Skip to main content

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.

Southeast view of the Basilica building

Basilica of Saint Mary

Learn about the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, the first basilica in America and a prominent cultural and architectural presence.

Path and ship leading to Duluth's aerial lift bridge while front of green sky

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge

Learn about Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge and its economic impact.

Nicollet Avenue, 1920 New

Main Streets

Learn about Minnesota's main streets, their role in a community, and how they have changed over time.

Neighborhoods of Duluth: Morgan Park, view of neighborhood, Duluth, Minnesota

Morgan Park: U. S. Steel's Company Town in Duluth, Minnesota

Learn about Morgan Park, a neighborhood in Duluth, constructed by U.S. Steel as a planned community and company town.

St. Clair Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota

Motion picture theaters in Minnesota

Motion picture theaters have played a role in the architectural, cultural, social, and entertainment history of Minnesota.