If Vallejo's and Napa's historic buildings or street corners could talk, what would they say? That's one question students might be discovering through a unique local history course offered this fall at Napa Valley College.
Local history teacher Lauren Coodley's History 153 class will help students delve into the history of their towns, and visit places where prominent things happened in Vallejo and Napa.
"Local history seemed an important way to get students interested in local histories and to find a way to connect with the people and places they know," said Coodley, a Napa and California historian and longtime history teacher.
Students might interview family members, focus on favorite areas of their towns, or pursue themes, such as locations of historic Chinatowns, and how civil rights played out in a certain population group, she said. Parents and grandparents may make classroom visits to provide oral histories.
The historical findings and other work students produce in the class will become part of museum or library collections in Vallejo and Napa, Coodley said.
Coodley is author of "Napa: The Transformation of an American Town," as part of The Making of America Series by Arcadia Publishing, the same firm that published "Images of America: Vallejo" by Jim Kern, Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum executive director.
The class will also delve into common and divergent histories of the two towns. With strong waterfront connections and growth fueled by ferries and the railroad, Vallejo and Napa's early years have much in common, but they took different paths over the years.
Her book on Napa, Kern's books on Vallejo and the Arcadia book, "Filipinos in Vallejo" by Mel Orpilla, will serve as class textbooks. Students also will learn how to research history at local libraries and museums.
Kern said the class will be a valuable tool for people to better appreciate the histories of the two towns, and how they are a microcosm of what is occurring in the world today.
"Every community has its own story to tell. I think the students will see the common things in each community, and what makes each community unique," Kern said.
The three-unit course meets the multi-cultural requirement needed for graduation, but can be taken by anyone interested. Courses begins Aug. 26.
To register, go to the college's Web site at www.napavalley.edu or visit the Napa campus and talk to a counselor. People can also call Coodley at 253-3157 and leave a message for more details.