Migrant Workers

Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, migrant workers, mainly from Mexico, have played a vital role in Minnesota’s economy, often working in low-wage farming and food-processing industries.

West Polk County Farm Bureau

In the late 1800s, as diversified farms began to replace large bonanza farms in Minnesota and across the U.S., Polk County farmers realized they needed help. National groups with local branches, like the Farm Bureau, formed to help farmers organize and improve their representation in laws and education. Farmers in the western part of Polk County—a particularly fertile area due to the Red River Valley’s rich topsoil—came to rely on their farm organizations as they adapted to the rising cost of transporting produce to city markets.

Business and Professional Women’s Club, Crookston, 1960–1975

Crookston’s Business and Professional Women’s club (BPWC), started in 1921, was more politically active in the 1960s and 1970s than in its early years. BPWC members made sure to cast their votes for causes important to women, including equal pay for equal work and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW), Crookston, 1921–1960

The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW/USA) was started in 1919 to improve job conditions and raise pay rates for working women. At the first meeting of the foundation’s Crookston chapter in 1921, over 100 women gathered. In its early years, the club donated volunteer time and money to local causes, including the Camp Fire Girls, Crookston’s Drum and Bugle Corps, and milk and medical aid for needy school children.

Dorcas Circle, Carson Mennonite Brethren Church

The Dorcas Circle, organized in Cottonwood County's Carson Township in 1936 and later known as the Women’s Mission Society (WMS), served as the backbone of the Carson Mennonite Brethren Church’s strong missions program. Working in supportive capacities, members of the circle impacted church and community life without taking on pastoral roles.

Minnesota Men of Color

Minnesota Men of Color (MMC) was a non-profit organization that served gay and bisexual men of color, women of color, and gender-non-conforming people of color between 1998 and 2003. From its headquarters in Minneapolis, MMC reached clients that majority-white LGBT groups had overlooked, focusing specifically on those who were Native, Latinx, African American, and Asian American.

Crookston’s American Legion Auxiliary Drum and Bugle Corps

Led by “Mr. Music,” Theodore W. Thorson, Crookston’s all-female drum and bugle corps won four straight American Legion Auxiliary state championships, from 1932 to 1935.

Babes in Toyland

Babes in Toyland grew out of the Minneapolis punk scene to become one of the most visible “alternative” bands of the 1990s. In their recordings and live performances, they honed an abrasive, commanding sound that attracted fans from across the United States and Europe.

Minnesota Freedom Riders

The Freedom Rides of 1961 began with thirteen riders traveling on two buses through the South. Their goal was to end race segregation in interstate bus travel. The Rides grew to over fifty journeys and other actions, and attracted 436 Riders; six of them were from Minnesota.

Sabathanites Drum Corps

Founded in 1964, the Sabathanites Drum Corps is the oldest existing African American drum corps in Minnesota. It started as a youth group, but in 2017, some of its original members are still performing with the corps after over fifty years.


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