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History of Survivance: Upper Midwest 19th-Century Native American Narratives
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For every object that ends up in a library or museum collection ...

For every object that ends up in a library or museum collection – whether it’s a manucript, a photograph, or something more approaching the concept of “art” – there is a narrative, a story that gets told. The story a visitor to an exhibit ends up hearing, of course, is dependent upon who is telling the story and the slant of their own perspective. When the subject of the exhibit is Native Americans in the Upper Midwestern United States during the extraordinary upheaval of the 19th century, one must be particularly careful about the story being told since the narrative that largely exists is one of cultural denouement, of endings, as told by a colonizing population to its descendants. The dominant narrative of the demise of traditional Native American culture in the face of colonization, conversion to Christianity, confinement to reservations and economic collapse is, however, not the only story that can be told. The accounts of the lives of Native Americans during the 19th century that are told by Native peoples themselves are strikingly different to those recounted in history books, movies, and all too frequently in museums. Rather than narratives solely recounting destruction and demise, Native stories about Native history tend to focus on what White Earth Ojibwe scholar Gerald Vizenor has called survivance – a narrative incorporating themes of survival and resistance that insist on the inclusion of the Native presence. The following is an exhibit of resources that can be found within the Digital Public Library of America retold through the lens of Native American survivance in the Minnesota region. Within are a series of objects of both Native and non-Native origin that tell a story of extraordinary culture disruption, change and continuity during 19th c., and how that affects the Native population of Minnesota today. This exhibit was created by the Minnesota Digital Library.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Primary Source
Unit of Study
Provider:
Digital Public Library of America
Minnesota Digital Library
Provider Set:
DPLA Exhibitions
A History of US Public Libraries
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For many Americans, their fondest memories revolve around a library card. From ...

For many Americans, their fondest memories revolve around a library card. From searching through the stacks, to getting a return date stamped on the back of a new favorite book, libraries are a quintessential part of how Americans learn and engage with their local communities. Since this country’s founding, public libraries have received broad and consistent popular support for their democratic missions and services. The ability to access free information has become a core ideal of what it means to be an American citizen, despite periods of historic inequality. Libraries help make this access possible by placing public benefit at the center of their work and continually adapting their strategies to meet changing public needs over time. This exhibition tells the story of the American public library system, its community impact, and the librarians who made it possible—from the founding of the first US libraries through the first one hundred years of service. This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Public Library Partnerships Project in collaboration with partners and participants from Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia, Minnesota Digital Library, Montana Memory Project, and Mountain West Digital Library.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Primary Source
Unit of Study
Provider:
Digital Commonwealth
Digital Library of Georgia
Digital Public Library of America
Minnesota Digital Library
Montana Memory Project
Mountain West Digital Library
Provider Set:
DPLA Exhibitions
Author:
Franky Abbot
Hillary Brady
Quack Cures and Self-Remedies: Patent Medicine
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Throughout the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, Americans were ...

Throughout the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, Americans were inundated with myriad medicinal treatments collectively known as patent medicine. At a time when doctors and medical clinics were less common, especially in rural areas, patent medicines promised relief from pain and chronic conditions when few other options existed. The term “patent medicine” referred to ingredients that had been granted a government patent; but ironically many purveyors of patent medicine did not register their concoctions with the government. As a result, many competitors offered similar formulas and freely imitated each other’s products. The story of patent medicine is multi-layered. It is about the phenomenon of Americans self-medicating with opiates, alcohol, and herbal supplements, as well as women’s health and healthcare options. It follows the evolution of advertising in America and the rise of chromolithography printing techniques and newspaper advertisements. Finally, patent medicine reveals dubious scientific knowledge during a time when germ theory was in its infancy. This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Public Library Partnerships Project by collaborators from Minnesota Digital Library. Exhibition organized by Greta Bahnemann.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Primary Source
Unit of Study
Provider:
Digital Public Library of America
Minnesota Digital Library
Provider Set:
DPLA Exhibitions
Author:
Greta Bahnemann
Urban Parks in the United States
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In 1853, the City of New York set aside hundreds of acres ...

In 1853, the City of New York set aside hundreds of acres of swampland in the middle of Manhattan, with the idea that this uninhabitable space could serve a practical, public purpose. Today, we know that area as Central Park, one of the most widely visited and celebrated public spaces in the country. The then-unknown park designer who won the bid to design Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, would go on to inspire and revolutionize urban park design in the United States. The work of Olmsted and other early parks pioneers, building on older concepts like town squares, would spur the growth of urban parks large and small nationwide. Benefiting from new innovations in design, these parks serve as community centers and defining features of cities and towns across the country. Urban parks have continually adapted to meet the needs of the publics they serve, evolving, for example, from places to simply enjoy nature into recreation sites that offer activities and equipment. More than just sites for leisure, they also play a broader role in supporting community engagement by providing places for civic participation, enhancing quality of life and property values, and offering safe, healthy, and convenient recreation options. This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Public Library Partnerships Project by collaborators from the Minnesota Digital Library. Exhibition Coordinator: Carla Urban.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Primary Source
Unit of Study
Provider:
Digital Public Library of America
Minnesota Digital Library
Provider Set:
DPLA Exhibitions