Digital Walking Tour Uncovers Hidden Stories of Minneapolis

Jacqui deVries, history professor and director of general education at Augsburg.
Jacqui deVries, history professor and director of general education at Augsburg.

Imagine scores of Augsburg alumni returning for Homecoming in 2019. Then imagine them on a walking tour, standing outside their favorite landmark, remembering the way it was, and reviewing 150 years of history by clicking on a smartphone.

The ability to walk the streets in the present while seeing them in the past is no fantasy, thanks to the Historyapolis Project. What began as a practical solution to an ongoing need has blossomed into an expansive vision not only for the sesquicentennial, but also for the future of the city and Augsburg itself.

Two years ago, Jacqui deVries, history professor and director of general education at Augsburg, was searching for innovative ways to welcome new students to campus. “There was no good, comprehensive history of Minneapolis, nor of the Cedar-Riverside area. In conversations, we realized how much we needed something, a basic introduction not just for incoming students, but also for anybody who is interested in the neighborhood,” she recalls.

She knew that the city had many hidden stories, and that if they were going to be documented, they needed to reside on a digital platform. An innovation grant from the Augsburg’s president’s office allowed deVries to hire Anduin Wilhide, a University of Minnesota doctoral candidate who is writing a dissertation on the area’s immigrant history, to help Kirsten Delegard, Augsburg history department scholar in residence, develop a digital history tour of Cedar-Riverside. Delegard’s popular Historyapolis blog on Minneapolis history provided a logical starting point.

“It was a beautiful confluence of things,” says deVries. “We spent a lot of time talking it through, planning, writing, and researching what a digital walking tour should be. We’re almost done.” Continue reading “Digital Walking Tour Uncovers Hidden Stories of Minneapolis”

Story of Augsburg takes on new life

history-phil adamoFor the past three summers, professor of history and honors program director Phil Adamo has inspired and challenged student teams to research and collaborate in the writing of a comprehensive history of Augsburg College. This semester, the project has graduated to the classroom, where eight upper-level students will spend 15 weeks moving the book closer to its publication date in 2019, when Augsburg celebrates its sesquicentennial.

This history class is a first for Adamo, who has been honored with several teaching awards, including being named Minnesota Professor of the Year in 2015 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

“It’s not a content delivery class. I won’t stand up and say Augsburg was founded in 1869 in Marshall, Wisconsin. There will be no tests and no content mastery expectations,” says Adamo. Instead, there will be research and retrospective. Each student will write six pieces, about 1500 words long, that could wind up comprising about a third of the finished book. The students, who range in age and majors, including English and chemistry as well as history, will not only supply diverse viewpoints, but also gain enviable research skills and unique historical perspectives.

“Whatever Augsburg means to them can’t help but become more personal. They’ll be walking across the quad where all these people walked before them, and hanging out in Murphy Park, where students have been hanging out since 1872,” Adamo says.

300x202-Beyond-300x202The class will begin by reading baseline histories, including From Fjord to Freeway, the book former history professor Carl Chrislock ’37 published for Augsburg’s centennial. They will explore structure, topic choice, and how the writing reflected the time, place and perspective. Then they will set about contributing to a fresh version of Augsburg history.

“We are now in a different time and place, and we want to address issues that Chrislock didn’t address. We won’t just be picking up the chronology from where he left off in 1969; we want to tell the whole story, from 1869 to the present. We will ask different questions,” Adamo says. Continue reading “Story of Augsburg takes on new life”