My Hometown for budding historians May 17 & 24

Historians Dr. Rick Whaley and Herman Bender know there’s much to learn and uncover about our local history. In their annual wintertime history presentations at the Fond du Lac Public Library, now into year four, they’ve uncovered an enormous local appetite for the stories of our past.

Wanting to tap into that interest, the duo will be starting a new endeavor – My Hometown – at 6 p.m. May 17 and May 24 at the library. My Hometown is open to anyone in the community who wishes to learn how to research the past and present that information to the public. The program is free; no registration or commitment required.

The two sessions in May will be the beginning of what the historians hope is an ongoing project that results in sharing that information in one form or another.

“This is not an academic exercise,” said Whaley. “It’s people making history from the bottom up. We’ll lead you through, step by step, how to go about exploring the past.”

The My Hometown project will start with downtown Fond du Lac. Participants will learn how to access free resources – the library’s collection, online resources, Fond du Lac Historical Society materials and more – to gather information and to write about the buildings and the people who built them.

Whaley said that researching downtown is a good place to start; a substantial body of information is easily accessible, and downtowns often are excellent barometers of a community’s fortunes.

Whaley points out that while My Hometown will delve into other areas of local history, it will not work on genealogy, leaving the study of family trees and lines of descent to other groups.

Whaley retired in 2015 after 43 years of teaching, the last 22 years in Marian University’s History Dept., where he taught American history, geography, American government and honors classes. He received his master’s and doctorate in history from the University of North Dakota. Whaley’s particular interests include American history and the Civil War. He’s traveled extensively in the United States and Europe.

Bender is an independent researcher, writer and editor. His professional background includes geology and a technical field in industry. He is internationally published in the fields of applied geophysics, cultural landscape studies, prehistoric trails, archeoastronomy (prehistoric astronomy beliefs plus site investigations) and cosmology as a recognized specialist in Plains and Woodland Native American astronomy traditions.

 

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