Northfield Project                      

All History majors at Carleton College must take the Junior Colloquium, an upper-level historiography course. In addition to learning about Marxism, Foucault, the Annals School, we also discussed the role of film, historical novels, and museums in History. My professor, Susannah Ottaway, made arrangements with the Northfield Historical Society, and our class created exhibits on life in Northfield in the twentieth century. My group did a project on World War II.

We visited the Minnesota Historical Society in preparation for our project; the curator gave us advice on how to create effective and educational exhibits. The most important lessons we learned were that exhibits should be as visual and interactive as possible. People are not usually willing to read paragraphs of information when they are in a museum. If possible, patrons prefer to interact with the materials.

Our group decided to follow the curator's advice. We looked through the Northfield Historical Society's archives and found uniforms, army canteens, ration books, ads, period clothing (women's), and so on. We even digitized a July 4th newspaper because it was printed in red and blue ink. (Since ink rations were strict, we thought this would be interesting to patrons.) We laminated the printed book we created so visitors could flip through it. Finally, we divided our exhibit into two sections, one representing the warfront and the other the home front. We wanted to show viewers the differences between what was happening in Europe and the Pacific and what was happening at home. We also made clear distinctions between the genders.

Presentation Program

Created by Jenny Freed, 9-24-06
Many thanks to Katie Newell.