Studying Family and World History – The North Star Reports – by Jimmy Lovrien. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
“Wow, the story of my family is really the story of Minnesota,” I proudly thought to myself. With a collection of family stories regarding farming in southern Minnesota, logging in northeastern Minnesota, and some of the first women to graduate from the University of Minnesota, the Lovrien family history portrayed Minnesota’s past in a storybook style.
As an individual studying history and journalism, I quickly saw a large flaw in presenting history this way: I did not include my ancestors’ role in oppressing Native Americans.
The loss of land and subsequent warfare aimed at Native Americans completely corresponds with the westward migration by my ancestors. When farming during the summer wasn’t enough, agriculturalists moved north to log during the winters. I was told, “Dad couldn’t make money on the farm in the winter. He couldn’t work here in the winter. So he would go up in the woods, up in the North, and work there.” The efforts of early settlers to homestead every inch of what is now Minnesota forced Native Americans off the land they had held for thousands of years preceding.
When Native Americans fought for their land, the United States government fought to suppress them. The original settlers in my family joined the US’ efforts and were unfortunately praised in their obituaries for doing so; however, their children and grandchildren realized these faults and denounced these actions. Luckily, my dad does not withhold this rather troubling information as he realizes most people will choose to forget and push the disturbing history behind them.
Women in Education
Prior to my research, I knew my grandmother had attended the University of Minnesota in the ’40s, an unusual feat for women at this time. Through discussion with my dad, I also learned my great-grandmother and several of her sisters attended college in the 1910s and early 1920s, even more remarkable for the time. The expectation at the time was for women to marry; if they pursued college, this was usually faced opposition by males. In a 1924 New York Times article entitled “Why They Quit School,” the University of Minnesota registrar stated “it’s a ‘fallacy’ to believe that young women, even while they are striving for an education, do not constantly have matrimony as an object in mind”- exhibiting the perceptions held against women in college.
On my maternal side of the family, my grandparents did not receive any college education. Because the expectation to attend college was absent, my mother and her siblings had to forge their own means of pursuing higher education. Although my mom is not the eldest sister, she was the first female in her family to earn a four-year degree. This opened the door for her younger sisters and inspired them to do the same.
By the time my sister graduated from high school it was largely expected she attend college, signaling society’s change in perception of women in education. Within three generations major shifts could be found in how society viewed two pivotal issues in the history of my family and Minnesota. [From Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.
We thank The Department of History and Politics for its generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu