UW-Eau Claire new home to rare Robert Frost collection - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW-Eau Claire new home to rare Robert Frost collection

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Eau Claire (WQOW) -  "The Road Not Taken" is a Robert Frost poem we've probably all heard at some point. Wednesday, we're learning about a large collection from Frost making all the difference at UW-Eau Claire. 

Within five minutes of meeting Joan Christopherson Schmidt, better known as Miss Chris, you learn of her love for nature and her late husband Fritz. Miss Chris says Fritz had many passions, including mountain climbing, skiing, and poetry.

Over the years Fritz collected dozens of first edition frost books. "He had an eye for good writing and he collected good writing," explains Miss Chris.  

Fritz met Frost during his studies at Dartmouth in 1942.  Miss Chris says, "Fritz was a wonderful man and so was his relationship with Frost."

The collection consists of 44 books, handwritten poetry and books about Frost. Items Miss Chris says had to stay together. She says, "When a man offered me $30,000 for one book, because it was a better book than he had in his own collection, I thought, you don't sell and giveaway a beautiful frosting, on a beautiful cake. You want to keep them together."

Which lead to her donation to UW-Eau Claire. "Kind of a fluke because I really didn't want to give up Fritz and Frost to anybody, but when you're 83 you ain't gonna be around forever and I needed to find a home for his collection that would be used," says Miss Chris.  

Greg Kocken, the head of Special Collections & Archives Department at UW-Eau Claire, says, "That is a great opportunity with this collection, to be able to present that to students, to scholars, to help them understand Frost on such a deep level."

Miss Chris is from Milwaukee and says another reason she chose UW-Eau Claire is because of its beautiful scenery. 

She donated a portion of the collection, but the UW-Eau Claire Foundation also paid for some of it. The university did not reveal how much.

 

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