Are you looking for new ways to teach students how to develop critical thinking and historical analysis skills? Help them “Think Like a Historian” with Primary Source Sets from the Minnesota Digital Library (MDL). These sets bring together primary and secondary sources in new ways to help students better understand historic events in their context.
Drawing from libraries, archives, and museums across Minnesota, these sets include 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, discussion questions and classroom activities.
The photograph in this article is an example of what you can find in our World War I on the Minnesota Home Front set. It shows a Junior Red Cross class rolling and making bandages at Mankato High School during World War I, which helps students today understand how much wartime service was a part of everyday life, even for children.
There are 29 Primary Source Sets available for free on MDL’s website. The topics are wide-ranging and include natural disasters in Minnesota, Minnesota’s three major railroads, Temperance to Prohibition, the mechanization of farming, the lumber industry, and the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are also sets on specific photographic formats, including cabinet cards and postcards.
We are continuing to develop more Primary Source Sets and welcome topic suggestions from the public. We also have a guest author program so please contact us if you would be interested in creating a set with MDL!