Research Special Education Teachers: How the Field Evolved in Minnesota


Researches how the field of special education teachers evolved from the 1850s to the present time. There were no requirements for teachers in the beginning. In 1910, half of all teachers did not have a high school diploma - they were mostly in rural one-room schools. With the passage of Minnesota's first special education law in 1915, many of the first teachers were mothers or grandmothers who rounded up five children with the same disability in a community as required and they became the teachers with no training, curriculum materials, or adaptive equipment. After the passage of Minnesota's 1957 special education law, licensure requirements became more clear and higher education programs were funded to provide teacher training.

Minnesota's historical records are being researched and the results will be compiled into a draft document. These records are housed at the History Center Library, the State Legislative Library, the Department of Education Licensing Office, and the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities - Eye to the Past.

It is anticipated that future phases of this project will include editing, layout design, and a publication.

David R Johnson PhD
Minnesota Historical Society, Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants


David R Johnson PhD :: Professor

Partner staff

Norena Hale :: Consultant


  • Educational accountability and assessment
    • Students with Disabilities
      • Teacher Evaluation