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About the Steele County Historical Society


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A private, nonprofit, educational organization established in 1949, the Steele County Historical Society is the official historical society of the county and one of the oldest in the state. Located at 1700 Austin Road in Owatonna, MN the SCHS is home to the Village of Yesteryear offering 19 historic structures and the History Center which houses the exhibit hall, gift shop and the Zamboni Genealogy, Archives and Research Library that are open to the public and funded by private contributions. In 2022, SCHS merged with the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum.  The Orphanage Museum preserves the legacy of the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children and the Owatonna State School. The facility was built to house orphans, dependent, abused and neglected children from 1886 to 1945.  The location later became the Owatonna State School from 1945 to 1970 which provided academic and vocational training for children with developmental disabilities. The Orphanage Museum is located across town at 540 West Hills Circle, Owatonna, MN. 


The SCHS collections include diaries, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations. The SCHS collections, programs and exhibits help Steele County residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities, and make informed decisions based on our past and present.

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History – Timeline Of Steele County

Click here to view the Steele County Historical Society Timeline of Steele County.



Preserving and sharing history today for tomorrow.



The Steele County Historical Society is a dynamic organization serving our audiences through public programs, research, stewardship, and through our consistent visibility. We will strive to be a credible educational resource, a welcoming gathering place, an active partner, and a forward-looking institution.


To fulfill our vision and mission, the Steele County Historical Society will uphold the following values:

Stewardship and Integrity

  • We will responsibly care for and protect the resources entrusted to us.

  • We will be honest, transparent, and open in all our communications and dealings with the public.

  • We will be accountable to, and responsible for our actions and commitments.

 Customer Service and Building Relationships

  • We will provide for, and respond to our audiences’ changing needs.

  • We will treat our visitors with respect, dignity, and courtesy.

  • We will foster and engage in reciprocal relationships for the benefit of all participants.

 Partnering and Inclusiveness

  • We will strategically foster and maintain long-term mutually beneficial partnerships.

  • We will be consistent in our effort to reflect the demographics and diversity of our ever-changing community.

 ​Visibility and Resource Credibility

  • We will engage with our community through public programs, events, and all forms of media.

  • We will grow as a state-wide and global resource through public programs, events, partnerships, and all forms of media.

  • We will endeavor to provide documented, balanced, and objective information through public programs, events, information request responses, and all forms of media.

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