When 1991 is Ancient History

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an article on Tuesday August 17, 2010, about Beloit College’s annual list of what incoming Freshmen know. Contained in the list are hints about material culture that will be important for local historical organizations to consider as exhibits and public programs get developed. The list also underscores the importance of collecting today so that those in the future will understand us today.

What surprises you from this list? Are any of the items mentioned already in your collections? In what ways might you use a list like this to prepare for exhibits, public programs, publications, and more?

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About David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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2 Responses to When 1991 is Ancient History

  1. Mary Warner says:

    There’s a nice discussion about this study over at Minnesota Public Radio’s Insight Now forum. (Yes, I’ve left my tome of a comment on Gen X over there.) http://insight.mprnewsq.org/vanilla/discussion/106/what-s-the-cultural-mindset-for-the-class-of-2014-what-s-yours

    You’ve got to sign up for an account, but that doesn’t take much and there’s some really smart/interesting conversation going on at Insight Now.

    We have an mp3 player and cellphone in our collections, which have already been used on exhibit. They elicited quite a few comments from people because they seemed so “new.”


  2. Discussions like this come up every so often, and every time I read about what the “current” generation knows as its sphere of experience, it reminds me of the vital importance of contemporary collecting.

    It never fails that I will try to grab something fairly new, and the comment will be made “why do you want that, it’s not old?” My answer is typically “but it will be some day, better to get it now while we can rather than hope someone has one ten, twenty-five, or fifty years from now.”


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