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Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper

Posted byAlison Aten on 23 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: Book Excerpt, True Crime, Uncategorized, Videos

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.

Our Northern Plate Series

Posted byAlison Aten on 29 May 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

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 (

Sneak Peek at our Fall 2013 books

Posted byAlison Aten on 18 Jul 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Minnesota Historical Society Press  Fall 2013 Titles

Sweet Corn Spectacular Making Marriage Powwow Summer Leaving Rollingstone Secret Partners On Stage with Kevin Kling
Soda Shop Salvation Minnesota in the \'70s The Creator\'s Game Original Local Big Little Mother

Sweet Corn Spectacular (out now!)
Marie Porter

Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country (August 2013)
Catherine J. Denial

Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life (September 2013)
Marcie R. Rendon with photographs by Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Children’s Book Ages 8-12

Leaving Rollingstone: A Memoir (September 2013)
Kevin Fenton

Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang (September 2013)
Tim Mahoney

Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition (October 2013)
Rae Katherine Eighmey

Minnesota in the ’70s (October 2013)
Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor

The Creator’s Game: A Story of Baaga’adowe/Lacrosse (November 2013)
Art Coulson with illustrations by Robert DesJarlait
Children’s Book Ages 8-12

Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (November 2013)
Heid E. Erdrich

Big Little Mother (November 2013)
Kevin Kling with illustrations by Chris Monroe
Children’s Book Ages 3-7

On Stage with Kevin Kling (November 2013)

Minneapolis Somali Independence Day Festival June 30

Posted byAlison Aten on 25 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: Event, Immigration, Uncategorized

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.”

Writing the Biography of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, 1834-1914

Posted byAlison Aten on 03 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

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.

Before Gatsby

Posted byregana on 09 May 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Guide to FSF\'s St. PaulSt. Paul Stories of FSF

The Great Gatsby is on the big screen, once again reminding us of the fabulous and tragic Jazz Age–and the author who was its best-known chronicler.

Minnesotans have a special connection to this famous American author: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul is around us. The elegant neighborhoods where he grew up as “a poor boy in a rich town” are still the city’s finest, beautiful to discover and enjoy. And the best way to do that is with A Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul, by John J. Koblas. You can explore the neighborhoods that shaped him and provided the scenery and plots for many of his most successful short stories. Handy maps, 35 featured buildings, and notes on 71 others make for fascinating self-guided walking tours.

And then, with The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Patricia Hampl and Dave Page, you can read many of those stories as well. Introduced with a graceful essay by Patricia Hampl, the book includes several of the Basil Duke Lee stories as well as some of Fitzgerald’s lesser-known classics. Brief introductions provide names and locations that you can find during your tour.

See the movie, read these books, and get to know the home-town author!

A Warm Welcome to Researchers

Posted bypennefesm on 12 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

library-shot1

by Debbie Miller, MHS Reference Specialist

The MHS’s Gale Family Library welcomes researchers with new and expanded hours, which became effective December 1, 2012.

–Tuesday, 12 noon to 8 p.m.

–Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

–Closed Sunday and Monday

Scholars and other authors now have a chance to work all day on a project, and those visiting from out of town can plan a trip that uses their limited time more efficiently.

Remember that the library houses all levels of government records for Minnesota, as well as vast collections of manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and books.  Maps, photos, films and videos, oral histories, and music are all available. Reference staff are happy to help with any questions you have about your research and to suggest related sources, if you like.  More and more manuscript and archives collections have finding aids online.  Try this site, or when you find a collection that interests you in the library catalog, check to see if there’s a link to a finding aid.

Rebirth of a Nation

Posted bypennefesm on 08 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The United States officially recognized the government of Somalia on January 17. In a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the secretary called for a new chapter to begin. The people of Somalia, a country ravaged by civil war and once considered the most failed state on the globe, have “fought, and sacrificed to bring greater stability, security, and peace to their nation.”

images1The African Development Center of Minnesota is hosting public and community forums with Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, former prime minster of Somalia, who will share stories about developing a road map to Somalia’s future.  On Friday, February 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cowles Auditorium, Dr. Ali will offer remarks and facilitate an open discussion in English. On Saturday, February 9, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Dr. Ali’s remarks and the ensuing discussion will be in Somali.  Join in this celebration of nation building in our time.

Introducing MHS Express . . . History on the Run

Posted byAlison Aten on 29 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

MHS Express

A little learning can go a long way. Dazzle your colleagues at the water cooler with insights gleaned from these quick reads from MHS Express, our new digital imprint of short-form e-books. Available through major e-book sellers.

Be they essays or excerpts from published works or forthcoming titles or original pieces, MHS Express e-books present relevant and compelling topics such as the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and what it means to be “a good Hmong girl” in America–both covered in our inaugural list.

Please click on the MHS Express link, above, for a full list of titles.

Cocktail Inspiration for the New Year

Posted byAlison Aten on 31 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

North Star CocktailsLast minute bar tending inspiration from North Star Cocktails by Johnny Michaels.

Check out these links for recipes:

“Handsome Devil” and “Parlez-Vous” on The Heavy Table

Mogwai are the Stars

Happy New Year and Be Safe!

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