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Commemorating the one-room schoolhouse: Museum seeks stories, photos, info on country schools for upcoming book

The District 2 Country School once served the residents of Audubon Township. (Photo courtesy of Becker County Museum)1 / 2
This tiny, one-room country schoolhouse once served the students of District 113, who lived in Spring Creek Township. (Photo courtesy of Becker County Museum)2 / 2

Did you, your older siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents or great-grandparents ever attend classes in a country schoolhouse? Do you have photos, documents or other family keepsakes from that time — or an interesting story or two that you might be willing to share?

Then the staff of the Becker County Museum would like you to get in touch with them. The museum's research library director, Jenn Johnson, is gathering information, photos and stories for a commemorative book on the county's 132 rural school districts that is scheduled for publication this summer.

"We hope to have the first copies for sale at the Becker County Fair," said Johnson, noting that some of the museum's staff would once again be on site during the event, offering tours and answering questions about the old country schoolhouse and log cabin that are on permanent display at the fairgrounds. This year's fair runs July 25-28.

But because the event is just a few short months away, time is growing short for gathering information, Johnson noted — and there are still a few country school districts for which the museum is lacking both photographs and information.

"We have no information at all about Districts 109 or 123," Johnson said, "and we are lacking photos of Districts 39 (Audubon Township), 67 (Two Inlets), 68 (Atlanta Township), 88 (Colgrove School), 91 (Poplar Grove), 93 (Height of Land), 110 (Green Valley) and 112 (White Earth)."

But even if the information, photos and artifacts you have are from school districts that aren't on the list, Johnson added, they would still like to include them in the book.

"The more information and photos we have, the better," she said — and they would also like to have some interesting and/or humorous anecdotes and stories to include as well.

"Anyone who would like us to record their oral histories for the book should contact us," she said — and please do so soon. "We're looking for stories about what the school day was like, the games they played, the subjects they studied, and funny things that happened... anything they'd like to share with us."

Those who are unwilling to part with their old school-related photos, documents and artifacts do not have to surrender them permanently, Johnson said. "We'd just like to borrow them for the book," she added.

Class photos, photos of the school (inside or outside), people playing games outside... these are the types of images that the museum would like to include. Class schedules, songbooks, essays, etc., would also be helpful — even larger artifacts like old school desks and furniture, textbooks, globes and other items that were used at one of the schools can be incorporated.

If you have information, photos or stories that you would like to share for inclusion in the book, or if you would just like more information about it, please stop by the museum at 714 Summit Ave. in Detroit Lakes or call 218-847-2938 during regular staff hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. You can also direct email inquiries to

For more information about upcoming events and exhibits at the museum, please visit the website at, or visit their Facebook page.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454