Blogging about UW-Whitewater: Where do we start?

Blogging about UW-Whitewater: Where do we start? 

How do we begin to tell the history of the university through the archives? As with any historical research the best place to begin by asking questions:

  1. When and how was the university founded?
  2.  How did the university become a university?
  3. What is a good source to use for background information?

The best place to start in the archives is with the go-to book on the history of the university. M. Janette Bohi’s A History of Wisconsin State University-Whitewater 1868-1968, published in 1967, is heralded as the go to for the basic history of the university. Bohi methodically recounts the history of Whitewater and the first 100 years of the university.

UW-Whitewater originally began as Whitewater Normal School, a teaching training college, in 1868 with 48 students matriculating. In the first catalogue, the intention of school was clearly stated. The school, “being composed of teachers and those preparing for the work of teaching, its discipline and moral tone can be maintained at a much higher average than in ordinary schools.” The school flourished in the community and the classes, school, and Whitewater all continued to grow.[1]

Whitewater has always held its students to high standards. Students who wished to enroll were required to take a fairly rigorous exam. The Board of Regents Twenty First Annual Report, 1878-1879 included the exam. What do you think?

Sample Entrance Exam,Twenty First Annual Board of Regents Report, 1878-1879, UW-Whitewater Archives

The school continued to grow throughout the 1900s adding business education courses in 1913. Whitewater became Whitewater State Teachers College in 1927, when the school became the first normal school in Wisconsin to grant bachelor’s degrees. This shift in both name and degrees marks a significant change in the university’s history.

The creation and establishment of University of Wisconsin system in 1971 marks the final name change in the history. The campus became the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

For additional information and a pictorial timeline of the evolution of the university check out te Sesquicentennial timeline here.

References: For Additional Information: Please visit the UW-Whitewater website for the sesquicentennial and the archives page on campus history for additional information.

[1]M. Janette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater 1868-1968 (Whitewater: Whitewater State University Foundation, 1967), 27-41. This book is available in the library, the archives, and online was published on the centennial anniversary of the university and therefore covers from 1868-1968.


What is public history and where can we find public history?

What is public history? Public history is a term that is often bandied about, but it can be difficult to develop a succinct definition. A good place to start is by consulting the National Council on Public History (NCPH).  To quote the NCPH:

Perhaps, though, one should think about Public History as history occurring outside the classroom walls. This allows history to be consumed by the general public. If we think about public history as a means of presenting historical knowledge to a general public, it can take many different forms. If we think of public history as history occurring outside of the classroom for public consumption, it becomes even accessible to the public.

According to the NCPH, public history is used:

A great discussion on Public History can be found on the podcast Historically Thinking. Episode 41: Putting the “Public” in Front of “History” is a great introduction to the topic and can be found here.

Where can we find public history? Some places include: museums, documentaries, podcasts, historic preservation projects, oral history projects, historic house tours, historical societies, historic battlefields, community projects, family history, etc.

Who does Public History? As the NCPH notes on their website public historians come in many different forms. Some examples of public historians are historical consultants, government historians, archivists, historical preservationists, curators, film and media producers, and many others.


Reference: “What is Public History? About the field,” National Council on Public History

Welcome to Public History at UW-Whitewater!

Thanks for visiting our class blog! This blog is being developed, created, and maintained by the students and faculty at UW-Whitewater. This space is designed to showcase Public History and how UW-Whitewater students are engaging in the field. Our university has many options for students interested in Public History. Students may choose to major in History with a Public History emphasis, complete a Public History certificate, or take public history courses.

Some background information on our degree and certificate programs:

  1. History Major with a Public History Emphasis (BA/BS): Basic degree requirements are available here. Just a quick note on some unique features of the Public History Emphasis: Students are required to take both History 202: Introduction to Public History and History 493: Public History Internship. Students are able to tailor their internships to meet the interests and needs.
  2. Public History Certificate: This is an extraordinary opportunity available to all students at UW-Whitewater. The requirements are available here. A quick note: This certificate is available to any student of any major. It’s a great way to take some courses outside of your major, get to know some new people, and add a great skillset!

History and Public History majors will be able to use their Public History Certificate to demonstrate to potential employers, supervisors and graduate programs that they have concrete skills in a specific area. Majors outside the history department – whether Art History majors interested in museum studies, media students interested in historical journalism or digital humanities, or other majors – will be able to broaden their employability to fields beyond their major focus (for example, an art history student will be able to claim training relevant to both art museums and history museums).

Thanks for stopping by and please let us know if you have any questions. Also, general information on the history department is available here.