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“From Sherman” and “Negro Citizenship”, The Wabasha County Herald – January 26, 1865

Monday, January 26th, 2015

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Tiger Jack

Monday, January 26th, 2015

A small gouache on paper painting of St. Paul institution Tiger Jack. Made by Minnesota artist Shirley Jean Wallner in the 1990s.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this painting in our collections database.

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“The News” and “Rebel Account of the Fall of Fort Fisher”, The Stillwater Messenger – January 24, 1865

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

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Saint Paul Winter Carnival Royalty, 1978

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

On a January evening in 1978, young women dressed all in white began arriving at the St. Paul Municipal Auditorium. They were the Royal Princesses of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, all hoping to be crowned Queen of the Snows. The gilded, cavernous Auditorium had been transformed into the Great Hall of Jupiter for the coronation ceremony. King Boreas had been crowned and on this night a Queen would be chosen to represent the City in the coming year.

Auditorium, St. Paul, before the addition. Ca. 1922

St. Paul Winter Carnival ceremonies at auditorium, St. Paul. Ca. 1948

Donaldson's Golden Rule, Seventh and Robert, St. Paul. Ca. 1966

Donaldson's Golden Rule, Seventh and Robert, St. Paul. Ca. 1966

The Princesses had been preparing for months. In the fall of the previous year, Donaldson’s Department Store began an internal selection process for for their own store-sponsored representative. As many as nine single women, aged 18 to 25, were nominated internally and judged on personality, poise, maturity, and walk. By late Fall, Donaldson’s had selected their candidate.

Marlene Richter had taken a position at Donaldson’s a few years earlier and joined in the store’s 1978 Winter Carnival competition in order to expand her social horizons. A University of Minnesota chemical engineering student, Marlene hoped that participating in the Winter Carnival competition would create opportunities to meet new people, outside of the the men surrounding her at school.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows coronation gown. Ca. 1978

Once she was selected as Donaldson’s Winter Carnival candidate, Marlene began preparing with the manager of the women’s wear department. Candidates and sponsors were responsible for providing a formal white coronation gown. The hunt for the perfect gown took the two women to a bridal shop in Rosedale Mall, where they found a two piece formal dress complete with lace and marabou feather trim that fit Marlene beautifully, straight off the rack.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas uniform. Ca. 1978

On coronation night, Marlene and the other candidates stood under the hot lights of the Auditorium stage, nervous and excited. When the Grand Chamberlain bowed before Marlene, it took a moment for her to realize the choice was made; she would be Queen of the Snows. King Boreas (Dan Dolan), in his own imposing red uniform complete with gold braid and white gloves, crowned the new queen. The rest of the evening passed in a blur of activity; from a reception at the Radisson hotel on Kellogg Boulevard and back to a women-only suite at the St. Paul Hotel, where the remaining princesses would be outfitted with matching gold gowns to differentiate between Queen and Princesses.

SPWC Royal Coronation at the St. Paul Auditorium, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene Killa

Queen of the Snows Marlene Richter, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene (Richter) Killa

The Royal party would appear at the annual parade and other events during Carnival in St. Paul, but their duties did not end there. As Snow Queen, Marlene made about 400 appearances throughout 1978, following the Carnival tradition of spreading St. Paul hospitality across the state and the nation. She was part of the last group of Carnival royalty to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade in California, on a float with Minneapolis Aquatennial royalty. She wore her coronation gown to many of these events, but wore at least eight other dresses throughout the year.

Marlene’s reign ended with the passing of her crown at the 1979 King Boreas coronation event. The Winter Carnival experience was all she had imagined and more. Donaldson’s sponsorship not only financed the wardrobe and other costs associated with Carnival, but enabled Marlene to travel extensively. Her social hopes were also realized; she created lasting friendships with the royal party and met Michael Killa, a member of the 1978 Royal Guard. Marlene and Mike later married.

SPWC Royal Party, 1978. Courtesy of Marlene Killa. Michael Killa is 3rd from the right in the top row

After her time in Carnival, Marlene (Richter) Killa would go on to earn an MBA and spend twenty-two years as an engineer at Ecolab, a St. Paul-based multinational developer and manufacturer. For the past decade she and her husband Mike have worked together on their own construction company. Marlene and Mike took part in Saint Paul Winter Carnival activities for years following 1978: Marlene served as a judge for the 1980 Queen of the Snows competition and was active with the Former Queen’s Club for many years. Mike served as Captain of the Guard in 1986 and both were active with the Royal Party that year.

Sondra Reierson, Associate Curator, 3D Objects

See more:

  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival guide to related MNHS collections, including photographs and artifacts.
  • St. Paul Auditorium photographs. The Auditorium was razed in 1982; Ordway Theater was partially constructed on the original site of the Auditorium, beside the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
  • In 1961 Donaldson’s, a Minneapolis company, merged with the Golden Rule department store in St. Paul and changed the store’s name to Donaldson’s a few years later. The St. Paul location remained in the Golden Rule building until 1980, when it moved to the Town Square complex. The original building still stands at 85 7th Place East, St. Paul.
  • Ecolab, Inc. records

Artifacts referenced:

  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows coronation gown <2014.162.1.A,B> Two piece white formal gown worn by Marlene (Richter) Killa as the 1978 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Queen of the Snows.
  • Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas uniform <1988.396. and 1998.413.> Jacket, pants, hat, gloves and scepter used by Daniel F. Dolan as the 1978 Saint Paul Winter Carnival King Boreas.
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Diary entry by Thomas Montgomery of the 7th Minnesota Regiment, Company K – January 23, 1865

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Cloudy and cold[.] Order for [cousolidation] of the 65th with the 67th arrived. giving names of Officers to be retained[,] myself among the number. All the rest to be mustered out of the service. 5 Capts.[,] 7 1st Lts. In the 67th to be mustered out. Drew boots for company & issued them to men. Drilling a large Company quite cold, so I was attacked with a severe toothache & headache. Had dress parade. Recd. 2 letters from home.


Citation: January 23, 1865. Diary entry by Thomas Montgomery, Diary, 1864. Thomas Montgomery and family papers. Minnesota Historical Society. [P2812 box 1]

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Bob Hope in Town

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Bob Hope and some fans in Minnesota for the 1949 Aquatennial.

This image forms part of our Minneapolis and St. Paul Newspaper Negative collection. Additional photographs in this series may be available in the library, please view the finding aid here.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

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“Sherman’s Army in Motion” and “The Peace Movement”, The Saint Paul Press – January 22, 1865

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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Dakota Moccasins

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

A pair of beaded Dakota moccasins with split tongues ending in tinkle cones. Made sometime between 1870 and 1920.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view these moccasins in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Ceramic Bottle by Martha Cutkomp

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Wheel-thrown stoneware bottle with matte black wash on body from shoulder to base and an opaque white glaze on rim opening made by Martha Cutkomp. Circa 1960-70.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this bottle in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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“Glorious News from Wilmington” and “From the South”, The Saint Paul Pioneer and Democrat – January 20, 1865

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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