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History Education

We are a very busy organization––everything we do is educational in nature! The primary purpose of the Bloomington Historical Society, as defined by its articles of incorporation registered with the Secretary of State, is to discover, collect and disseminate historical knowledge about the history of the city of Bloomington. All aspects of the Historical Society are for the fulfillment of its educational mission. The Historical Society fulfills this purpose in a variety of ways, including the following:

Bloomington History Museum to the Schools Program

Since 1964, the Bloomington Historical Society has interpreted historical knowledge to Bloomington elementary schools, particularly to third grade students whose curriculum includes learning about local history. The Society’s history interpreters visit elementary schools, bringing items from the early pioneer period of Bloomington history. Many thousands of elementary school children have heard about Bloomington’s rich historic legacy through this program.

The Museum to the Schools is brought to every elementary school in Bloomington. We estimate that over 40,000 elementary third graders have enjoyed this program over the years.

Bloomington Schools to the Museum Program

An more than 40,000 Bloomington third grade elementary school students have visited the Bloomington Old Town Hall History Museum over the years since its founding in 1964. The Society has conducted ongoing tours of the museum where interpreters portray Bloomington’s history through lectures, graphics, visual and hands-on learning experiences of the vast and significant collections of historic artifacts, photos and documents in the Society’s care. Knowledgeable history interpreters guide visitors throughout the exhibit space, inspiring and answering questions. A typical visit interpretation would cover a timeline going back from the Dakota Peoples habitation of this area to the coming of the European white settlers, the founding, growth and development of Bloomington, particularly the township period, the township form of government, and the significance of the Old Town Hall to the community. The children experience role playing in the various positions on the Town Board.

Bloomington River Rendezvous

The Bloomington Historical Society is proud to have conceived and implemented the well-known Bloomington River Rendezvous, which began in 1995. The Society’s River Rendezvous Committee traveled to similar events, during a two-year planning process, prior to introducing the event to the Bloomington community. In 1995, the Society requested the approval of the Bloomington City Council to hold the event at the Pond-Dakota Mission Park, and requested the co-sponsorship of the City of Bloomington through the assistance of maintenance staff. River Rendezvous was an immediate success.

This living history event received accolades from throughout the country as the only event of its kind totally dedicated to history education. History reenacters are hired to interpret history authentically. The City of Bloomington became the primary sponsor of River Rendezvous in 1998, with the Bloomington Historical Society serving as co-sponsor. The City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Division continues as the sponsor of the program to this day. An estimated 90,000 or more elementary school children have attended River Rendezvous since 1995.

History Theater

The Bloomington Historical Society utilizes history theater to interpret history, having formed the River Rendezvous History Theater in 1995, as well as the River Rendezvous High School History Theater. Several junior history theater productions have been undertaken as well. The Society researched, scripted, and produced several history productions during the 90s and recently produced a history theater reading in celebration of the Bloomington Sesquicentennial on May 11, 2008. Several history theater events are in the planning stages.

History Day Camps

The Bloomington Historical Society has cosponsored history day camps over the years and plans are underway to sponsor day camps in the future, including early settler day camp; Native American day camp; and environmental, geologic and geographic day camp. These camps are valuable learning experiences in the walk through time, where hands-on learning is applied, as well as field trips to various historic sites and retention of specialized historian/educators who conduct the camps.

History Bus Tours

The Bloomington Historical Society conducts history bus tours throughout the city of Bloomington. Trips generally take in featured historic sites, including the Old Town Hall, the Gideon Pond House and farm site, the Bloomington Cemetery, the Bloomington History Clock Tower, Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, various historic homes, Bloomington Ferry Road area, Penn and Old Shakopee Road area, to name a few. Tours are available to schools, churches, seniors, and any large group wanting to get a taste of history. Several tours were conducted for the May 11, 2008, Sesquicentennial, with 100 people on the waiting list.

Museum Tours

Tours of the Bloomington Old Town Hall History Museum are available upon request or by advance arrangement. Many requests are received from scout groups, school and church groups, and from vacationing visitors to Bloomington.

Research and Genealogy Opportunities

The Bloomington History Society is available to assist with research of historic areas of interest as well as to assist with genealogical research. Experienced genealogists and historians are on staff. The Bloomington Historical Society has continues to assist authors with their books. The Society’s extensive photo and document archives are a valuable resource.

Community Service Opportunities

The Bloomington Historical Society works with elementary, middle school, high school and college students on service-oriented learning opportunities where students fulfill hands-on and research projects for the Society, including history archiving and designing promotional materials.

Exhibits and Programming

All exhibits and programming are educational. History-oriented workshops, speakers, history exhibits, cover themes pertaining to Bloomington history.

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