As in most communities, responsibility for collecting and curating local history is scattered among multiple institutions – libraries, historical societies, governmental agencies, cultural organizations, churches, etc. — without established mechanisms for sustained coordination and cooperation in making these records accessible. In 2007 a group of librarians and archivists in the Northfield area began meeting to address this problem of fragmentation of the historical record by developing a set of relationships, policies and practices, and an infrastructure to provide a single portal for access to Northfield area history. This founding group created an affiliation that became known as the Northfield History Collaborative (NHC) but today is known as the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection (DHC).
From 2007 to 2011, staff from the four founding organizations – the Northfield Historical Society, the Rice County Historical Society, the Northfield Public Library and Carleton College — worked together to identify, describe, organize and provide access to books, manuscripts, photographs, institutional and corporate records, genealogical materials, and other materials relevant to understanding the history of our community and planning for its future. Funding from several Minnesota Historical Society grants supported the design and implementation of this initial portal, as well as the digitizing and compilation of pilot collections from each organization. The initial subject scopes were broadly defined as “education in Northfield” and the “1876 attempted bank raid by the James-Younger Gang,” so the collection is rich in these materials. Now the subject scope has been broadened to include all types of materials relating to the history of the Northfield area.
In 2011, the membership of the NHC was expanded to include seven additional partners – First National Bank of Northfield, KYMN Radio, Northfield Arts Guild (NAG), Northfield Hospital, Northfield News, St. John’s Lutheran Church, and St. Olaf College. Select materials from the archives of these organizations were added to the portal.
In 2019 the NHC seized the opportunity to expand its membership and digital holdings by expanding its focus. With the unanimous support of the NHC Steering Committee, the Northfield Historical Society and the Rice County Historical Society partnered to provide a common site to preserve and make accessible digital versions of historical collections held in various locations across Rice County, MN, not just Northfield. The partnership formerly called the Northfield History Collaborative was renamed in 2020 to reflect the scope of historical resources related to this expanded area. This partnership is now known as the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection.
There are plans to add many more records and resources to the collection in the coming years and there is hope that additional Northfield and Rice County organizations that have relevant historical records will become future partners and contributors to the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection.
All material on this website is protected by copyright. Please contact us for more information.
To ask a question about this site, use this online contact form.
For more information about the Northfield-Rice County Digital History Collection, contact us: online contact form
For information about a particular collection or ordering images, select that collection from the category list on the form below.
If you wish to inquire by phone…
- Northfield Historical Society – Cathy Osterman, 507-645-9268
- Rice County Historical Society – Susan Garwood, 507-332-2121