Friends and colleagues honored Dr. Les (Leslie) F. Crocker, professor emeritus of art, as he received the Eugene W. Murphy Library Special Recognition Award at a program and reception in the Special Collections and Area Research Center on April 19, 2018.
Read more about the award and past recipients at the Murphy Award web page.
Dr. Crocker taught art history at UWL from 1969-2002. During his employment and the years since, he has been an advocate for the library, encouraging people to contribute historic items, especially photographs, to Special Collections. Dr. Crocker donated many items from his own collections over the years, including books and historic photographs of La Crosse, architectural drawings from the 1870s done by Andrew Roth, and many of his own culturally-significant photos of La Crosse buildings and structures.
During his years teaching, Dr. Crocker led his art history students to use primary sources as they conducted extensive research on various aspects of La Crosse history. This resulted in well-researched, comprehensive papers, which Dr. Crocker gave to the library. These papers have proved to be useful research materials over time, sometimes being the only information Special Collections has on a La Crosse structure or building.
Dr. Crocker published two books on local La Crosse history, making extensive use of the resources in Special Collections and Murphy Library. The first book, published in 2012, is “Places and Spaces: A Century of Public Buildings, Bridges and Parks in La Crosse, Wisconsin.” This 350-page, hardcover book includes the history of 79 La Crosse buildings, sites, and structures, beginning with the first county courthouse in 1851. His next book was “We’ve Hung the Lantern: A Visual History of the First 50 years of UW-La Crosse,” published in 2013. It covers UWL history from 1909 to 1964, with nearly 225 images documenting students, faculty, and life on campus. A third book is planned, covering 1965 to the present. Dr. Crocker’s books are destined to become standard reference works on their respective subjects, and future researchers, as well Murphy librarians, will remain thankful for Dr. Crocker’s efforts.