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White Bear Sno Scooter

Friday, January 30th, 2009

White Bear Sno Scooter

With winter cold and snow abundant, children around the state are taking out their sleds and heading for the hills. Some of them might wish they had one of these beauties: a Sno Scooter built by the White Bear Water Ski Company.

This scooter belonged to a St. Paul family that purchased it in the late 1950s. The donor recalled riding it with his brother and sister for several seasons – and discovering that the scooter worked best in deep snow. In later years, the donor’s own children enjoyed the scooter, making it a multi-generation tradition.

Here at the Society, the Sno Scooter will complement a water ski board, made by the same White Bear Lake-based company, already in the collection. The two pieces remind us of Minnesota’s contrasting seasons, and the unique recreational pleasures that each one brings.

The White Bear Water Ski Company is gone, but other companies continue to make their own versions of the snow scooter. (Some are even motorized!) This example may have made its last run, but it can still provide some fun, if only in the form of happy winter memories.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

Sno Scooter logo

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Day in the Life of Dan Cagley, Collections Manager

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

How do the Historical Society’s objects move into exhibits, or in and out of the building? To find out, we throw the spotlight on one of the solid citizens of the Society, our unheralded Collections Manager Dan Cagley. He keeps over 250,000 3–D objects safe and available. We follow Dan over the course of a typical busy day as he processes new acquisitions, creates a mount, and pulls and returns objects in storage.

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A Dark Chapter in Minnesota’s Political History

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

The last time the economy sucked this bad and left wing of the political spectrum was in the ascendency, the right wing used every possible trick to bring them down. In the 1938 gubernatorial race a book was published that was so repugnant that it makes our list of 150 best books.

Ray P. Chase. Are They Communists or Catspaws: A Red Baiting Article. Anoka: N. p., 1938.

Chase was an Anoka publisher who had run for governor in 1930 and served one term in Congress from 1933 -1935. In the heated Governor’s race between Farmer-Labor incumbent Elmer Benson and “boy wonder” Harold Stassen, Chase wrote and published a small book trying to prove a link between the current administration and the Communist Party. The five examples he used, however, were all Jewish. This was a blatant introduction of anti-Semitism into Minnesota politics. Some of Chase’s examples were not even that close to Gov. Benson and seem to have been chosen simply because they looked so Jewish. In response the Farmer-Labor party produced a leaflet saying that this “expensively gotten up book” “smack[ed] of the tactics of the fascists of Europe” They demonstrated that Chase’s book altered photos to smear the Governor.

Chase embraced the pejorative term “red baiting” saying “radicals bait America and everything American”. The term “catspaws” refer to people who are manipulated by Communists. Chase disingenuously writes that “Communists are entitled to respect for their courage. Catspaws who accept their support and deny their acquaintance are entitled to somewhat less respect”.

Epilogue: Catspaws helped defeat Benson but the “silver lining” was that it prompted the organization, Jewish Community Relations Council, to combat local anti-Semitism like this. They have been doing good work for the last 80 years.

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Minnesota Electoral College Assembly Records Transferred to the Minnesota State Archives

Friday, January 16th, 2009

A few days ago the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office transferred records of the Minnesota Electoral College Assembly that occurred on December 15, 2008.  On that day, Minnesota’s ten Electors unanimously cast votes for Barack Obama and Joseph Biden for president and vice president in a ceremony held in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda.  Pictured here are the ballots cast by Minnesota’s slate of ten Electors from the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party.  Under the U.S. Constitution, Minnesota is provided ten Electors, a number equal to Minnesota’s number of senators and representatives seated in the U.S. Congress.  Also transferred with the ballots, is a photograph of the Electors with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the original signed Certificate of Ascertainment of Appointment of Electors for President and Vice President, a news release about the ceremony, the assembly program, and a engraved pen of the type used for the signings.   Answers to frequently asked questions about the Electoral College are available on the Secretary of State’s Web site homepage.

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Cased Images – Daguerreotypes and Tintypes

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Just what is the difference between a daguerreotype and a tintype? Photo curator Diane Adams-Graf explains what distinguishes these two early photographic processes. Actual daguerreotypes and tintypes are pulled apart and viewed in detail. (3 min. 8 sec.)

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs