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Scripps' students contribute to public history


The Portage County Historical Society is a vibrant Central Wisconsin organization, operating four museums, publishing local history books and maintaining extensive archives at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Yet without any paid staff, the Society relies on volunteer assistance.

Enter Sarah Scripps. An assistant professor of history at UW-Stevens Point, Scripps began working informally with PCHS before being asked to join the organization’s board of directors. Scripps has cultivated opportunities for students in her upper-level history classes to gain real-world experience while strengthening the Society’s programs.

“It’s great my students are a part of this,” Scripps says. “They are fulfilling a community need, taking the skills they learn from the classroom and applying them to enriching the cultural life of this community.”

This semester, Scripps’ students have been working on a project commemorating the centennial of the United States’ entrance into World War I. Students created a documentary titled “Over There” scheduled to screen April 6 at the Sentry Theater. The documentary is part of a larger program including period musical selections by the Stevens Point Barbershoppers and UW-Stevens Point faculty reading the “Voices of Portage County.”

Concurrently another group of Scripps’ students has created a script for an exhibit being installed at Heritage Park in Plover, a PCHS historic site. “This has truly been a community-based project with a lot of different moving parts and people investing time and money into it,” Scripps says.

In Fall 2015, Scripps supervised a team of students who produced Artistry on Point: The Legacy of David L. Smith, honoring the emeritus UW-Stevens Point professor who founded the Smith Scarabocchio Art Museum in downtown Stevens Point. Students wrote a script for the event and installed an associated exhibit, which made its debut at an event at which the mayor recognized Smith for his donation.

Three of Scripps’ students completed a summer internship program working at the Rosholt Pioneer Museum, located on that town’s fairgrounds. Students helped create an inventory of the museum’s artifacts, created new exhibit displays and assisted with other upkeep. Recently Scripps accepted the position of curator at Beth Israel Synagogue, also a PCHS site, in part to create more field experience opportunities for students.

To contact Scripps about engaging students with history projects, call 715-346-2841 or email sscripps@uwsp.edu.

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