Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

The Minnesota Digital Library Makes History More Accessible to Students, Teachers

Carnegie Library, Moorhead, 1906.

Carnegie Library, Moorhead, 1906.

Minnesota’s teachers have a new, developing resource when they want to talk about history, social studies, math and other subjects. An advisory board to Minnesota Reflections, a project of the Minnesota Digital Library (MDL), has spent the past two years developing Teachers’ Guides that allow teachers and students from kindergarten through high school to use historical resources in classes that range from math to geology to history.

The MDL is comprised of professionals from libraries, archives, historical societies and museums across Minnesota. They are all working together to preserve and share online our state’s historical resources.

Minnesota Reflections, http://reflections.mndigital.org, is a continuously updated website that brings together 135,000 images, maps and documents from more than 150 of the state's cultural heritage organizations. It creates easy access to Minnesota history and geography resources for researchers, educators, students and the public.

“We want this information to be harvestable.”
~ Marian Rengel, Outreach Coordinator for the MDL

The Teachers’ Guides are one way to make the information at Minnesota Reflections available to students all over Minnesota. The guides are based on Minnesota academic standards and help teachers use the collections to meet those standards.

Teacher Ann Woell has used some of these guides in her classroom in Moorhead. The Teachers’ Guides that she has written allow her and her students to think about the ways that the past is connected to their own lives. Her students especially enjoyed seeing old photographs of Clay County where they live. They liked seeing buildings that were still standing in the area and discovering the different uses for the buildings over the years.

Woell said a photo of a flood during the 1880s struck many students because of their own experience with flooding. “Many of them have been affected by rising flood waters and it was interesting to see that people of the past in Moorhead also dealt with floods,” Woell said.

The Teachers’ Guides for Minnesota Reflections, available at www.mndigital.org/educators/guides, are expanding teacher and student access to history and finding innovative new ways to use historical resources beyond history class.