Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin is located in the south-central part of the state within Jefferson County. The area that was to become Fort Atkinson was settled by Dwight Foster and his family in 1836. Mr. Foster found an area marked by the native people, who had lived along its waterways, with mounds and the famous panther effigy intaglio. With a population in the 2000 census of 11,621, Fort Atkinson is the second largest city in Jefferson County. The Rock River cuts through the city and has been a major feature throughout the history of the area. Lake Koshkonong is located just southwest of Fort Atkinson and the community is surrounded by the marshes, creeks and rivers of the watershed.
Main Street in Fort Atkinson crosses the Rock River and the current bridge is the third to provide safe passage across. The photograph collection contains images of citizens and businesses along Main Street beginning about 1880 and progressing through the early 1970's. They are part of the historical photograph collection at the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson.
Lorine Faith Niedecker (1903 – 1970) was born and lived most of her life on Blackhawk Island along the banks of the Rock River, south and west of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, not far from where the river flows into Lake Koshkonong. She is considered a preeminent poet of the 20th century who wrote in the Objectivist tradition. Though she remained in Wisconsin, she corresponded with other poets of her day including Louis Zukofsky, Cid Corman, William Carlos Williams and Basil Bunting. Her poetry was published in numerous journals as well as 4 volumes of poetry before her death. This archive contains manuscript materials, notes, letters, text & audio interviews with people who knew Lorine, video productions about Lorine and numerous photographs.
Lorine was the only child of Daisy Kunz and Henry Niedecker. They ran the Fountain House Inn, then a place for vacationers. After graduating from Fort Atkinson High School, Lorine enrolled at Beloit College where she studied for two years until her mother's illness required she return home and began working as an assistant at the Dwight Foster Public Library. She read and was struck by Louis Zukofsky's 1931 Objectivist issue of Poetry magazine and immediately wrote to Zukofsky, starting a lifelong friendship and correspondence regarding thoughts on poetry. Zukofsky benefited from this correspondence and was visited by Niedecker in New York during 1933. In 1938 she moved to Madison as part of the Federal Writers' Project, a division of the Work Project Administration (WPA). After returning to Fort Atkinson she worked as a proof-reader for Hoard's Dairyman and eventually as a cleaning person for Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital, walking the 5+ miles to and from work each day. In 1963, at the age of 59 she married Albert Millen. This made it possible for Lorine to quit work and devote herself exclusively to her writing.