MNopedia, Minnesota's own encyclopedia

Categories: Internet
Stone Arch Bridge, c. 1900.jpg
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
Stone Arch Bridge, c. 1900
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) recently launched a new encyclopedia about Minnesota history. Called MNopedia, the website went live on August 15, and offers an interactive source of information for teachers, scholars, students, journalists, and Minnesota history buffs alike. 

Editor and Project Manager Erica Hartmann says the website is still in the prototype stage, as MNHS hopes to incorporate feedback, increase the content, improve the accessibility, and find partners and additional support. 
Soo Line diesel to Chicago, 1948.jpg
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
Soo Line diesel to Chicago, 1948
The initial funding for MNopedia has come from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, through the vote of Minnesotans in 2008. Initially, MNHS was awarded $215,000 in 2010 and 2011, and have gotten a renewal of funding for 2012, although Hartmann says the amount is not final. The encyclopedia's content currently focuses on the Industrial era, with subjects including arts, agriculture, women, architecture, sports, and the environment. 

MNHS paid top history scholars--such as Annette Atkins and Rhoda Gilman--to write extensive essays about different subjects. The content provided by them will be supplemented by other sources of information, including the society's own archives. MNHS is also offering grants for nonprofit organizations to apply to write articles based on their area of expertise.
Schubert Club Board, c. 1910.jpg
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
Schubert Club Board, c. 1910
In addition, individuals may volunteer to write about subjects that interest them, although anonymous contributions will not be allowed, and all articles will be vetted by MNHS staff. 

According to Hartmann, MNHS hopes that the site will be participatory. For any given piece, people can write comments, discuss articles on the discussion forum, send in corrections, request stories on a given topic, or write a post themselves. After all, MNHS "doesn't have all the history. There are different types of resources that are truly useful for people,"  she says.

So far, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive both in comments on the website, emails, and on social media. A librarian wrote that MNopedia will be a great resource for students working on History Day projects, for example. 

But the website isn't just for students and teachers. "The audience for this is general," she says, so that anyone interested in Minnesota's history will be able to use it as a resource. 


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