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Wilson Campus School. Collection, 1917-2002

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSU Archives Collection 307

Scope and Contents

The Wilson Campus School collection documents the history of the Mankato State College (now Minnesota State University, Mankato) laboratory school, a K-12 public school run by the college. In 1968, the school format changed from traditional to a nontraditional structure. This collection primarily documents the nontraditional experience at Wilson Campus School from 1968 to 1977, though information from the prior traditional years is also included.

Following the closing of the school, the records were dispersed among several individuals and institutions. The materials were gathered from these diverse locations in 2000 to create this collection. Additionally, personal recollections, research, and information about Wilson following the closing of the school were also maintained and included in the collection.

The Wilson Campus School collection is divided into several series and sub-series. Each series and sub-series is organized in alphabetical order.


  • 1917 - 2002


Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use of this collection for research purposes. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property and libel laws as they apply.

Biographical / Historical

The Wilson Campus School, which was built on the new upper campus in 1959, was the laboratory school of Mankato State College. Prior to that time, the college elementary and secondary school was located on the original lower campus. The laboratory school at MSC was designed as a K-12, Mankato District 77 public school that offered MSC Education students opportunities for observing and student teaching.

Until 1968, Wilson Campus School was a traditional school. It offered courses and schedules similar to those found in other schools in the state. In the early sixties, student activities were expanded with the organization of music and athletic programs as well as Forensics, Drama, and Debate.

In 1968, significant change occurred at Wilson Campus School when it became a public non-traditional school. Led by Director, Don Glines, the school went to a 12-month schedule, no required classes or report cards, variable daily schedules, individual programs and curriculum, and multi-age activities to name a few of the changes. The school received national recognition when the National Observer wrote that Wilson was "probably one of the most innovative publicly funded schools in the country." Glines left the Wilson Campus School in 1972 to co-direct the Studios for Educational Alternatives (SEA) in the MSC College of Education

In 1974, the Minnesota Legislature decided to close the laboratory schools at all of the state colleges and the University of Minnesota, except the Wilson Campus School because of its unique, non-traditional format. That same year, the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Committee recommended the MSC Lower Campus be closed and the entire campus be located on the Highland (Upper) Campus. Despite much local (Mankato) protest, the State Legislature narrowly approved a recommendation to close the Mankato lab school and re-use the facility for university purposes. The Wilson Campus School closed in 1977.

Information for this note was obtained from the collection and Faust, Claire. Mankato State University: The Second Century the First Twenty-Five Years, 1968-1992, Mankato: The University, 1992.

Orville Jensen, Instructor and Don Glines, Director, Wilson Campus School


5.50 Cubic Feet (4 Archives Boxes 3 Hollinger Boxes 1 Audio Cassette Box)

Language of Materials



The Wilson Campus School collection documents the history of the Mankato State College (now Minnesota State University, Mankato) laboratory school. Wilson was a K12 public school sponsored by the college in conjunction with Mankato District #77. In 1968 it changed from a traditional to a non-traditional format. This collection primarily documents the non-traditional experience at Wilson Campus School. There is also information about the school, alumni, and faculty following the close of the school in the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were donated by Dr. Don Glines, Mr. Orville Jensen, Dr. Donald Darling, and the Minnesota State University, Mankato, College of Education from 1999-2002. Additional materials were pulled from the College of Education accession.

Wilson Campus School. Collection, 1917-2002
Daardi Sizemore
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2010-12: Heather Harren added to collection

Repository Details

Part of the Minnesota State University, Mankato University Archives Repository

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Memorial Library
PO Box 8419
Mankato MN 56002-8419 US