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Guide to the American Red Cross, Scenic Bluffs Chapter Records, 1916-1994 MSS 034

Guide to the American Red Cross, Scenic Bluffs Chapter Records, 1916-1994

MSS 034

Summary Information

Records of the La Crosse County, Wisconsin, chapter of the American Red Cross, known as the Scenic Bluffs Chapter. The collection consists of seven series: Administrative Materials, Blood Services, Disaster Relief, Financial Materials, Junior Red Cross, Publicity, and Service to Military Families. Materials included within these series are board minutes, 1916-1992; blood program records, 1952-1994; financial gifts and bequests, 1950-1979; Junior Red Cross activities, 1957-1979; and publicity, consisting of newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, 1930s-1990s.
Collection Title
American Red Cross, Scenic Bluffs Chapter Records
Date of Materials
American Red Cross. Scenic Bluffs Chapter.
Call Number
MSS 034
8.75 cubic feet
Physical Description
12 archives boxes, 3 record center cartons
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], American Red Cross, Scenic Bluffs Chapter Records, MSS 034, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Historical Note

Board Chairs
1916 Mrs. L.F. Easton
1916-1918 George W. Burton
1918-1919 L.C. Colman
1919-1921 Andrew Lees
1921-1928 (unknown)
1929-1946 Mrs. Eva Wolf
1947-1956 Mrs. Rudolph B. Horschak
1957-1963 Mrs. Eleanore Wollschlaeger
1964-1966 Jerry Morrison
1967 James McCord (interim)
1967-1972 Mrs. Howard Dahl
1973-1975 Mrs. Harriet Yeske
1976 Jerry Morrison
1976-1978 Mrs. Mary Hebberd
1979-1981 H. King Holley
1982 Steve Tanke
1983-1984 Paul Schilling
1985-1986 Tom Zurbriggen
1987 Bill Beranek
1989-1990 David Onsrud
1991-1992 Douglas Mormann
1993-1994 Brad Dinsmoor
1995-1996 Margaret Neader
1997 Roger LeGrand
Executive Secretaries
1929-1954 Mrs. Emma L. Seide
1955-1959 Mrs. Ethel Thomas
1959-1973 Mrs. Celeste Mack
1973-1976 Mrs. Jean Arneson
1977-1980 Neava Sanders
1981 Sara Brotton
1982-1987 Nancy Lovold
1988-1992 Raymond Gardner
1993-1995 Phillip Hansen
1996-1997 Pam Hale Bradley
1997-2000 Neil Duresky
2000-2002 Cathy Hopkins
2002-2009 Cheryl Hancock
1916-1933 Home of secretary/executive secretary
1934-1941 Post Office or Federal Building
1942-1957 406 Hoeschler Building, 115 5th Ave. South
1958-1961 427 Cass Street
1961-1981 1024 Main Street
1981-2009 2927 Losey Boulevard South

Scenic Bluffs Chapter

The La Crosse County Chapter of the American Red Cross began when President William Howard Taft visited the city in December 1915. Initial plans were discussed at a DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] meeting, at which President Taft outlined a strategy for development. A formal organizational meeting was held in the Common Council chambers at City Hall on June 21, 1916, at such time Taft's college pal, George W. Burton, was elected chairman of the local chapter. Other officers were also elected, and by-laws adopted. The following June 29, the chapter was granted its charter by the central committee of the American National Red Cross.

World War I spurred on much activity for local Red Cross volunteers. Funds for the war fund were raised, and Red Cross branches were established in La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Buffalo, Trempealeau, and Juneau counties. The Canteen committee, the Red Cross shop, and the monthly subscriptions to support it were part of these activities.

By Oct. 21, 1917, the chapter had organized 44 branches in Western Wisconsin, and raised $19,320.77 for war purposes. In March 1918, the La Crosse Chapter limited its activities to the city and county of La Crosse. By this time the local chapter had over 12,400 members and a thriving Junior Red Cross membership of 6757. A full-time secretary was added with a $75 a month salary, and a clerk was added to help with office work.

Membership declined significantly after the close of World War I. In the 1920s a children's dental clinic was organized with funds from the Junior Red Cross. This effort and processing veterans' claims comprised most of the chapter's duties. In 1932, the local chapter participated in the national Red Cross commitment to distribute cotton goods and flour to families in need. Approximately 10,000 persons received services. City fire fighters distributed the flour, totaling 4120 barrels.

Other programs of the chapter at this time included first aid, disaster preparedness and relief, home hygiene, water safety, nurse recruitment, nurse aides, canteen, staff aides and Gray Ladies. Home service was the name given to the program now call service to military families. Production was the name given to homemade items such as knitted hats and mittens for families in foreign countries, families in need, or military personnel.

In 1940, the chapter was given a quota by the national office to fold 17,000 surgical dressings. Two La Crosse volunteers went to Milwaukee to be trained in how to do the work. The average worker could make about 60 of the 4"x 4" dressings in a full day. After the United States became directly involved in World War II, many more volunteers aided the local chapter in its work. By the end of Dec. 1942, 450 women were enrolled at various centers across the county providing surgical dressings. Now the chapter was not only folding and packaging the dressings, but cutting the fabric as well. Sewing and knitting comprised many volunteer hours. The Red Cross= peace time activities of water safety, etc., continued during this time.

Gray Ladies provided friendly and helpful services for the sick and convalescent at the Camp [now Fort] McCoy hospital, and later at the veteran's hospital in Tomah. They also worked at the local blood donor center as hostesses and guides. In 1944, a 10 day blood drive was conducted in La Crosse. A mobile unit from St. Paul provided the county with a doctor and two specially trained nurses. It was estimated that 250 people were needed each day of the drive. By late 1944, the mobile unit came to La Crosse with a trained staff of 13. These blood drives during World War II were held in rooms provided by the Vocational School [now called Western Wisconsin Technical College]. Mrs. Owen Jackson spearheaded the blood donor program during this time. The blood program was formally added to the local Red Cross chapter services in 1950, and the bloodmobile came from Madison thereafter.

After the close of World War II, the Red Cross was involved with the rapid number of veterans returning home from overseas. The Red Cross provided communication between local families and enlisted military personnel, sending telegrams and relaying emergency news. The Red Cross also helped to file requests for benefits on behalf of discharged veterans, and dealt with transient veterans. Gift box preparation for children in devastated countries also became a priority. At the close of 1946, Mrs. Eva (Herman) Wolf resigned as chairman of the board of the local chapter of the American Red Cross after 18 years. The membership had grown to 17,000 in the county.

Until the Community Chest [later known as the United Fund and now called the United Way] organized one annual fund drive for many of the charitable and social service organizations, the local Red Cross conducted an annual fund drive called the Roll Call. This was held usually in November, and consisted of a door-to-door campaign.

In the late 1950s blood donations had dropped off significantly and so had membership. While the local chapter celebrated 50 years of service in 1956, a special fund drive was launched to make up for a shortage of money. The blood program was "near collapse" as one newspaper headline read. But by 1961, the scene had changed and the local chapter moved to new quarters at 1024 Main St. For the first time, all services were consolidated into the rented quarters.

The 1965 flood disaster involved not only those associated with the Red Cross in La Crosse, but all over the country. The local chapter was heavily involved with not only emergency help but then later to the rehabilitation needs of the community. Area flood relief efforts in 1992 also drew attention. The Red Cross also responds to fire and tornado damage, and natural disasters of any kind. Disaster preparedness is also a way in which the local chapter gets involved with area kids.

The local chapter has also been active in community programs and the blood program, as well as first aid, CPR, infant car seat program, swimming and life saving instruction, and the like, for most of its existence. Aiding relief and disaster causes in other states and countries has also been a major focus, as well as services to military families.

Plans were underway for a new facility in 1980, and in March 1981 a new building at 2927 Losey Blvd. South was opened and became the headquarters for the Scenic Bluffs chapter. In May of 1997, Elizabeth Dole, national American Red Cross president, paid a visit to the Scenic Bluffs Chapter to give members a pep talk and to honor them for creating awareness of an international humanitarian effort to ban land mines.

Junior Red Cross

The Junior Red Cross has been active nearly as long as its parent chapter. The program was offered in the parochial and public schools. Besides fund raising efforts, some of the activities the children undertook was annual Christmas boxes to children in foreign countries, foreign pen pals, and food service tray favors to hospitals on holidays. Life saving certificates and home accident prevention checklists were also important activities in which the children participated.

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of seven series: Administrative Materials, Blood Services, Disaster Relief, Financial Materials, Junior Red Cross, Publicity, and Service to Military Families.

Administrative Materials (1916-1992) consist mainly of board minutes (1916-1921; 1929-1992), newsletters (1982-1992) and volunteer information, though not comprehensive lists of volunteers. There are a few annual reports from the national office 1981-1985, but all the extant annual and financial reports from the local La Crosse County chapter are interfiled with the minutes. Some national Red Cross publications are also interfiled in this series. There are also local Red Cross annual reports in the Archives' annual report file.

Blood Services (1950-1994) is well represented as one of the Red Cross' major focuses since World War II. The local chapter works in conjunction with its regional office in Madison, Wisconsin, the Badger Regional Blood Program.

Disaster Relief is another major focus of the Red Cross, yet only two folders about this effort are in the collection. Many clippings in the Publicity section more accurately demonstrate the workings of the Red Cross in time of disaster.

Financial Materials are also lacking, as most financial reports are included in the board minutes. There is a cash book (1942-1953) and records of gifts, memorials and bequests to the chapter. The gifts over $100 have been alphabetically arranged by name of donor.

The Junior Red Cross was active in the schools from 1957 into the late 1970s. Adult committee minutes (1957-1971), financial reports (1959-1970), and two activity log books help to document their activities.

Publicity is the largest series in terms of bulk. All newspaper clippings have been photocopied onto acid neutral paper and arranged chronologically. Wei To solution #3 has been applied to the pages of the scrapbooks, which contained largely newspaper articles glued onto acidic paper. These articles date from the 1930s into the 1990s.

Lastly, Service to Military Families is another major focus of the national Red Cross, yet little of that is evidenced in the collection. Some committee materials from the later 1970s exist, as well as monthly statistics from the late 1970s into the mid 1980s. Again there are some national Red Cross office publications in this series.

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Arranged in seven series:

Series 1: Administrative Materials

Series 2: Blood Services

Series 3: Disaster Relief

Series 4: Financial Materials

Series 5: Junior Red Cross

Series 6: Publicity

Series 7: Service to Military Families

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1997 September

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

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

Donated by the American Red Cross, Scenic Bluffs Chapter, April 1997 via Executive Director Pam Hale Bradley [Board approved Feb. 17, 1997]; additions received Nov. 21, 1997 via Executive Director Neil Duresky.

(Accession Nos. 1997.010; 1997.027)

Processing Information

Processed by Anita Taylor Doering, Sept. 1997, with assistance from Jaime Dechant.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

(Clipping file)
 La Crosse--Organizations--American Red Cross
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Area Research Center
 Photographs were given by the local chapter to the Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Red Cross. Scenic Bluffs Chapter.

Geographic Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.)--Societies, etc.


  • Charities--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Red Cross and Red Crescent--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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OCLC Number


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Collection Inventory

 (Series 1) Administrative Materials 

Box Folder

By-laws, 1931 

1 1

Historical background and ephemera, undated 

1 2


Box Folder


1 3-7


2 1-5


3 1-2


15 1-3

National Office 

Box Folder

Annual reports, 1981-1985 

3 3

Brochures, etc., undated 

3 4

Newsletters, 1961-1970 

3 5
Box Folder

Newsletters, 1982-1992 

15 4


Box Folder

Budget, 1983 

3 6

Caller log book, 1948-1955 

3 7

Desk staff volunteers, 1943-1944 

3 8

Forms, undated 

3 9

Gray Ladies, 1961-1969 

3 10

National Office 

Box Folder

Handbook, circa 1964 

4 1

Handbook (draft), 1990 

4 2

Volunteer recruitment strategies (draft), 1990 

4 3

Nurses' Aide 

Box Folder

Class calls, 1952 

4 4

Time book, 1945-1949 

4 5
Box Folder

Orientation packets, circa 1992 

4 6

Positions, circa 1990s 

4 7

Volunteers, 1951-1953 

4 8

Volunteers & Paid Staff Working Together pamphlet, circa 1980s 

4 9

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 (Series 2) Blood Services 

Badger Regional Blood Program 

Box Folder

Chapter manuals, 1968-1973 

4 10

Correspondence, 1972-1977 

4 11
Box Folder

Blood room, 1984-1985 

5 1

Bloodmobile history, 1975 

5 2


Gallon donors [lists of names] 

Box Folder

Bloodmobile records, 1952-1964 

5 3


5 4


5 5
Box Folder

Recruitment committee, 1966 

5 6

Trane Company, 1958-1975 

5 7

Hospital participation 

Box Folder

Correspondence, 1954-1985 

5 8

Outside hospital reciprocated blood, 1974-1977 

5 9

Statements of agreement 

Box Folder


5 10


5 11
Box Folder

National office publications relating to blood and blood donors, undated 

5 12

Publicity, 1978 

6 1

Replacements, 1966-1979 

6 2

Site directors records, 1990-1994 

6 3-5

Statistics, 1950-1993 

6 6

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 (Series 3) Disaster Relief 

Box Folder

General information, 1950s-1960s 

7 1

National office publications relating to disasters, undated 

7 2

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 (Series 4) Financial Materials 

Box Folder

Cash book, 1942-1953 

7 3-4

Gifts, memorials & bequests 

Box Folder

Under $100 

7 5

Over $100 

Box Folder

Bartel, Anne M., 1971 

7 6

Bell, Vern S., 1961 

7 7

Buchholz, Elmer J., 1967 

7 8

deRanita, Maria Catherina, 1972 

7 9

Dorset, Helen, 1965 

7 10

Gabel, Mathilda F., 1963 

7 11

Goodrich, Mrs. W.F., 1961-1962 

7 12

Gundersen Medical Foundation, 1963 

7 13

Hanson, Henry L., 1953 

7 14

Hoefner, Mollie, 1974 

7 15

Koethe, Alma, 1971-1972 

7 16

La Crosse Foundation, 1965 

7 17

Mack, Celeste, 1981 

7 18

McKinley, Effie L., 1973 

7 19

Phillips, Netta, 1978-1979 

7 20

Pierce, Cora E., 1950 

7 21

Reynolds, Elizabeth D., 1954 

8 1

Roggensack, Julius, 1967 

8 2

Rosenstein, Manuel, 1960 

8 3

Seide, Emma, 1970 

8 4

Thomas, Marianna, 1950 

8 5

Wolf, Eva, 1949 

8 6

Wright, Razy M., 1972 

8 7


Box Folder


8 8

Heileman stock, 1982-1984 

8 9
Box Folder

War fund (World War II) day book, 1944-1949 

8 10

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 (Series 5) Junior Red Cross 

Box Folder

Adult Committee minutes, 1957-1971 

8 11

Financial reports, 1959-1970 

8 12

Gift box/package records, 1950-1979 

8 13

Production book, 1957-1978 

8 14

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 (Series 6) Publicity 

Newspaper clippings 

Box Folder


9 1-8


10 1-7









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 (Series 7) Service to Military Families 

Box Folder

General information, undated 

11 1

Committee materials, 1976-1979 

11 2

Monthly statistics 

Box Folder

 1977 July - 1981 June 

11 3

 1985 July - 1986 June 

11 4

National office publications relating to service to military families 

Box Folder

Army family readiness packet, 1996 

11 5

Brochures and pamphlets, 1950-1991 

11 6

Handbook for Red Cross Workers, 1980 

11 7

Resource packet, 1995 

11 8


Box Folder

Serving the Military, circa 1990s   VHS cassette; color; sound; runtime unknown

11 9

Red Cross in the Persian Gulf, circa 1990s   VHS cassette; color; sound; runtime unknown

11 9
Box Folder

POW information, 1981-1982 

11 10

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