Changing Landscapes of Wisconsin creates wide accessibility to a rare collection of historic aerial photographs acquired by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1937-1941. These photographs provide a snapshot of Wisconsin's landscapes seventy years ago, and have become a baseline dataset for understanding environmental, social, and economic changes that have occurred through that time. The goals of the project are twofold: (1) to digitally preserve the degrading paper photographs; and (2) to create the widest accessibility possible for these photos, which are used heavily by researchers, students, environmentalists, genealogists, planners, engineers, and the general public, both in Wisconsin and beyond.
The project was a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center (UWDCC), the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office (SCO), and the Robinson Map Library in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Photographs from the Robinson Map Library were combined with a collection held by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation office in Madison to create statewide coverage that was 99% complete with just over 38,800 photos.