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Archive for June, 2013

Gettysburg/Vicksburg Anniversary Commemorations

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Last Full MeasureOne Drop in a Sea of Blue

In the summer of 1863, nearly simultaneous Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Their forces never regained enough strength to seriously threaten the North.

For information on programs and events commemorating the 150th anniversaries of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, please visit the Minnesota Historical Society’s Minnesota and the Civil War Programs and Resources page.

Two MHS Press authors will share their Civil War research next week at the Minnesota History Center and James J. Hill House:

Monday July 1, 7:00 p.m.
Minnesota History Center
Last Full Measure: Remembering the First Minnesota at Gettysburg
A special lecture in honor of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg with author and historian Richard Moe.
Richard Moe is the author of Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of  the First Minnesota Volunteers and the new short e-book excerpted from Last Full Measure, The First Minnesota Volunteers at Gettysburg: The 150th Anniversary ($1.99).
$12 ($10 MHS members) Tickets here.

WATCH the live stream video

Wednesday July 3, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
James J. Hill House
Surviving the Civil War
Enjoy Civil War Scholarship, fashion, music and presentations by John Lundstrom, author of One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota.
$12 ($10 MHS members) Tickets here.

Below is a list of our other Civil War related titles:

Minnesota and the Civil War: The War That Touched Us All e-book short by Annette Atkins. ($1.99)

Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie Edited by Hamton Smith

Go If You Think It Your Duty: A Minnesota Couple’s Civil War Letters Edited by Andrea R. Foroughi

Brackett’s Battalion: Minnesota Cavalry in the Civil War and Dakota War By Kurt D. Bergemann

Minnesota in the Civil War: An Illustrated History By Kenneth Carley

Pale Horse at Plum Run: The First Minnesota at Gettysburg By Brian Leehan

This Business of War: Recollections of a Civil War Quartermaster By William G. Le Duc, Foreword by Adam E. Scher

No More Gallant a Deed: A Civil War Memoir of the First Minnesota Volunteers By James A. Wright, edited by Steven J. Keillor

Living Here, Loving Minnesota with Marie Porter

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Living Here, Loving MinnesotaAn occasional series highlighting local authors and their favorite ways to spend a Minnesota weekend.

Marie Porter is the author of the newest title in our Northern Plate series, Sweet Corn Spectacular.

Win a copy of Sweet Corn Spectacular by entering Marie’s Corn Haiku Contest!

Marie Porter

Sweet Corn Spectacular

What is a typical weekend for you?

Oh, man, I’m not sure we have anything resembling typicality in our LIVES, never mind weekends!  I guess the closest thing to typical we’ve had lately is that weekends usually involve a lot of work on the house.  We had our house smashed badly in the 2011 tornado, were under-insured by $60k+, and have been picking away at DIY-ing a lot of it.

What are some of your favorite local Friday night activities?

When the weather is nice and cool, I like getting out for scenic walks or drives.  When the weather is too hot, we become about as local as possible—holed up in our house, watching movies.

What/where do you eat on weekends? What’s a typical Sunday breakfast at your house?

Well, aside from renovation stuff, I like to use weekends to hash out recipe ideas I have, whether for my blog or for upcoming cookbooks.  What we eat varies wildly depending on what I’m working on at the time, and it isn’t necessarily seasonally “appropriate” at all times, either.  Due to the nature of publication schedules, we may eat a full Christmas dinner in early summer!

Lately, I’ve taken to making a batch of muffins almost every Sunday. It’s a great weekend breakfast and works for easy to-go breakfasts for my husband for the week.

What’s your weekend reading like?

When I have time to read, it’s usually catching up on blog entries and/or reading up on DIY techniques. (Like teaching myself to demolish and tile our bathroom!)

What is your top Minnesota getaway?

Duluth!  I’ve lived here for seven years and only recently made it up to Duluth.  We’re looking at maybe making it a monthly thing—sitting on a rock by the shore does a world of good for me, reminds me of home.  It’s great for de-stressing!

Minneapolis Somali Independence Day Festival June 30

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Celebrating Somali Independence Day (from Somalis in Minnesota, photo by Bill Jolitz) Dancing to a popular Somali traditional beat, young Somalis celebrate Independence Day (from Somalis in Minnesota, photo by Bill Jolitz)

You know it’s summer in the Twin Cities when there is at least one street festival somewhere in town. Head on over to Lake Street between Blaisdell and Pleasant in Minneapolis to experience the Somali Independence Day Festival this Sunday, June 30, from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Here is Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, author of Somalis in Minnesota, on Somali Independence Day:

“Other than the religious holidays, Somalis gather for one major event: Somali Independence Day. The date celebrates Somalia’s independence from colonial British and Italian rule and the founding of the Republic of Somalia in 1960. Though Djibouti commemorates the event on May 27, northern Somalia on June 26, and southern Somalia on July 1, in Minnesota Somalis from Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and beyond join others from the mainland to celebrate on the weekends between June 20 and July 1. They gather together, dance, and compete in soccer games to honor the memory of their motherland and her independence.

“On June 26, 1960, the first Somali flag was hoisted to float and flap in the air. Then on July 1, it was raised in the south of Somalia, and Somalis everywhere sang, danced, and composed ceremonial poems for the occasion.”

June True Crime E-book Sale

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Explore the seamy side of Minnesota with these popular true crime titles from the Minnesota Historical Society Press. On sale for $3.99 or $2.99  through the month of June.

Augie\'s Secrets by Neal Karlen The Rockwell Heist by Bruce Rubenstein Black White Blue Dial M Crossing Hoffa Cole Younger book cover phpl4HkYj

Writing the Biography of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, 1834-1914

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American WestToday’s post is by Judith Koll Healey, author of Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American West. Weyerhaeuser was one of the great industrialists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and founder of the international timber corporation the Weyerhaeuser Company.

Judith will be reading and signing at Common Good Books in St. Paul on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m.

*****

Biography is the stepchild of history and the first cousin to fiction. The history is necessary for accuracy: the details of the times, the sights, the immediate background to set the scene. The reader has to enter the period with the writer as guide. Even more important, the writer must be as accurate about the subject’s life as possible. So the questions continually arise: What to  put in? What to leave out? How to tell the honest story as closely to how it happened as possible?

But certain elements important to fiction must also inform the story. What was the main character like? How did he feel? What was he thinking in his youth that changed later in life? How was he with his family? His grandchildren? His tough-minded associates? Did he ever doubt himself? Was he generous or close fisted? Quick to decide or careful? The fiction writer must create these details that bring a character to life. The biographer must chase down the material that allows the honest creation of the character as a living human being, of interest to others.

We were fortunate in the Frederick Weyerhaeuser project to have an unprecedented amount of primary material from which to work. As the Weyerhaeuser family office moved from the First National Bank building in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a new space, many letters surfaced that had been long forgotten. Some were business letters, others far more personal. There were letters between Frederick and his wife Sarah when they were separated by his long winters in the Wisconsin forest. There were later letters to the sons, and the grandchildren.

And there were diaries from the early years in the long Wisconsin winters and later reflecting his anguish when his honor was challenged publicly by an associate who wanted a favor that Frederick refused to grant.

An astonishing and valuable cache of letters kept by one branch of the family was stored in multiple boxes in an attic at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. These were freely offered and the biographer was delighted. In those boxes rest a century of Americana, letters from the 1880s and 1890s that drew a fine picture of Frederick and Sarah’s later years through the correspondence of their daughter Margaret–who lived with them–and her husband Richard, who was teaching in a foreign land.

Even more wonderful were letters discovered in Saulheim, Germany, Frederick’s birth village. The family was given all of his letters, and those of the villagers in return make a composite picture of Frederick’s warm, funny, and personal relationship with his childhood friends and their now-grown children.

The Weyerhaeuser Company in Tacoma also had material, as did the Laird Norton group office in Seattle.

Finally, there was a remarkable resource created in the 1930s by Frederick and Sarah’s youngest son, also called Frederick but referred to in the family as F.E.  This man, the youngest of the seven children, collected letters and recollections from many friends and associates of his father and put them into a five-volume work called A Record of the Life and Business Activities of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, 1834-1914. He added many of his own recollections, and there are many amusing anecdotes sprinkled among more serious stories and letters. In the interest of gentlemanly behavior of the times, some of the anecdotes involving others were crossed out in the work, apparently with the feeling that someone might take mild umbrage. An example is the description of Frederick’s brother-in-law and first partner, F.C.A. Denkmann, as having a “peppery disposition.” As the reader might imagine, these excised parts were among the more descriptive of the work and are a welcome resource to the later biographer. Many are included in this biography.

With this plethora of material and trips to east and west coast and eventually to Saulheim, Germany,  to meet the descendants of Frederick’s childhood friends, a one-year project turned into four years. The result was satisfying. The book does its best to present a fascinating character in all of his stages, his business accomplishments and challenges and his family life.

This writer was grateful for the support of the family in opening archives and resources, in correcting my early misunderstandings of the differences among timber, logs, and lumber and, most of all, in never asking me to alter the text or remove personal  anecdotes. This allowed me not only to get to know this fascinating nineteenth-century character but to draw freely a literary picture of him in this biography that is honest, accurate, and, in all of its humanity, real.