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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.

Lincoln and Frank Fey in Car No. 3, Northfield, Minnesota, c. 1900

Fey Brothers, Automobile Inventors

Learn about early automobile history by examining the four custom-built automobiles of Lincoln and Frank Fey.

Hilma Berglund writing in her diary New

Hilma Berglund and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota

Meet Hilma Berglund, the first president of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.

District 43 Country School

Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek

Explore some of the themes and ideas laid out in Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiographical novel.

Scriver Building, Northfield, Minnesota

Northfield Bank Raid of 1876

Learn about the infamous James-Younger Gang's attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota in 1876.

Sinclair Lewis at the door to his home in Duluth, 1944

Sinclair Lewis in Duluth

Read letters written by Sinclair Lewis about his house, work, and experiences while living in Duluth in the 1940s.

Main Street, Starbuck, Minnesota

Sinclair Lewis's Main Street

Explore some of the themes and ideas laid out in Sinclair Lewis's masterpiece of American literature.

Ojibwe man and child dancing at the Annual White Earth Celebration and Pow Wow, 1916

Stella Stocker and the Ojibwe of Minnesota

Visit early 20th century Ojibwe communities with musician and educator Stella Stocker through her photography collection.

Suffragist wagon New

Women's Suffrage in Minnesota

Explore resources related to the women's suffrage movement in Minnesota.