Goldy and Mooster pose with three Gopherbaloo students
Goldy and Mooster pose with three Gopherbaloo students

Minnesota State History Day, usually held on campus, had its first-ever virtual event on Sunday, May 3. One of the goals of the program is to provide students access to resources they can’t get anywhere else — and we at the U of M contribute greatly to that access.

U staff had a busy season helping students prepare for the statewide History Day. From October 2019 through March 2020, Wilson Library hosted 41 school visits and welcomed 2,025 students. We had to cancel only one trip due to the campus closure. The annual Gopherbaloo event in January saw an additional 176 students come in, not to mention one moose and one gopher.

These field trips give students the chance to experience a college campus and library, which is one step toward developing their identities as future college students. Ron Huvstedt, a Salk Middle School teacher finds value in the field trips.

Field trips to U of M give students the chance to experience a college campus and library, says Middle School teacher, Ron Huvstedt.

“It really does make a giant splash in the project and those ripples continue through their academic careers,” Huvstedt says. “We regularly hear from high school seniors who state that the Wilson Library trip helped them realize that they were college bound and the U of M was where they wanted to go.”

The contestants’ research helps elevate their projects through school, regional, and the state competitions. The top two projects from each category qualify for the National Contest, held annually at the University of Maryland. More information on the State Contest winners and a link to the virtual awards ceremony can be found on the Minnesota Historical Society State History Day page.

Team efforts includes Libraries, CLA, Minitex, MN Historical Society

Creating the space, time, and research opportunities for these students is not a one-person job, however. Wilson Library works in partnership with Minitex, the College of Liberal Arts (specifically the History Department), and the Minnesota Historical Society to make these trips happen. Jayne Kinney was this year’s lead History Department TA, who devoted a great deal of time working with and for the students. She led field trips, managed the guides who assisted at field trips, and answered students’ email questions.

The Associates of the James Ford Bell Library and the Friends of the Immigration History Research Center and Archives also support History Day students in Minnesota by sponsoring Topical Prizes at the State Contest. The Associates sponsor a History of Exploration prize, and the Friends, a History of Immigration prize.

This year 36 projects and 55 students qualified for the National Contest and, among those, 45% of those students attend schools that came on a field trip to Wilson Library. It is clear that the libraries provide a valuable service to these students as a resource for the History Day community.

Thank you to everyone at the Libraries and the U who help make this partnership a success for our up-and-coming historians.

—Richmond Kinney

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