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UW-L class to personalize La Crosse history

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A new UW-La Crosse class is open to anyone interested in uncovering the untold, personal stories that make La Crosse’s history rich.

Community members can now register for a new, hands-on public history course through Sept. 1. The class begins in fall 2014.

Participants will record local, personal stories associated with geographic points in the city and edit and package them into short, oral histories. They will also learn the theory behind location-based history from Ariel Beaujot, UW-L assistant history professor .

The course, HIS 393 Material Culture, will be followed by another course in spring 2015, HIS 403. The classes culminate with the launch of a location-based mobile phone system in April 2015 in the downtown area. Participants will erect street-level signs where people can call a toll-free number to access someone’s personal story related to that particular location.

The project “Hear, Here” will create a powerful and living example of local history in the community, said Beaujot.

Current UW-L students may enroll in both courses through the history department. Interested community members may enroll in separate sections of each course offered through a collaboration of UW-L’s history department, Continuing Education and Extension and the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies.

Community member Sue Hessel, a professional personal historian, already has signed up to take the course.

“When I was in school, history was all about memorizing dates of battles and names of generals and political leaders,” Hessel said. “It didn’t seem to have anything to do with me or anyone I knew. ‘Hear, Here’ will demonstrate that we are all a part of history and that the stories we tell can inspire, entertain and inform.”

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