Laura Godden profile photo

Laura Godden

Specialty area(s)

Special Collections and Area Research Center (ARC) Historian/Archivist

  • US history and political science
  • Public and local history
  • University history
  • Research and instruction
  • Visual images and photographs 
  • Archives and special collections
  • Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) Area Research Center (ARC) Network
  • Preservation
  • Primary sources

Brief biography

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a master's degree in history in 2011, I took my current position as the historian in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center (ARC) (aka the archives).  

Preserving existing materials already in the collection is only part of my job duties. Archivists also proactively save current records of importance, thus conserving the history of today for the historians of tomorrow. I also assist people with and undertake research projects. For example, I provided research assistance, produced photographs, and guest wrote a chapter in Emeritus Professor Leslie F. Crocker's book, We’ve Hung the Lantern: A Visual History of the First 50 Years of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Additionally, I have played an integral role in the UWL History Department project, Hear, Here. This public history project focuses on under-represented populations and makes oral histories publicly visible and easily accessible to the community. Authors have even thanked me in the acknowledgments of their books. For example, I received thanks in A Black Gambler’s World of Liquor, Vice, and Presidential Politics: William Thomas Scott of Illinois, 1839-1917 by Bruce L. Mouser and The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886-1920 edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, and Robert Faggen. In my job, I also work with local and national media outlets. Most memorably, the PBS History Detectives requested use of historic steamboat photographs from Murphy Library’s collection.

In 2015, I authored Postcard Series: La Crosse with my colleague Paul Beck, utilizing historic postcards from the archive’s collection. This book features five chapters that show La Crosse's parks, businesses, homes, daily life, government buildings, and leisure activities, as well as some special events and disasters. Postcards provide evidence of people not traditionally included in standard histories, and we presented on those insights at UWL's annual Faculty Research Day, the La Crosse County Historical Society's summer lunch series, History in a Bag, and were interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio's John Davis on Newsmakers


Master of Library and Information Science, 2018, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Concentration: Archival Studies

Master of Arts, History, 2011, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Concentration: Ninetieth and twentieth-century American history

Bachelor of Science, 2007, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Major: Broad Field Social Studies, Secondary Education
Second Major: Political Science, Minor: History
Wisconsin Teaching Licensure EA-A, 73, 701

Teaching history

Special Collections and the ARC has conducted presentations, informational sessions, archival orientations, and content-focused classes for: UWL 100, HIS 101, HIS 102, ENG 110, HIS 200, THA 210, ART 272, ENG 311, ECON 312, HIS 320, HIS 321, HIS 337, ART 375, HIS 393, HIS 407, HIS 412, ERS 490, HIS 490, SAA 705, National History Day (NHD), La Crosse County Historical Society, La Crosse Area Genealogy Society, Cashton Middle School, Holmen Middle School, Royall High School, Holmen Historical Society, Wonewoc Schools, Lincoln Middle School, Longfellow Middle School, Hmong Elders at La Crosse County Aging Department, Cochrane-Fountain City High School, Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival, Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), as well as numerous steamboat tour groups and reading clubs.

Professional history

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center (ARC), April 2012 to present. 

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, History Department Graduate Teaching Assistant, September 2009 to June 2011.


Research and publishing

“University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center (ARC).” In A Resident's Guide to La Crosse, Wisconsin: An Anthology of Essays Written by the Leaders of La Crosse’s Most Well-Respected Businesses, Clubs, Organizations, and Events,100+ Things to Do in America’s Cities Series, xx-xx. Racine, WI: Z Publishing House, forthcoming 2017.

Postcard History Series: La Crosse. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2015. F587.L14 G72 2015, Search@UW (Library Catalog Entry).

“Homecoming, the Lantern, and the Lighting of the ‘L.’” In We’ve Hung the Lantern: A Visual History of the First 50 Years of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, by Leslie F. Crocker, 64-92. Houston, MN: Looney Valley Publications, 2013.

“La Crosse, Wisconsin’s Oehler Mill: The Gradual Reinvention of an Historic Landmark.” University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011. F589.L15 O44 2012, Search@UW (Library Catalog Entry). 

“Forgotten Peacemaker in a World Moving Toward War: Herbert Hoover’s Unique Brand of Foreign Policy in a Climate of Isolationism.” M.A. Thesis in History. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 2011. 121 pages. E1000 .G579 2011, Search@UW (Library Catalog Entry).