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UWGB, Packers Hall of Fame team up to uncover, present team's early history in Green Bay
GREEN BAY – At first blush, it sounds like one of those classes, but University of Wisconsin-Green Bay humanities and history students studying Green Bay Packers history this fall have work ahead of them.
"It's not just sitting in a class and hearing ... funny stories about the early days of the Packers," said Heidi Sherman, chair of the university's history department. "It's actually kind of a tough class."
About 70 students in digital and public humanities and history will delve into the first 50 years of Packers history during the fall semester, attempt to separate fact from fiction and present their findings in digital exhibits.
"It's not about current history, like Aaron Rodgers or even Brett Favre," said Packers Hall of Fame Curator Brent Hensel, who will co-teach the classes with Sherman and history professor Jon Shelton. "We want to go to the first 50 years and the story of survival and all the different financial crises the organization faced."
Digital and public humanities programs equip students with skills to work in a digital capacity for museums and cultural institutions. History students learn research skills, especially with primary sources. Teaching the classes concurrently allows more students to participate.
"These are marketable skills," Sherman said. "They are going to take a topic that is fun and broadly popular in Green Bay and try to come up with something and present it to the public in a digital way."
The Green Bay Packers will celebrate 100 seasons of football with events throughout the next 16 months. (April 9, 2018) Sarah Kloepping | USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
At the end of the semester, they will present their projects at Lambeau Field.
Hensel said there are plenty of sources available for research, especially in this, the Packers' 100th season of football, but much of it comes with a caveat. The Packers' story includes a lot of myth and equal amounts of just plain wrong.
"Cliff (Christl, Packers historian) and all of us who have been involved with the history ... have painstakingly tried to clean up all those myths," Hensel said. "You can basically go to almost any Packers history book and I can find something that's not entirely accurate."
Sherman has wanted to work with the Packers, both because she's a huge football fan and because she believed it would capture students' attention. One of her students was a Packers Hall of Fame intern last year, and Hensel and Sherman connected through the intern.
The Packers are one of the few teams that have a monthly history night and "it's insanely cool," Sherman said.
For his part, Hensel is excited about fresh researchers digging through the team's history.
"I'm hoping they discover something we don't even know," Hensel said.