Primary Source Sets
The Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop critical thinking skills by exploring a variety of topics related to Minnesota’s history and culture. Using both primary and secondary sources, these sets bring together resources in new ways to help students better understand historic events in their context.
Drawing materials from libraries, archives, and museums across Minnesota, these sets use letters, photographs, advertisements, oral histories, postcards, newsletters, speeches, and more. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to twenty primary sources from the MDL collection, links to related resources, and a section called “Think Like a Historian” which offers discussion questions and classroom activities. We invite educators and researchers to use these primary source sets in their teaching and learning.
Learn about the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, the first basilica in America and a prominent cultural and architectural presence.
Learn about the need for and development of the St. Anthony Falls Apron in Minneapolis, MN.
Learn about early automobile history by examining the four custom-built automobiles of Lincoln and Frank Fey.
Learn about the history and significance of cyanotypes, an early photographic technique.
Learn about the history and significance of stereograph images, a common photographic format.
Explore some of the themes and ideas laid out in Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiographical novel.
This primary source set provides a brief overview of patent medicine with some Minnesota-related resources.
Learn about Minnesota's Iron Range, the immigrants who settled there and how iron mining has helped shape Minnesota.
Learn how three of Minnesota's major railroads formed and how they contributed to the development of Minnesota.
Motion picture theaters have played a role in the architectural, cultural, social, and entertainment history of Minnesota.
Learn about the infamous James-Younger Gang's attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota in 1876.
Seth Eastman is known primarily for his depictions of daily life among the Dakota and Ojibwa tribes.
Explore some of the themes and ideas laid out in Sinclair Lewis's masterpiece of American literature.
Visit early 20th century Ojibwe communities with musician and educator Stella Stocker through her photography collection.
Minnesota's earliest mobile library services were traveling libraries and bookmobile services.