“Creating” History at the East Side Freedom Library

Recently, the History Club welcomed Peter Rachleff from the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul. Situated in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood, the library is dedicated to “sharing histories” in support of the diversity of the East Side. To that end, Peter shared the history of the building itself, one of three historic Carnegie Libraries in the area. The library has served a diverse population since it was built nearly a century ago in 1916. Payne-Phalen was a blue collar neighborhood whose residents included Scandinavian, Irish, and German immigrants who worked in manufacturing. While demographics have changed, the East Side Freedom Library hopes to honor that older community as well as create a space to incorporate new voices. As the library’s website explains, “We will work with neighborhood residents to create ways – public presentations, exhibits, performances, publications – to tell their own stories.”

Current and former UST history students are working to create the space for sharing histories about labor and working-class, immigrants, ethnic groups such as African and Asian Americans, women and feminism and even jazz and radical music. Recent graduate Noah Zernechel and seniors Nate Parsons and Dan Hiebl (pictured below) have been helping collect and curate the library’s materials. According to Dan, the experience has been invaluable; “While volunteering at the East Side Freedom Library I work hands on with a wide collection of primary and secondary source documents.  My role is cataloging these materials into a Library of Congress database. My volunteer experience provides excellent exposure to a rare collection of books.”


Check out the library’s collections and events on their webpage and join in the experience of creating a new east side history

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One Response to “Creating” History at the East Side Freedom Library

  1. Pingback: We’ve Made History – 1 Year in the Blogosphere! | UST History

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