National History Day 2017 Theme: Taking a Stand in History
Welcome to the National History Day resource page brought to you by the La Crosse Public Library and UW-La Crosse Murphy Library. We developed this guide to introduce students and teachers to local topics for use in the National History Day competition. This list is not exhaustive but gives the reader an idea of local topics and basic resources for a subject.
Generally, materials held in the special collections or archives area of either library do NOT check-out; the items must be used at those libraries.
George Coleman Poage (1880–1962) was the first African American athlete to graduate from La Crosse High School; the first Black athlete to run for the University of Wisconsin (Madison); the first Black individual Big Ten track champion in conference history, placing first in both the 440-yard dash and the 220-yard hurdles; and the first African American to win a medal in the modern Olympic Games, winning two bronze medals at the 1904 games in St. Louis.
Poage was born in Hannibal, Missouri, and moved with his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin, when he was still a youngster. At La Crosse High School Poage excelled as both a student and an athlete. He was easily the school’s best athlete. As the second-best student in his class and its first African-American graduate, at commencement in 1899 he addressed the assembly as the salutatorian of his class.
Poage returned to St. Louis after the Olympics to teach at segregated Sumner High School, where he was the head of the English department and helped coach the school’s sports teams. After teaching at Sumner for about ten years, he purchased a farm in Minnesota and lived there until after World War I.
Moving to Chicago at the height of the Jim Crow era, he found few job opportunities available for Blacks, even those with a college degree. In 1924, Poage was hired by the United States Postal Service and worked as a postal clerk for nearly thirty years. After his retirement in the 1950s he remained in Chicago until his death in 1962.
Also check out other sources at: La Crosse History Unbound
While local sources are noted for each topic, remember to use some other online sources and catalogs such as:
Wisconsin Historical Society:
Welcome to La Crosse History Unbound. Learn more about La Crosse County, history through these digitized collections from La Crosse Public Library and Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.