Carol Butts, Lawrence University graduate of 1949, was born in Wild Rose, Wisconsin and grew up in Milwaukee. She got interested in books early on in life. Her family has a history of Lawrence graduates and contributors. She graduated from Lawrence with a degree in history. While studying at Lawrence, she studied history with Professor William F. Raney, who “contributed greatly to her love of history.” She then went on to get her master’s in library science from the University of Michigan in 1951. She was a librarian at Penn State, the University of Wisconsin, and Lakeland College before coming back to Lawrence as the technical services librarian in 1959. In 1993, Butts became the archivist at the Seeley G. Mudd library at Lawrence.Butts had a natural passion for the past. She was an active member of the Appleton Heritage Society, the city of Appleton Historic Planning Commission, and a lifetime member of the Wisconsin Academy and the Wisconsin Library Association, among other organizations.
In the summer 1994 issue of the Lawrence Today, in the article “Passion for the Past,” Rick Peterson commented that “[Butts] recorded and sorted the lives of those who led the college as well as those who passed through its hallowed halls.” She helped to piece together the story of women in the university’s Conservatory of Music.
She also worked hard at putting the Milwaukee-Downer archives in shape. She believed that the material in the archives should be used and thus should be organized. She often helped people who came to the school looking to find out more about friends or family members who were connected to the college.
In the August 27, 1991, issue of the Post-Crescent, it was said that “Butts… found a copy of the university’s newspaper, The Lawrentian, from November 1921 when [Edna Ferber, one of Appleton’s famous personalities] visited the college at the invitation of its English club. In it, Ferber cited newspaper reporting as ‘the most wonderful school in the world.'” According to the Sheboygan Press of February 6, 1995, Butts also found a plaster death mask made of former Lawrence president (1894-1924), Dr. Samuel Plantz, “mustache and all.”
Carol Butts passed away Monday, March 22, 2004, at the age of 76. A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 12, at 2:00 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium.