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Jean Chesley shares ingredients for a long and successful life

Jean Chesley shares ingredients for a long and successful life

The ingredients for a long, fulfilling life...
- stay active in your community and
give back, Jean Chesley did both!


Throughout our lives, one develops deep passions about projects and programs and experiences that fill our lives with mission, purpose, interest and delight. Jean Anderson Chesley (1916-2010) had a strong belief in the importance of the preservation and interpretation of local history and culture. As a young girl growing up in Red Wing, Jean developed a love of geological history and the natural world. As a young adult, she began a deep interest in county and local history. And in 1966, she began a distinguished career with the Goodhue County Historical Society, first as the board president, then as director of the museum. During her 28 years she developed educational programs for school children, an oral history project, oversaw the opening of a new museum, established the quarterly newsletter, and became instrumental in developing a landmark exhibit detailing the archaeological history of Goodhue County. Jean once said that in an anxious and mobile world, history provides a sense of perspective, of belonging, and the gift of understanding the place we live. "It is wonderful for young people to have a feeling of place. It's stabilizing to have a feeling of heritage," she said.

Jean also had a long association with the Minnesota Historical Society, serving on its governing board for twenty-two years. As a member of the Society's Grants Review Committee from its inception, she was able to listen and learn, comment, engage, and encourage museums throughout Minnesota in their important work. In 2000 she created the Jean and Frank Chesley Fund for Local and Country Historical Societies. The Chesley Fund supports educational activities to help county and local historical societies better fulfill their missions, and carries on Jean's commitment to the organizations that preserve history close to home.






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