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October 29, 2014

Minnesota’s Own: Preserving Our Grand Homes

Filed under: Event, Videos — Alison Aten @ 11:45 am

In this video, architectural historian and award-winning author Larry Millett and photographer Matt Schmitt walk us through the Lawrence S. Donaldson house in Minneapolis, one of the twenty-two homes profiled in their new book, Minnesota’s Own: Preserving Our Grand Homes. The home was the recipient of a 2014 Minnesota Preservation Award.

Join us for the book launch celebration at the American Swedish Institute next Wednesday, November 5, at 6:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended.

Also of interest: Historic Preservation Tour at the American Swedish Institute with architect Laura Faucher. This special tour begins at 5:00 pm, before the Minnesota’s Own book launch. The tour is $10 for ASI and MNHS members/$12 for nonmembers. Registration is required and space is limited.

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October 23, 2014

Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper

Filed under: Book Excerpt, True Crime, Uncategorized, Videos — Alison Aten @ 10:01 am

On a July afternoon in 1972, two masked men waving guns abducted forty-nine-year-old Virginia Piper from the garden of her lakeside home in Orono, Minnesota. After her husband, a prominent investment banker, paid a $1 million ransom, an anonymous caller directed the FBI to a thickly wooded section of a northern Minnesota state park. There, two days after her nightmare began, Ginny Piper––chained to a tree, filthy and exhausted, but physically unharmed––awaited her rescuers.

Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper by William Swanson recounts the inside story of the shocking Piper kidnapping: from the abduction and recovery, through the grueling investigation and trials, and into the Pipers’ haunted final years.

Below is a clip from the press conference with Virginia Piper on July 30, 1972, just a day after her rescue. However, this is only the beginning of the story. As Swanson writes:

“But whatever the intentions of their preemptive statements, the Pipers’ nightmare is not over, nor does the story belong to them. The case is now a million-dollar whodunit driven by the US Attorney in Minneapolis and FBI personnel here and in Washington. The black-and-white patrol cars stationed at the bottom of their driveway will be gone in a few days, when the family is no longer deemed in imminent danger, but the lives of the Pipers and many of their friends, neighbors, and associates, not to mention innumerable strangers who may or, more likely, may not have had anything to do with the case, will be changed forever.”

For author events and more information, please click on the title’s hyperlink, above.

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October 7, 2014

Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil

Filed under: Authors, Book Excerpt, Event, Scandinavian Studies — Alison Aten @ 1:20 pm

Photo by Lisa Peters

Photo by Lisa Peters

Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil by Lisa Westberg Peters begins with the passing of the author’s father and the questions his estate will raise:

“When my father dies, my mother will inherit his mineral rights. Eventually my siblings and I will inherit hers. At that point, I will benefit from drilling techniques that require millions of gallons of water, dozens of chemicals, some of them unknown even to regulators, and the safe disposal of toxic wastes.

It would make quite a headline:

Environmentalist Rakes in ND Oil Profits

And so I sit on an uncomfortable fence. On one side is a sea of oil that fouls beaches and birds and contributes to climate mayhem. On the other side is a sea of oil—my family’s oil!—that provides jobs for thousands of people, financial breathing room for my parents, and wealth for the long-suffering state of North Dakota.

Nope. You can see, I’m sure, how a hospice room is not exactly the place for that kind of discussion.

My dad sees the picture of an old North Dakota oil well—or it’s going to be an oil well as soon as they hit pay dirt—and does a thumbs-up.” –from Fractured Land

Join us this Thursday, October 9, at 7 pm at Common Good Books to hear Lisa Westberg Peters talk about the dilemma we all face–how our personal lives intersect with the energy industry and the environment–and her new book, Fractured Land.

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September 24, 2014

C-SPAN’s BOOK TV & American History TV Visit St. Paul

Filed under: History, Interview, Literary — Alison Aten @ 10:51 am

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C-SPAN’s Cities Tour recently visited St. Paul, profiling various literary and historic sites and interviewing local historians and authors. Featured segments were broadcast on BOOK-TV and American History TV and can be viewed via the hyperlink above.

Minnesota Historical Society staff as well as MNHS Press authors Paul Maccabee, Dave Page, and Adam Scher helped C-SPAN share the stories of the Capital City’s rich historical and literary past.

BOOK-TV features include:

F. Scott Fitzgerald in St. Paul with Dave Page, co-editor of The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Cultural History of St. Paul via the  Minnesota Historical Society’s Gale Family Library with Patrick Coleman, acquisitions librarian

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist by Jack El-Hai

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Story by Kao Kalia Yang

A profile of indie bookstore Common Good Books

Poet Laureate Carol Connolly

American History TV stories include:

The Minnesota State Capitol with historic site manager Brian Pease

Gangster History in St. Paul with Paul Maccabee, author of John Dillinger Slept Here

Early Life and Career of F. Scott Fitzgerald with Dave Page

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s with author and curator Adam Scher

Tours of the Alexander Ramsey House, James J. Hill House, and Historic Fort Snelling

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September 8, 2014

Slouching Toward Fargo–Back in Print!

Filed under: Authors, Event, Sports — Alison Aten @ 10:59 am

SlouchingTowardFargo.KarlenSMALL

Slouching Toward Fargo

A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie, and Me

By Neal Karlen
With a Foreword by Mike Veeck

The Casey Award–winning account of life in the minor leagues, celebrating the game, the characters who love it, and the magic that can happen when a town, a team, and a ball player get a second chance.

Meet the author!

Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 7 pm
Subtext Bookstore, St. Paul

In his classic account of two years with the most audacious bush league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel, Neal Karlen presents a dizzying collection of characters: co-owners comedian Bill Murray and sports impresario Mike Veeck; baseball’s former winningest pitcher Jack Morris; outfielder Darryl Strawberry, on his way back to the majors; the back-rubbing Sister Rosalind; baseball’s first woman player Ila Borders; frantic fans, a ball-carrying pig, a blind sportscaster, and a host of others. They all prove the credo of the Saints: Fun is Good.

“Hilarious, insightful, touching, informative, Neal Karlen’s baseball account delivers a world of vivid characters and ironic redemptions. Karlen is simply one of the best, most sophisticated, and literate practitioners of journalism we have. He goes out and gets the full story, while turning himself into a wonderfully self-mocking, truthful, and likable narrator. I loved every page of this book.”
Phillip Lopate, author, essayist, and film critic

“Two things make it great: characters and story line. The tale is rendered in hilarious fashion, mixing plenty of baseball with plenty of laughs.”
Rocky Mountain News

“A fun-is-good book  . . . [with] enough oddballs to make Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seem like a straightforward account of a schoolgirl’s visit to a theme park.”
Sports Illustrated

“The funkiest team in baseball.”
The New York Times

Neal Karlen, who has written for the New York TimesNewsweek, and Rolling Stone, is the author or co-author of seven books, including Augie’s Secrets from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

$17.95 paper, available September 2014
384 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4, 51 b&w photos, index, 978-0-87351-951-9

Available September 2014 from Minnesota Historical Society Press

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August 19, 2014

Minnesota in the ’70s Documentary Nominated for an Upper Midwest Emmy®!

Filed under: Arts, Awards, History, Videos — Alison Aten @ 9:33 am

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Minnesota in the ’70s, our documentary co-produced with Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Productions & Partnerships (tptMN),  is nominated for a 2014 Upper Midwest Emmy® Award by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic category!

More about the project:

The 1970s were more than big hair, mirror balls, and leisure suits. These were the years that bridged the chasm between the anti-establishment tumult of the 1960s and the morning-in-America conservatism of the 1980s. In Minnesota, this evolution unfolded in ways that defied expectations. No longer was Minnesota merely a vague, snow-covered outpost in the American consciousness. It was a place of note and consequence—a state of presidential candidates, grassroots activism, civic engagement, environmental awareness, and Mary Tyler Moore. Its governor appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Its city skylines shot up with uncharacteristic immodesty. Its farmers enjoyed some of their best years ever. Minnesota forged an identity during the 1970s that would persist, rightly or wrongly, for decades to come.

This is the second nomination for an MNHS Press/tptMN co-production. Last year, our Asian Flavors documentary won an Upper Midwest Emmy® in the Cultural category!

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June 26, 2014

MNHS Press Books & MNHS Receive 2014 AASLH Awards of Merit

Filed under: Awards, History — Alison Aten @ 4:48 pm

The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters Minnesota in the \'70s

We are pleased to announce that four MNHS Press authors have received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Leadership in History Awards. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its sixty-ninth year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

Our winners are:

Clifford Canku and Michael Simon for The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters: Dakota Kaŝkapi Okicize Wowapi

Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor for Minnesota in the ’70s

The Minnesota Historical Society also received Awards of Merit for three other projects: The Dred Scott Family and the National Debate over Slavery program, Play the Past, and Northern Lights: The Stories of Minnesota’s Past.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer seventy-seven national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2014 AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday, September 19. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States.  The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history.  From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society.  AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and a monthly newsletter.  The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting.

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May 29, 2014

Our Northern Plate Series

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison Aten @ 1:24 pm

Rhubarb Renaissance Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone Sweet Corn Spectacular Smitten with Squash The Northern Plate

Farmers market season is here! Looking for inspiration on how to use fresh, seasonal produce? Check out these titles in our Northern Plate series—each celebrates the bounty of the Upper Midwest by focusing on a single ingredient, exploring its historical uses as well as culinary applications across a range of dishes.

Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode

Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone

Sweet Corn Spectacular by Marie Porter

Smitten with Squash by Amanda Paa (

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March 13, 2014

Another Winner! Minnesota History article receives David Stanley Gebhard Award

Filed under: Awards, History — Alison Aten @ 10:21 am

Building the Winona Post Office, 1890 (From Minnesota History Summer 2013, photo courtesy the Winona County Historical Society) Minnesota History authors Greg Gaut and Marsha Neff have won the biennial David Stanley Gebhard Article Award for “Downsizing the Public Realm: Building and Razing Winona’s Grand Post Office,” which appeared in the magazine’s Summer 2013 issue. Issued by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, the award considers articles focusing on some historical aspect of the built environment and published between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2013.

“Buildings ultimately represent the values of the creators,” the authors say. “Public buildings, in particular, reflect the political, economic, and cultural priorities of the societies that construct them.” “Downsizing” clearly makes that case. In 1891, the city of Winona proudly dedicated its imposing Romanesque-style stone post office, after citizens had convinced the federal government to enlarge its initial building plans, increase the budget, and spring for more expensive materials. In the 1950s, businessmen, led by the Chamber of Commerce, launched the fight–which they ultimately won–to tear down that “old fashioned monument” and erect a modern, one-story, no frills post office, taking out a city park to do so. The park was deemed a luxury and the new building “a fresh, clean look for a fine old city.” Two eras, two buildings, and a seismic shift in understanding the public realm.

A three-judge panel selects the winning article from a minimum of five submissions. Gaut and Neff won the same award in 2008 for their work on the successful fight to preserve Winona’s county courthouse.

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March 7, 2014

Mni Sota Makoce Wins 2014 Hognander Award

Filed under: Authors, Awards, MHS Author in the News, MHS press, Native American — Alison Aten @ 1:33 pm

Gwen Westerman and Bruce White (courtsey of The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library)

Photo credit: Laura Truett, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

We are delighted to announce that Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White is the winner of the 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award.

The Hognander Minnesota History Award recognizes the most outstanding scholarly work related to Minnesota history published during the preceding two years. The award, funded by the Hognander Family Foundation, is presented every two years.

This award stems from the Hognander family’s belief in the importance of studying and preserving history. As Joe Hognander notes, “We established this award because of our relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society. Its commitment to excellence is noteworthy in promoting scholarly research and writing. We hope this award will inspire more activity by recognizing and rewarding the finest work in the field.”

Much of the focus on the Dakota people in Minnesota rests on the tragic events of the 1862 U.S.–Dakota War and the resulting exile that sent the majority of the Dakota to prisons and reservations beyond the state’s boundaries. But the true depth of the devastation of removal cannot be understood without a closer examination of the history of the Dakota people and their deep cultural connection to the land that is Minnesota. Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for at least hundreds of years prior to exile.

Published by Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012, the book went on to win the 2013 Minnesota Book Award in the Minnesota category last year.

Westerman and White will be honored for their latest achievement at the upcoming Book Awards Gala on April 5 at the Saint Paul Union Depot. Gwen Westerman is professor of English and Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Bruce White is author of We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People.

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