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NCHS reaches out

A postcard from the Minnesota State Historical Society archives depicts an early street scene from Adrian.1 / 3
Old postcards and photos such as this one from Wilmont preserve the towns’ histories and are now in the Minnesota State Historical Society archives.2 / 3
Old postcards and photos such as this one from Ellsworth preserve the towns’ histories and are now in the Minnesota State Historical Society archives.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — The Nobles County Historical Society is headquartered in Worthington, but it is intended to preserve the history of all the communities in Nobles County.

With that in mind, the NCHS is “hitting the road” in an effort to better engage residents of outlying communities through a series of forums.

“One of the problems is the museum is short-spaced, and as a result for the last several years we’ve had very few exhibits on display, and because of that, we also get very few people coming down to the museum,” explained Jerry Fiola, a member of the NCHS Collections Committee. “We want to turn that around and start to increase the exposure of the museum to the public in Nobles County. … It’s even more difficult for people in outlying Nobles County to get to the museum because of the distance.”

NCHS staff and volunteers have been inventorying the full collection and entering it into a computerized database.

“In the process, we’ve recognized that a disproportional number of artifacts — from three-dimensional to photographs to archived paper material — have come from the Worthington area,” Fiola continued. “It’s easier for people from Worthington to access the museum, to drop stuff off. Because of that we’re at a significant disadvantage to really help interpret the life experiences of people in Adrian, Wilmont, Ellsworth, Lismore and other towns in the county.”

The forums are intended to familiarize people outside Worthington with NCHS’s role and overall mission and give an overview of what the NCHS already has that pertains to the history of a particular community.

“Our hope is that by increasing the communication, we can secure their assistance in locating important objects, and even more importantly, important stories out there in those communities that we need to save for perpetuity,” Fiola explained.

Some communities have made their own efforts to preserve their history and heritage locally, Fiola noted. The important thing is that the historical artifacts, records and photographs are preserved for future generations, and the NCHS’ intent is to support those efforts.

“There are a lot of things people can do in their own town to help preserve history. Obviously, we would like to see if we could get some people from these communities who may have an interest in history, who may be interested in doing some sort of volunteer work,” said Fiola, adding that there are many different ways in which volunteers can lend a hand.

“In some of the old history books, for example, there may have been a picture of the Smith house or some other building. Are those buildings still there today? Maybe they could take a picture of what the house looks like now. ... One of the outreach directors from the MInnesota State Historical Society said that every five years we should take a video camera and go up and down the business area to record what businesses are there.

“We have old photographs, and we have no idea who the people are in those photographs,” Fiola continued. “Maybe they could help us identify who some of the people are. There are people now in their 80s and 90s who have a wealth of information about our communities. We need people who would be interested in gathering those histories, whether by video or voice recorder or just interviewing somebody and taking notes.”

Four “Preserving Our Heritage for Future Generations” forums have been scheduled:

  • 7 p.m. April 21, Wilmont City Hall
  • 7 p.m. April 22, Ellsworth Fire Hall
  • 7 p.m. April 24, Lismore City Hall
  • 7 p.m. May 1, Adrian Hall Council Chambers

Anyone interested in history and preserving their community’s heritage for future generations is encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Fiola, 376-5610 or 350-9808; or email

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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