The Winona County Historical Society (WCHS) and Winona State University (WSU) Krueger Library formed a partnership to digitize and preserve historic objects and develop a plan to produce shared resources about the local ecological history of the Driftless Area in Minnesota.

The items selected for digitization were two herbarium specimen books of Winona area flora gathered in 1899 and 1912. The specimens were collected by Winona Normal School students under the direction of Dr. John M. Holzinger, who was a faculty member in the late 1890s until 1920s and an internationally renowned botanist and bryologist who identified unique plant specimens in the area. Additionally, an 1862 transcription of the first land survey of the area conducted by the United States government was selected. From the original land survey, which was completed in 1855, St. Mary’s University GeoSpatial Services (SMUMN-GSS) digitally compiled and mapped the landscape observations contained in the historical land survey and developed methods to effectively share this information with the community. This story map, “Exploring the Ecological History of Winona, Minnesota,” was produced as part of this effort and explains the process used to create the historical land cover map of the Winona area. This landscape map is a snapshot of one point in time and provides an interactive experience exploring local ecological history. The long-term goal for this project is that it will offer a multidisciplinary approach to studying soil, plant communities, land restoration, and human-environmental interactions.

The story map is available from this address:
Exploring the Ecological History of Winona, Minnesota (

This partnership project was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.


Browse the Ecological History Collections:

Botanical Specimen Books

Botanical Specimen Images

Ecological History StoryMaps

Land Surveys