The Nicollet County Historical Society and the Digital Public Library of America

Posted by Amy Rudersdorf in August 28, 2014.

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The Nicollet County Historical Society is located in St. Peter, Minnesota.  Like other such societies, we seek to tell the story of our county through the use of exhibits, books, newspapers, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other means.  We are based in the Treaty Site History Center at 1851 North Minnesota Avenue, and we own the 1871 E. St. Julien Cox Historic Home in St. Peter.

We were among the first of the state’s historical societies to participate in the Minnesota Digital Library’s Minnesota Reflections project. We have posted a large number of photographs that span the years from 1861 to 1998.  Other digital highlights from our collections include prints of Dakota life by Seth Eastman, maps of ghost towns in Nicollet County, the muster roll of Company E of the First Mounted Rangers, letters from the Dakota War, 5×7 inch photographic negatives for making postcards, a ledger containing commercial letterheads and standardized forms and documents from the 1800s, the St. Peter School Board’s meeting minutes from 1865 to 1899, and four atlases or plat books for the years 1885, 1899, 1913, and 1927.  It is of interest that the names of three men who served as governors of Minnesota appear on page one of the school board’s minutes. All of this content has also been shared with the DPLA in order to provide national exposure to our unique materials.

If you've ever seen a presentation by DPLA staff, you may recall this image from the Nicollet County Historical Society. Rudolph Volk and Martin Klein in an old automobile, east of St. Peter, Minnesota, ca.1907. Nicollet County Historical Society via the Minnesota Digital Library.

If you’ve ever seen a presentation by DPLA staff, you may recall this image of a Maxwell automobile from the Nicollet County Historical Society. Rudolph Volk and Martin Klein in an old automobile, East of St. Peter, Minnesota, ca.1907.

The Minnesota Digital Library has been extremely generous in their support of our work during several years of participation in the Minnesota Reflections project.  Their wonderful assistance has been very greatly appreciated!

Having a large and diverse amount of material on the Internet has greatly improved our ability to serve our patrons.  Requests for images are numerous, especially for photographs of people, buildings, and places.  Images have been sent to many locations throughout Minnesota and other states, and to other countries as well.

When the local grocery store was being remodeled they asked us if we could provide a number of images showing how the city of St. Peter has evolved over time.  Because so many images are available online through both the Minnesota Reflections and DPLA websites, it was very easy for the store representatives to find images that fit their needs.  Today, large reprints of several photographs are on display throughout the store.  We also provided the owners of a local restaurant with images of St. Peter that are now featured prominently on their walls and menus.  Such images can be seen in several other businesses in the community. Having our historic images displayed throughout our county has provided the society with additional opportunities to share the history of Nicollet County and to highlight the important work we do in preserving that story.

Being involved in the MDL and the DPLA is a golden opportunity.  The items that we submit are digitized and placed on the Internet.  We receive high-resolution copies of all of the submitted items, which we can store off-site as backup copies of our material.  This collaborative project vastly increases attention and access to our unique holdings.

Featured image credit: Detail of Valley of the St. Peters, Minnesota, 1941-1855. Eastman, Seth, 1808-1875. Nicollet County Historical Society via the Minnesota Digital Library.


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