A film by Kathleen Laughlin


Produced by the MN State Public School Orphanage Museum in Owatonna, MN; Mike Maas, project director;

Kathleen Laughlin, director and editor
Further info: Harvey and Maxine Ronglien, Orphanage Museum Board of Directors   507 451 2149
Initial partial funding by the MN Historical Society

The video will establish the history and context surrounding the period of the orphanage’s existence (1886-1945), but will feature the voices of living former residents, and in some cases, the words of deceased former residents, through actors’ voices. All these voices will convey the range of what life there was really like in the period of the late-1920’s to mid-1940’s, and will reveal the impact, both positive and negative, of those years in the institution on their own specific lives. The scripted narration will attempt to give the viewer a sense of the times, and some insight into the social and political ideas that allowed the Minnnesota State Legislature to initiate such an institution. It will explain why it was built in Owatonna, and how it was so comprehensively designed to operate as a little village unto itself. Its setting in the town of Owatonna at the juncture of three railroad lines, amid small fertile farms and a Christian culture, was as important as the eras through which it existed - ending with the great depression and WWII. The narrative will give the facts and statisitcs to set up the stories told by the survivors, and it will introduce, sum up, and may interject questions and ideas to move the viewer along in the journey to the end of the institution's existence. Along the way, it will help navigate the interesting and rough terrain of intitutionalized people’s lives - where genes, environment, models and experiences all fight to determine their outcomes.

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