned about James de Koven, the most beloved and influential leader of Racine College. This book fills in many of the details about his life and how he came to Racine College, and also about his death. He had one of the largest funerals I’ve read about, and he’s buried right there next to the chapel.
These city directories are great. They show where everyone lived, including a reverse directory where you can look up an address and see who lived there. The business directories are good too. I’m trying to get one of these Racine City Directories for every decade they were published. This one is 821 pages long.
Images of America: Racine was written by a volunteer at the Racine Heritage Museum, George D. Fennell. It has a number of photos that I had never seen before, probably thanks to George’s experience with cataloging photos for the museum. Great book and highly recommended for the Racine historian.
This booklet is from 1975 and was revised in 1978, so this was about the time I became aware of Racine History as a teenager. My parents may have had the booklet around the house and I probably picked it up. I got this from Ebay today and it immediately looked familiar!
The last book in the box from my Anonymous Benefactor was a book I’d never heard of, The Grassroots History of Racine County. This is a huge, hardcover book with 660 pages, and it went through at least two printings, 1978 and 1979. The editor is listed as Judy Merrick. I’ve just started to explore this book, and it is jam-packed with history and personal stories.