Editor’s note: This post is part of a four-part series to highlight AASLH members in the state of Minnesota who are doing unique and collaborative work and are real-world examples of the 2014 AASLH Annual Meeting Theme: Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts.

The Freeborn County Historical Museum has worked out an annual membership program with the elementary schools within our county.

The cost of the membership is based on the size of the school. The membership allows them to visit the museum for tours or special exhibits and also participate in our “Discover History Program” with no additional cost. The museums Education committee has worked with the school curriculums to provide grade level tours that coincide with what the students are studying in the classroom. During the month of May we usually have between 2,300 to 2,800 students visit our museum. We do have tours at other times, but most are in May.

The tours range from 60 to 90 minutes. The students are divided into groups of 10 or less with a tour guide for each group. Depending on the grade level, some students only see things in our historical village, some only see exhibits in the museum or they may have a tour that covers exhibits in both areas. Our tour guides are all volunteers, many are retired teachers; however, we have guides from all walks of life and a wide age range as well.


11th grade students create the tours for the 3rd grade students.

We have a unique program called “Discover History” which involves our local 11th grade humanities students. The 11 grade students are assigned one of 16 different subject areas to research with the supervision of their teacher, our librarian and two adult mentor volunteers in each subject area for about a two to three week period during their regular humanities class time. They meet at the museum for this class time. They are required to develop a 45 minute presentation which includes at least a couple hands on activities for the students they will be presenting to.

Two days are set for the presentations and each of the two humanities classes are assigned to a day. That day each presentation will be given 4 times, each time to a different group of 5th graders and each student is assigned 4 different presentations to see. The day begins at 8:50 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m.

We have a group opening with a presentation about how Albert Lea got its name and then the students are divided into their small groups to attend their first session. After the second session we have a lunch break that is divided into three sections, lunch, shopping and a presentation about recycling given by our county environmental office personnel followed by two afternoon sessions. This program has been very successful and brings together students and volunteers from all over our county to help bring history to life for our 5th graders.