Announcing: Hidden Heroes of Minnesota History Wiki *

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Question: Who is a “hidden hero” of Minnesota history? How do we know what we know about our state? Who gathered all those files, that data, the maps, the diaries, the photos that tell the story, that give us a glimpse into our past? And who is doing that now in our digital age? What were the skills of the archivist? The selector? The curator? The indexer? The librarian? The genealogist? The publisher?

Most of all, who are these people. For the most part, they didn’t make history – and they surely didn’t make it into the history books — but they are essential links to understanding Minnesota at 150 years or at our Bicentennial in 2058.

These are the questions that keep coming to me as we’ve prepared for the March 2008 Afloat on the wireless pond conference. Compulsive surfer that I am I’ve sifted through the digital record to spot and shine a flicker of light on those hidden heroes and heroines. Knowing that I’m barely touching the surface, I’ve made no attempt to go beyond the digital record.

The Afloat conference is upon us now so I’m taking a break in the surfing expedition to post the little nuggets I’ve dug up so far. Just as the Minnesota History Center encourages the public to add to their Sesquicentennial wiki of famous folks I’m asking you to contribute to this mini-wiki by putting a name, maybe a face, on some of those self-effacing public servants, scholars, collectors, archivists, genealogists or much-maligned packrats who’ve seen to it that we know the stories. Be sure to include those who are exploring with gusto the ways in which information age technology is expanding and enhancing access.

That’s what the Afloat conference is all about – the jumpstart to a hidden hero wiki! Thanks for your help!

* My definition of “hero” is inclusive, particularly since an extraordinary number of these heroes are very female

Mary Treacy