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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.

Sports

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.

Secondary SourcesLa Crosse Central Track Team 1899

  • Newspaper clippings at the La Crosse Public Library Archives: Biography-Poage, George
  • George Coleman Poage: The La Crosse, Wisconsin Years, 1885-1904 by Bruce L. Mouser & Edwin L. Hill.
    Hand PointingFind at: La Crosse Public Library has a copy only in the Archives area: SC 921 P7501M 1985
    UW-L Murphy Library has a copy only in the Special Collections area: F589.L13 M68 1985
  • Black La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1850-1906: Settlers, Entrepreneurs & Exodusers by Bruce L. Mouser. Mouser chronicles the lives of African-Americans in the La Crosse area and includes several biographical sketches. This book includes some corrections and updates to the Mouser & Hill book listed above.
    Hand PointingFind at: La Crosse Public Library has four check-out copies available; two at the main library and one at each of the community libraries: 977.571 M876B 2002. The Reference and Archives areas also have a copy which stays in the main library.
    UW-L Murphy Library has one check-out copy available and one in the Special Collections area: F589.L19 M68 2002
  • Celebrating Black History: George Coleman Poage ‘03
    A synopsis of George Coleman Poage and his influence as a UW Madison Badger.
  • Great Moments in Wisconsin Sports
    Hand PointingLa Crosse Public Library Reference 796.09775 M6874G 2004

Primary Sources

  • Photographs at UW-L Murphy Library Special Collections and the La Crosse Public Library Archives

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:

Library of Congress’ American Memory

Wisconsin Historical Society:

Please send us your comments about this site.


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.