Rock County Historical Society seeking General Motors items and stories for ‘Rock County Legacies’ project

JANESVILLE, Wis. – After years of attempts to create a historical catalog of Janesville’s General Motors plant have fallen short, the Rock County Historical Society is once again revamping the effort.

In partnership with the Blackhawk Community Credit Union, RCHS is asking for any and all memorabilia, items and stories regarding people’s connection to GM.

The initial goal is to capture the legacy of the folks who worked at General Motors here in Janesville,” said RCHS Executive Director Tim Maahs. “UAW, Fisher Body, and GM- We want to honor all of those milestones, commitments, and achievements at that time.”

Maahs, along with the addition of curator Cara Kinzelman, will work to gather these items over the course of the next several years. 

We’re being much more methodical in this approach to ensure sustainability going forward,” he said. “We want this to all be here 30-50 years, even after we’re gone.”

While Maahs isn’t quite sure how the artifacts will eventually be displayed, he says the sky is truly the limit when it comes to possibilities. His hope is the project can be completed within two to five years, eventually becoming a regional draw to the area.

Maahs says more than anything, the hope is to preserve the legacy of what GM, along with other major employers, has meant to the area.

There’s a huge emotional attachment (to General Motors),” he said. “Largely because it was a great place to work and people would go there and spend their entire careers there, so it really becomes part of the fabric of their life. Other industries don’t have those type of nuances that came happen with that.”

Anyone looking to contribute to the project is encouraged to call the Rock County Historical Society at 608-756-4509 or visit the Rock County Legacies Facebook page.