The four subject areas described below share an important characteristic-currently they are all inadequately documented relative to their importance in Minnesota History.
Agriculture and Rural Life:
Shifts in economics, technology, and demographics are changing rural Minnesota. Based upon recommendations of participants in a 1988 Board-sponsored meeting on this subject, the Board supports projects that document the adjustment of individuals, institutions, and communities to changes in economics, lifestyles, and the fabric of rural life.
The Board has a strong interest in projects that address records that document the contributions of those groups, defining themselves as communities in Minnesota, that continue to be under-represented in traditional documentary sources and repositories. Such groups would include, but not necessarily be limited to: African-American, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific groups; women; the disabled; sexual minorities; and Native Americans (NHPRC has funded projects to preserve the records of tribal governments, tribal communities, and Indian populations in urban areas; the Board continues to strongly support this initiative).
Volunteer efforts and organizations-from well-organized groups such as religious, fraternal, and service organizations to smaller groups such as neighborhood, advocacy, self-help, and social change organizations-have been identified as central to American life. Yet documentation of volunteerism is often fragmentary or nonexistent due to difficulties in record keeping or undervaluation by archivists and historians of the non-traditional records which may be all that survive. The Board seeks to encourage better record keeping by volunteer organizations, greater awareness of the value of their records, and stronger acquisition efforts by repositories.
The role of government in U.S. society has grown enormously in the 20th century. This growth has generated an ever-increasing quantity of government data, both in traditional formats and in new and evolving media. A critical challenge for State Archives staff and agency records managers is to ensure adequacy of documentation of state and local governments by maintaining the ability to select, administer, preserve, and make accessible and useable those records that are of long-term value.
These four subject areas are important in themselves, but draw further importance from being strongly integrated. For example, voluntary organizations are hallmarks of "under-documented communities" and of rural communities; often the only record of these organizations is created when they interact with local government. In the same way, an important but often overlooked aspect of agriculture in Minnesota is the role played by migrant or immigrant laborers, and of course government has had a profound impact on the agricultural economy and rural life.