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Archive for September, 2010

Folding Reed Organ

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Curator Matt Anderson shares the story behind a World War II-era folding reed organ used at the Fort Snelling post hospital. Organist Sally Reynolds performs the hymn “Rock of Ages” on the recently-conserved instrument.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Exhibit Open

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

While the literary scene in Minnesota during the 1920s reached a fevered pitch, no author has withstood the passage of time like Saint Paul’s very own F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The MHS Library holds important research collection of his early work, popular editions, foreign language editions, magazine work, criticism, and some unique manuscripts.

Come see some of these items on display in the Library Lobby, which is free and open to the public. We encourage you to browse this exhibit and to come back soon to read the work of our most – hands down – important writer.

This will be on view September 21 to January 16, 2011.

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Enhancing Access to MHS Archival Collections

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Manuscript Backlog 2010


The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to announce its receipt of a Basic Project grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) which will significantly support a $500,000, 18-month project to process the Society’s unprocessed archival collections. The project targets a 4,600 cubic foot aggregation of government records and manuscript acquisitions which are largely hidden from our audiences. By arranging and describing these collections and series to generally accepted minimal standards, using economical practices that are now well tested, we expect to make our archival holdings web-discoverable, and to drive reading room use at MHS significantly.  Beginning October 18th, the project will become the focus of the archival processing staff’s work through 2011. Project staff expect to produce or revise at least 500 MARC21 catalog records and 300 EAD finding aids over the course of the project. A retrieval analysis of archival materials has been underway for the past year and will be used to help evaluate the audience impact of rapidly exposing more archival materials to web-scale discovery and access. We are grateful to the NHPRC for giving us this opportunity to get our backlog off the pallets, onto the stack shelves, and into the audience discovery space.

Watch our progress by visiting the What’s New finding aids page! Discover what old treasures are newly available each month.

Web Accessible Finding Aids

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Two Andrews Present at the Birth

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Minnesota and DacotahDebates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention

C. C. Andrews. Minnesota and Dacotah: in Letters Descriptive of a Tour Through the North-West, in…1856… Washington: R. Farnham, 1857.

Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention for the Territory of Minnesota, to Form a State Constitution Preparatory to its Admission…T. F. Andrews, official Reporter to the Convention. St. Paul: G. W. Moore, 1858.

Let me suggest two very different – but fun and interesting – additions to our 150 best Minnesota books list. The only connection between the works is the author’s last name and the time period, which is around the time Minnesota was entering the Union as a state.

Since we have already listed travel narratives from the earliest explorers it is appropriate to list a travel account from the settlement period. Minnesota and Dacotah is an easy call. The author, Christopher Columbus Andrews, was an extraordinary Minnesotan. He may be best known as the state’s first Fire Warden but he was also a lawyer, Civil War soldier, Minister to Sweden and Norway, and the author of about 50 works covering a wide enough range of topics to gain the sobriquet “renaissance man.” He presents a clear and detailed picture of getting to this part of the word in the mid-nineteenth century. He is also clearly and without exaggeration promoting settlement, favorably comparing territorial Minnesota to Greece and Italy. One interesting section that I wish he would have said much more about was a visit to Hole-in-the-day’s home: “… a walk on Boston Common on a summer morning could not seem more quiet and safe than a ramble on horseback among the homes of these Indians.”

C. C. Andrews

Think Minnesota politics is wacky now? It is, one could argue, constitutionally mandated. The United States was coming apart when Minnesota petitioned for statehood and much, including control of Congress, depended on the outcome of our state’s constitutional convention. Without going into excruciating detail, suffice it to say that Democrats and Republicans could not get along well enough to be in the same room and two separate constitutional conventions were held simultaneously. In the end two manuscript copies of the constitution exist and two differing accounts of the convention were printed along with the agreed upon constitution.

Constitution of the State of Minnesota, Republican VersionConstitution of the State of Minnesota, Democratic Version

T. F. Andrews was a reporter at the convention and recorded the debates as the Republicans heard them. It is mostly dry reading with “I move to strike…” kinda language but it is important and no complete Minnesota bookshelf should be without it. Occasionally the transcription is more interesting and evocative of the mood, as  this excerpt of delegate Thomas Galbraith Diogenesionly demonstrates:

“We do not intend to be brow beaten by St. Paul. We are the last men who    should cry out: “afraid of St. Paul!” We need no protection from those who       rushed in here today, [Democrats] cried out “I move to adjourn,” and then ran out again. – Did they scare us? Let them come on, we are ready to die in our tracks rather than yield. (Applause) We, afraid of St. Paul! Who is St. Paul? (Laughter) Let them come. We have no guns, no pistols, no slung [sic] shots, but we are ready to meet them, and will not be driven from this hall.”

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