The Electro Writer and Tele-lecturing at Stout

Hello, my name is Jordan Ogdahl, and I am the team lead for the Digital Humanities side of the Hard Surface/Environment team. My team’s job is to come up with the best rooms and objects to be to be represented in Harvey, being that we don’t have the time to create every single room. We spend hours each week finding rooms and objects that are special to those rooms, along with as much information about them as possible to keep everything accurate and educational. Each object has its own special tie to UW–Stout’s history, and show what kind of amazing school it is. One item that I found particularly interesting and revolutionary for stout was the “Electro writer” device.

Long before our current age of cell phones and web messaging, people had to communicate long distances in ways feasible at the time. In the early 60s a device came about known as an Electro writer, which was basically a one-way fax machine. The device would run a metal sheet through, while the user would use the attached burning pen to make smart marks and write short words. During this process the user could also record alongside the written message either to go along with a recorded message, or narrate a live feed. The pen would complete an electric current that would burn images into the sheet, and then the same marks would appear on the receiver and could be projected for wider view.


This impressive object has been linked to UW–Stout’s distance education past, and President Micheel’s interest in “Tele-lecturing.” The electro writer gave Micheels the ability to educate other schools while remaining in Menomonie, and bring the knowledge that Stout has to offer across the country. Tele-lecturing was a new concept when Micheels introduced it to UW–Stout in the mid 60s, and it brought the school closer to the level of online/distance education we have today.


The photo above is of Micheels himself using the electro writer. In this photo he was lecturing to an education conference in Oregon. With the headset he had, he was able to communicate all the way to Oregon, and use the electro writer to illustrate his thoughts, all while being in Wisconsin at UW–Stout.


Playtesting with Harvey

Hello, this is Matt Ferrara. I’m the lead for the Game Engine team for Harvey.

Recently, all of our hard-working artists have been generating content for us to add to the game. As the Game Engine team, we make their content function properly and streamline everything so navigating around Harvey Hall is an enjoyable experience.

More coming soon!
Harvey Hall. Model by Jake Mariet

Playtesting is a necessary step to create that statement a reality.  After editing and planning how everything runs in our game, ironically enough we are not optimal playtesters for our own game! We know exactly what our intentions were and how things should function. The fact is, the less you know about Harvey (and even about playing games in general), the better you are as a candidate for testing the game. These players find glitches in places we never would have checked. These players stumble around our menus and sometimes are confused about what to do or where to go. These are all important things we take note of. For example, if we see a trend that players don’t know how to save their game progress or leave a room, it’s up to us to take that feedback and look into why our design wasn’t understandable.

Unity Scene     UnityScene2

We’re in out last week of the first semester, and this last week is an important time for us. We’re going to be adding an additional mini-game to the President’s room, adding a plethora of sound effects, and incorporating the research the DH team has been finding for each room’s intractable objects.
We will be premiering the Alpha version of Harvey next week. Please join us Thursday December 18 at Ballroom A in the Memorial Student Center, and help us make the game even better!

Adventures in Archival Research: J.H. Stout Shaving Mug

I’m Heather Stecklein, the University Archivist at the UW-Stout Archives and Area Research Center.

My contributions to this blog will focus on some of the exciting things that Digital Humanities students are researching and discovering in the UW-Stout Archives. Today, we’ll investigate this mug.

Ceramic mug with J.H. Stout painted on its side.
Ceramic mug with J.H. Stout painted on its side.

The mug is what we in the Archives and Museum professions refer to as “found in collection.” This means that somehow, long ago, this item became part of the university’ permanent collection, but we do not have its accompanying provenance.

Without information on who owned the item, when, and why, we examine the item for information. We see that it’s a white ceramic mug with “J.H. Stout” emblazoned on the side. Since the mug bears the name of our institution’s founder, James Huff Stout, and someone thought to preserve it in the Archives, it likely either belonged to Senator Stout or it was a souvenir item produced in his honor.

Digital Humanities student Katie Krueger investigated the question.

The bottom of the mug bore a distinctive maker’s mark and a second business-related insignia, and Katie examined them using the Archives’ jeweler’s loupe. She made out the name “R.H. Hegener/Barber Supply/Minneapolis”

Katie Krueger examines marks on an antique mug using a jeweler's lupe with 8x magnification.
Katie Krueger examines marks on an antique mug using a jeweler’s loupe with 8x magnification.
Ad for the R.H. Hegener Barber Supply Company, St. Paul Daily Globe, 1891.
Close-up of the R.H. Hegener Barber Supply Company mark.

The Archives staff located R.H. Hegner Barber Supply in a variety of resources from Minneapolis in the 1890s-1910s.

Due to its date of origin, high level of personalization, and subsequent century of preservation, we can connect this mug to Stout’s founder, James Huff Stout with relative confidence.

While it’s possible that James Huff Stout simply wanted a shaving mug with his name on it, it’s also likely that an area barber shop made the mug on his behalf. Barbers commonly created and displayed personalized shaving mugs for their best customers.

Ad for the R.H. Hegener Barber Supply Company, St. Paul Daily Globe, 1891.  (Click to view full page at the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub)
Ad for the R.H. Hegener Barber Supply Company, St. Paul Daily Globe, 1891.
(Click to view full page at the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub)

Although we do not know where this mug has traveled or how it has been used since James Huff Stout’s 1910 death, this mug would be a very interesting item to feature in the virtual Harvey Hall database.

One potential location for this kind of item in the virtual Harvey Hall interface would be in the relatively secluded bathroom attached to the President’s Office. It isn’t a place James Huff Stout occupied, but with the right interpretation, it would be a good way of connecting the occupants of that space with the original holder of their position title. Regardless, it has been great to learn more about this piece of our collection, and we are grateful to Katie and all of her colleagues for their continued exploration and interpretation of our collections.

President Verne Fryklund

Hi everyone! I’m Lauren, Digital Humanities lead for the characters team. Over the semester our character designers have been working hard on historical characters such as the first president, Lorenzo Harvey, and the president’s secretary, Minnie Becker. Next semester, we plan to add President Verne Fryklund. He graduated from Stout in 1916 (the year Harvey Hall opened!) and later became president in 1945 until his retirement in 1961. After graduation, he was enlisted in the National Guard where he fought in World War I and again in World War II. In his biographical information found in the archives, he’s described as being 6’4”, having “the capacity for compassion,” and facing problems with “stern force, perseverance, and enthusiasm.”


Fryklund is a great candidate for the game because Minnie Becker was his secretary, and we have his office diaries from 1945-1947. In those diaries we are able to experience what Stout was like 50 years ago and how Fryklund was as president. Along with Minnie, he also worked closely with Dean Bowman. In his office diaries, he described what was going on with the University and the things he accomplished that day. Entries in his diary include housing shortages for the students, a door in need of repair, a list of needs for the library from Mrs. Froggatt, the absence of faculty members, etc. There is even mention that a student was awarded a scholarship for $20!

As this semester is starting to come to an end, it’s an awesome experience to see Harvey come together. We can’t wait to show you what we’re working on next semester!

Gone But Not Forgotten: The Library

I am Katie Krueger, team member for the Digital Humanities Hard surface team, in this post I will tell about the history of the library as well as what is was used for and what years it was located in Harvey Hall.

While not located in Harvey Hall anymore, the library of Harvey was a great place to learn and socialize in the early 1920s to 1954 when it was removed from the hall. Many students would find themselves catching up with friends, finding a new read, or studying while in this location. It was located “along the west side of the main floor with its fire-proof stack room, its special reference and conference room, magazine alcove and conveniently designed furnishings,” Stout Annual, 1916. The library housed a little more than 6,000 books when it first opened its doors, and within a few years that count went up by 10% which included pamphlets for the students as well. The first head librarian for this library was Mrs. Ruth Tobey who took over for Mrs. Hahn who died due to illness in 1918. Both women are pictured below.

Ruth Kathrine

By the 1930s the library had made its way to holding more than 12,000 books with only about 600 students on campus. The room, which was lit by all the large windows, proved to be one of the most popular spaces on campus. Many students, however, explained that as the years went on, the library began to get quickly outdated. In a 1936 Stoutonia a student was quoted saying, “My black dress did its duty again last night at the dating-bureau (sophisticated, not sophomore) name for the library.” Consequently, the noise level was always high, which was exacerbated by the bare floors, and the fact that the general reading/study area was in the same room as the circulation desk.


Within our game we have been able to shape the library as it was in 1954 and bring it back to life with the large windows as well as books. We hope to keep improving the space, and we hope that the alumni of Stout are proud to say they studied there. We hope that it is able to bring back many memories.

Below is an image rendered and created by Zack Pasterski, a game design student.

Minnie’s Mini-Game

I am Kayla Black, Lead for the Digital Humanities Content team, and I am working on the dialogue for Minnie Becker and the mini-game that involves having a conversation with her. I have been spending time in the archives on the microfilm machine looking at the scrapbooks that Minnie put together during her time at Stout.

microfilm set up

Minnie Becker was a president’s secretary for forty years at the Stout Institute and served for four Presidents. Minnie is one of the historical characters in Harvey. She was chosen as a character for the game because she was at Stout for such a long period of time and also was very involved and knowledgeable about things happening on and around campus. She created scrapbooks from collected newspaper clippings that had anything to do with Stout, Menomonie, or even Wisconsin. The newspaper clippings mostly came from local papers like Eau Claire and Twin Cities papers.

These scrapbooks were captured on three reels of microfilm:

mircrofilm scrapbook

We want to create a mini-game that involves gossiping with Minnie. The player will find her in the President’s office, where she spent a lot of her time as secretary. I have found these scrapbooks to be a great resource to create conversation that Minnie would have had with students. She cut out and pasted all of these articles, so surely she would have talked about the stories she was collecting. Parts of the scrapbooks will also be built into the game so that player can flip through some of the pages. This mini-game is a place where we can tell stories from the past, without having to reenact them in the game. For example, when JFK came to speak at Stout Institute, Minnie was there and will be able to tell some details about when he came and spoke in Harvey Hall.

It will also be a place where we can tell stories from around campus, not just in Harvey Hall. I found an article about a Fraternity house that caught on fire back in 1958. It gives the address of the house, which was on 6th Street, where Frat houses remained until they were torn down just this past summer in 2014.

Frat Fire-Micro film

There are too many clippings to add all of them to the game, but I am working on picking the most interesting stories that will represent Stout and Harvey Hall as it should. We’re very excited to write dialogue for Minnie and build this interactive character.