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Guide to the Rotary Club of La Crosse Records, 1919-2001 MSS 063

Guide to the Rotary Club of La Crosse Records, 1919-2001

MSS 063

Summary Information

The La Crosse chapter of Rotary International was chartered in 1919. The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; high ethical standards in business and professions; the application of the ideal of service; the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through fellowship. Records of the local La Crosse chapter include historical materials, board and committee materials, membership files, programs & events. Written historical sketches and some historical ephemeral items as well as many unlabelled photographs comprise the historical background. The board materials consist of a framed charter (1919), chapter constitution and bylaws, correspondence (bulk 1924-1927; 1938-1939), minimal financial materials (1961-1983; 1990-1998), and meeting minutes (1924-1975; 1977).
Collection Title
Rotary Club of La Crosse Records
Date of Materials
Rotary Club of La Crosse (La Crosse, Wis.).
Call Number
MSS 063
6.0 cubic feet
Physical Description
8 archives boxes, 1 record center carton, 2 flat boxes, 1 oversize flat box
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Rotary Club of La Crosse Records, MSS 063, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Historical Note

The La Crosse chapter of the Rotary International got its start in 1919. The principle individuals involved in starting the local chapter were Otto Schlabach, Edward M. Wing, Percy D. Bentley, Arthur L. Meyers, William A. Jones, Peter J. Yerly and Walter Woods. These men, along with others, met with the president of Madison Rotary Club, Reuben Neckerman, who was sent by Rotary District 15 Governor Burton E. Nelson as his representative to the La Crosse group. During this meeting the first directors of the La Crosse chapter were elected. They were Al L. Guetzman, Edward E. Evans, Otto M. Schlabach, Frank Pittman, Edward M. Wing, Argyle Scott and Bart E. McCormick. The first officers elected were Bart McCormick, president, Edward Wing, vice president, Peter Yerly, secretary and Frank Pittman, treasurer.

On May 27, 1919, 32 charter members were enrolled in the La Crosse Rotary Club, and the charter of the Club was officially accepted on June 1, 1919. The La Crosse Rotary Club, now called "downtown" Rotary, has either sponsored or been instrumental in starting numerous Rotary clubs: 1928 Melrose 1948 West Salem 1960 Onalaska 1971 La Crosse East 1980 Valley View 1982 La Crescent, MN 1986 Prairie du Chien 1987 Viroqua 1988 La Crosse North 1990 Caledonia, MN 1993 Dubna, Russia

In August 1987, the first three women were admitted to the downtown Rotary Club. They were Beverly Simone, Anita Froegel, and Pat Heim.

The group continues today and publishes a weekly newsletter Coulee Report.

The La Crosse Rotary Foundation was begun in 1983. Contributions are used to help fund area community projects, expanding the scope of service projects with special fund-raising events.

Kids Coulee, a project spearheaded by the Rotary Club, was proposed in 1993. Intended to be a 20,000 square-foot playground with a variety of equipment including slides, swings, bridges, and a sandbox, the playground was to be accessible to all children, even those with disabilities. The Rotary Club sought out not only monetary contributions but also community volunteers who would help build the playground. On September 21, 1994, community volunteers began work on the playground that was dedicated on Sept. 25, 1994.

Seven area Rotary Clubs were involved in 1995’s first annual Rotary Lights display in Riverside Park. Those seven clubs were the Downtown Rotary, the Valley View Rotary, Rotary East, North La Crosse Rotary, La Crescent Rotary, Onalaska Rotary and West Salem Rotary. In its first year, 250,000 Christmas lights were used to decorate the park, and approximately 300,000 people walked or drove through to see the display. The display has expanded and changed each year. Every year the Rotary Clubs collected food donations, which were distributed to local food pantries, and monetary donations that went to local charities.

Since 1974, Rotary District 625 has sponsored a youth exchange program in which students from district 625 go to live in a foreign country. Students from foreign countries come to live with a family located in district 625. The goal of the program is to promote international understanding and goodwill.

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Scope and Contents

Records of the local La Crosse chapter include historical materials, board and committee materials, membership files, programs & events. Written historical sketches and some historical ephemeral items as well as many unlabelled photographs comprise the historical background. The board materials consist of a framed charter (1919), chapter constitution and bylaws, correspondence (bulk 1924-1927; 1938-1939), minimal financial materials (1961-1983; 1990-1998), and meeting minutes (1924-1975; 1977).

Most committee materials are limited, but include materials pertaining to the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration (1968-1969), a VHS tape of the Rotary’s 75th anniversary (1994), as well as other scattered committee materials. Extensive committee materials are included pertaining to the planning and construction of the Kids Coulee playground in La Crosse (1991-1999).

Membership files include attendance records (1967-1998), classification of members (1991-1993), fellowship assignments (1969-1977; 1995-1996), new membership (1992), and directories (1969-1998 with some gaps).

Program and Events materials include a number of artifacts, extension materials relating to a sister chapter in Dubna, Russia (1991-1992; 2001), songbooks, and other miscellaneous materials.

Records from Rotary District 625 (of which the La Crosse Chapter is a part) range from 1982-1993 with some scattered earlier materials. These files include brochures, budgets, by-laws, and other materials issued by the District Governor.

Rotary International materials (mainly 1979-1993) are included to give information on the larger Rotary organization.

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Arranged in seven series:

Series 1: Historical Background

Series 2: Board Materials

Series 3: Committees

Series 4: Membership

Series 5: Programs and Events

Series 6: District 625 Materials

Series 7: Rotary International Materials

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1987-2004

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

(Accession nos. 1987.011, 1999.033, 2000.009, 2000.011, 2001.020, 2001.043, 2003.010)

Donated by Frank L. Carlson, January 1987; Bob Daley, Nov. 1999; Constantine "Dan" Danou (Rotary Historian), Sept. 2000, Nov. 2000, June 2001, Oct. 2001, Jan. 2003

Processing Information

Processed by Bill Petersen, July 1987 originally as Mss W; Anita Taylor Doering with assistance from Dana Halvorson, June 2000; Christine Stolz and Margaret Donndelinger, June 2001; Christine Stolz, May 2004.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

(LP 0245)
Rotary Club of La Crosse Publications
(Ephemera file)
 Organizations--Rotary Club of La Crosse
(Ephemera file)
(Clipping file)
 La Crosse--Organizations--Rotary Club
(Clipping file)
 La Crosse--Parks--Myrick Park
(369.5 ST28S 1962)
 Some Wisconsin Rotary History, by Fred A. Stare
(369.5 P947 1994)
 Proud of Our Past--Challenged by the Future: 75 Years of the Rotary Club of La Crosse, Charter #488, June 1, 1919

Separated Materials

A large oversize panoramic photograph was removed from this collection and added to the Oversize Picture File under the subject heading Organizations-Rotary Club.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Rotary Club of La Crosse (La Crosse, Wis.).
  • Rotary International.

Geographic Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.)--Societies, etc.


  • Civic improvement--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Rotary clubs--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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Collection Inventory

 (Series 1) Historical Materials 

Scope and Contents

Historical Materials include written sketches about the chapter’s history, a black & white 16 mm movie of the District 625 Conference in La Crosse April 27-28, 1958, newspaper clippings (1932-1996; bulk dates 1969-1979), and photographs mainly of members but also of some unnamed Rotary events, including some type of trail maintenance from the 1970s or 1980s and picnics.

Box Folder

Historical sketches, undated 

1 1

District Conference, 1958   16 mm film; runtime, sound, color unknown

Box Folder

Newspaper clippings, 1932-1996 

1 2

Photographs, undated 

1 3-5

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 (Series 2) Board Materials 

Scope and Contents

The Board Materials consist of a framed charter (1919), chapter constitution and bylaws, correspondence (1922-1999)[bulk 1924-1927; 1938-1939] [1962-1999 (with gaps)], minimal financial materials (1961-1983; 1990-1998), and meeting minutes (1924-1975; 1977).


Charter, 1919 

Box Folder

Constitution and by-laws 

1 6

Committee assignments and goals, 1967-1999 

1 7


Box Folder


1 8


1 9



Cash book, 1961-1967 

Box Folder

Reports, 1967-1998 

2 1
Box Folder

Meeting minutes, 1924-1977 

2 2-5

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 (Series 3) Committees 

Scope and Contents

Rotary accomplishes a great deal of its work through committees. Committee materials in this collection are few in number, but include the Fiftieth Anniversary (1968-1969), [Paul] Harris Fellowship (1987-1988), History (1993-1999), Kids’ Coulee (1991-1999)and Rotary Lights, (1996-2001). The History Committee materials include a VHS videotape of the 75th La Crosse Rotary chapter history event from 1994. The Rotary Lights folder consists of only one or two items. Better coverage of this event can be found in the clipping file. The Kids’ Coulee materials are extensive and include information on the history of the project, design and planning, fundraising, publicity, volunteers, construction, and financial materials. Photographs are included in many of the folders, but the materials relating to the construction of Kids Coulee contain the most photographs. VHS videotapes are also included pertaining to the February 1994 Design Day.

Box Folder

Fiftieth Anniversary, 1968-1969 

2 6

Paul Harris Fellowship, 1987-1988 

2 7


Box Folder

General files, 1993-1999 

2 8

Archival care of club records, 1995 

3 1

Rotary 75th Anniversary, 1994   VHS cassette; color; sound; runtime unknown

3 2

Kids' Coulee 

Box Folder

History, 1991-1999 

3 3

Citations and proclamations, 1994-1995 

3 4
Box Folder Box Folder

Construction, 1994 

3 5-7 4 1-2
Box Folder

Committees, 1994 

4 3

Dedication, 1994 

4 4

Design and planning 

Box Folder


4 5

 1994   VHS cassette; color; sound; runtime unknown

5 1
Box Folder

Financial materials, 1994 

5 2

Fundraising, 1994 

5 3

Newspaper clippings, 1993-1995 

5 4

Publicity, 1994-1995 

5 5

Volunteers, 1994 

5 6
Box Folder

Rotary Lights, 1996-2001 

5 7

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 (Series 4) Membership 

Scope and Contents

The Membership section is further divided into attendance records (1967-1998 with gaps), classification of members by business or industry, fellowship assignments (1969-1977; 1995-1996), new membership and recruitment (1992), and member rosters or directories (1969-1998 with some gaps).

Box Folder

Attendance records, 1967-1998 

5 8

Classification, 1991-1993 

5 9

Fellowship, 1969-1996 

5 10

New membership, 1992 

5 11

Rosters, 1969-1998 

6 1

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 (Series 5) Programs and Events 

Scope and Contents

The Programs and Events section consists of widely varying materials ranging from handouts gathered from weekly chapter programs to specific projects. Materials in this series include artifacts from weekly meetings, banners flown at conventions, and the like. Extension is an extension of the local La Crosse chapter to its counterparts in Dubna, Russia, La Crosse’s sister city. This includes an historical sketch of Charles Hanson (2001) describing the origins and connections between sister cities La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA, and Dubna, Russia. Invocations (1985-1991) include memorial statements in honor of deceased members as well as more traditional prayers. Junior Achievement concerns the Rotary Club of La Crosse’s support of the Junior Achievement program in La Crosse. Singing and songbooks are important Rotary ritual, and several examples of songbooks exist to document this activity. Finally, other programs and events is generally information presented to the Rotary Club by people invited to give programs. Examples include economic statistics of UW-L for 1967-1968, a prospectus on the La Crosse Community Ice Center, and Rotary gatherings, such as picnics and the like.



Created by the La Crosse chapter 


Gifts to the La Crosse chapter 

Box Folder

Extension: Dubna, Russia, 1991-2001 

6 2

Invocations, 1985-1991 

6 3

Junior Achievement, 1974-1977 

6 4


6 5

Other programs and events 

6 6

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 (Series 6) District 625 Materials 

Scope and Contents

District 625 Materials (mainly 1982-1999) consist of brochures, budgets, by-laws, committee materials, correspondence, directories, event file extension groups, fundraising, goals & objectives, District Governor’s materials, membership development, newspaper clippings, Poland Project and territorial limits related to Rotary Clubs in Rotary District 625 (Wisconsin). In older materials, the district number for the La Crosse chapter was 15.

Box Folder

Brochures, 1989-1990 

6 7

Budget, 1990-1993 

6 8

By-laws, 1983-1991 

6 9


Box Folder

Affairs, 1980-1992 

6 10

Finance, 1992 

6 11

Service, 1986-1991 

6 12
Box Folder

Correspondence, 1989-1991 

6 13

Directories, 1982-1993 

6 14


Box Folder

Best Business Ethics Event, 1991 

6 15

Conferences, 1969-1998 

6 16
Box Folder

Extension, 1986-1992 

7 1

Fundraising, 1989-1992 

7 2

Goals and objectives, 1991-1992 

7 3


Box Folder

Coming Out party 1985-1992 

7 4

Correspondence, 1990-1993 

7 5

Lists of past governors, 1986-1991 

7 6

Newsletters, 1926-1939, 1986-1998 

7 7-8

Nominating Committee, 1987-1990 

7 9
Box Folder

Membership development, 1981-1989 

7 10

Newspaper clippings, 1924 

7 11

Poland project, 1986-1988 

7 12

Territory, 1938-1981 

7 13

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 (Series 7) Rotary International Materials 

Scope and Contents

Rotary International Materials (mainly 1979-1993) are general in nature and consist mainly of newsletters, some history and district reports. A framed recognition certificate given in honor of Rotary International’s 75th anniversary by the Kiwanis Club (1980) is also included. These materials were left in the collection to help give some perspective on the activities of the state and local Rotary chapters.

Box Folder

Board of Directors, 1991-1992 

7 14

Correspondence, 1986-1992 

7 15

District reports, 1979-1987 

7 16


Box Folder

Assembly/Institute, 1985-1986 

7 17

Conventions, 1974, 1991-1993 

7 18
Box Folder

Foundation, 1985-1995 

7 19

Fundraising: Preserve Planet Earth Coins, 1991 

8 1

History, 1980-1985 

8 2

Information, 1987-1990 

8 3


Box Folder

General Secretary's letters, 1991-1993 

8 4

Polio Plus Reporter, 1989-1992 

8 5

Rotary International News, 1991-1993 

8 6
Box Folder

Rotary code of ethics, 1989 

8 7

Rotary International 75th anniversary, 1980 



Box Folder

Presidents Elect training seminar, 1993 

8 8

Rotary Scholars seminar, 1988-1989 

8 9
Box Folder

Themes, 1991-1993 

8 10

Youth Exchange, 1987-1995 

8 11

Zone Institute 3 and 9, 1990-1992 

8 12

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