Founded by Swedish Americans in St. Peter in 1862, Gustavus Adolphus College attracted a mostly white student body for much of its history. In the 1960s, the college took steps to diversify its campus by recruiting and retaining African American students from the South. This effort made Gustavus unique among Midwestern liberal arts colleges.
American Indian boarding schools, which operated in Minnesota and across the United States beginning in the late nineteenth century, represent a dark chapter in U.S. history. Also called industrial schools, these institutions prepared boys for manual labor and farming and girls for domestic work. The boarding school, whether on or off a reservation, carried out the government's mission to restructure Indians' minds and personalities by severing children’s physical, cultural, and spiritual connections to their tribes.
Harriet Bishop, best known as the founder of St. Paul’s first public and Sunday schools, was also a social reformer, land agent, and writer. In the 1840s, she led a vanguard of white, middle-class, Protestant women who sought to bring “moral order” to the multi-cultural fur-trade society of pre-territorial Minnesota.
The Carver County Fair has a long and rich history, dating back to 1868. On July 20, the Carver County Agricultural Society formed in Chaska. Later that year, on October 10, this group held the first Carver County fair in Chaska, to display their crops and animals. An elected Board of Directors planned the fair. Despite later battles over location, the fair has been held almost every year since.
County resident O.D. Sell founded the Carver County Historical Society (CCHS) in 1940. The original task was to collect and preserve the history of Carver County and Minnesota. He had a large personal collection of objects relating to the county's history that he wanted to share with the public. This forms the core of the CCHS collection.
Libraries have been a part of Carver County history since the county was started. The earliest library began in 1858, and many more followed. In the twenty-first century, there are five full libraries and three express library branches. Total circulation is over one million books per year and rising.
Since 1952, the Citizens League has had a major impact on public policies in Minnesota. A group of civic leaders had the idea of inviting leaders from different parts of the community to the table to solve big policy issues. This meant bringing together lawmakers, union leaders, heads of Minnesota companies, and experts from universities and industries. As a group, these experts and leaders would study an issue and then write a research paper they could all agree on. Then they would do the political work required to make their conclusions a reality.
In June 1922, the Minneapolis Public Library book wagon made its first trip from Minneapolis to Excelsior, a small village on Lake Minnetonka. Riding aboard the book wagon was Gratia Countryman, the library system's visionary director.
Crown College of Minnesota is unique in being the only bible college in Minnesota. The mission of this type of college is to provide a biblically based education for Christian leadership. Teaching is focused on training lay people for Christian service. Crown is one of only four colleges in the United States affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.
In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted "book farming," or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers' institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities and taught practical farming skills, were popular alternatives in the 1880s through the 1920s.
The Goodsell Observatory and its predecessor, a smaller observatory that opened in 1878, helped keep trains running on time and brought national prominence to Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Minneapolis became a national center for the arts movement known as Arts and Crafts. The city's Handicraft Guild led the way. Founded by women, the Handicraft Guild made the arts in Minneapolis more democratic and populist by offering classes like pottery and metalwork to artists and teachers.
Carver County's history is documented in the records of its cities, city agencies, and government center. Schools, school districts, churches, and civic groups have archives as well. Four historical societies call Carver County home. These are the Chanhassen Historical Society, the Chaska Historical Society, the Watertown Area Historical Society, and the Willkommen Heritage and Preservation Society of Norwood Young America.
In 1930, the Jewish Community Center of St. Paul (JCC)—originally called the Jewish Education Center (JEC)—began the work it continues in the twenty-first century: providing for the educational, social, cultural, and recreational lives of Jewish youth and St. Paul families.
Agnes Keenan’s name is among the most prominent in the history of St. Catherine’s College—the school that became St. Catherine University. Although she was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, in 1910, Keenan spent most of her life in St. Paul working as a teacher and community leader.
In August 1872, Julia Sears (1839–1929) was hired to head the Mankato State Normal School. Upon taking the job, she became the first woman to hold such a position of power in a coeducational institution of higher learning in the United States. Her leadership challenged traditional gender roles at teachers’ colleges but led to controversy when the local school board replaced her with a man.
When Hanley Falls School closed in the late 1970s, a few local residents saw an opportunity. Committed to sharing the history of their community, they transformed the white, two-story building on the town square into the Minnesota Machinery Museum. Since 1980, the museum has collected vintage farm equipment and created exhibits celebrating the history and agricultural tradition of Yellow Medicine County.
The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children operated from 1886 to 1947. The campus is one of the most intact examples of a state cottage school standing in the United States, and is significant on a national level.
Minnesota State University, Mankato was founded as Minnesota's second normal school in 1868. It went through phases as a normal school, teachers college, college, and university. By 2011 it was one of Minnesota's largest and most comprehensive universities.
Ruth A. Myers was known as the “grandmother of American Indian education in Minnesota.” A persistent voice for American Indian children and their families, Myers focused on education policy as well as learning opportunities for American Indian children. She also produced curriculum and resource materials that reflected American Indian history and culture for all Minnesota learners.
Following the death of her husband and their only child, Julia Bullard Nelson of Red Wing, Minnesota headed south to Texas in 1869 to teach African Americans in U.S. government-backed Freedmen's Bureau schools. Nelson spent the summers of the 1870s and 1880s in Minnesota, where she emerged as a state and national leader in the movement for women's suffrage and the temperance campaign against alcohol use.
Constructed in Minneapolis in 1919, the Northeast Neighborhood House (NENH) served both as a portal into American society for newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and as an advocate for the neighborhood's underprivileged. It is a notable example of a social institution created solely for the betterment of the disadvantaged.
St. Paul's school safety patrol–one of the earliest in the country–was first implemented in 1921. Parents, principals, and politicians in the city were at the forefront of its development. At that time, walking to and from school was dangerous because there were many cars on the roads and few safety guidelines. Children often took risks when crossing streets, and placing other children at intersections to direct traffic was a key innovation that reduced accidents.
Designed by Leroy Buffington and Harvey Ellis in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, Pillsbury Hall at the University of Minnesota opened in 1889 and is part of the National Register-listed Old Campus Historic District.