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Curriculum Center & Curriculum Collections: History: La Crosse Normal School

Due to the coronavirus upset, many publishers and educational organizations have exceptional online content for children, teachers, parents, and anyone interested in children's books

Why are there children's books in a campus library?

In 1909, when La Crosse opened its doors to a teacher preparation school, the school was called "La Crosse State Normal School", and consisted of one building (Main Graff Hall).

As a teacher preparation school, children's books have always been part of the school's library.


The names of UW La Crosse changed several times over time:

"La Crosse Normal School" (1909)

"La Crosse State Teacher's College" (1926) 

"Wisconsin State College-La Crosse" (1951)

"Wisconsin State University-La Crosse" (1964)

"University of Wisconsin-La Crosse" (1971) 


The collection of children's books moved from its original location in Main (Graff) Hall to Morris Hall (circa 1940), which was the third building to be built on campus, after Wittich Hall (early 1920's).

In 1995, the collection was moved to Murphy Library and the decision was made to keep it intact and separate from the other books in the main stacks of the library. 

The Curriculum Center's primary mission is to provide resources, instruction and services that support the instructional programs of UWL, especially for Education majors, as well as the larger La Crosse educational community.

The Curriculum Center strives to maintain sustainable relevance, importance, and inclusivity in services, instruction, and resources to continually adapt to the changing environment of the 21st century and the information literacy needs of students, instructors, and professionals.

The Curriculum Center supports the education curriculum of the School of Education and any children's and young adult literature courses taught at UWL, or those using children's literature in teaching and learning. Priority is given to materials that most directly support course work that prepares students to meet the requirements of education degrees and credentials. The collection development policy is coordinated with the main library's collection development policy and mission of service.

I their own words

Matching recorded oral histories of alumni from the first few graduating classes with their yearbook photos, we can hear them reminisce about their student days at La Crosse Normal School and put a face to words. 

The questions of why these women came to La Crosse Normal School and why they chose to go into teaching is shared in their own words. 

The photos below are from the early yearbooks, housed in Murphy Library's Special Collections, and digitized by Murphy Library's Digital Collections.

A direct link to the digitized yearbooks is here

The quotes are from UWL's Oral History Collection (see the Early La Crosse Graduates collection), housed in Murphy Library's Special Collections. 

Myrtle Moore (class of 1913)

"I had the goal of being a school teacher and I was thrilled when they build this building. I only lived two blocks from it, so I saw it being built before I came here and I was very eager to get here in 1911 when I finished high school."

Helen (Gallagher) Tichenor (class of 1913?)

"I didn't want to teach, but relatives on the North Side [of La Crosse] convinced my father. I was the oldest of six, and that was the cheapest and the quickest way to get me to earning money, so I was brought up here and registered and I became a teacher."

Geneva (Atkinson) Raglund (class of 1914?)

"My first teaching was over here in Smith Coulee. After three years of that, I decided that this Normal was being offered and in order to evade going to summer school each year to get a certificate to teach on, I thought this is the best thing I could do was to go out some place where I could get a life one, which I did earn here. Another thing, too, I never did want to be a teacher, I wanted to do something else, but I had an English grandmother who said there's only one dignified profession that a girl should go into and that was teaching."

(no photo found)

Alice (Twite) Overson (class of 1914)

"We used to walk from her up to the little county school out by the Catholic Cemetery for our practice teaching. We walked through weeds that were taller than we were, and I know now that that was marijuana. In those days we didn't recognize it, so you know how "green" we were."

(no photo found)

Mabel (Hagen) Nelson (class of 1914?)

"I taught in the country for three years out of high school and I didn't like teaching in the country, so I came down here to La Crosse to get a certificate so I could teach in town. Then I went back home and taught three years, and then I was married and that was the end of teaching."

(no photo found)

Janet (Anderson) Caldwell (class of 1915)

"I belonged to this economic group. This edifice appeared suddenly at the edge of La Crosse and it seems that both my brother and I were ready for college at about the same time, so my family made a bargain with me, They said, 'If you go to this Normal School here in La Crosse, they have now what they call a college course--you take that for two years and then we will finance you to two years of graduate work from the University,' and that's how I became an M.D."