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Wisconsin Historical Society honors Blugolds

The Wisconsin Historical Society is honoring three Blugolds for their work in documenting the state’s history.

Dr. Robert J. Gough, professor emeritus of history, Dr. James W. Oberly, professor of history and American Indian studies, and Greg Kocken, head of special collections, university archives and records management, are 2017 Wisconsin Historical Society Board of Curators Award recipients.

Gough and Oberly received the organization’s Book of Merit Award for their book, “Building Excellence: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 1916-2016.”

Kocken received the Governor’s Archives Award for Archival Advocacy.

With support from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Inc., Oberly and Gough published a history of UW-Eau Claire. The book’s release came during the university’s yearlong centennial celebration.

The history that Gough and Oberly compiled is comprehensive, examining all aspects of the last 100 years of UW-Eau Claire — the policies, the academics, and student and faculty life, as well as connections to and support from the greater Chippewa Valley community.

"Winning the WHS Book of Merit award is a great honor for Bob Gough and me," Oberly said. "The decision by the Board of Curators of the Wisconsin Historical Society shows that the history of UWEC is of importance statewide. UWEC has made Wisconsin a better state in which to live and work with a century of educating its people, first as teachers, later as professionals in many areas, and always as citizens, as detailed in the book."

The award also continues a tradition of recognition of scholarship by the WHS of excellence in scholarship of UWEC historians, Oberly said, noting that Gough won the same award for his book "Farming the Cutover: A Social History of Northern Wisconsin, 1900-1940" in 1998, and Jane Pederson won it in 1993 for her book, "Between Memory and Reality: Family and Community in Rural Wisconsin, 1870-1970." 

Kocken oversees a UW-Eau Claire department that collects the official and unofficial records from throughout the university’s 100-year history. As a member of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Area Research Center Network, UW-Eau Claire also holds manuscript collections and local government records pertaining to six Wisconsin counties.

Each year, the Wisconsin Historical Society’s governing Board of Curators recognizes individuals and organizations for meritorious work in areas relating to the society’s mission.

For details about the awards, visit


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