Platteville students get history lesson from decades of documents

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis (WMTV) -- A discovery in an old closet at a Platteville middle school is giving high school history students a hands-on lesson in their city's history.

A school district employee found the boxes of old school records. They weren't quite sure what was inside or how to organize it all, so she enlisted the help of history students at Platteville High School.

Brandon Pink's class cataloged the documents to prepare them to be archived at the UW Platteville history library.

"To them it's search and key terms and that sort of things so this was really really, really different from what they do normally," Pink said.

The documents are mainly attendance records, grades, school board meeting minutes and school newspapers. The documents date back to the mid-1800s through the 1960s.

"The oldest book that I found was a school registry book and it was 1854 to like 1860 some," Platteville senior Quinn Kafar said.

"I think there's a big desire for lots of kids to actually get their hands on the documents and get that tactile sense of using history," Pink said.

An archivist from UW Platteville, James Hibbard, helped the students catalog the documents and appreciate their value.

"These records are the mechanics of life, the local story here," Hibbard said.

One of the most unique findings were records of when Wisconsin's first governor, Nelsen Dewey, was superintendent of the district.

All of the documents will eventually be available for the public to access at UW Platteville.